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    « G – GARMENTS THAT SLIP OFF HANGERS WHILE YOU’RE BROWSING IN A CLOTHES SHOP | Main | CHATTERING CLASS: A long lens on this week's gossip »
    Friday
    Sep142012

    "I'LL CHECK WITH THE TANK COMMANDER": HOW TO REFER TO YOUR PARTNER IN MIDDLE CLASS CONVERSATIONS

    As a single person, I am endlessly fascinated by the terms people use to refer to their partners in everyday conversation when the partner isn’t present. I’ve listened hard. And there really are lots of options. Not being obsessive or anything – honest – but I’ve managed to group them into five major categories. 

    Many of them come from our desire to suggest that it’s the  partner who’s in charge, not us, while also mocking their authority – and this makes the terms affectionate in the gently insulting way that only British people know how to pull off. Often you’ll use them when trying to avoid making an on-the-spot decision. For example, you might be invited to dinner, and you’re not sure you both will really want to go, so you’ll suggest you need to ‘check with the powers that be’ (see corporate/bureaucratic). So here’s a bunch I’ve heard. Know any more? Add them in the comments below.

    Military

    • ‘Tank commander’
    • ‘Ground control’

    Corporate/bureaucratic

    • ‘His nibs’
    • ‘Head office’
    • ‘HQ’
    • ‘The boss’
    • ‘The powers that be’

    Pyschotherapeutic 

    • ‘Other half’
    • ‘Better half’

    Regal

    • ‘His/her royal highness’
    • ‘His/her majesty'

    Working class, either genuinely or ironically

    • 'The wife'
    • 'Her indoors'

     

     

    Reader Comments (12)

    There's also the tactic of referring to the wife by her married name, when she continues to use her own name in normal life.

    "Let me check with Mrs Fleming."

    Those who know the wife by another name find themselves wondering why a grown man still needs permission from his mother before accepting invitations.

    September 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterThe husband

    I quite like 'wench' but maybe that's not sufficiently MC. I should make it clear that this term is omni-sexual...

    September 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChristian Ashby

    To add to the Military category:

    'The long haired Colonel'
    'OC Dragon Ops'
    'OC Pots & Pans'
    'OC Home'

    September 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Casey

    I refer to "her indoors" as "The current Mrs Hopson". Keeps her on her toes :-)

    September 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGeoff Hopson

    1) '2IC' - (second in command) , used by TA types when referring to their wives

    2) 'The missus' - used as a faux-working class reference, and confusingly refers to a girlfirend, not a spouse in many cases.

    3) Non-specific naming; i.e 'I'll have to ask the brunette about that one'. Used by media and journalists (See Lucy Mangan's 'tory boy').

    September 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrightonEd

    A good friend of mine (now divorced) always used to refer to his wife as "The Long-haired Hitler".

    It explains a lot really!

    September 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRichard Benjamin

    A chap I knew used to refer to 'Top Management'.

    I rather like 'my Inamorata' (In fact I love her, hence the term. But that's not really ironic in the ways these are.)

    September 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKeri Davies

    I actually heard someone refer to her husband as "his lordship" recently.

    September 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSamantha

    My dad has always referred to my mum as 'The Duchess'

    September 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJessica S

    I'm very dissapointed "herr commandant" and "mein kapitan" didn't make this list, originally working class but now being adopted by the middleclass as 'retro'

    September 19, 2012 | Unregistered Commenter@DrZeds

    'Jobshare'...

    October 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSteve B

    The Domestic Authorities - a phrase from The Railway Modeller from the 60s.

    January 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterOakelmash

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