Friday, 4 January 2013

Six - and two threes

I came across some nice old-fashioned boarding school stories the other day (by an author called Louise O. Weston) and once I'd read one collection, I wanted to go back to the Kindle store for more. But at the time I couldn't remember the author's name or the book title (and by then I'd deleted the collection that I'd read).
All I could remember was that the title included the phrase 'six of the best'. So I searched for that on my Kindle and was surprised at just how many books it threw back at me.
Boy, has this CP-related phrase gone mainstream. In fact, I wonder if the vanilla world knows what it's saying when it talks about that  'best'?
Presumably 'six of the best' doesn't have a life beyond the UK. Here, whenever a publication does some sort of product review the editor seems to think that the page has to carry six of whatever's been evaluated. Not five, not seven, sometimes a top 10 - but more often than not six of the best. Whether it's boots, waterproofs or cameras, they have to come in sixes.
Is this all an innocent use of half a dozen? We Brits like to cleave to the old ways, so we use our acres, miles and ounces when it would make more sense to go metric, but even so...
But you only have to run the phrase through Google to see how much sixing is going on out there. For example, when the ex-public schoolboys of Genesis got together for a reunion I reckon they chose 'Six of the Best' as the name of their temporary band for nostalgic reasons.
There's a lot less ambiguity when it comes to the band Lip Service. I reckon the cover of their album 'Six of the Best' speaks for itself, don't you?
Then there's the 80s girl group Clout. What did they call their second ablum? You've got it.
Innocent or not, I like it. I love the way iI can be flipping through a mag at the doctor's or a paper on the train and turn a page and... there's a reference to six and my mind is off to it's favorite fantasy boarding school for naughty girls and boys.
By the way,a six and two threes is a phrase my dear old Mum likes to use and has nothing at all to do with that other six (of the best). It's her shorthand for when something makes little difference one way or another.


  1. Here it's "six of one, half dozen of another." I didn't hear the phrase 'six of the best' until I was an adult. It had no real meaning to me, and therefore no impact. I still have no personal experience with the cane, but I find the associated phrase very powerful today. The cane could have been an object to fear, and to be in awe of, growing up. A standard of six is an idea that appeals to me, a prescribed ritual of punishment, each precision stripe, being 'the best,' imparting a searing impression to endure, and an attractive visual impression to see, for many days.

  2. Six also seems to to be the right amount for the average bottom. Although I think after my Christmas chocolate binge I may offer a rather broader canvas than I did...