THE WHISPER DICTIONARY

Devised at Custom House, Seal House, Angel Court, Trig Lane, St Magnus, and New Fresh Wharf Sites 1974-5

Edited by
Jamie Muir

Audrey’s panties/knickers: a café originally called Audrey’s Pantry
Big girl’s blouse: a clumsy archaeologist
Blown it: to have destroyed valuable evidence, incurred an injury, accidentally ruptured the concrete casing above the Metropolitan Line, buggered up levels, plans, or sections
Bloody little swine: not one of us
Boring old g. g. boring medieval green glaze pottery
Brown alert! David Brown is on his way
Can’t handle it! I’m insufficiently experienced to correctly identify the complex layers I’m hacking through with my pick-axe
Chateau Despair: the stores at Bonhill St
Cherries: working boots
Do the right thing! exclamation, alarmist
Dog leg it! meaning lost
Do the wrong thing: to incur an injury, pro. ex. Graham Troilett fainting at Billingsgate, Peter [now Jamie] Muir being hit on the head by a half-brick at Angel Court in 1974
Duff tail joint: a Gerald Clewley-ism
Fan out and safeties off! stop chatting, remove trowel from pocket, spread out across the site and pretend to work – Brian Hobley is on his way.
Featurette: a small archaeological feature
Fresnel: a lens in a section
Girls, The: collective noun for members of the unit
Green alert! followed by a curious whooping sound, Gerald Clewley is approaching in his signature green boiler suit
If in doubt, rip it out: self-evident?
Incivilities: a café on the corner of Fish St Hill and Upper Thames Street
It’s a bad number: might refer either to the weather or an injury
It’s a bonio whisper! an animal bone has been uncovered
It’s amazing really: obligatory start to any anecdote about Peter Taylor
It’s insane really…variant of above
Jacksons of Piccadilly: a sandwich bar in Copthall Ave
Jock Straps: a café originally called Oliver Hockeys near Seal House
Joe’s No. 1: a café next to St Magnus on Upper Thames St, long demolished
Killer sprays at dawn: try to remember to keep the exposed medieval timbers damp.
Latex: any medieval leather find
Lens in: as in ‘he lensed in at 09.13.’ To hold in contempt strict working hours
Leper Colony, The: low slang for both the Billingsgate & Trig Lane sites
Mick’s: a 24 hr café in Fleet Street frequented at weekends when most other cafes were closed
Mins, The: The Minories site, scene of the legendary accident with the concrete breaker and the roof of the Metropolitan line
N.F.W. New Fresh Wharf aka the seventh Circle of Hell, Geraldo’s Kingdom
A loss of face number: a New Fresh Wharf expression meaning to have gone seriously wrong in any number of ways
Night of the Long Trowels: any threat of redundancy
Pick-olo, The: café in Queen Victoria St
Playtex: see Latex. Any medieval leather find
Random it! a plea to dispose of valuable evidence rendered unscientific because a colleague has tripped over or trodden on it.
Petite lensette: an insignificant feature
Revolving doubries: any physical abnormality
Safeties off! an alarm call. Have your trowel in your hand and look as if you are working – Brian Hobley is on his way
Samiano: any Samian ware
S.S. an abbreviation of sausage sarnie, in those days, mud-flecked slices of white bread spread with margarine wrapped round minced pig bowel. A staple food.
Standardise the procedure! try to remember what on earth you were meant to be doing
Strip the smeg off a layer: to clean up the surface before proceeding downwards.
Take a random sample: to displace valuable evidence carelessly.
Tea wee: tea with sugar
Tea minus: as above but without the sugar
Tora! Tora! Tora! stop standing about on the edge, and get back down into site. Brian Hobley is on his way. First noted at Billingsgate
Tread in your loose: tidy up in an un-archaeological manner
Triggurat: a near-mythical spoil heap at Trig Lane in 1974 engineered by Peter [now Jamie] Muir
Trucker: a carefree, fun-loving archaeologist with hair like a mushroom cloud
Truck out: carefree, fun-loving excavation technique
Truvel: corrupt form of trowel, first noted at Billingsgate in 1974
Truvel trouble: to lose your trowel.
Unpleasantness at the Balona Club: see Night of the Long Trowels. Threatened termination of contract
Weasels ripped my flesh! to sustain a slight flesh wound
Weedy wet: any newcomer to the Unit
Weekly Whisper: a magazine of gossip
What a little winner: an interesting small find
What’s the whisper? what is the most recent scandal, scurrilous piece of gossip to rock the Unit?
What’s the x story? a way of asking for information about something you should know about but don’t, as in ‘what’s the layer whisper? i.e. ‘which century are we down to?’
Wop shop: a sandwich bar on Tower Hill, now politically incorrect
What a winnet: what a weakling. How not like us. First noted Trig Lane 1974
Whispering Heights: a flat in Offord Rd