Saturday, 18 February 2017

Going down Peter's memory lane

When Peter was  little,he used to spend the school vacations in Liverpool, where his mother's large family lived. They were originally from Scotland, but moved en masse to Liverpool at some point.

Peter often uses Liverpool slang, and a particular word keeps coming up because of the walks around the village. The word is jigger, meaning narrow passage or alleyway. 

Jigger - a back entry or alley, recorded since 1902 - the word jig was often used to refer to something small or narrow, and it developed several slang uses, such as a narrow door, a prison cell, an illegal distillery, and (as in Liverpool) a narrow passageway.

Here are some Liverpool jiggers:

There are jiggers everywhere around here. In fact, they're conspicuous in any village dating back to medieval times, but they also appear out of nowhere when walking around the village. These are not as narrow as some inside the village, and can easily accommodate a car. 

Today we ventured down one of Peter's jiggers and had no idea where it would lead. We discovered that the surrounding areas seem empty, they look like forests from a distance, until you go down one of the passages that appear to lead nowhere. There are spectacular houses tucked away in the woods. Some have great views down the valley, but we would never suspect they were just around the corner, hiding away in some jigger! One hour later, we emerged near the supermarket, greatly relieved to find out we were not halfway to next village.

I didn't have my camera with me (and I don't own a smartphone) to show you some of the nice houses, but I'll make a point of taking it with me from now on.

Going back to Peter's memories, he tells me that jiggers were used as access to the houses' back entrances, as shortcuts, and as hubs for gossip. The women would have a good chinwag while hanging the clothes to dry! (BTW, chinwag is a British informal term for chat.)