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Folklore-Origin: I'll go to the foot of our stairs

YorkshireYankee 18 Oct 13 - 11:06 PM
Joe Offer 19 Oct 13 - 01:42 AM
Dave Hanson 19 Oct 13 - 03:42 AM
Jim Carroll 19 Oct 13 - 04:14 AM
Roger the Skiffler 19 Oct 13 - 06:01 AM
GUEST,Musket evolving slowly 19 Oct 13 - 06:17 AM
GUEST,gower el bombero 20 Oct 13 - 12:37 PM
r.padgett 20 Oct 13 - 01:06 PM
GUEST,Fred McCormick 20 Oct 13 - 01:28 PM
Paul Burke 20 Oct 13 - 02:56 PM
GUEST,Dáithí 22 Oct 13 - 07:42 AM
MikeofNorthumbria 22 Oct 13 - 02:01 PM
Les in Chorlton 22 Oct 13 - 02:12 PM
Steve Shaw 22 Oct 13 - 03:04 PM
GUEST,Guest from the Land of Oz 22 Oct 13 - 09:03 PM
My guru always said 23 Oct 13 - 02:33 AM
Jim Carroll 23 Oct 13 - 03:19 AM
GUEST, Paul Slade 23 Oct 13 - 08:26 AM
YorkshireYankee 23 Oct 13 - 07:12 PM
GUEST,Raggytash 24 Oct 13 - 07:48 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 24 Oct 13 - 01:39 PM
GUEST,Raggytash 24 Oct 13 - 02:32 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 24 Oct 13 - 02:54 PM
Old Grey Wolf 24 Oct 13 - 03:20 PM
Steve Shaw 24 Oct 13 - 07:47 PM
GUEST,vanman 03 Jan 16 - 06:14 AM
Rumncoke 03 Jan 16 - 07:38 PM
GUEST,AR 04 Jan 16 - 06:13 PM
GUEST 11 Mar 17 - 05:19 AM
GUEST 11 Mar 17 - 05:27 AM
GUEST 11 Mar 17 - 06:14 PM
GUEST 31 May 17 - 12:52 AM
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Subject: Folklore: Origin:I'll go to the foot of our stairs
From: YorkshireYankee
Date: 18 Oct 13 - 11:06 PM

An expression I've heard more than once (in the Sheffield area) is "Well I'll go to the foot of our stairs!" - as an expression of surprise/amazement.

From the moment I first heard it, I was curious about its derivation.

(Before you ask, I've done a Mudcat search - and a Google search...)

This article (found at: http://www.spanish-country-villa.com/stairs/) includes all of the theories I've encountered thus far:

...there is an expression in the British panoply of oddities that is both obscure and worthy of some debate.

Claims for the geographical origin of the phrase can only be narrowed down as far as the West Midlands and include Manchester and the Black Country ?at the same time as crediting its later (and wider) use in Yorkshire.

One authority has it that the phrase could have started in complete obscurity ?say just one family, it spread into the community and then common use.

I have personal experience of a phrase of similar obscurity ?my ex-wife's mother would often make ribald references to the size of some of the more intimate parts of a persons body as "enough to wallop a dog out of a tripe shop." To the best of my knowledge there is no such thing as a specialist shop that sells mainly tripe (and that is only the beginning of the incongruities in such a short phrase).

One explanation I have come upon has more to do with symbolic verbal imagery than anything else. To "go to the foot of the stairs and touch the newel post" (the post at the bottom end of the banisters) was symbolic of beginning one's rite of passage or ascendancy into maturity and adulthood. To find yourself placed back at the 'foot of the stairs' was to be so astonished that you felt as a child may in the face of overwhelming news or information. As explanations go, it has a faint ring of plausibility about it, but seems a little esoteric

Alternatively, a more prosaic explanations may apply such as the fact that in old slum houses in Manchester (and probably other places), it was common for there to be the entrance to a small cellar at the bottom of the stairs. This was normally a dark and dank place, sometimes used for storing coal. It was also sometimes used as a "sin bin" for naughty children.

So "I'll go to the foot of our stairs" may have originated as an exclamation, because "the foot of the stairs" was the entrance to the darkest and dankest place in the house. This would make it similar to saying "Well, I'll be damned" (an exclamation that is based on something unpleasant).

It's equally possible that this old expression of surprise or amazement could have meant that the short walk to the place mentioned would allow the speaker to recover equanimity. Or perhaps it meant it was time to give up and go to bed!


Any other knowledge/suggestions?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Origin:I'll go to the foot of our stairs
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Oct 13 - 01:42 AM

Not an expression I've heard in the United States, but I'm intrigued enough to refresh the thread.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Origin:I'll go to the foot of our stairs
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 19 Oct 13 - 03:42 AM

There certainly were ' tripe shops ' in West Yorkshire, from my childhood I remember one in Halifax Borough Market.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Origin:I'll go to the foot of our stairs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Oct 13 - 04:14 AM

The North of England had many such intriguing sayings.
I remember once entering a room in a public building in Liverpool and, not finding what I expected, turning round to go, only to be called back with "Come in, it's a shop".
This apparently referred to the custom of some tenants on council estates who would apply for licences to turn the front rooms of their homes into shops which served the immediate community.
Planning laws forbade them from altering the appearance of their homes in any way, so some of them hung a temporary sign on their door saying "Come in, it's a shop" - which became a popular catch-phrase and added to the rich store of word-lore of Liverpool.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Origin:I'll go to the foot of our stairs
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 19 Oct 13 - 06:01 AM

Certainly common in my West Midland's childhood as an expression of surprise (used in front of we "liitle rabbits with big ears" rather than "bugger me!"). I think often used by 40's/50's comedians- Sid Fields? Norman Evans?

RtS


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Origin:I'll go to the foot of our stairs
From: GUEST,Musket evolving slowly
Date: 19 Oct 13 - 06:17 AM

Not quite sure which led to the other, but foot rhymes with an expletive and far more common in the South Yorkshire pit I worked down was, if you'll pardon my French..

I'll gu tu fuck!

Whether one was a sanitised of the other or vice versa I don't know.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Origin:I'll go to the foot of our stairs
From: GUEST,gower el bombero
Date: 20 Oct 13 - 12:37 PM

Not able to help on the original query but on the wider issue of local sayings around the West Midlands / Black Country area, my mother (and others) used the following expression (in the dialect) "Yow bay osterd ay".

This was usually in response to someone who was being a bit offensive or challenging; it is directly translated as " You are not as high as a horse turd"- or more loosely "You are a little person who is not worth listening to".


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Origin:I'll go to the foot of our stairs
From: r.padgett
Date: 20 Oct 13 - 01:06 PM

Common expression in Barnsley ~ "I'll go t'foot o ar stairs" expression of amazement certainly

Also "I'll go to bottom o Stainbrough Low" ~ Low road is at the bottom of a steep hill leading to Wentworth Castle at Stainbrough, with the same meaning

"Come in it's a shop" has been used when a door seemingly opens of its own accord (usually inside door which is affected by the wind) and has a connotation of past (dead) owners or inhabitants just visiting!!!

Ray


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Origin:I'll go to the foot of our stairs
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 20 Oct 13 - 01:28 PM

It was used on Merseyside, by my mother at any rate. The fact that she was born in Birkenhead and lived there or in neighbouring Wallasey all her life, except for a short spell in the West Midlands during WW11, suggests that it was in frequent use around these parts.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Origin:I'll go to the foot of our stairs
From: Paul Burke
Date: 20 Oct 13 - 02:56 PM

Minced oath. Esspecially if you remember that the article is mostly swallowed in many northern English dialects. "I'll go to 'f..." and the relieveing euphemistic phrase follows. Which was common practice in an age (actually a very short age, but they got to write the books) when only aristocrats and paupers could swear. The effects lasted into the age of recordings. "I can't do my bottom belly button up" managed to get two naughty words into a best selling song, and a lot of the humour of a generation or so before ours revolved around not quite saying the bad word that most (but not all) of the audience knew.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Origin:I'll go to the foot of our stairs
From: GUEST,Dáithí
Date: 22 Oct 13 - 07:42 AM

A neighbour of mine in Mancheter had "Well, I'll go to Buxton".
???


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Origin:I'll go to the foot of our stairs
From: MikeofNorthumbria
Date: 22 Oct 13 - 02:01 PM

I remember hearing George Formby exclaim "Well I'll go to the foot of our stairs!" in at least one of his comedy films - possibly 'Leave it to George' , or 'No Limit'. (For those who don't remember/never heard of George, he was a famous comedian from Lancashire, who died around 1960.)

A quick Google search produced this answer:

http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/38/messages/1425.html

and this one:

http://uk.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090506115327AAxdKGE

The latter also attributes the phrase to Tommy Handley - apparently used on the 1940s radio comedy show 'ITMA'.

And that's all I know folks,

Wassail!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Origin:I'll go to the foot of our stairs
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 22 Oct 13 - 02:12 PM

I rather fancy it is used in mockery of someone who has just stated the bl**den obvious as if it was a statement of genius


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Origin:I'll go to the foot of our stairs
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 22 Oct 13 - 03:04 PM

"I'll go to t'foot of our stairs" was common in our house in Radcliffe, Lancashire in t'fifties. As was the exclamation "blood an' stomach pills!" and the complaint about someone invading personal space a bit too much "Eee, 'e sticks ter me like shit to a blanket!" Then there was the euphemistic "E's as 'appy as pigs in Shudehill!"


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Origin:I'll go to the foot of our stairs
From: GUEST,Guest from the Land of Oz
Date: 22 Oct 13 - 09:03 PM

I grew up in Yorkshire and an elderly man I had a lot to do with in his capacity as owner of the local riding stables often said "Well, I'll go to aar 'ouse" so perhaps it is just irony like the Aussie expression that something which is perhaps not quite as good as you were hoping for (e.g. your horse won and you collected the princely sum of $2) is "better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick."


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Origin:I'll go to the foot of our stairs
From: My guru always said
Date: 23 Oct 13 - 02:33 AM

Yes, a common expression in our house too, probably from my Mother who was originally from Lancashire.

Another phrase she'd use was 'there'll be wigs on the green'. Never knew where that came from, but it always meant that someone was in trouble!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Origin:I'll go to the foot of our stairs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Oct 13 - 03:19 AM

'there'll be wigs on the green'
Irish saying, included in one of the verses of 'The Limerick Rake' - I've always associated it with faction fighting..
The verse below refers to a poteen still
Jim Carroll

The Cow can be milked without clover or grass
For she's pampered with corn, good barley and hops
She's warm and she's stout , and she'd free in her paps
And she'll milk without spancell or halter.
And the man that will milk her will cock his caubeen,
and if anyone coughs tharell be wigs on the green
And the feeble old hag will get supple and free.
Agus fágaimid suídmar atá sé.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Origin:I'll go to the foot of our stairs
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 23 Oct 13 - 08:26 AM

There's an episode of the (Yorkshire-set) sitcom Open All Hours where Granville ups the sarcastic amazement a notch further by declaring "Well, I'll go to the foot of my sock!"


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Origin:I'll go to the foot of our stairs
From: YorkshireYankee
Date: 23 Oct 13 - 07:12 PM

Thanks to everyone for all these great comments!

So far, the "substitution" theory (like "gee" instead of "Jesus Christ!") sounds most plausible to me.

Mike of NUmbria: thanks, I found those links, too (as a matter of fact, most of the links I found seemed to quote the phrases.org entry). I debated whether to include them (or at least one of them), but the "explanation" seemed a bit weak to me, so I left it.

In case folks are wondering what we're referring to, here 'tis (from http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/38/messages/1425.html):

Go to the foot of the stairs

Posted by ESC on December 26, 2004

From one of my newly acquired books:
(well) I'LL GO TO THE FOOT OF OUR STAIRS! - "An old north England expression of surprise or amazement - meaning presumably, that the short walk to the place mentioned would allow the speaker to recover equanimity. Or perhaps it meant it was time to give up and go to bed! Used by Tommy Handley in BBC Radio's ITMA (1940s) and elsewhere. Said to have been used by the entertainer George Formby as 'Eeh, I'll go to the foot of our stairs', as also, 'Eeh, I'll go to our 'ouse (pronounced 'our rouse')' - Robina Hinton, Suffolk . Chris Littlefair gave this variation from the North-East : 'I'll go to the bottom of our garden.'" From "Oops, Pardon Mrs Arden! An Embarrassment of Domestic Catchphrases" by Nigel Rees (Robson Books, London, 2001) Page 99-100.

Submitted by viewers/listeners to Mr. Rees on British TV and radio. The dates are when the informants submitted the information to him.


Again, thanks to all who have contributed!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Origin:I'll go to the foot of our stairs
From: GUEST,Raggytash
Date: 24 Oct 13 - 07:48 AM

You don't know of any tripe shops! Lancashire at least used to be littered with them. My first full summer job was working for UCP (united Cattle Products) in one of their restaurants. Downstairs was a shop that sold different kinds of tripe and offal and upstairs was the restaurant where we had a least 3 kinds of tripe available on the menu. This was in 1969, it kept going for several years after that. We used to have battles with the tripe and if you've never been slapped round the face with 2lb of thick seam you've haven't lived !


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Origin:I'll go to the foot of our stairs
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 24 Oct 13 - 01:39 PM

Go to blazes


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Origin:I'll go to the foot of our stairs
From: GUEST,Raggytash
Date: 24 Oct 13 - 02:32 PM

Well said Q, I could not have expressed myself more succinctly if I, like you, had nothing to say.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Origin:I'll go to the foot of our stairs
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 24 Oct 13 - 02:54 PM

There are so many of these expressions.
Trying to trace them to origin is near hopeless.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Origin:I'll go to the foot of our stairs
From: Old Grey Wolf
Date: 24 Oct 13 - 03:20 PM

There certainly was a tripe shop in Cavendish street in Barrow-in-Furness many years ago.


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Subject: RE: Folklore-Origin: I'll go to the foot of our stairs
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 24 Oct 13 - 07:47 PM

There was a UCP tripe shop in Radcliffe in the 50s. They also sold cowheel (I suppose they all did). My mum owned and ran the local chippie in Victoria Street, right next to the pub. I tried tripe once and was not disgusted, but neither was I overly impressed. Give me a Greenhalgh's meat and potato pie any time.


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Subject: RE: Folklore-Origin: I'll go to the foot of our stairs
From: GUEST,vanman
Date: 03 Jan 16 - 06:14 AM

I think "There'll be wigs on the green" comes from the days of yore when men wore wigs and if a duel was to be fought, the participants would lay their wigs on the grass before battle commenced, no point in getting blood on an expensive wig! It could also apply to any "dust up" or bare knuckle fight that might take place on the village green.


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Subject: RE: Folklore-Origin: I'll go to the foot of our stairs
From: Rumncoke
Date: 03 Jan 16 - 07:38 PM

My dad used to say Well, I'll go to the foot of our stairs when not exactly astonished, but having been told something or found out something most unexpected - to such news as 'Charlie 'arry's getting married next week - to 'is landlady'.
There was a tripe stall on Barnsley market in the 1960s, but it didn't just sell tripe, it had elder, and bottles of neats' foot oil too.


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Subject: RE: Folklore-Origin: I'll go to the foot of our stairs
From: GUEST,AR
Date: 04 Jan 16 - 06:13 PM

I wonder whether 'wigs on the green' should really be 'Whigs on the green'?

Probably not.


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Subject: RE: Folklore-Origin: I'll go to the foot of our stairs
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Mar 17 - 05:19 AM

There were (probably still are to a lesser extent) specialist tripe shops. Tripe is far less popular now because frankly people must be smarter now and refuse to eat cows stomach lining! But seriously there is and most definitely was tripe shops. My dad recalls going with my grandma some 60 years ago and getting a bag of tripe smothered in salt and vinegar.


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Subject: RE: Folklore-Origin: I'll go to the foot of our stairs
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Mar 17 - 05:27 AM

As the origins of the phrase itself, I believe it was a sanitised version of (excuse the language) "I'll go to f**k" to express one's surprise or disbelief.

Much like phrases like "shut the front door". Replacing the expletive with a similar sounding word. Often for comedy effect, with a well mannered audience expecting the expletive and preparing to reprimand the utterer only to have the offending word replaced.

I'm from West Yorkshire and I can testify to this phrase being still in use in both its original and sanitised versions today.


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Subject: RE: Folklore-Origin: I'll go to the foot of our stairs
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Mar 17 - 06:14 PM

"people must be smarter now and refuse to eat cows stomach lining"

But not the whole gut and contents of a prawn. With the rest of the soft bits of the prawn still around it of course. Oh, sausages. I can't honestly see why "stomach lining" is less appetising than coagulated bacterial - infected milk.

Though since t'foot of our stairs is a euphemism, perhaps presentation is all. I was once fitting a sealed full sash- window sized double glazing unit, up a ladder, when the fixings failed to hold. I somehow held the unit and failed to fall off the ladder, by sheer dint of swearing. Then looked down to see my 3 year old son watching, listening and learning. "I cou'nt fix it in" I explained.


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Subject: RE: Folklore-Origin: I'll go to the foot of our stairs
From: GUEST
Date: 31 May 17 - 12:52 AM


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