In Reply to: Hot sand and ginger posted by Victoria S Dennis on November 28, 2009 at 11:19:
: : : : : What is the meaning of 'hot sand and ginger', as in the line 'E's all 'ot sand an' ginger when alive,' in Kipling's poem, Fuzzy-Wuzzy?
: : : : As well as being a flavouring spice, ginger was traditionally used as a medicine as it was thought to put mettle and spirit into you: I regret to say, also, that it was an old horse-coper's trick to put ginger up the fundament of a worn-out or sluggish horse;, the irritation would make him lively and cause him to carry his tail high. Hence "ginger group", "ginger [someone] up", "take the ginger out of someone".
: : : : Hot sand also makes people lively, if they have to walk on it barefoot! So overall this description is of someone manically lively and fast-moving.
: : : : (VSD)
: : : - My other half, something of a historian of the British Army, remarks that the medal ribbon for the Sudan Campaign was sand-coloured with just a thin red and black edging, to symbolise all the hot desert sand that had been the British soldier's main experience of the Sudan. That probably feeds into the image too. (VSD)
: : I hate to contradict, but I think the Sudan medal was half yellow, half black, with a thin red stripe between them.
: : DFG
: I'll tell him his memory appears to be at fault, thanks!
But the symbolism is as you say: the yellow did represent the sand, and the thin red line was meant to be just that, 'the thin red line' of the British army.