Monday, 25 November 2013

The bizarre, probably slightly crazy, history of the finger swears.

So a funny story before I go... well I don't know how funny it is but you can decide! I was going into a boulangerie to buy some retro d'or baguette - they are so good by the way! - and I decided to buy two cookies as well. I asked the woman for deux and she said OK but as I watched her I was sure she only put one in and the price was really cheap so I repeated deux and she said I know but I, being a typical stubborn Scottish lass, was convinced I hadn't said it right so I showed two fingers as if I was talking to someone who only understood simple hand gestures (when really I was being the simpleton!) and it just so happened I chose the worst two fingers to choose (go on guess!) Her eyes narrowed and handed me my cookies (which I still thought only had one in!) and baguette took my money and then glared me out the door. So that was Ok, I'd offended a French woman through the simple mistake of using the only two fingers which used together make a rude gesture. Yeah not bad going! But then. Then. Then I found out through the rambles of one of my overly patriotic French friends that there is a hidden, ancient meaning of the two fingers to the French. Allow me to explain.

This. The classic two finger gesture belongs to the British. The English. Their archers to be in fact; who apparently were very very apt at shooting and killing French soldiers whenever they tried to attack English holds during one of the many English-French wars (not too sure which one as there seems to have been a lot - in fact one day a man, on finding I was Scottish, actually did the awkward fist heart salute and said the 'old alliance' as apparently the only thing the angry Scottish people hated more than everything else was the English and would even work with the supposing aristocratic cultured French to try and defeat them. Undoubtedly they nearly always lost anyway - can't rely on a powdered wigged Froggie to save the back of a commando kilt wearing savage can you?) Anyway back to the story according to my, foaming at the mouth with years of generational indignance, French counterpart the archers would make the two fingered gesture at French people reminding them of the archer's ability to, basically,  beat and kill their soldiers. Some unpleasant memories would obviously arise from that innocent (well not innocent but you know what I mean) gesture. So the French created their own gesture -
 The Finger. This referred to the fact whenever the French army caught English archers they would cut off one of their fingers being they could no longer use a bow and thus lost their arching ability. Damn. So the French gesture should - if the English actually bothered to remember this supposed history of the finger - be insulted whenever this gesture was made to them. But it wasn't as the British don't hold on to things. Unlike the festering French who seem to, in some cases, jot down every insult ever made - they're still angry about Joan of Arc which was over 600 years ago. So go figure.

Anyway if this woman was invested in the emotional history of the finger I could have offended her in that respect. Really I just think it was because I treated her a little like an idiot, when I was the one being an idiot, gave a rude hand gesture to convey her stupidity (which was not my intention it just transpired like that) I don't feel there was any recognition of this bizarre claim of archers and retaliation but it made for a good story!

Have a good day!


  1. Haha brill! Bet you won't go near that shop now!

  2. Love it! Everyone's looking at me like I'm crazy now - giggling away in the library! xx


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