Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Help with a British term

A woman who works for the state was in our offices today. Don't know much about her except she was from Raleigh, was there to touch base with our program manager, and was a British ex-pat. (I surmised this last based on her evident age -- mid-forties -- and that I overheard her saying she'd come over right out of college. Okay, she said "university" but she meant college.)

As she was leaving she asked directions to another community services office. My program manager told her the way and finished up with a warning that the office was in a rough part of town.
The woman waved away any concern with a grin and what sounded like: "No fear. We Pompeii girls know how to take care of ourselves."
We all agreed, having no clue what she meant, and she was on her way.

Now the only Pompeii girl I've ever met had been buried in ashes for nineteen hundred years, which I suspect is not the case in this instance. So. What did she mean?

12 comments:

JJ said...

the only Pompeii thing I can think of is that Portsmouth football club is nickednamed Pompy (or something like that). Could you have misheard? A fan might refer to themselves as she did. I don't know where Raleigh is in the UK but if she's from that region that might be what she meant.
JJx

Jen said...

Yep, I agree with JJ...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portsmouth_Football_Club

Cathy said...

Just to add that Portsmouth is a big naval port, don't know if it is rough though!

Raleigh is in the USA though, not UK.....unless there was a reference there to Sir Walter Raleigh, which would lead you to Plymouth, another major naval port...

Lane said...

Hi there
I think she meant Pompey (Portsmouth)
which indeed has its less salubrious side (sorry to offend anyone from Portsmouth).

Also Rayleigh (with the 'y') is in Essex so she's an Essex girl and a Pompey girl:-)

KeVin K. said...

Raleigh is the capital of North Carolina -- named for Sir Walter Raleigh, though.

Googling about with "Pompey" I think I've figured it out. She's from Portsmouth -- whether she's from the rough side of town or was just telling us that nothing in li'l ol' Wilmington could intimidate someone from a much larger seaport is unclear. It could be the football club, of course. There's also the chance she's a Navy brat -- though I suppose it would be Royal Navy brat. Folks who spent their childhood at military instilations tend to think they're tougher than most.

And could I have misheard her? Certainly. After 20+ years in the states she spoke with what sounds to us like a British accent, but would probably sound American to you. She has to repeat herself on both sides of the Atlantic.

Kate said...

Any chance she could have said Pome? (pronounced 'pom-ee'- I think it means Prisoner Of Mother England)... since that is the name given to the English! I doubt she would have used a phrase only known to the locals of the football club in Portsmouth.

Lane said...

Pompey is the local slang name for the town, not just the football club but it's pronounced 'Pompi' not 'Pompay' (as in Pompeii)
x

KeVin K. said...

That's what she said. American ear filters tried to make it fit a known word. Thanks, Lane. Mystery solved.

Fiona said...

'Pompey girls'is slang for girls who date sailors - its not meant offensively, just refer to naval ports where obviously many girs do. They - Pompey girls - known to be very independant, so is this possibly what she could mean?

HMS Raleigh is in Plymouth.
BTW, apologies for being absent from the last coffee morning - just finished a long pet sit.

Graeme K Talboys said...

Pompey, being a naval base, is notorious for less than civilized behaviour. Women are used to being accosted by sailors on the off-chance they are selling their favours; booze-fuelled fights are not unknown; rowdy behaviour is the norm. Unemployment, due to defence cut-backs, has also led to areas of deprivation. But it is no worse (and a good deal better) than many post-industrial towns coping with an influx of young men far from home on a Saturday night.

Rowan Coleman said...

I'm sure she means she is from Portsmouth! The local nickname for the town is Pompey, and also for the football team! A confusing one I agree, but a friend of mine is from Portsmouth and she refers to it as Pompey (she can also look after herself!)

david mcmahon said...

Maybe she wanted sackcloth and ashes!