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Tony Grist

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Spectacles, Testicles... [Dec. 30th, 2016|04:07 pm]
Tony Grist
"Spectacles, testicles, watch and wallet."

Ailz comes across this mantra in a novel she's reading where the narrator speaks of it having "religious connotations".

"Religious connotations?" She turns to me.

I know the phrase as the refrain of a poem by some author who's name I forget. I'd thought he'd originated it. Apparently not; it seems to be something they say in Yorkshire.

But religious connotations?

An idea begins to dawn- and I stand up to try it out- with sweeping hand movements, pointing to the items in turn.

Spectacles, testicles, watch and wallet.

It's a mnemonic for making the sign of the cross.

Go on, try it yourself....
linkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: strange_complex
2016-12-30 04:24 pm (UTC)
Obvious point: it's a mnemonic for men to make the sign of the cross.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2016-12-30 04:31 pm (UTC)
Yes.

As a woman you could replace testicles with ovaries but I'm not sure what you'd do about the wallet.
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[User Picture]From: shewhomust
2016-12-30 05:09 pm (UTC)
I know it as "...wallet and watch" and like the scansion of this better: I'm assuming that there's no rule that says you have to make that horizontal in either direction? In any case, I wear my watch on my right hand...
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2016-12-30 05:54 pm (UTC)
I suppose the horizontal can go either way. I don't wear a watch but I do carry my wallet in my right hand trouser pocket.
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[User Picture]From: d_floorlandmine
2016-12-30 07:25 pm (UTC)
I think, when originally coined, it referred to pocket watches, rather than wrist.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2016-12-30 07:28 pm (UTC)
If it's been round a while that would have to be the case.
When did wrist watches come in? Early 20th century?
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[User Picture]From: d_floorlandmine
2016-12-30 07:36 pm (UTC)
Yep. I think they started to become used by the military in the late 19th, and then took off following WWI.
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[User Picture]From: shewhomust
2016-12-31 03:50 pm (UTC)
That makes sense. I'd been thinking something similar about the wallet - that I'd been thinking of it as being in the breast pocket.
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[User Picture]From: akirlu
2016-12-30 09:55 pm (UTC)
I, too, have always heard it as "wallet and watch," which definitely has a better rhythm to it than the reverse. I've always presumed it dated back to Edwardian times or earlier, in that it seems to assume that you would be carrying your wallet and watch in opposite interior coat pockets at more-or-less nipple level.
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[User Picture]From: cmcmck
2016-12-30 05:31 pm (UTC)
I first ran across it as a Jewish joke- told me by a Jewish friend years ago.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2016-12-30 05:55 pm (UTC)
Presumably they weren't using it to make the sign of the cross.
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[User Picture]From: cmcmck
2016-12-31 12:05 pm (UTC)
But the joke is that the Jewish guy in question has a Catholic friend who wonders what he is doing!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2016-12-31 04:50 pm (UTC)
So do you think this is the origin of the saying?
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[User Picture]From: cmcmck
2016-12-31 06:41 pm (UTC)
I guess it might be!
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[User Picture]From: fflo
2016-12-30 05:49 pm (UTC)
I get stuck at the testicles.

Reminds me of a friend's borrowed/adapted remembrance of what to make sure you have leaving your drug-addled NYC apartment: dick, wallet, keys, drugs. Friend was dickless, so she (and I) treated that item as "yer basic physiognomy", and for me "drugs" was whatever particular psychological assistance things I'd need that day.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2016-12-30 05:57 pm (UTC)
I can see the use of some such mnemonic. I sometimes go out without my painkillers- and that's not a good idea.
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[User Picture]From: learnsslowly
2016-12-30 07:09 pm (UTC)
I think a pocket watch is intended, rather than than a wrist watch.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2016-12-30 07:24 pm (UTC)
Probably so, but either way you'd expect to find it on the left side of the body.
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[User Picture]From: akirlu
2016-12-30 09:56 pm (UTC)
I don't see why the watch would necessarily be on the left side if both watch and wallet were located in interior coat pockets. Once divorced from the wrist, handedness seems irrelevant to location.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2016-12-31 09:38 am (UTC)
If you're right-handed- as most people are- I suggest it's marginally easier to extract a watch from the left-hand breast pocket.

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[User Picture]From: ylla
2017-01-01 09:58 am (UTC)
But a real old fashioned watch on a chain would be easier to get from your right hand waistcoat pocket!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2017-01-01 10:22 am (UTC)
You are probably right. I've been looking at pictures of men with pocket watches- and most of them- including Edward VII- are carrying them in the right hand pocket of their waistcoats.
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[User Picture]From: huskyteer
2017-01-02 09:32 pm (UTC)
I knew this. Why? Because it's in Nuns On The Run.
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