A Christmassy Collection of New Meanings for Old Words

Gramophone Tue 12th December 2017

Tim Lihoreau offers up his unique definitions of a few long-neglected words. Surprisingly, many of them seem to relate to music and/or Christmas. Who would have thought?

This list was inspired by Tim Lihoreau’s 'The Classic FM Musical Treasury: A Curious Collection of New Meanings for Old Words', £12.99, Elliott & Thompson. To find out more, please visit: store.classicfm.com

goonbell (adj.)

to be, effectively, jingle belled out from weeks of exposure to the sound of sleigh bells across the Christmas season - which now appears to start just after the summer holidays.

lower bobbingworth (n.)

the ‘dubba dubba dum dum’ bass section of Jona Lewie’s ‘Stop the Cavalry’ which many men think they can sing but leaves most sounding and sometimes looking like a sad guppy fish.

postlip (n.)

the effect experienced, very often on December 26, when the Christmas songs you have been hearing all season (see tat bank) somehow instantly lose their appeal. Scientists have identified it as a type of seasonal Doppler effect, with exactly the same sounds, once past a certain point, somehow producing entirely different, even opposite emotions.

middleton one row (n.)

an artist known solely for one Christmas single which, to this day, surprises even them.

birling gap (n.)

the disparity between the amount of love felt for a favourite Christmas song and the seeming paucity of its production values, which seemed virtually Ridley Scott-esque when it came out, but now look so dated it gives the impression Chas and Dave were the artistic consultants.

shripney (adj.)

descriptive of the sound made by a ‘musical’ (sic) Christmas card which plays upon being opened - somewhere between a speeded-up Kraftwerk accompaniment and Sweep from the The Sooty Show.

saham toney (adj.)

descriptive of a badly written descant tune to a Christmas carol. While it might just fit over the harmony and tune of the original carol, the fact that its random, angular line evokes an atonal opera is unfortunate, to say the least.

tat bank (n.)

name given to a hallowed handful of popular songs which have turned up at Christmas every year since anyone can remember and which still never fail to bring a smile to the faces of many - as well as a welcome royalty cheque to their creator. (for classical, see eldersley hollies)

And from the book…

bapchild (n.)

the tiny, moon-faced, well-heeled treble who sings the opening verse of ‘Once in Royal David’s City’ at the Christmas service.

chub tor (n.)

the boy chorister who is never asked to sing the first line of ‘Once in Royal David’s City’.

goose eye (n.)

the manner of singing with wide eyes in order to show displeasure. For example, if one’s relative begins to sing a descant during a carol at Christmas in a packed service, the goose eye may be the only course of public action short of pretending to faint.

jingle street (n.)

a road in which a large number of residents opt to erect many, many outdoor Christmas lights, with some even resorting to the addition of piped festive music.

leven seat (n.)

the particularly cheesy moment in a boy band’s TV performance of their Christmas single when the key abruptly changes up a tone, and each band member, decked in best cheesy Christmas jumper, steps off his white leatherette stool and walks forwards.

steeple bumpstead (n.)

a particular type of classical singer who, when invited to sing popular music on a TV Christmas special, proceeds to sing Burt Bacharach hits, producing a sound somewhere between Montserrat Caballé and Queen Victoria.

gignog (n.)

the drinks taken around on trays at posh musical launch parties. Usage example, overheard in Arts Council Christmas reception: ‘Have you tried the miniature fish and chips? Bloody lovely – ooh, here’s the chap with the gignog. Grab me a glass of whatever the yellow stuff is, will you? Make it two.’

yeldersley hollies (n.)

collective noun for the group of Christmas popular songs, rearranged for choral groups, which are deemed acceptable in a classical setting so long as the choir wear Christmas jumpers.

carol green (n.)

the Pantone reference for the colour of the original Carols for Choirs, Book 1.

tradespark (n.)

any sparkly bling added to a choir’s standard uniform to make them ‘feel a little bit more Christmassy’, de- spite the fact that it makes over 90 per cent of them far more grumpy to wear it.

falahill (n.)

the section of a Christmas carol where one or two syllables are repeated over and over again in descending sequence, usually ended by the phrase ‘in excelsis deo’.

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