2 June 2013

Sweaty Socks & Gingers

I was sipping on my latte at the coffee shop this morning when a very sweaty bloke staggered up to the table next to me and sat down. He was puffing and panting and looked like he was about to have a heart attack. He was a very big unit and he had an extremely red face. He had bright red hair as well - blazing red hair and he was also heavily freckled.

It was a particularly hot day today, even by Singapore standards. The poor guy was obviously heat affected. I was quite concerned by his state of health so I waved to the nice girls at the Spinelli coffee shop and asked them to bring over a glass of water and then I asked the man if he was alright.

I enquired, "Are you alright mate?"

"Not fookin really", he gasped.

"It's so fookin hot out thar".

It became instantly apparent to me that the big sweaty unit was Scottish. 

He was a Scot. 

He was a Sweaty - a sweaty Sweaty in fact.

People from Scotland are commonly called "Sweaties". They are referred to as Sweaties mostly by the English. This is English rhyming slang. Scottish people are also referred to as "Jocks" but I do not really know why this is so. It is similar to the Irish sometimes being referred to as "Paddies". However the English rhyming slang term for 'Jocks' is 'Sweaty Socks' which is abbreviated to "Sweaties". 

This is plural and the singular is "Sweaty".

I have written about rhyming slang before. It can be complex and at times a bit silly. I will not go into it further here as I do not really like repeating myself.

I work with a couple of Scottish girls. They are both bonnie lassies and are dear friends of mine. Neither are Gingers. Their names are Eavan and JoBo. JoBo does a bit of Scottish sometimes but she lived in France for a long time so she has lost much of her accent. Eavan is more posh English but she slips in a "Can you not?" occasionally which is the Scottish way of asking "Can't you?". She otherwise just sounds English.

Irvine Welsh is one of my favorite writers and he may be my very favorite in fact. I have read all of his books so I can speak and understand urban Scottish quite well. The guy at the table next to me sounded like he was from Glasgow.

I will likely have to translate a bit for you here if you are not a reader of Irvine Walsh. However you should all read him as the man is a literary genius. Start with the book 'Train Spotting" and work your way through to "Skagboys". 

"Filth" is excellent as well.

All of his books are brilliant.

The word "Fookin" that was uttered by the Scot is "Fucking"

The Scots swear a lot and so do I. 

As a Race I generally like Scottish people and I much prefer them to the English.

Where necessary I will put the English translation of our conversation in brackets - otherwise you will not likely understand.

"There is water coming big fella" I informed him.

I also passed him a handful of napkins to wipe himself down.

The water arrived quite quickly and the Scot gulped it down so I called for more and he gulped that down as well.

After a few minutes of puffing and panting and gulping and wiping - the redness of Scot's face disappeared. 

Not his hair though - he was a blazing ginger.

There must be no joy in being a redhead. I know a few and they have been teased all of their lives. My Tasmanian mate Johnny who lives here in Singapore is doubly cursed as he is both Tasmanian and a Ginger.

There are a number of quite derogatory names for redheads but the most common ones are "Ginger", "Carrot top' and "Ranga". "Ranga" is an Australian term and it is an abbreviation of the word Orangutan. 

An Orangutan is an ape with long reddish hair.

The current Australian Prime Minister is a "Ranga" and she is also a bogan and many would argue that she is also an ape. 

I would not dispute this. 

I think that she is an appalling Prime Minister of my country and her politics are dreadful. I hope and pray that she is not re-elected in the upcoming Federal elections.

My mate Berty who lives in Las Vegas is also a Ginger. He will likely argue that he is a strawberry blonde but he is not - he is a red head. I have some old photos of Berty and I when we were teenagers and here is one when we were about 18years old. This is about one hundred years ago now – or it certainly feels like it. We were brashly smoking cigarettes over the top of a highly flammable gas cylinder. We were reckless and stupid in those days and we were lucky that we didn’t blow ourselves up. 

Those were fun days though and we had a ball.

That is me on the right and Berty on the left. You will see in this picture that Berty is most definitely a Ginger:

There is in fact a "Kick a Ginger Day" phenomena which started on an American show called "South Park" a couple of years ago. It then went viral on social media things like Facebook and has become an annual event. Whilst it sounded quite funny, unfortunately a bunch of stupid people around the globe took it literally and inflicted real harm on some redheaded people. They kicked and bruised quite a few redheads in nasty acts of bullying. Many of the Gingers that were bullied were children and they feared for their lives.

The term "this one is getting beaten like a redhead step child" was uttered in the film "Wall Street: Money never sleeps". This was the sequel to the original 1987 movie that was just called, "Wall Street''. The sequel to "Wall Street" was made twenty three years after the original film and the "beaten like a redhead step child" was reference to the value of shares that was declining rapidly on the stock market. The line was spoken by the ruthless character Gordon Gekko - who was played by Michael Douglas in both films.

Gekko also uttered the term, "Greed is Good" in the original film. Unfortunately the American Wall Street Traders all took this to heart and have since plunged the whole world into our current global financial crisis.


When the sweaty Sweaty who was sitting next to me at the Spinelli's coffee shop had recovered a bit I asked him what his name was. 

I told him my name was Peter. 

I told him this because my name is Peter.

The Scot told me that his name was John and he informed me that he was a visitor to Singapore and that he was here to see his sister. I was actually hoping that his name was something like Hamish or Fergus or Dougal because I rather like Scottish men's names. 

But it wasn't. 

It was John.

"Are you feeling better now John?" I asked

'Aye. Ah fil a bit shite but better eftir drenken tha' water ' he replied. ("Yes I feel a bit shit but better after drinking that water")

"Ah canna hurly breathe at there in tha fookin heat" ("I cannot hardly breathe out there in that fucking heat")

Writing Sweaty is causing havoc with my auto spell-check however I am manually over riding it and will persist.

"Yes it is hot even for Singapore today" I replied.

"I cannae unerstan how yis kin poot up wi this soon. Eh is baking ma fookin brain." ('I cannot understand how you can put up with this sun. It is baking my fucking brain")

"Ah ken" I replied.

I threw in a bit of Scottish slang myself. "I ken", means ""I know". I have picked up a lot of Scottish slang from my reading of Irvine Welsh. I don't get the opportunity to use it very often so I was thoroughly enjoying myself.

"Everything is air-conditioned here John and you need to wear light clothes and drink lots of water." I informed him.

"You come from Glasgow John? It get's bloody cold over there doesn't it?’  I asked.

"Aye Peter. Fookin cold. Mae hame in Glegae is fookin covered in snae fer moonths en Winter. Mae lecky bill fer heaten mae hoose es feerty" ("Yes Peter. Fucking cold. My home in Glasgow is fucking covered in snow for months in winter. My electricity bill for heating my house is scary")

We continued on with our conversation for about an hour like this before John went off to meet up with his sister. 

John told me that his sister’s name is Maureen.

During our discussions he told me that he was "Right tanned las noot". This translates to, "I was very drunk last night". 

Like the Irish,  the Scots are very big drinkers.

I had to draw upon all my knowledge from reading Irvine Welsh and concentrate very hard at times to understand what John was saying. It wasn't fookin easy. Some things I couldn't understand at all so I just responded with an, "Ah ken" which seemed to satisfy him.

It was great though and he seemed like a very nice bloke.

For a sweaty ginger ranga.

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