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1201540.  Fri Aug 12, 2016 5:28 pm Reply with quote

In the England episode seen on Dave tonight, the origin of the V-sign was discussed. When i was young (50 years ago) I was told that the V-sign was an invitation from a client to a prostitute asking for sex. If the lady was available, she would reply with an inverted V-sign. This arrangement was to avoid detection and arrest. Has anyone else any info on this .

1201947.  Thu Aug 18, 2016 6:27 am Reply with quote

Seems a plausible theory, although I don't know what more evidence there is for that than the debunked archer explanation.

In terms of meaning it is a direct derivation from the middle finger, which has been used in such a fashion since ancient Greek and Roman times. The Romans would refer to the middle finger as digit infamis (infamous), obscenus (obscene) and impudicus (rude).

I'm not sure we'll ever be able to prove the origination of the simple derivation. The cuckold explanation is one. I've also read that its a representation of two penises (i.e. I've got more than you, or F"$% You twice!). What is interesting is who we have to thank for the phrase "V-sign"... Winston Churchill. He also invented the words seaplane, commando, undefendable, and the phrases out-tray and social security.

1235906.  Mon May 01, 2017 8:35 am Reply with quote

mattgbda wrote:
What is interesting is who we have to thank for the phrase "V-sign"... Winston Churchill.

Is that true? While he popularised the sign in his "V for victory" campaign, it was supposed to be the other way 'round and he famously just got the sign wrong 'cos he was too damn posh.

Is there any evidence that he actually invented the phrase "V-sign" to mean the offensive gesture?

1279312.  Tue Mar 27, 2018 5:56 am Reply with quote

I know there is a bit of film where Churchill was making a very fast visit to a desert camp and there were Australians on the film, shirts half open, sitting on jeep? bonnets, all falling about laughing and giving Churchill the rude V that he did himself, until advised.

1279314.  Tue Mar 27, 2018 6:11 am Reply with quote

Strong Language article

The more likely explanation is that Churchill was all too aware of the meaning of this gesture. John Colville, Churchill’s private secretary, noted in his diaries that “The PM *will* give the V-sign with two fingers in spite of representations repeatedly made to him that this gesture has quite another significance”.

If this is true, Churchill cheekily exploited the gesture to signal to the Allies that the British were against the Germans, while also garnering support at home. The gesture could simultaneously mean ‘Victory over the Germans’ and ‘Stick it up the Germans’. The ambiguity allowed Churchill to insult the enemy without the enemy even being aware of it.

1279320.  Tue Mar 27, 2018 6:54 am Reply with quote

Here's a snippet on the origins of the use of V (the letter, not the hand gesture) in WWII.

The British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s famous two-fingered V for Victory sign began life at the BBC.

A Belgian programme organiser called Victor de Lavelaye saw the letter V as a unifying symbol for both the French and Flemish speakers in his German-occupied homeland. V stood for Victoire (victory) in French and Vrijheid (freedom) in Flemish.

In a BBC broadcast on January 14th 1941, he encouraged his compatriots to show their defiance to the Germans by painting Vs wherever they could.

The campaign spread to other BBC European services that broadcast to occupied areas and got its own “sound” as well. The letter V in Morse code is three dots and a dash – da-da-da DAHH – the opening notes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.

These were played on the timpani to provide the station identification for all the services to Europe. When Winston Churchill joined the campaign, he called the V sign “the symbol of the unconquerable will of the people of the occupied territories.”


Slightly related story:
Someone in Denmark recorded the Danish language BBC broadcast one evening in May 1945. The story goes that the Danish announcer was given a sheet of paper during the broadcast. There's a 10-second pause and then he announces that the German troops have capitulated in Holland, Northern Germany and Denmark.
Completely straight-voiced. Not a tremble. Just a little emphasis on the "and".
He does get a bit personal and emotional at the very end of the broadcast, though, after a repeat of the message in slightly more detail. Can't blame him.

It can't have been unexpected, but still... The V signature and his voice is probably etched into the brains of several generations of schoolkids through educational films etc.

1279410.  Wed Mar 28, 2018 1:55 am Reply with quote

I read that quite normally, and somewhere around the 10ish seconds silence, it suddenly hit me, what a longterm, low level strain everyone must have lived with - quite apart from.occasional moments of extreme fear or worry and I read the sentence after my own pause and found I suddenly felt the strong desire to cry in relief!!!

Bit shocked at myself

I imagine being caught up in vol 3 of Martin Bowman's BOMBER COMMAND, with lads relating near misses and being introduced to crews who then die 2 pages later, has caught up with me...

It wasn't that I was upset for me - I just seemed to absorb the emotion from the ether... well, I guess my empathy...

I read that one of the Dambusters aircrew earnt a living selling insurance door to door and another died in poverty in a dire little bedsit, all alone, chronically ill, not that old, and I can't help thinking if they were living in our society now, they would never have had to do normal drudge work again. They would be paid to attend things and reminisce, paid to sell watches, paid to go on tv shows all over the western world etc etc. Tho' there again, it would be the most photogenic or outgoing who would be regularly popping up...

Tho I just had a terrible thought! Having never watched the show, I am only going on headlines I see - but nothing now being sacred, some would be invited on that programme,

I'm a Celebrity... and at some time, asked to eat some sort of insect!

What a can of worms I've opened...


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