chewing bread

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chewing bread

Post by Archived Topic » Mon Nov 15, 2004 4:22 am

Does anyone else have experience of the phrase 'he / she used to chew bread for our ducks'. Origin and your understanding of its meaning would be appreciated - or is it peculiar to my little valley back in Wales?
Submitted by Peter Weston (Stavanger - Norway)
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chewing bread

Post by Archived Reply » Mon Nov 15, 2004 4:37 am

Peter, I’ve never heard this one, but, wow, what a putdown. How menial can one get? I’ve heard of animals pre-chewing food for their young, and occasionally I’ve heard of a parent pre-chewing food for a baby, but a hired hand having to pre-chew bread for someone’s ducks – how humiliating a job can one have? How low can one go? And what a clever comeback for someone being subjected to a name-dropper trying to impress.

I couldn’t locate this one in any sources, but I did get one Google hit which, I think, explains this well and confirms that it an expression of jolly old England:
17 Apr 2000: “On another subject, was looking back at the old speech, words and so forth at the weekend and recalled that my Mother, Lambley born and Gedling bred, used to have the perfect put down for name droppers. When faced with a claim of closeness to some important individual she'd say " Oh aye, I know him well, he USED TO CHEW BREAD FOR OUR DUCKS!"

Geoff Hunt from Reading England
_____________________

Ken G – June 24, 2004
Reply from Ken Greenwald (Fort Collins, CO - U.S.A.)
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chewing bread

Post by Archived Reply » Mon Nov 15, 2004 4:51 am

I bet it was a big valley before you moved to Stavanger, Peter.
Reply from Edwin Ashworth (Oldham - England)
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Re: chewing bread

Post by Darias » Sat Nov 08, 2014 3:39 pm

My father died recently and in preparation for the funeral I was recalling the stories of my youth. My parents always used to tale about Johnny Collins who was a figure that we never met but seemed to be important to my parents. When questioned we were told "He used to chew bread for our ducks". My father came from Belper in Derbyshire and the links above to Gedling in Leicestershire and South Wales make me wonder if this was a mining phrase. "Ducks" is a friendly term often used in the midlands. Often with the term "me duck" or "me ducks".

Often it became acquainted with "Fanny Drip" but I think this was my mother's invention in order to join in the mystery of just who was Johnny Collins.
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Re: chewing bread

Post by Wizard of Oz » Mon Nov 10, 2014 3:18 am

.. welcome Darias .. hope you can stick around and give us more gems from your memory ..

.. found a great extension of this idiom that just continues the put-down >>
"Well he used to chew bread for our ducks but one day I caught him swallowing some so we gave him the sack!"
Source: Book: Oops, Pardon, Mrs Arden!: An Embarrassment of Domestic Catch Phrases
by Nigel Rees,
..

.. got lots of responses if this is googled so it does seem to be fairly widespread ..

WoZ who knew the duck
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Re: chewing bread

Post by Phil White » Tue Nov 11, 2014 12:08 am

Missed this discussion first time round and almost missed it this time.

What a wonderful one!

Looking at the Google hits (151 at my space/time coordinates), a few people seem to know it, but its origins are not discussed anywhere.

Google ngram gives nothing at all, which is rare if the phrase is older than about 30 years or so. It suggests that it really isn't widespread.

I can see it getting more use on Merseyside in the near future...
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Non sum felix lepus

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