Crikey: An expression of surprise (Oxford English Dictionary)

My dad Peter often used to say “Crikey!”, usually when confronted with some new piece of technology or new social custom that was not familiar to him.

“We’re taking the children on holiday to the south of France.” “Crikey!”

“This calculator will do everything your sliderule could do, and more.” “Crikey!”

“There’s a new sort of telephone you can carry around.” “Crikey!”

and so on.

His reaction was, I think, a combination of ‘can you really do that?’ with ‘why on earth would you want to do that?’. The fact that you could do it was news; whether it was worth doing was questionable.

To put it in context, Peter was born in 1915 and brought up in a family of 10 siblings in a small rural Lincolnshire village. He was clever enough to get to a decent school and became a draughtsman, designing pumps for draining the Lincolnshire fens. He had his first TV at age 38 and his first car around age 50. There was a lot of technology and a lot of crikeys since then, until he died in 2004. Beyond domestic appliances, TV and car I think the only more modern technology he really valued was the video recorder/player, and he never travelled outside Britain.

This does lead me to reflect on all the technology and social change we’ve had since the 1950s and 60s – email, pcs, mobiles, tablets, internet, broadband, portable audio devices, cheap air flights, foreign holidays, solar panels,… The list is almost endless.

Yes it’s all been possible, but has it all been valuable for us? Yes we’re enamoured by the technology, but have we in the process lost some of our connection with ourselves, with others and with nature? The million dollar question no one quite knows how to answer. But the evidence suggests that we are going to suffer a lot from that lack of connection with nature as the effects of global warming, resource depletion, pollution, species extinctions etc. increasingly hit us.

One thing that might help us though, apart from realising that we are all an interdependent part of nature, is all that wonderful technology.


2 thoughts on “Crikey!

  1. My dad used to say a couple of colourful and strange things when confronted with something unusual or not quite within his normal range of expectations:

    1) Blind ole pole!
    I looked this up once and discovered it was a corruption of “Blind hop pole” – a hop pole with no hops growing on it, and it probably originated with workers in Kent who would have gone hop picking as a seasonal job.

    2) Well dang my buttons!
    I have absolutely no idea where this one came from, but bearing in mind that my dad came from the east end of London, and could talk rhyming and back slang, anything’s possible!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A search suggests that ‘Dang my buttons’ first appears (9 times) in ‘The London Hermit, Or Rambles in Dorsetshire’, a Comedy in Three Acts By John O’Keeffe 1793. ‘Dang’ is a nicer form of ‘damn’. Strange that Cheshire Sett’s comment was made from Dorset.


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