Rat in the Skull - a glossary of slang and terms

Austrian students tackling a reading of Ron Hutchinson's RAT IN THE SKULL for this week's seminar on exile and the Troubles might find this glossary of land useful to help them through the colloquial speech in this drama. 

Rat in the Skull – Northern Irish and London English Vernacular

Glossary and Notes for reading the play                        cf. = compare wit

Big smoke – slang for London

Coppers – Policemen cf. Peelers (constabulary)  coppering = policing

PC – Police Constable, lowest rank. [PC Naylor] DC – Detective Inspector [Nelson, higher.

Note the RUC – Royal Ulster [ugly] Constabulary were separate police force for Northern Ireland; this force was almost wholly staffed by Ulster Protestants and therefor a sectarian organisation. It was disbanded and reformed as part of Good Friday Agreement (1998) as the PSNI – Police Service of Northern Ireland – with positive recruitment to it by Catholics. This is not the case at time of the play.

cf. the Metropolitan the Met – the police force in London

Con – short for ‘convict’  (Copper – con “we can hold on to that one.”, (p. 12)

Hunkers – Hiberno-English = haunches, backside

Paddington Green – a district in London and location for police station

Paddy – English slang for Irish /also Irish familiar version of Patrick.

Michael Patrick de Valera Demon Bomber Roche – note the mocking Nationalist sarcasm of the Irish leader. See also ‘Where’s my giro [unemployed payment scheme] Roche’], p. 14

Goolies – English slang for testicles

Popped his cherry – lost his virginity

Gob/gobbed in – spit saliva in

Turd – shit 

Standing Order – required police procedure

Our patch – jurisdiction

the Federation [of police officers] – a Trade union for policemen

wally – stupid person

GBH – grievous bodily harm (like assault)

Colloguing – to collogue? never heard of this (guess it means collaborating/ plotting)

Photy fits – Derry accent for photo-fits. Composite photograph technology to image suspects of crimes by police.

Army chopper– helicopter

Scowling Mick (Roche) vs ‘Royal Orange Gorilla’ (Nelson)

Had wised me up – kept me informed of what they were planning

Nick – police station/prison 

Stitched up – organized behind the scenes/slightly illegally

On leave – on holiday

Get some in – army slang, meaning gain some good experience.

‘A boiling of coffins’ (p.13) – I’m guessing here – a lot of….

Missus – Mrs, my missus (my wife).   See also ‘old dear’ (wife/mother)

‘Imitation Anglos up at Stormont’ – Official Unionist Party politicians in Government 1921-1972) – clearly Nelson’s is a working class protestant view who disdains the ruling class of his own ‘side’. This is important to bring out in the play and its context in the 1980s as traditional, hegemonic Unionism broke down. (p. 14)

‘A wrong footer’ – Catholic (p.15)

to peek – to look secretly

DPP – British. Director of Public Prosecutions. Body that decides which legal cases the Crown/state will pursue.

To (not) give a monkey’s – to not care at all. Almost always expressed in negative.