On top of the tower

August 19, 2006 at 12:23 pm | Posted in Scotland | 2 Comments

There is a spot where one can climb on the roof of one of the towers of Direlton castle, even with bare feet, offering a view of the gardens. I thought, however, that the reverse view might be more impressive, in particular on behalf of the Scottish flag hoisted on this tower.

A brief explanation of the gesture which you can see below: a straightened index and middle finger with the palm facing inwards (a gesture which might be misunderstood outside of the UK – I thought it meant “I am going to grab you by the nostrils” until I became enlightened in Scotland)…

Here is an explanation by BBC H2G2 (excerpts):
“For people in the UK there is a significant difference of meaning depending on which way around the hand is held; with the palm facing out the gesture can mean ‘victory’ or ‘peace’ but with the palm facing in the meaning is an insult, meaning something like ‘get stuffed’, but more strongly worded.”

“The origin of this use is very hazy, steeped in myth, and sadly lost in the mists of time. The most often quoted origin, almost certainly apocryphal, dates back to the Battle of Agincourt between the armies of the English and French kings. The English bowmen were an important part of their king’s army and the French king decided that any captured English soldier was to have his first two fingers cut off, to prevent him from being able to use a longbow. As an act of defiance against the French generally, the English came to stick their two (attached) bow-fingers at them – a way of saying ‘we can still fire our longbows at you’ (or more generally ‘go stuff yourself!’).”

Whether this is an accurate account of this gestures orgin or not: This is at least what people have in mind when using the gesture.


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  1. this finger story, i heard of it, indeed. funny as it is, i heard it in cologne. steve dix told me, we where sitting in the hallmackenreuter, drinking koelsch. you remember / knew steve? mad birmingham guitar man de cologne?

  2. Mmmh, the name doesn’t ring a bell, not does the website. Was he on board vitaminic? Then I most definitely do not know him, as that was before my time…

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