Friday 14 May 2021



I wonder if you remember the old slang phrase Holy Cow? It's a piece of my 1960's childhood. Robin the Boy Wonder used to say it in the Batman tv series. The Cassell Dictionary of Slang defines Holy Cow as an American in origin, an exclamation of surprise, first recorded in the 1920s. It sits between Holy Cod [a 19th century term for Good Friday]  and holy crap! A exclamation of amazement [1960s + US].

The slang dictionary is a totally absorbing read. I often think I could run a poetry workshop on slang, writing new words, generating a poem from a definition - watch this pace...

Holy Cow!

Holy cows were forbidden in our house,

my mother did not hold with mid-60s lingo.

I could watch [and hear] Robin, the Boy Wonder,

Holy Cow! And Holy Broken Bones, Batman!

But could not echo his words.

Lee Dorsey, on our monophonic

solid state transistor radio,

could sing the phrase thirty or more times

in his song of the same name

but I could not utter it once.

Because nice people don’t say words like that,

common people do, and Paul, we are not common.

[We were but my mother steadfastly denied it]

I just happened to see on the open page of the dictionary the phrase home on the pig's back, which is an Australian saying meaning very contented, happily or successfully placed, having arrived at a successful conclusion [1910s +]. May you be high on the pig's back.

I have to end this post with Lee Dorsey singing that song. Great New Orleans music courtesy of Allen Toussaint. 

Until next time.

No comments:

Post a Comment