Tim Key: 'What is this word "props" - and what's it got to do with Vanessa?'

 

Share

I am a huge fan of sports and, in particular, sports journalism. But I recently consumed some which included the following phrase about the Everton manager, Roberto Martinez: "Props are due to Martinez – he's brought a charisma and style to the team while still outpointing the ghost of David Moyes". A nice accolade for Martinez, that. But I admit I furrowed my brow when I read it. And I also reached for my online dictionary. "Props". That was the problem I had. Props.

I had heard the word before, and always waved it through. Phrases come and go and you're not always in a situation where you can look them up. But this time I was hungry to get to the bottom of it and I leafed through my iPhone, seeking answers. I'm on a 24-month contract, so my iPhone didn't waste my time telling me about the type of props you get in the theatre, or the ones you might use to prop up a washing line or a leaning tree. No, it took me straight to something called an Urban Dictionary, and solved the riddle there and then.

"Props: proper recognition. I give him props for sleeping with Vanessa."

I reread the article and felt much more on top of it. And good on Roberto. As a Londoner, I felt pleased that I had some more urban lingo in my armoury. And I write a column for a paper sold in cities, so that kind of stuff is gold dust. It actually made me want to go deeper into town and practise using it. I arranged to go for drinks in Soho with my new friends, Claire and Aiden, so I could have a go with it, and we settled on the Soho Theatre bar at 9pm.

As I was practising the phrase in front of my mirror, I did, however, feel troubled by the example the Urban Dictionary had given me. "I give him props for sleeping with Vanessa." I can't really imagine a context where I could see myself saying that. It started me thinking about all involved. The "him", the chap who's properly recognising the "him", and of course "Vanessa". Was the speaker impressed because Vanessa was so beautiful that the union looked unlikely on paper? Was he wowed because it was a famous Vanessa, a Mae or a Feltz, and all the cache that comes with that? Or was Vanessa maybe an animal, such as a panther or an ostrich, where again props would be begrudgingly due. I guess it's just an example, but it did trouble me.

I arrived at the Soho Theatre bar early and practised used "props" a couple of times with the bar staff there, as they nailed pouring my beer or gave me the correct change, and then I sat and waited for Claire and Aiden. They arrived looking great and I had to hold myself back from using it immediately about Aiden's coat. It was three-quarter length and had the whiff of the oceans about it. And Claire looked radiant as per. She'd just got a promotion, but again I held my tongue. I kind of wanted us to all be set before I threw it in casually.

We had a couple of Brooklyn Lagers and some cashews and talked using basic language for a bit. Then Aiden went to the bar and I seized my chance. I leaned right into Claire and sang it into her lughole. "I give you props for sleeping with Aiden." She nodded but seemed unsure. I went again a little louder. The same. I sat back down. After a time she asked me what I meant. Aiden returned with the beers and I tried it on him, but again, blank looks. I reverted to normal language. "I was just saying to Claire that I give her proper recognition for sleeping with you, Aiden."

They both nodded and drank their beer. They understood it now. But throwing it in seemed to have changed things. Slowed everything down a bit. I sipped my Brooklyn. I ruminated on the possibility that urban language is more trouble than it's worth.

Tim Key will be performing his show Single White Slut at the Duchess Theatre, London, 28 April-2 May, 7.30pm

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Technical Advisor - Automotive Parts

£16400 - £17500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading online E-commerce ...

Recruitment Genius: Automotive Parts Manager

£27300 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a leading...

Recruitment Genius: Technical Customer Service Advisor

£22000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading boiler ...

Recruitment Genius: International Customer Service Administrators

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join an awa...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letter from the Political Editor: With 100 days still to go how will Cameron, Miliband and Co. keep us all engaged?

Andrew Grice
A solar energy farm in France  

Nature Studies: For all the attractions of solar power, it shouldn’t blight the countryside

Michael McCarthy
Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea