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Whim wham for a wowser

Discussion in 'Comments on the latest newsletter' started by Bob Spiers, Nov 18, 2019.

  1. Bob Spiers

    Bob Spiers LostCousins Superstar

    I was fascinated to pick up in Peter's latest Newsletter something quite similar to my mother's response to a question she was too busy to answer, or had no intention of answering which was (perhaps asking what she was doing) ..."I'm making a whim wham for a wowser". It was something I often brought up when talking with my Australian sister on Skype, asking if she recalled Mom giving such a response (which she did) and both agreeing we had no idea where it came from.

    The Newsletter's version to a question to be fobbed off was ... (making)"whim whams for lame ducks" and a separate link provided the alternative ..."whim-wham for a goose's bridle"...and there were more alternatives and some with whim wham changed to 'wig wam', or 'wing wong. So I knew my mother's response came from the same sort of stable - but what on earth was a wowser?

    I'm still not sure, but a Google search came up with my mother's version but they were undecided by Wowser. It seems the term 'Wowser' is a archaic slang term in Australia/New Zealand given to an someone preaching to others about the evils of drink or such, or someone perceived to dislike others enjoying themselves. I did not think that would have been the etymological route for my mother's use of the word.

    Much more likely is the suggestion offered that it probably came from a music-hall gag, or as used by an old time comedian on the radio. Many of her other sayings can be traced to this route - 'What a Palaver' (what a fuss) being one such - and French language corruptions brought back from the Great War by returning Tommies. Like "San Fairy Ann" (as it sounds) the corruption of "├ža ne fait rien" (it doesn't matter).

    I think my favourite saying which does not include whim wham as it happens is (making) "a giggling pin for a laughing shaft". Perhaps Forum member recall similar?
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  2. Margery

    Margery LostCousins Member

    My mother wasn't really given to having sayings but I clearly remember her referring to the new Curate as being "so heavenly minded to be no earthly use".
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