Sunday, 2 May 2010

Browned Off

This post was due to be entitled Whither Phyllis? which is completely different from Wither Phyllis! It is imperative that I point this out. (There's a pun in there somewhere if you look hard enough.) Still, having formed the title, I swiftly realised that I would spend half the post explaining its significance which would have you summoning the usherettes and demanding an immediate refund.

Tangent: Did I tell you I was once employed as an usherette? Once as in forever ago, not as in a singular act of working - if only! I fell asleep in the second act of thirty-three performances of John Arden's The Happy Haven and sold more ices in the interval of Marat/Sade than anyone else. (It was Hot Stuff.)

Ooh, it wasn't a tangent. I've found a way to make a connection.

The reason I fell asleep during thirty-three performances of The Happy Haven was because it was such an unrelentingly dull play, directed in the dullest possible manner, with a cast of dull actors: altogether so very dull that I became browned off and eventually nodded off.

I always thought browned off meant fdup - sorry, slipped into Tyke there - fed up or annoyed. But according to Ivor Brown (get used to this; I shall be quoting from him a lot) browned off means bored and was the Service slang of the Greater War. (That Greater War is heart-wrenching, considering that Mr Brown penned these words in 1942 ...)

Why don't we like brown? We fall into brown studies. Certain toadies (see below) brown-nose. Electricity shortages lead to brown outs*. All right, we may become as brown as a berry but this is a fruit with which I am unfamiliar as, not being partial to acorns, all the berries I eat are either red or purple. In 1942 to do brown meant to cheat. I expect a certain gammon-pink someone will resurrect that expression in the near future and flog it to death over the next five years ...

* There are no subliminal messages in this post, except the one concerning Phyllis.


  1. You've give me an excuse to air a 'Two Ronnies' joke, about the usherette who inadvertently sat on her torch and showed herself up in the circle. Ta-dah!

  2. And here I thought it meant the same thing as p***ed off - which just goes to show you what happens to words once they across the Atlantic.

    Very funny as usual, Moptop. Thanks for the Tyke link - more completely useless but interesting things to read. I, too, am most confident in speakers with a Yorkshire accent.

  3. Those are the best posts, where the tangents end up being connected to the main topic after all! There's always a way!