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An old-fashioned mannequin peeps from the window as though watching passersby

Recently, I woke up with a noun in my head, all caps and full screen: NOSEY PARKER. The exclamation was implied.

It’s a vintage put-down I hadn’t seen or heard for ages. Naturally, I asked myself what this could mean.

What could this mean?

Nosey parkers take an excessive interest in other people’s affairs. They peep and pry like snoopers, ferrets and quidnuncs. They don't interfere like meddlers or marplots.

Yes, but where did nosey parker come from?

The UK, originally, but they’re easy to spot in Ireland, India, South Africa, and the US. Australia may prefer to call them stickybeaks, and who can blame it?

To rephrase, what’s behind my nosey parker?

Little but hearsay.

There’s a rumour that the original Nosey Parker was an Elizabethan archbishop named Parker, who was known for poking about in personal matters. However, the word nosey wasn’t in use back then, so he seems unlikely.

The first recorded Mr Nosey Parker was sniffing around in 1890. He was a nickname used by a fictional Londoner in the story Eastward Ho! by E Hesse-Kaye. Nosey Parker next appears in a South London police court in 1896, as an insult to a woman, and again in a Londoner’s dialogue in the 1912 novel Carnival by Compton Mackenzie.

Apparently, the Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English suggests nosey parkers first showed up in Hyde Park for London's Great Exhibition, in 1851. The park-keepers were notoriously nosey, so the story goes, and especially interested in courting couples, thus Londoners started using nosey parker as a gibe. This is odd enough to be true but sadly unproven.

These nosey parkers are keeping secrets about their origins.

Any idea why I woke up with my nosey parker?

Only if I'm prepared to speculate about myself whilst accepting the internet's advice. Which I am, so let's assume I had a hypnopompic hallucination. That's a term so grand I'm almost proud of myself for popping one out. However, loads of people experience images, sounds or sensations while waking. Often for no particular reason. The internet says I'm probably normal.

So, it was all a dream?

Alas, my fact bag is empty. The internet says those hallucinations are dream epilogues, and at the same time that they can't be. When I asked how to interpret them, the internet changed the subject.

If I want my nosey parker to have meaning, I'll have to invent one. Such as:

  1. Pfft. Nosey parker was a random pick from my nonsense archive.

  2. Eek. Beware the webferrets!

  3. Oops. I did a tiny snoop and put it in my notebook.

Which are all plausible but really no better than internal gossip. I should probably mind my own beeswax. Until next time.


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