Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Tuesday 12th March 1940

As there are so many duties here and as the signallers are temporarily exempt, the gunners, drivers, and specialists are seldom off duty of some kind. Tonight, the guard dismounted (a 24 hour guard), had tea and hurried off to mount for a 24 hour fire piquet. “No waiting!” said “Froggie” French, an old sweat, “Straight off guard and onto fire piquet! No waiting”.

What a number of quaint sayings have crept into our everyday language. Amusing ejaculations. “No waiting!” is one of the latest. It was born of “Straight on the boat – no waiting!” – ironical quip at our slow journey. And there’s the phrase “Keen”. A man polishes that extra bit of brass work; or swots his lecture notes (like Sid and I do, most nights in the canteen); or he is eager to please the Powers; or runs when he need only walk. He’s – “Keen, see?” And “Browned-off” ie fed-up. A very common phrase. And there’s “Any moment now!” more gentle sarcasm at the rapid way (?) in which things get done in the Army. In England they display a warning notice, in public places: “Careless Talk May Give Away Vital Secrets” So another cry of ours, often irrelevant, is, “Careless Talk! - !”

And last but mostly in the vogue is, “That shook ‘em!” and it’s many derivatives. “NCO’s will shortly give a lecture to the class” said our instructing officer today, “It will be good practice for you”. We blanched visibly. “That shook you, Podgie,” I whispered hoarsely to Sid Pond. During the recent local riots, the RSM, who delights to shout, “Eyes-right-as-you-were” all in one breath, was sent along to Rehovot. “He’ll bawl, “Go-in-the-house-come-out,”” chuckled Dick Gilbert. There was the inevitable rejoinder from someone in the tent, “That will shake ‘em”. I hooted; I could almost see the poor old Jews, getting all shaky at receiving such an order!

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