Growing up, my parents used many verbal expressions, several of which I still use today. For example, it was not uncommon for my father to say, “Boy, we’re finished shopping. Let’s bugger off and head home” or “That’s it for today. Let’s bugger off and get ready for supper.”
Bugger off – it seemed like a useful expression.
My first teaching job was at a high school on the west coast of Newfoundland. It was my first time in that part of the world and what a wonderful experience it proved to be.
One day in class a student, whom I happened to coach, asked me a question.
“Coach, after practice today are we having a team meeting?”
“No. As soon as we are done, you are free to bugger off.”
He quickly shot an odd expression off to one of his buddies, and I noticed a number of heads turn. It seemed like an odd reaction. I didn’t think much of it.
On another occasion I had two male students in for extra help during noon hour. At one point they weren’t doing a lot of work so I said, “B’ys, if you are not going to work on the problems why don’t you bugger off and let me enjoy my lunch-break?”
They looked at each other with that same expression and quickly returned to work.
It was a Friday afternoon a number of weeks later. The students had left for the day. I was sitting around the staffroom table with a few colleagues and the school principal. After some conversation I looked at my watch.
“Well fellows, the time is getting on. I think I will bugger off and head home.”
The principal looked at me, “That’s your business but I don’t want to know about it.”
I responded, “Yeah. What is it about that saying?”
“Well b’y, in this part of the word, bugger off means to masturbate.”
Oops. Now things made sense.
I stopped using that expression.
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