Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Weather fronts don't "rock up". Nor do rock bands.

Just heard the weatherman on BBC Radio Four talk about when some weather front would "rock up".

I talked about the rockification of everything in "Uncommon People". Now that we no longer have actual rock stars we have rock star chefs, politicians or cyclists instead.

Clearly I should have added something about the unchecked growth of the verb "rock up", which is now so widespread that even weather forecasters, who used to be dull and sort of proud of it, feel they should use it to lend their bulletins a raffish air.

"Rock up" isn't mentioned at all in the 2008 edition of Jonathon Green's Dictionary of Slang so it must be a recent thing.  But it's not all that recent. According to the OED it was first recorded in a dictionary of South African English in 1996 where it meant "to arrive, turn up, esp. casually, late, or unexpectedly".

Strikes me that two things never turn up casually or unexpectedly. One is a weather front, which takes weeks to build up; the other is a touring rock band, which is encumbered by so much equipment and so in thrall to the soundcheck that it is incapable of doing anything quickly and without fuss.

If rock bands could get on, get it on and get off without fuss they would be a good deal more popular than they are.


  1. That would be the forecast according to Philip Avery. A more judgemental weather man you'd struggle to meet. Bring back John Ketley. Now he *was* a weather man.

  2. Blimey! Am I the only person old enough to remember Jack Armstrong? I believe he made reference to Rockall, more than once.

  3. To the best of my recollection the term "rock up" was used in a 2013 revival of Ben Travers' 1927 farce Thark. The text had been revised by Clive Francis so I'm guessing he was responsible although it remained set in the 20s.