Thursday, November 20, 2008


Origins of the V Sign

OK, it's a trivial topic but it interests me and this morning I'm suffering an attack of that well known condition: blogger's self indulgence. The good old V sign denotes victory if shown palm outward as in the case of good old Winnie, but 'fuck you' if palm inwards, the equivalent of the American single finger which is supposed to imply 'spin on this'.

I've heard another explanation from feminists who say it originated as a leering provocation from men to women, indicating the threat of double anal and vaginal penetration. Likely? I think not. But now I've stumbled on another one after reading Azincourt, by Bernard Cornwell, a rattling yarn (which will never win the Booker-Mann Prize) based on the progress of an archer who fought in the famous battle in October 1415. He suggests the French, who hated the longbow- the virtual equivalent in those days of the machine gun half a millennium later- threatened to cut off the fingers used by British archers to end their military efficacy. After Agincourt, the archers are reputed to have mocked the French by waving their still intact two fingers at them.

Again, I'm a bit dubious about this explanation as I'm not sure if this sign has been in currency for the past 700 years; I thought it a 20th century phenomenon. But I offer it as a diversion from our more momentous concerns of economic crisis and John Sergeant's resignation from Strictly Come Dancing.

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