Giddy Kippers and Cocks

I’m feeling a bit giddy as Christmas approaches, and that reminded me of the phrase “Giddy Kipper”.

My Gran used to call me a “giddy kipper” whenever I got, well, giddy.  Actually, the full saying is “Eeee by ‘eck yer giddy kipper!”, said in an exclamatory manner in a Yorkshire brogue. It’s always struck me as an odd saying as I’ve seen numerous kippers over the years and none of them have ever been remotely giddy.

Had I been acting like a statue and been called a “statuesque kipper” I could appreciate that, because kippers are the most lifeless things I have ever come across.  If I have seen one kipper I have seen at least 34, and none of them have ever moved.  Ever.  Not ever.  Never.

Intrigued, I looked it up online, here is what the first google entry says:

Wot does the saying giddy kipper mean and where does it come from? X

‘Giddykipper’- A very talkative and excitable person. No definite origin but likely from giddy being something tiring. Kippers are excitable male salmon.

Read more http://www.kgbanswers.co.uk/wot-does-the-saying-giddy-kipper-mean-and-where-does-it-come-from-x/1906768#ixzz2FaqoLIz7

Kippers are excitable male salmon apparently.  And there’s me thinking a kipper is nothing but a dried herring?  How do people get away with such stuff?  That definition is so outrageously inaccurate it defies belief.  Not only is a kipper not a salmon, but it isn’t anything remotely excitable.  Cut a herring in two, let it dry in the sun and tell me if it’s ‘excitable’.  See?

But hang on, search and ye shall find, for later on I saw this:

Origin: 
before 1000; Middle English kypre, Old English cypera  spawningsalmon, apparently derivative of cyperen  of copper, i.e., copper-colored

Now, I should imagine a salmon that’s just about to spawn might in truth be a little giddy, so maybe there is some truth in the saying after all?

But wait, there’s more:

kip·per

2  [kip-er]  Show IPA

noun, Australian Informal.

a young male Aborigine, usually 14 to 16 years old, who has recently undergone his tribal initiation rite.
I could also hazard a guess that a male, 16 yr old boy who has just undergone his tribal initiation rite might also be a bit giddy.  I know I would be.  In fact aged 16 I was often giddy.  As a teenager I got giddy at the drop of a hat.  Once, a girl in my school dropped her hat in the playground and I picked it up for her, and I went so giddy I had to sit down:
 
1981, Barnsley
Girl: Damn I’ve dropped my hat
Me: Err, here … {hands over retrieved hat}
Girl: Ta cock, You alright?  By ‘eck you look as giddy as a kipper Ramsbottom!
Me: Hi, err, hi …. Christ.  Err … I mean I love you.
Girl: You what? What did you say, you geeky skinny freak?!!!!
Me: Err nothing (runs away … then sits down)
 
“Cock” was another popular saying in the old days.  As used by the 16yr old girl from my childhood playground played out in the scene above, it was often a kind of term of endearment. Nowadays it might be “mate” or “pal”, but back then in my part of the world it was “cock”.
 
“Cock” had another popular usage too, but unlike the one above, this wasn’t Yorkshire wide, but seemed much more local.  It was also the name of the best fighter in your school year.  It was as rough as a buzzard’s crutch where I grew up and there was a clearly defined pecking order, as discussed in an earlier blog entry, and my cousin Nige was cock of the year above me, which was nice.
 
“Eyup Cock!” first example
“Eyup sithy, that’s Nige, he’s cock o’t’school!” would be an oft used phrase encompassing the second example, and:
 
“By ‘eck cock, thar a reyt giddy kipper thee, thar wants to watch theesen else Nige’ll knock yer block off, he’s cock on’t school thar knows!” 
is a sentence that neatly encompasses all aforementoned phrases all in one. So there.  You’ve learned something today.
 
Of course, if you said “cock” to a kid today they’d just laugh in your face.  And then the Police would arrest you.
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