What does it mean?

Yesterday I was better value than Royal Mail. You had two posts, but now how do I follow that?

Struggling to think of a topic for today my email pinged. A new comment was added to the post Poor Mary. Now thanks to Magpie 11, I have found my subject!

I have been trying to find the origins of a saying of my Grandmother’s…

Q, “What’s for lunch Grannie?”
Her answer Three Jumps at the cupboard door the only reference I could find was by Grannymar on another site which led me here.
Can you help?

‘Three jumps at the cupboard door’ was a phrase I learned from my late husband. He grew up in Co Durham in the 1920-30’s and his mother used it regularly when he asked “What is for lunch or tea”.
All young children ask at some time when feeling hungry “What’s for (insert meal)?” Mother’s or Grannies gave the quick answer ‘Three Jumps at the cupboard door’.

It means any of the following:
“Away out and play and let me get on, or there will be no dinner!”
“Stop annoying me or you will have to make it yourself!”
“You will have to jump up to the cupboard and see what you can reach!”

Magpie came back with another phrase in the same vein:

‘Dried Bread and Scratch it’

This was from the days of poverty when children were given dry bread, sometimes several days old. The ‘Scratch it’ meant scraping at the lump of bread with a finger to loosen the crumbs. On good days they had dripping (fat from cooking meat) to dip the bread in for flavour and to let it soften.

And my mother had her own version

Potatoes and point’

Humorous as it is, it scarcely falls short of the truth. Prior to famine times many an Irish family, hung up a herring, or “small taste” of bacon, to smoke or dry (cure) over the open fire. Using their imagination each individual points the potato he is going to eat, at it, thinking the flavour of the herring or bacon will transfer to the potato.

Daddy often said “You are the apple of my eye!”

This phrase comes from the Bible. In Psalm 17:8 the writer asks God ‘to keep me as the apple of your eye’.

Another of Daddies sayings was “A little bird told me”

This phrase comes from the Bible. In Ecclesiastes 10:20 the writer warns us not to curse the king or the rich even in private or a ‘bird of the air’ may report what you say.

A bakers dozen

This means thirteen. It is said to come from the days when bakers were severely punished for baking underweight loaves. Some added a loaf to a batch of a dozen to be above suspicion.

That’s a load of codswallop

In the 19th century wallop was slang for beer. A man named Codd began selling lemonade and it was called Codswallop. In time codswallop began to mean anything worthless or inferior and later anything untrue.

“Go to pot”

Any farm animal that had outlived its usefulness such as a hen that no longer laid eggs would literally go to pot. It was cooked and eaten.

“To start from scratch”

This phrase comes from the days when a line was scratched in the ground for a race. The racers would start from the scratch.

Now you start from scratch and share a well worn old family phrase.


19 thoughts on “What does it mean?

  1. I’m glad I was a little bit inspirational

    It seems that your blog continues to come up to scratch..there we are another idiom.

    It comes from the days of prize fighting, when each round ended when someone was knocked over. After 30 seconds both fighters had to come unaided to the line scratched on the floor and if one didn’t do so he was the loser and was said to be “not up to scratch..”

    Thanks for sorting out my Grannies sayings….it means a lot.

    Another saying was “The colour on the outside doesn’t matter. It’s what’s inside that’s important.”

    Your bakers were better than mine …mine used dough for twelve loaves to make thirteen and a bit more profit.

    I used to love bread and dripping as a child…beef dripping being best.

  2. “Bob’s yer Uncle”

    We used to have fun as kids with this phrase as we did have an Uncle Bob or ‘Bobs’ as he was known, and he was very good as pontificating!

    The definition at Wiki is “Bob’s your uncle is a commonly used expression known mainly in Britain and Commonwealth countries. It is often used immediately following a set of simple instructions and roughly carries the same meaning as the phrase “and there you have it.” For example, “Simply put a piece of ham between two slices of bread, and Bob’s your uncle.”.

    I feel a bit like an old hen that’s gone to pot but I’m far too tough to be eaten! 😀

  3. Steph I didn’t have an Uncle Bob, but I heard that phrase many times growing up.

    Steph if you are an old hen… What does that make me? 😥

  4. Around here I still hear people say that before company comes over they have , “to straighten up the house”.

    The other one I use to hear as a kid basically means the same thing but has a Pennsylvania Dutch origin is, “Redd up” as in, I gotta’ redd up my room before I can go out..

  5. Good subject,as usual, Grannnymar.

    How about: Saying someone is a “Big Wig” because in the olden days the most important people wore the biggest wigs.

    “Bite the Bullet”. Before anesthesia, if a soldier was being operated on in the field of battle he was given a bullet to bite to take his mind off of the pain.

    Giving somebody the ” cold shoulder”.. If you had company you didn’t like very much you didn’t serve them the nice hot cooked mutton. You didn’t want them to return so you gave them the “Cold Shoulder”…

  6. Haha nice one GM. If we asked what was for dinner we were told “Kippers Eyes and Custard” a nice way of saying mind your own business. Or when we shouted rather than approached our mother “Where’s mum?” she’d reply “I’ve run away with a black man!” the mind boggles!

  7. Grannymar,

    I just remembered this one:

    If my Mother was very busy and one of us kids would ask her “What’s for Dinner? she would reply “FRIED ICE”

  8. Baino ~ “Kippers Eyes and Custard” is a new one on me! My mother often told us when we were naughty that she would Run away with a soldier!

    Nancy ~ “FRIED ICE”, thats a good one.

    If we turned our noses up at something my father would say “If you don’ eat it for your dnner you will get it for your tea!”

  9. Kippers and Custard! That was one of my father’s sayings. He swore that in WWII he saw an American eating Kippers and custard

    Has anyone heard ” Round here it’s all Kippers and Curtains.”? Meaning the homes are all show on the outside…keeping up appearances. That from an East Londoner.

  10. Magpie ‘Kippers and Custard’ and Kippers and Curtains are both new to me.

    I particularly like the latter!

  11. My grandfather whenever he was asked what he wanted for dinner would say ‘kippers and custard.’ so one day my aunt gave it to him, he ate every mouthful and never said anything against it. He continued to use the saying till his dying day despite being given it.

  12. Welcome fairymadness, once again the phrase ‘kippers and custard’ pops up. It sounds like it was a popular one.

    Mind you I am not sure about mixing the flavours.

  13. Kippers and Custard was a staple pudding for me as a kid, and was actually custard over cornflakes. Not sure how it got the name Kippers and Custard!

  14. Chris,

    Welcome and thanks for the background to the phrase ‘Kippers and Custard’!

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