Quite a day for starting a new diary | Rosemary Sutcliff March 29th, 1989

Quite a day for starting a new diary. Mr Triggs and his merry men have got the new fence up, and it really looks very good, although a bit in need of some little trees down at the far end to soften it and make it more woodsy. Later, gathered from Mr T that the Tiffy has been much awash with whisky all day and he had told him he shouldn’t drive in that state, when he saw him setting of to Barnham. Rang Ruth and discussed the situation, and have to give him notice tomorrow.

© Anthony Lawton 2012

7 thoughts on “Quite a day for starting a new diary | Rosemary Sutcliff March 29th, 1989

  1. Hee! You had mentioned folk music before, so I wondered… I sang “Sammy’s Bar” among friends (luckily, else I would have been booed out of the room) on Friday…


  2. Anthony, I think what made me think of the slang was that Rosemary (twice in extracts you have posted, now) said “the” Tiffy rather than just “Tiffy”.

    Covey-Crump (the essential dictionary of naval slang) defines as “The inevitable slang abbreviation of the rank-title ‘Artificer’. It usually refers to Engine Room Artificers since these predominate numerically over Ordnance, Electrical, Air and Shipwright Artificers. The word is also often used to refer to a rating who is not specifically an Artificer – e.g. “Sick Bay Tiffy”.”

    As a tangent, Cyril Tawney wrote a song called “Lean and Unwashed Tiffy” apparently based on a line of Shakespeare – .”Yonder comes another lean and unwashed artificer”,


    • I think you are indeed correct.
      …And there is a participant in this blog who knows Cyril Tawney’s work.! In my younger days, enthralled by traditional and acoustic music, when staying with Rosemary I would subject her to bits of my ‘repertoire’, including RT’s “Sally Free and Easy”!


  3. I wouldn’t have known what a Tiffy was either- thanks, Jane. Mind you, I hadn’t come across the word “artifcer” either, so we learn something new all the time :)


  4. Tiffy! Rosemary Sutcliff using naval slang – wonderful! I suppose she would have learned that from her father?

    (tiffy = artificer)


    • I did not know that. I think your supposition about how Rosemary knew the naval slang very likely – and learned perhaps more generally from growing up on or around naval bases and dockyards.

      I think your interpretation of her use of the word in the diary context most plausible also. It will be interesting eventually to see if she used the term from early days in her diaries about other driver-handyment she employed. Was this a nickname specific to this man; or was it the generic slang she used in her varies for all of them? I do not recall it being ever the nickname of any one person I met (and I was often at the house); nor her using the term outside the diaries.

      I had thought it was perhaps some name related to the man’s drinking (sees Anne below) without exactly thinking why (e.g. squiffy; or tipsy; or a Rosemaryism combining such words…). But I think your angle very very possible.


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