When I have a patient who speaks Spanish, an interpreter is required for I speak little Spanish. Although I sign, my deaf patients have an ASL interpreter along.
I have an English patient**. When I am with her I wish there was such a thing as a British-English interpreter. It’s not her choice of words like ‘petrol”, ‘taps’, or ‘nappies” (gasoline, faucets, and diapers) that confuses me. Rather, it is her charming but unrecognizable expressions which leave me bewildered. I either pretend to know what she was saying or I stop the interview to ask for a translation.

Being a closet Brit I admit I enjoy them and I later try to use them myself. Most of the time I sound silly saying “Pull the other one!” in my Midwest accent with its pseudo-Canadian diphthongs.

Here are a few of my favorites. I hope you find them jolly good fun as I do!

It’s monkeys – apparently this means it’s very cold. It derives from ‘It’s cold enough to freeze the balls off of a brass monkey. It’s a fun but relatively useless idiom for living in AZ where the temperatures regularly get up to 40-45 centigrade.

To have a butcher’s – is ‘let’s have a look at it” I don’t know the origin of this one.

Chin-wag – a gossip.‘Lets have pour s wine and chin-wag and get caught up on the news’

Bob’s your uncle! – meaning presto, or right away.

He knows his onions – The fellow knows what he is doing or what is going on. I think of The Best Friend when I hear this expression, for he once gave me this tune with this title.


But my favorite?  Hands down < ‘Away with the fairies’.

She explained it means to be not focused, daydreaming.Oh sorry, I was a away with the fairies or Don’t mind Spo, he’s away with the fairies today’.



And – as a bonus – “Sooner I’d eat rats in Tewkesbury”. Contrary to what Spo-fans think, I did not make this one up. I think it comes from Shakespeare; I can’t quite right remember.  However, I am proud to be the one to keep the legacy alive and kicking.



rat-alone**The details are altered to protect the person’s confidentiality.