AMERICANS! Please help...

I don’t disagree with anything you’re saying. The issue is, I’m not writing a book about painting and decorating. The paint is completely irrelevant to not only the plot but also everything that is going on in the scene. It’s just a throwaway joke that comes two thirds the way through Chapter 11. As such, spending anything more than a couple of words on it will be giving it too much attention, destroy the pacing, telegraph the punch line and generally make it sound like I’m explaining the joke instead of telling it.

Hence the desire to use an economy of words that would be instantly obvious to the audience.

I think I’m going to go with: “Dave opened a tin of paint and used it to decorate the kitchen.”


Shame. I was hoping we’d get to read a modern take on The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists :wink:

whatever the brand name, the colour has to be ‘eau de nil’ From French eau de nil, from eau (“water”) + de (“of”) + Nil (“the Nile”)
sexiest name ever for a colour! :smiling_imp:

Rule 34.

Here in the States, we’d call it a can of paint rather than a tin, but the context is clear. Anyone reading the book will know it’s set in London and will either understand the reference from context, take time to look it up and figure it out, or shrug their shoulders and move on.

Maybe next time! :smiley:

I’ll bear that in mind for future paint based sequences, but sadly I need the “funniest” colour name rather than the “sexiest” for this chapter.


Yeah we call a lot of things “tin” even though they aren’t. Tin cans. Tin Foil. Basically, we is stoopid.

For the record, the joke is really really funny so totally worth all this procrastination.

Conversation overheard on a bus … (yes really!) …

A: She told me they’ve painted it “Eau-de-nil”.
B: What sort of colour’s that?
A: Well, it’s a nothing sort of colour … after all “0” is nothing and “nil” means nothing …

And yes, we Brits say “Ou” not “zero”!

Mrs Pigfender is constantly complaining at me for failing to Canadia-ize my language. Using “Oh” instead of “Zero” in telephone numbers and post codes is something I get a verbal slap for regularly. Also the aforementioned lift / elevator and for 20th March instead of March 20.

My favorite overheard conversation of all time (heard on the train between London Paddington and Oxford):
OLD LADY: “I don’t see why we have to put up with it. Didn’t they invent something you just spray a few years back that cancelled out the smell?”
MAN: “It has to be used on the naked armpit, Mother.”

Actually, my favourite overheard conversation snippet also happened on a bus in London — in Kensington High Street, as it happened — when a very, very upper-crust lady with a true cut-glass accent was sitting in the seats behind me with a young woman, I presumed the daughter or maybe granddaughter of friends. They were talking about the new job the latter had just started.

Old lady, innocently: “And do they give you a good screw?”
Confusion … reply inaudible!


In case the need arises elsewhere (and you will never think of bumph the same way ever again):

separatedbyacommonlanguage.blogs … th-ii.html



Just pepper your conversations with discussions about the Leafs. You should be fine. :smiley:

And always remember to apologise profusely.

I prepared for my emigration by watching episodes of Due South.

So far it’s proved to be ample preparation.

And finish every sentence with “Eh”

Y’ WOT?! :open_mouth:

I know it sounds odd, Vic.
As usual, though, Mark is right…!

OKAY! Another quick question for the non-UK English speaking crew.

How about “Biro”? Automatically recognisable as a cheap plastic ball-point pen produced by the good people at the BIC Corporation?

Incidentally - the previous paint musings made it to a post on my website: … n-writing/

Negative here; it looks like that’s what you call the classic Bic with the transparent body and airstream cap? If so, we just call them “Bics” over here, or “Bic pens”. Their technically correct name over here is “Bic Cristal”, but I have never heard anyone refer to one of these as a Cristal.

Okay, thanks Ioa!

I don’t think I can get away with calling it a Bic, as - although recognisable - it’s not something a Brit is likely to say.

How about “ballpoint”?

Ballpoint is good, and many people would associate that with the classic Bic, too, although it is just a general term, so long as it is used for any type of cheap (typically disposable) pen. We don’t tend to refer to nicer pens as being “ballpoints”, even if they are.