Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Taking the Mickey

Q. How do you hock and spit in French?

A. It's more or less the same way as in English. Hocking and spitting is fairly cross-cultural.

Q. No, no, I mean how do you spell it?

A. Ah. Try something along the lines of "reau patoui."

Q. Hi. I'm Matt.

A. I'm sure.

Q. Um.

A. Yes?

Q. I want to write about English people.

A. Whatever for, grasshopper?

Q. They're funny.

A. And barking mad. I suppose you want to do authentic-sounding English dialog?

Q. Yeah.

A. The first thing you need to remember is that they're barking mad. They use words that don't have anything at all to do with what they're actually trying to say. For example, instead of "make fun of," they say, "take the mickey."

Q. What's the "mickey"?

A. Honestly, I haven't got a clue. But you just need to know a few real substitutions, and then you can make up the rest. Sprinkle an "old chap" and an "I say" or two in there, and not even an English person will be able to tell.

Q. They won't?

A. Remember, they're barking.

Q. Right. Can you give me an example?

A. Certainly. Here's part of a scene from one of my published works, in which Prime Minister Tony Blair, drunk out of his gourd and off his wick after a Leo Sayer (that's an all-day drinking binge), stumbles up to Queen Elizabeth's private quarters...
The queen opened the door slowly and peeked out. It was Tony.

"Can I gab to your kermit?" he verbalized. "I haven't taken a gypsy in hours."

"I say, you're barking," she expressed, gesturing, through the crack. "Doesn't that scabby old rub-a-dub-dub you were in have a toilet?"

"I don't ken that, missus. I just can't stay away. Me berlins get all wobbly at the sight o' ye."

"Oh, all right." She actioned in spite of herself. "Come in for a pig's ear, aye you ol' bugger?"

"I could use a giggle, auntie. What say later we shove off in the nanny and take a drip in the Thames? Maybe a little posh later, nudge, nudge?"

"I tought you was bent, Tony."

"That Brighton bit's just a bit of a public thing, missus. I'm no poofter in private. Can't keep afar from a cuddle and kiss like Your Highness."

"I reckon you're mental, old chap."

"True. But the old duke is brown bread, and I'm the closest you've got."

"Now you're taking the mickey."

Q. Very authentic.

A. Thank you.

Q. Which is to say, not very.

A. That's a load of old Jacksons, Philistine, and I've had enough of your hide and seek. This 'ere's perfectly good chitty-chitty.

Q. You're draggin' Bob Hope, mate.

A. Now you've got it.

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