the fanny ann’s monologues

Old Town Sacramento on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Click to see bigger (move further away to see smaller)

Old Town Sacramento on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Click to see bigger (or move further away to see smaller)

Having sketched one panorama in Sacramento already that day I decided to sketch another in nearby Old Sacramento. This is the Gold Rush era town, established in 1849 according to their handy brochure. Now see the building with the red and wfanny ann's saloon, old town sachite striped awnings, that is Fanny Ann’s Saloon, I have sketched it before back on a rainy day in 2009 (click on the little square to the right to see it, and then come right back here to finish reading). It’s a really interesting place with lots of old stuff all over the walls (including for some reason old British railway station signs, among all the Old West stylings). I’ve only ever been in there in the afternoons for a quick pint post-sketching or post-shopping, I imagine it is a fun place to hang out in the evenings, I don’t know but it’s always very friendly. They have a website, http://www.fannyannsaloon.com/, but if you click on there you have to promise you’ll come right back because I’m not done). They also have arcade games upstairs. IP1040434 remember about five years ago my friend Simon came over from England and played some of the classic shoot-em-up games, which seemed appropriate given the location we were in, I don’t mean in an old town from the Cowboy era, but just America in general. There he is on the left there, you can click on that image to get an idea of the decor (and you’ll have to come back to this page after that because there’s nowhere else to go). So that is Fanny Ann’s, which reminds me of the expression “Sweet F.A.”, which my Mum used to say meant “Sweet Fanny Ann’s”, which of course means “nothing”. Or was it “Sweet Fanny Adams”? Actually it was “Sweet Fanny Adams”. Yes, I’m pretty sure it was. Ah, so I’ve been telling people for years it was, well never mind. Words change as they get across the Atlantic.

fannyfannyfanny

Me in France, 2002, giggling at a shop called “Fanny Fanny Fanny”

Take “Fanny”. I had no idea. Now for those of you who don’t know, well, go and look it up on Google (open a new tab so you can come back here though, be really careful how you phrase the search). Yeah, see? I had no idea. The expression is probably ruder in England than in America. We don’t go around saying “Fanny this” or “Fanny that” (unless it’s a name in a costume drama, it’s always a name in a costume drama) and we all giggle at the mention of the word. In America it means ‘backside’, as you all know. People wear “fanny-packs”, that which we in England call “bum-bags”, of course in America “bum” means something else, often a homeless person, or in the often used expression “to be bummed”, again an alarming and graphic choice of words to a British ear but I actually heard a newsreader here in California say it three times in as many minutes when describing some local news item, basketball or something. “Bummer” is common on both sides of the pond of course, but here I’ve even heard the President himself referred to as “A Bummer” (thanks folks, I’m here all week). But “Fanny”, I had no idea. Years ago in France, when I first met my wife (who is American) I remember gasping in shock as she told me about when she had fallen over on rollerblades once and gotten a “bruised fanny”. I wasn’t even sure how it was physically possible, and I asked if she’d landed on a bollard or something, and after some confusion she laughed and explained that she was referring to the posterior. It was my first step into a larger world, a world of transatlantic vocabulary differences and easily avoided faux-pas. I still won’t say “fanny”. That old fashioned embarrassed Britishness is just too deeply ingrained in me, stiff upper lip old chap, put that light out, there’s a war on.

So anyway next time I’m in old Sacramento, I’ll pop back into Fanny Ann’s for a pint and a bit more sketching. If you see me, do say “Cheers”, or perhaps the rather more British expression “Bottoms Up”, which of course translates over here as, well…

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6 thoughts on “the fanny ann’s monologues

  1. Laura (PA Pict) says:

    Oh your posts do make me laugh. Since emigrating across the Atlantic, the use of the word “fanny” has caused no end of giggling among my kids. And me. Incidentally I was told that the expression “sweet Fanny Adams” was an allusion to a Victorian murder of a little girl. Quite dark that so I’ve always hoped that wasn’t the derivation. Moving away from that macabre tangent, your sketches are always a joy to see and also give me itchy feet.

    • pete scully says:

      Cheers! Well of course the “FA” really stands for something else unprintable here, but I didn’t know that about Fanny Adams, funny what gets passed down through everyday speech exclamations. Like ‘Gordon Bennett’, he was actually a real person, American I think, but people don’t use that expression over here any more, it’s more popular in Britain (in London anyway, where it sounds like “Gawd”)

  2. Clare says:

    I have just laughed out loud through this whole post! Thank you for such a humourous five minutes to end the day! I also love your sketches, so very accurate and interesting. I’m off to add you to my list of blogs to follow…if I’m allowed to leave this page… :)

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