Moans about Scotland #1 – "the back of"
I love Scotland, mostly because there are so many things to moan about and you are fully expected to enjoy doing so. One of them is the expression “the back of.” Last night, my husband asked what time our guests were arriving. I said seven. As it was ten minutes past seven when he asked, he wondered if our guests had actually said “the back of seven.” I said I had no idea what this means. A discussion ensued.
He said the back of seven means half past seven.
We rang a friend, who said it means seven forty-five.
One of the guests, who arrived at eight, said it means eight.
The other, who also arrived at eight, said it means anywhere between seven and eight.
The meal turned out to be so bad that it had us all in stitches with laughter, during and after. Unfortunately, I can’t attribute this to the timing issue. I’m just a terrible cook.
But after they left, I wondered if the disastrous evening was due to what lies behind that expression, because I believe that when someone you are meeting suggests “the back of” it means that they are so uncommitted to the arrangement that they cannot be arsed guaranteeing a time. I might come, they seem to say, but I might not. Depends. But whatever I decide, be ready for me at seven, just in case.
So maybe the food went spectacularly wrong because the can’t-the-be-arsedness of my guests was contagious and made my cooking skills even worse than usual.
One thing I am sure of: next time I ask them when they’ll arrive for a home-cooked meal, they will say never.