June 29, 2003

In a perfect world, each warning label would have its own warning label and the label industry would thrive

First off, this post has a warning label:

Cigarettes are called "fags" in England. It seems only prudent to mention that, for the benefit of those who might not realize it. Slang can cause confusion.

The first time you overhear someone saying "I'd murder a fag right now," it can be pretty shocking. But "I'd murder" means "I would rather enjoy," and a fag is a smoke. It's a substitution cipher; you just have to have the key.

If you give a cigarette to the guy asking if he can "bum a fag," he might smile, look you over, and say "Nice one!" But that's not what you think, either. "Nice one" means "thanks ever so much." (And no, it doesn't work the other way around: a rude type does not, typically, refer to a gay man as a "cigarette." I think that rude word is "pouf." I even once heard "iron" - pronounced like "ion" and so doubly confusing - which is rhyming slang derived from "iron hoof," or so I'm told. If one doesn't wish to be rude, I think one says "nice man, never married.")

Anyhow, Samizdata's David Carr reports on fakefags.co.uk, an outfit that sells satirical faux warning labels to replace the recent EU mandated mega-warnings that have started to appear on British cigarette packs:


People who earn their living promoting the dubious notion that such labeling ever does, ever has, or ever will deter even one person from smoking aren't amused. But I think it's pretty funny.

Oh, and by the way, the one that says "smoking makes you look hard," that's not what you think, either...

Posted by Dr. Frank at June 29, 2003 04:36 PM | TrackBack

Sorry I pinged your Trackback twice. Wonky connection today.

Posted by: Moira at June 30, 2003 11:48 PM

And don't forget if someone asks if you have a rubber, they aren't getting fresh, just needing an eraser.

When in England never say pants when you mean trousers. Pants are underwear.

Posted by: Dave F at July 1, 2003 10:30 AM

Here's a wacky story. First time I went to England I was fifteen. I was in a club, smoking, when a very attractive woman approached me. She looked me up and down and with a very dour expression on her face said, "fag!" My initial response being a fightin' American was "fuck you bitch!" She then leaned closer and said "can I have a cigarette?" Boy was my face red!But yeah, if I had a better understanding of cultural slang I probably would have gotten laid. As the French say, "le sigh."

Posted by: oliver at July 1, 2003 03:20 PM

Moira, you know you can ping me all you want.

Posted by: Dr. Frank at July 1, 2003 07:05 PM

Same thing for free from our webby. :)

Posted by: Chris at July 15, 2003 01:48 PM

A very attractive friend of mine from the UK once asked the guy at the hotel to knock her up at seven the next morning. She was briefly astonished at the enthusiasm he showed when he promised to comply.

Posted by: Alex Bensky at July 30, 2003 01:54 AM
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