A Jam Buttie

Children of parents who emigrated from the United Kingdom become familiar with the quirky words  of the British dialect.

My three brothers and I were such children. Our parents and their families came from the U.K. Our mother was born in Dundee, Scotland. Our father's family came from Bristol, England.

So it was not uncommon in our household to regularly use odd sounding words like "fusty" (pronounced "foosty") meaning stale or mouldy, and lugs (ears), glumish (sad looking, awkward person), dighted (clueless), kip (a nap) and midden (a mess).

One such word was buttie. Officially, a buttie is a jam sandwich, but in our house a buttie was a piece of something, and a wee buttie was often used to mean a small piece of food.

For instance, conversations often went like this:

"Would you like a piece of cake?"
"Yes please, but just a wee buttie."

Consequently, I always associated "wee" with "buttie". Recently, I found out just how my love for those strange words could trip me up.

It was George's birthday, and for a treat, I decided to take him out for lunch to the St. George Arms, a British style pub located in St. George, Ontario. This lovely little pub was built in the nineteenth century and originally served as a carriage house. The house specialties are British favourites like bangers and mash, fish and chips, shepherd's pie, and yorkshire pudding.

Until that day, I had never witnessed the word "buttie" on any menu, even in restuarants which offered typical English fare. But there it was. Under "Sweets" was "Jam Buttie".

My eyes locked on the word "buttie". I knew I HAD to order it. It was my destiny. It was a siren call from my past and a nod to the funny words we threw around our house that made other people wrinkle up their noses and say, "What??".

Call it whatever you like, but the thrill of the moment eclipsed my common sense. I threw caution to the winds and put in my order. I was going to have a Jam Buttie strictly on Scottish principle. I didn't even care what exactly it was.

The only mistake I made was in associating it with "wee". It was not wee. Not even close.

The waitress put a dinner plate down in front of me filled with four huge wedges of a deep-fried jam sandwich with an ice cream filling, topped with whipped cream and drizzled with chocolate. I gulped. This buttie was huge. I looked over at George, but he just smiled. He knew nostalgia had swept me off my feet again. There was no way I could eat it all myself.

In my own defense, though, that Jam Buttie was a thing of beauty. I savoured every bite, ate half of it and took the rest home. My curiosity was satisfied. I had gaily skipped down memory lane and literally tasted my British roots.

Later that evening, George asked, "Where's that take-out container you brought home? I thought I'd just have a wee buttie."

He grinned wickedly and I had to admit I felt just a wee bit dighted.



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