Friday, 13 October 2017

Fair play to him

This gentleman was snapped up on Belfast Train Station platform.  He seemed totally engaged with his book, completely oblivious to the chaos of the platform as people like me waited for their train.

Adox paper, light sepia tone.  On the M6 I think, although it could have been the Nikon.  Either way, HP5+ and a fairly close crop.
'Fair play to him', I say.  That's a great phrase in these parts - in fact, all over this Emerald Isle - and can be used to great effect in many situations.  Or, 'Fair play to you' if the person is present.  It sort of means, 'I take my hat off to him', 'Respect', or similar - most often used when someone is making the best of their situation.  In fact, it's hard to think of a situation when the phrase can't be used. Interestingly, it usually also signifies the end of the discussion, since there really is nothing more that needs to be said.

I think one of the best examples of the use of this phrase was in a story I was told a few years back by a colleague.  He was travelling 'down South' - County Kerry or somewhere where the tourists go - and found himself in a car park at the top of a hill renowned for it's all-encompassing views of the surrounding coastline.  Anyway, my colleague says he was just sitting watching the goings-on around him when he noticed a guy dressed as an old Irish tinker sitting on the grass next to a donkey and cart.  The cart was laden with turf.  'What's he up to?', my colleague wondered to himself.  Next thing a coach-load of tourists arrives and discharges its load.  Yer man with the donkey leaps up and makes himself visible to the tourists, who all line up to take his photograph, either with or without their wife/husband/partner. Money was parted with.

When the coach departed, my colleague wanders up to the fellow, tips him a smile, a nod of the head and a knowing wink and says: 'Fair play to you', before taking his leave.


  1. I'm fascinated with this turn of the phrase. I didn't hear this one while I was in Ireland but I heard others, compact and effective the lot.

    1. We're very fond of this one in our house, Jim - always raises a smile, it does :)