Thursday, July 16, 2009

Mickey Dazzler

The first time I heard my mother use the term "Mickey Dazzler" I nearly died of shock. She used it completely unselfconsciously. I was at a loss. To me it sounded like a description of a "flasher", but, apparently she was describing a particular kind of corner boy spiv.

On looking further I see the phrase is used by O'Casey in Juno, so it must have been common currency in Dublin at some stage.

Context is everything, however, and the mickey has now come to mean only one thing. Checkout this extract from Joseph O'Connor's "Death of the Irish Male". It certainly had me in stitches when I first read this passage in the book.

Then there is the, still common, phrase "taking the mickey" out of someone. Wikipedia has some wisdom on the origins of this expression.

Anyway, the common or garden mickey now appears to have become a serious embarrassment in some quarters. For example, Clare Byrne, on the early morning Newstalk breakfast show, always says "taking the mike". While this may have a different and particular resonance in a radio show, I don't think that has anything to do with the matter. Granted, "taking the mick" is also used as a variant on the original, but I never heard either of the two aberrant versions in Dublin until the radio went posh, or PC, or whatever.

My own favourite incidence is in the (schoolboy?) translation of the Dublin suburb Stillorgan into Irish.

Mickey Marbh