Need help with British 1980s slang and realities
I am currently working on the translation of David Mitchell's Black Swan Green into Russian and I will be tremendously grateful for some help because, as it turns out, even Google does not know everything, especially with regard to the British slang of the early 80s.
The narrator (a 13-year-old boy with poetic inclinations) also uses a lot of constructed words - with regard to this, I would like to make sure I got the meaning/associations right.
The list (43 items) is behind the cut. It is quite long, and I throw myself on the mercy of the community, but even if you can clarify just one or two, that would be a great help for me.
Please note I do not ask for translation of the complete snippets below, but only for the explanation of the words/expressions in bold.
I will provide wider context from the book if required. Thanks for your help!
1. I peered through Dad's razor-sharp blind, over the Glebe, past the cockerel tree, over more fields, up to the Malvern Hills.
(What is this cockerel tree thing? There is also later in the book: The cockerel tree you can see from my bedroom wasn't running left to right now, it was running right to left. I found some references to a tree where fighting roosters were kept, but the tree marching left to right puzzled me altogether.)
2. How on earth the sour aunt went up and down in that big rookish dress... Is that rook as a bird (the dress is black) or rook as a chess figure (also black and with a long skirt, resembling the shape of the said figure)?
3. I imagine him tapping my koochy lips, murmuring down at me, Mine. The only meaning I managed to find for 'koochy' is 'vagina', but this obviously does not fit here, as the narrator is male and this is a fancy description of his speech disorder, not any problems he may have with his genitals.
4. Norman Bates is one of those cracked stone men you shouldn't mess with. – Is this just a poetic simile to say that Norman Bates looks like a cracked stone statue?
5. ...just as I got there the Noddy-eyed school bus pulled up. Is this a reference to Noddy the cartoon character?
6. he wore... one of those woven wristbands you wear to prove you're not a virgin - I am not familiar with this tradition, could someone please clarify?
7. uncle surprised by seeing father in his gardening gear: ...did a jokey step-back-in-amazement when he saw Dad. "Well, catch a load of the intrepid horticulturist!"
8. they are taking it in the teeth (about companies during recession) – is that positive or negative?
9. `Our careers adviser, Mr Williams, has a friend in the radical bar in London, who says that if I want to specialize in environmental law then Edinburgh or Durham are really the places to—' – what sort of place is a radical bar? does that mean a drinking bar (not a very likely source of career advice) or a bar of lawyers (would there be two then? a radical one and a traditional one?)
10. Isaac Pye did a Wurzel snigger and ambled back to the bar. - is wurzel same as redneck?
11. I sprawled on Julia's stripey sofa, listening to this kazookering song called `Virginia Plain'. - this is probably a constructed word but I cannot even start guessing at its parts
12. That fab song with the dusty flute in it by Men At Work was on.
13. The lambs tiggered up close, bleeping like those crap Fiat Noddy cars, idiotically pleased to see me. - Is he saying they jumped like Tigger in Winnie-the-Pooh, or am I missing the idea altogether?
14. Bales of straw made a ramp up to the griddly barn roof, so up we climbed. - a constructed word, made of 'grid' and... something else?
15. Rain began its blitz, tranging bullets off the roof and strafing the puddles round the barn. - tracing+banging?
16. If Dawn Madden's breasts were a pair of Danishes, Debby Crombie's got two Space Hoppers. Each armed with a gribbly nipple. - this is also a constructed one, but what is it made of?
17. I didn't read Warlord for all those years without learning something about survival techniques. Obviously that's a book, but by whom? I googled up some books with this name but all of them were written much later than the period described in Black Swan Green.
18. (Describing the celebrations of Britain’s victory in the Faulklands) Bells've been rung, beacons lit, street parties've broken out up and down the country.
19. Here be the fumbler who should be in bed here be the beast who bites off his head - is that a paraphrase of the candle rhyme from Orwell’s 1984 quoted earlier, about “the candle to put me to bed” etc.? Or is it an altogether different rhyme that Google has never heard about?
20. Duncan and Mark appeared with a tennis ball. Mark asked, 'Game of slam?' I have only heard of slam as a specific sort of tennis championship. Is there a game with this name, too?
21. Dad, Julia and me guessed the ingredients in turn. Wine, aubergines (rubbery but not pukesome), mushrooms, carrot, red pepper, garlic, onions, toe-flake cheese and this red dust called paprika. I only found “toe cheese” which does not fit here as obviously the narrator describes the food his mother cooked in a very positive way. Is this just a creative name for parmesan or some other obviously foreign cheese that the narrator invented? With probably a hint to its smell?
22. She asked to use my garden for her St Gabriel's Summer Fete! “It is tradition,” says Mrs Vicar. “We need space for the human bridge. For the stalls.” Is human bridge a card game, some sort of acrobatic exercise, or something else altogether?
23. I was sure she thought the title was a killer.
`But why is this title so atrocious?'
`Uh…it wasn't my first choice.'
Is 'a killer' used here with a positive or a negative meaning? I would say positive, but the further dialogue sort of contradicts that.
24. White wine smells of Granny Smiths, icy meths and tiny flowers. The narrator is a boy from good family who is certainly not a drug addict (he hardly even tasted wine, to say nothing of any drugs), so I am really at a loss as to what 'meths' may mean here
25. Goosey-goosey girls turned and tittered under their brollies. (Mysterious how girls can always conjure up umbrellas.) - No associations whatsoever except for the "goosey, goosey gander" rhyme
26. `How cosy! I remember my first summer in France. Nineteen, I would have been. Or twenty. My aunt took me to Avignon, you know, where there's the song about dancing on the bridges. The Englishmademoiselle caused quite a stir among the local bees…'
27. Dad hummed a bendy version of `I Do Like to Be Beside the Seaside'. (I looked it up in urbandictionary but none of the meanings fit)
28. Yvette's still thick as thieves with that' – the foamy lady nodded at the empty doorway – `clot. Her father.
29. Oh, hilarious, Jock, no wonder you're such a pin-up with the London arthritic… would that be a pun for art critic? Jock is an antique dealer, and no arthritis sufferers are mentioned either before or after this line, so I am sort of puzzled by why they came up suddenly
30. Agnes's got a slidey Welsh accent so I don't always know if I've heard her right.
31. People're a nestful of needs. Dull needs, sharp needs, bottomless-pit needs, flash-in-the-pan needs, needs for things you can't hold, needs for things you can. Adverts know this. Shops know this.
32. Gary Drake, Neal Brose and Wilcox's lot were busy with a bumflick battle so I changed quickly and hurried out into the cold morning. – The only meaning of bumflick I was able to find is bum-wiggling, but Drake&Co., bully boys thinking themselves very macho men, obviously would not be involved in that, so this means some different pastime altogether.
33. Beef gristle tastes like deep-seam phlegm.
34. ‘I'll deal with this,’ he announced, and folded his paper with a jarky snap. (jerky + jarred?)
35. At the foot of the scree below my overhang about seven or eight figures sat round a dirty fire.
36. [they] will rut anythin', married or no, livin' or no,' Clem Ostler went on. `Dogs on heat. Anywhere, any time, in cars, down alleys, in skips, anywhere. – it is clear from the context that this is a Gypsy word but I would like to know what it means
37. Books never taught a man to mong or ducker. - Gypsy words again
38. My family'd follow Mercy Watts's old man gaff-catchin' round the Vale of Evesham, down the Severn Valley, tradin' horses with other Romanies an' farmers an' breeders an' that.- Gypsy words again
39. By an' by he became the Goose Fair's chief Toberman, so he did all right. .- probably a Gypsy word again
40. Mr Broadwas and two pissed wurzels with black teeth and a grinning disease were perched on three stone mushrooms. – would that be some sort of pun on ‘sleeping disease’?
41. ‘Thanks, Dad. Would you like to…uh…?’
‘I'd love to, but I have paperwork coming out of my paperwork. Plans to plan. Hotties to put in beds. No rest for the wicked.’ – This is a father talking to his son, so I find the “hotties to put in bed” in its obvious meaning very unlikely. However, the said father was fired from his job this morning and may be drunk, so on the other hand he might have said anything, even though unfit for his son's ears.
42. Six hundred pounds: 6,000 Mars Bars, 110 LPs, 1,200 paperbacks, 5 Raleigh Grifters, 1/4 of a Mini, 3 Atari Home Entertainment consoles. Everything else is clear, but what is a Mini? Is it a car?
43. stick your fringe up a bit so you don't look like a cub