Notes to iDream Ice-Cream iScream

In case you’re not familiar with some of the slang, word-play and references I’ve used in the poem, you may find these notes helpful.

iDream cover

 

 

 

 

 

Book cover:
The figure (inspired by a painting by Edvard Munch) is holding an ice-cream cone (a popular treat at the British seaside)

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Poem:

Down – the soft feathers in a pillow, mattress or duvet

Ill blows the wind that profits nobody – quotation from William Shakespeare’s play “Henry VI”

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Razor Bill – nickname associated with the habitual use of an open razor as a weapon
Bill – short for William
A razorbill – also a black-and-white seabird
Bill – a term for a large or strong beak
Auk – another name for the bird razorbill

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Sean – Irish name pronounced Shawn
Well... Well... Well...  an expression of false surprise
You’re welcome to...  you’re free to have… if you want (also implied: I don’t want them)

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She sells sea shells on the sea shore – traditional tongue-twister

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Rip Van Winkle – short story by Washington Irving, published 1819
RIP – abbreviation used on tombstones: “Rest in Peace”

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You are what you eat – title of a 1942 publication by Victor Lindlahr (nutritionist)

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Ebbing and flowing – normal movement of the sea
Sobbing – loud weeping

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In ropy nick – in poor condition
Bought on tick with... – bought with credit
Tacking – zigzag manner in which a sailing boat makes headway against the wind
Tack – temporarily or roughly stitch fabric
Tacky – poor quality or in poor taste
Shabby – in poor condition
Weaving its way – making zig-zag progress
Peeky – feeling rather unwell
Dot the ‘i’s and cross the ‘t’s – take care of every detail, be meticulous
Captain Ahab – character in Joseph Conrad’s novel “Moby Dick”
Wailing and gnashing of teeth – quote from the Bible – meaning anguish

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Flighty – capricious or unstable
Flock – a group of birds or of sheep
Birds of a feather flock together – a saying meaning that people / animals associate with their own sort
Look down on – consider someone or something of little value
Fleece – a sheep's coat
Fleecy clouds – fluffy cloud formation
Act the goat – behave foolishly

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Brush – touch lightly
– tidy hair with a brush

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Howzat – in cricket, call to umpire by bowler: ‘How’s that?’

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Get a buzz from – be excited / stimulated by

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Nature red in tooth and claw quote from Tennyson’s poem “In Memoriam”

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Mexican wave – wave effect when a crowd in a stadium rise up and down from their seats in succession
Flying by the seat of one’s pants – acting on one’s own judgement and initiative without the use of aids
Volga Boatmen – traditional Russian song

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Bar – unit of pressure equivalent to atmospheric pressure at sea level
– where one can buy alcoholic drinks
– a sandbank
Shoot the breeze – chat, talk idly
Do nothing by halves – be unstinting
halves – half-pints of beer

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Round the bend – around the corner
– mad / insane
Hearties – sailors / comrades
Pukka – authentic, genuine, first class (Hindi derivation)
Close shave – a narrow escape

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The morning after – reference to a hangover in the morning
A fate worse than death – originally a euphemism for rape
see Edward Gibbon's “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” 1781;
also Edgar Rice Burroughs' “Tarzan of the Apes” 1914
Over a barrel – having no option
Hung out to dry – abandoned by friends or associates to one’s fate
To get the rough end of someone’s tongue – to be severely told off

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Eight Bells – bell struck 8 times on board ship to indicate the end of the duty watch
– Bells is a brand of Whisky
I bin took – I’ve been cheated
Sling one’s hook – leave / depart
Throw in one’s hand – throw down one’s playing cards
Rig the game – cheat
Rig / rigging – naval terms
Swab the deck – mop the floor

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Ready salted, Salt and vinegar – popular flavours of potato crisps
Smith – major UK manufacturer of potato crisps
Taking the piss – (vulgar) insulting or mocking someone

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Legless – drunk
Four sheets to the wind – sailing term
– to be drunk
Sailors hornpipe – a popular naval tune

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The Merchant of Venice – play by William Shakespeare
Guinness – popular Irish dark beer (stout)
Shylock – a central character in “The Merchant of Venice”
- also a term for a moneylender
Loan shark – a moneylender

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POW – Prisoner of War
Wop – derogatory term for an Italian
Dot the ‘i’s and cross the ‘t’s – take care of every detail, be meticulous
Hit the ground running – get off to a brisk & successful start
Quick on one’s feet – react quickly to circumstances
On his beat – (eg policeman) making a regular patrol in an area
Step on someone’s toes – upset someone
The Firm – refers to an illegal gang or organisation
Cover – subterfuge / false identity

back to "Ciao ‘Wop’ Ciao ‘Pow’"

Muscle-bound – have large powerful muscles
Egg-bound – to be constipated
Prop up the bar – stand at a bar counter
Prop up – to support
Schooner of port – large measure of port in a specialised glass
Schooner – sailing ship
Floozie – woman
Chips – French fries
Cold fish – hard-hearted, unfeeling
Fish-fingers – rectangular pieces of fish coated in breadcrumbs

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Aye-Aye – naval term acknowledging an order
To eye – to look at appreciatively
Artful Dodger – young pickpocket in Charles Dickens’ “Oliver Twist”
To dodge – to shift suddenly from place to place
Jolly Roger – flag of a pirate ship often depicting a skull and crossbones
Roger – have sexual intercourse with

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Yo Ho Ho (and a bottle of rum) – traditional pirate’s song
Hoe the ground – remove weeds with a specialised tool
Cornish pasty – traditional meat & potato pie from Cornwall
Look back in anger – 1956 play by John Osborne
Private Eye – private detective
Privateer – person or ship engaged in piracy on behalf of a government

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Call someone names – insult someone
Eyewash – nonsense
Apprenticeship – period of training for a young person
Buck the system – ignore the rules
Grog – ration of naval rum

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Grin from ear to ear – to smile broadly
– to have one’s throat cut
Sea-dog – experienced mariner
Hard but fair – rigorous but just enforcement of the rules
String someone up – to hang them
No messing – without delay
Treat without fear or favour – treat impartially

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Captain Bob...Ghislaine – Robert Maxwell (newspaper proprietor), often nicknamed ‘Captain Bob’, disappeared from his sailing-ship Ghislaine. It was later discovered that he had embezzled his company’s pension fund
Mizzen-mast – the third mast from the bow of a sailing ship
Scum – disreputable people (During the Napoleonic Wars the Duke of Wellington famously described his own troops as ‘The scum of the earth’)
Public schoolboy – a pupil at a private (usually expensive) boarding school
The Admirable Crichton – a play by J M Barrie
Learn the ropes – learn how to do a job properly
Walk the plank – method of execution used by pirates

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The sound of one hand clapping – Zen saying
Dog days – hottest days of summer (late August)
Doggo – remain out of sight
Dog-end – cigarette butt
Cocks his leg – urinates
Dog and bone – Cockney rhyming slang ‘telephone’

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Hooch – illegally-distilled grain alcohol
(In 1989 there was an American film (with Tom Hanks) starring a dog called Hooch)
Duty free – untaxed
A free spirit – someone who lives unconstrained by society

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Sea eagle – bird of prey
Legal-eagle – lawyer
Fine-tune – make small adjustments to maximise effectiveness
Give something claws – embed powerful sanctions
The devil hides in the detail – traditional saying

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Mole – coastal promontary
Foaming at the mouth – enraged
High-flyer – ambitious person
Road to perdition – song & film title
Perdition – loss of the soul / eternal death

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Working lunch – lunch over which business is discussed
Time to kill – (unproductive) time to pass
– also a quote from the Bible
Liquidation – murder

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....come and go talking of Michaelangelo – quote from TS Elliot “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”
Racket – illegal but profitable activity
Due up in court – obliged to go to court to answer charges
Pack heat – carry a gun
Tooled up – carrying weapons
Black & Decker – manufacturer of electrical tools
Smith & Wesson – US manufacturer of hand-guns
Stanley knife – workplace utility knife with short retractable blade
A job – an illegal activity (eg robbing a bank)

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The Kray twins – 1960’s London gang leaders
Crayfish – crustaceans

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Donkeys years – a long time
A spin – pleasure trip in a car
Jack – male donkey
Jenny – female donkey
Diogenes – Greek philosopher
Young Turk – restless young adult impatient for change
Dicky ticker – heart susceptible to heart attack
Bootlicker – sycophant

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Nobody’s fool – astute person
Foal – young donkey
Barrel of fun – entertaining person
(reputedly Diogenes lived in a barrel)
Dodgy knees – knees prone to injury
Get off the fence – support one side against another / make one’s mind up between options
Budge – move

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Footprints on the sands of time – from “Voices in the Night : a Psalm of Life” by H W Longfellow
Groucho Marx – comedian
Karl Marx – philosopher
Jelly-roll Morton – Ragtime / Jazz pianist
Elvis Presley – singer (renowned for his appetite for food and drugs in his later years)
Go Man Go – a line in Elvis’ hit song ‘Blue Suede Shoes’

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Loner – isolated person
Slacks – casual trousers
Slack – not tense or taut
Slip – lose one's foothold
Slip on – put on clothing / shoes
Drunk and disorderly – public order offence
Duncan – common Scottish name
Gurn – pull faces
Reel – highland dance
Croon – sing in a sentimental way (eg Dean Martin)
Moon – bare one’s buttocks in public
Merry-go-round – fairground / playground ride
Kilt – Scottish garment (under which traditionally no underwear is worn)
Out of kilter – out of balance / wobbling
rrrrs – polite for ‘arse’ (buttocks)

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Breakdown – mechanical or psychological collapse
Pull oneself together – reassemble one’s composure
Pull up one’s socks – improve one’s attitude / performance
Pull it off – succeed
Postman Pat with his black-and-white cat... theme song to a children's cartoon
Van Morrison – a singer
Street cred – acceptance and respect among young people in an urban environment

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Fired – dismissed from one’s job
Fire ball – energetically enthusiastic person
(I don't want to) set the world on fire – song by the Ink Spots, 1941
Under fire – subject to verbal criticism or attack
Fireworks – a row / violent argument
Fired up – excited
Round the bend – round the corner
– insane
Approaching sixty – nearing sixty years old
– nearing sixty miles per hour
A driven man – obsessed, someone pushing themselves to their limit

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The Count of Monte Cristo – novel by Alexandre Dumas
Polo, Golf – models of VW cars
Toe to Toe – close combat
Neck and neck – very little margin between competitors – a close race

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A stone’s throw away – not far away
Castaway – someone abandoned by a ship/ shipwrecked
Having the time of one’s life – enjoying oneself greatly
God moves in mysterious ways – Biblical saying

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Navel gazing – excessive introspection
Navel – type of orange

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Graze – feed on grass
– a minor abrasion to skin
Cowed – intimidated
Dry expression – to look unimpressed
Dichrome – being able to see in only 2 colours (blues and yellows in the case of cows)
Until the cows come home – for a very long time (proverbial)

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Colossus of Rhodes – a giant statue – one of the seven Wonders of the World
Molossus – a metrical foot in formal poetry (example: Tennyson ‘Break Break Break’)
Quarry – source of stone for building etc
– prey

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All quiet on the Western Front – a novel and a film about the battlefront in World War I
Balloon goes up – indication that a military offensive is about to start
The back of beyond – remote, far away from anything
Pillbox – concrete gun emplacement
Pillbox hat – style of headgear

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Dedicated to Mars – trained in military skills

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Nippers – young children
Pampers – disposable nappies
Woggle – device to fasten a neckerchief
Duffles – duffle coats
Toggles – (on duffle coats) horn fasteners and loops in place of buttons
Bombshell – glamorous woman
Molotov cocktail – home-made incendiary device

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Brad Pitt – actor
Doggerel – bad poetry

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Black sheep – disreputable member of group or family

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Wise guy – member of a criminal gang
Wisecrack – flippant / witty remark
Burger King – fast-food outlet
Shooter – gun
Pea-shooter – toy: tube through which to fire peas
In the frame – to be a suspect or implicated in something
On the hook – to be in an awkward situation
A brew – a cup of tea / glass of beer
Caff – cafe
Shake a leg – hurry up
See a man about a dog – deliberately vague explanation of why one is leaving

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Skip – large open-topped metal container for rubbish
Kip – sleep

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Scar Face – nickname of a person with a scar on their face
Scarf – knitted neckwear
Ace – expert
A-C Cobra – sportscar from 1960’s
Knit one’s brow – frown

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Pull the wool over someone’s eyes – fool them
A big hitter – someone who has power / influence
Hit – murder

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Top dog – boss

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Sweeney Todd – a fictional 19th century character – a murderous barber
Mrs Lovett – Sweeney Todd’s partner in crime (made pies from the flesh of his victims)
The Hollow Men – poem by TS Elliot
This is the way the world ends.....Not with a bang but a whimper – from the poem “The Hollow Men”
Crimper – hairdresser / barber

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