About twenty years ago, newly moved across to Ireland from England and getting used to the differences in the language – and acquiring immunity to a new national set of bugs and viruses the hard way –  I was in a conversation with a fellow executive about an initiative we were contemplating.

‘Nah,’ he said, ‘I haven’t a baldy’s notion about that.’

I laughed out loud and asked where that phrase came from, since we don’t use it in England. He looked at me rather sheepishly, having realised too late that I was in fact a ‘baldy’, and said that he wasn’t sure where it came from but it was a relatively common phrase. It’s also used in Northern Ireland too.

Does this imply that a person who is follicly challenged is dafter than someone otherwise hirsute? As if the notion of a haired person is better than the notion of his hairless counterpart?

I didn’t take offence – or offense, depending on where you’re from –  the first time, and don’t whenever I hear it or use it myself these days. Apparently there is the variant ‘a baldy notion’ which seems to deflect ownership away from the baldy and onto the notion itself, perhaps suggesting that it is the notion itself which is baldy, which I suppose is marginally more PC.

 

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