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English Comedy

Posted by TheFallen on May 21, 2003

In Reply to: English Comedy posted by R. Berg on May 21, 2003

: : : : : the comedy is gimme gimme, two characters: Linda, a sex-driven masculine girl and Tom Farrel, a gay.
: : : : : She tells him:
: : : : : "Here have a face pack. Do you want Hello Vera of See Ya Cilla?"
: : : : : I understand that Hello Vera refers to Aloe vera facial mask but I don't recognize the other one. I guess the see ya is in contrast to Hello, but What is the reference in Cilla?

: : : : : I'll quote some very problematic paragraph:
: : : : : Tom:
: : : : : "I'm just admiring Thora Hird's box room actually. Acturally can I just take a little bit of time out to admire Thora Hird full stop. She's a lass from Lancashire with a heart of glold. Half hip replacement, half got pot. Hello Vera please. In fact I can't say I've ever met or heard of another Thora. I mean what's that all about? Maybe I'd get on in acting if I had a unique name."

: : : : : My endless questions:
: : : : : that is a box room?
: : : : : what does he mean by half hip replacement, half hot pot? (I know hot pot is a lamb stew), and Dame Thora was a famous English comedy actress (already passed away).

: : : : : My deepest thanks to any help.

: : : : Cilla may be Cilla Black, presenter of the popular TV programme Blind Date. See ya means I'll see you soon, in other words Au revoir or just Goodbye.

: : : : Thora Hird came from Lancashire, where the local food is hot pot. Perhaps the phrase means she is half authentic, half artificial.

: : : : To me, a box room is a small room where spare furniture and possessions are stored. It is obviously something quite different here! Tom may be admiring Thora as an actress.

: : : Miri, they gve you such difficult things to translate! The passages you quote here are full of uniquely English references that wouldn't mean much at all to non-UK residents.

: : : 'Allo Vera / Seeya Cilla. I know the TV show in question, and the character Linda is deliberately portrayed as both lower-class and thick. You're right about the 'Allo Vera / Aloe Vera thing, which works because Linda drops her h's, a deliberate reinforcement by the writers that she's not well-educated. Seeya Cilla is a contrived contrast to 'Allo Vera - it doesn't refer to any real product, but the "seeya" highlights the "'allo", and Cilla, as referred to above, is the name of an ageing English female variety and TV star (Cilla Black), which fits in nicely with Vera, since that's also an old-fashioned English woman's name. There was a famous female English singer of the 1940's called Vera Lynn who may be being alluded to here. Basically, both "products" contain the connotation of being suitable for elderly women.

: : : Dame Thora Hird was indeed a famous English comedy actress, although in recent years basically she was most famous simply for being old, given that she fronted a large number of TV commercials for such things as stair-lifts and other products for the elderly, an allusion that a British audience would pick up on. Her other most noticeable characteristic was her strong Lancashire accent, so if one is to be humorously dismissive of her, then the phrase "half hip replacement, half hotpot" caricaturises her two primary attributes.

: : : A boxroom is a small room in a house, usually upstairs, which is typically used for storage. Sometimes these are turned into bedrooms, but there's only ever barely enough room to fit a bed in there. If someone is reduced to sleeping in a boxroom, then one has some pretty lousy accommodation.

: : : Best of luck - I've had to translate texts before now, but with such a specific allusion-filled piece, I don't have a clue where I'd start.

: : Henry, thank you so much for your help.
: : The fallen - what would I do without you, you are always such a great help to me. Can I assume that you are UK resident or used to live in UK?

: : yes, definitely this movie is most difficult to translate, because each line has an allusion or a slang, first I have to understand it and second to try to translate. Luckily it is the last one, as we finish our studies.
: : I did not quite understood the hip replacement, what does it mean? hotpot I understood that it is a Lancashire stew. does it mean that she is half modern and half old fasion? something in this line?

: : I'll be most grateful if you can help me in one more:
: : "I mean not so long ago I'd be zipping up my party pants, doing a bucket load of drugs and painting the town pink. Now I'm knocking thirty and I've transmogrified into Anne Widdecombe."

: : party pants - are they his special ones, reserved for such occasions?
: : a bucket load of drugs - is it loading his car with drugs? as I found that bucket is a car.
: : painting the town pink - I understand it as going to town to have a lot of sexual adventures.
: : pink referring to him being gay.

: : and Ann Widdecombe is a Tory member of parliament which the Liberals hate because she made untolerant remarks towards different groups.

: : anyway I don't have much place to explain this in the subtitles.
: : and last one:
: : the expression: "by the bloody by" in the sentence: "which by the bloody by ruins my pulling chances quite frankly".

: : I know I take advantage of your generosity and patience, and thank you so much for that.
: : Miri

: I'm American, but some of these phrases are known in the U.S. too.

: "Paint the town pink" would be a gay version of "paint the town red," which means go out and have fun--not necessarily sex; maybe going to nightclubs, eating, drinking, dancing, singing (loudly).

: "Hip replacement" probably alludes simply to being old.

: "Bucketload of drugs" isn't about cars. As many drugs as would fill a bucket (a pail).

: By the bloody by" should be enclosed in parentheses. "By the by" means "by the way," "incidentally."

Yes, Miri, I am British, which is about the only reason why I can make sense of those horribly strange texts you've been given this time.

R. Berg's covered a lot of questions perfectly, but I'll add the following.

A "hip replacement" is an operation that is commonly performed on the elderly (my mother had one done recently) where the ball of bone at the top of the femur is removed and replaced with an artificial one to provide a securer fit into the corresponding socket on the pelvis. This "ball and socket" hip joint is frequently known to wear and become loose in older people, interfering with their walking, hence the need for the operation. Given that in latter years, Thora Hird was mainly famous for just being old owing to her appearance in numerous TV commercials advertising products for the elderly (as I mentioned above), summing her up as "half hip replacement, half hotpot" is dismissively funny.

"Bloody" is a common if mildly vulgar intensifier in UK English, used either to emphasise or to demonstrate irritation - the latter is true in the "by the bloody by" phrase that you quote.

"Bucketload" is, as R. Berg says, a common slang expression meaning a large amount. Synonyms would be "a whole heap", "a shedload" or even a "s h i tload".

"Party pants". Tom, the character who says this, is gay, which explains the implied effeminacy of the expression. Women sometimes talk about their "party frock", which is a dress or outfit that they wear on special occasions in which they look especially attractive. Tom's clearly got a favourite pair of trousers or "pants" which he believes will increase his chances of picking up another man.

Anne Widdecombe. Yes, Anne Widdecombe is a high profile member of the Conservative party, known for her rather close-minded and intolerant views on gays, which would make her a natural hate figure for the likes of Tom. There's more, though, since Anne Widdecombe is also regularly lampooned as not being the prettiest female on the planet - she was once described as being "a miniature Boris Karloff in drag" - and so there's also a definite element of the very vain Tom mocking himself for losing his looks.

I refuse to comment upon the above, but simply provide a recent photo of Anne Widdecombe for you to make up your own mind.