There’s an English blogger with a twitter account called The Secret Barrister (@BarristerSecret), a scourge of the British legal establishment and a quite colorful twitterer who doesn’t suffer fools gladly.
@BarristerSecret recently posted a tweet about the appeals trial of an alt-right activist by the name of Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, who for some reason prefers to be known as Tommy Robinson. The trial has apparently caused a bit of a stir in the UK, exacerbating the gaping divisions between populist/nationalists and those with more multicultural inclinations. Yaxley-Lennon was sentenced to prison for contempt of court — it’s a convoluted story, in which he essentially tried to doxx four Asian defendants in a rape trial after being warned that the method he chose to do so was illegal. In the trial in question, he was appealing his sentence.
One of @BarristerSecret’s followers then posted this reply:
There was a question in response to this question:
And this set off a whole fusillade of helpful replies (and some food-oriented asides).
So what is a gammon? Other than a thick ham steak beloved of Brits, particularly when served with pineapple and potatoes.
According to knowyourmeme.com, a gammon is “a pejorative slang term used to describe white, middle-aged English men, who skew conservative on the political spectrum and support the United Kingdom separation from the European Union. The word compares these men to the pink hue of a cured pork loin that shares the name”. The earliest known use, according to the same source, was by a contestant on the Great British Baking Show called Ruby Tandoh, on October 6th, 2015, who tweeted this about the show:
More recently, and in relation to the Tommy Robinson affair, another twitterer offered this rather sinister snippet as a prime illustration of gammonism:
Those who are being compared to smoked pig butts don’t necessarily react well:
The following reply, on the face of it (as it were), gives a certain amount of force to this argument:
On the other hand, those who make the comparison with the pink porcine hindquarters insist that it is ideological rather than racist:
“Numpty” we don’t really need to go into here, not being Laurence Sterne.
Interestingly, there is an American precedent in making this connection between hypertensive conservative men and cured pork products. It appears that the simile was first proposed by the noted US sports writer David Roth in the late lamented online magazine, theawl.com, as far back as 2010:
Roth, apparently not a man to pull his punches, did not stop there. Elsewhere in the same piece he describes the unfortunately pink athlete as a “goateed olive loaf” and a “Jager-bombed clot of rapey deli meat”, not to mention “an entitled, stone-stupid epic scale booze-boner”. Unfortunately, we have not time nor space here to deviate from our course with discussions of the other culinary items mentioned in this excerpt. Fans of Roth will know that food analogies are something of a trademark in his writing.
In any case, “Gammon” has quickly become an accepted participant in the British political lexicon, and will no doubt remain there as long as the underlying divisions persist.
Tour of Babel is a regular Popula column, in which we translate the world’s words that can’t be translated, the phrase and expressions that don’t travel (but that also, it turns out, do).
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Oliver Corlett, UK politics, Brexit, political lingo, fascists
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