A comment from the Saggittarian got me thinking about those peculiarities and sayings that families have. For instance, when it comes to boiled eggs I come from a family of spoon tappers. Apart from the atavistic satisfaction of bashing in it's skull, you don't waste any of the white, you don't cut your thumb and you don't get your knife eggy before the toast and marmalade stage. And we had soldiers with it. The Social Secretary, on the other hand, comes from a long line of egg-beheaders, and her soldiers were called dippies. Inevitably the children have grown up as dippy decapitators.
Then there are those sayings that are only understood within the family. If we wanted a bit of cheese without biscuits, we asked for 'cheese like a mouse' (do other people say that?). The SS's family calls those humpbacked bridges that leave your tummy floating for a moment, 'tummy ticklers'. My mother's family knew them as 'Thank you maams', after a past chauffeur who would warn his passengers one was coming with, 'Hold tight please', and then thank them afterwards. Caravans are 'Jo's' (don't ask), unnecessary urban four-wheeled drive vehicles are 'Ilfords', croutons are 'sippits' and chocolate digestives 'Daddy Bs'.
In one family we knew, if one of them was relating an anecdote that might put another down, someone would mutter 'Lith', and the speaker would immediately stop. Lith, we discovered, stood for 'loyalty in the home'.
One of the barns in my childhood home, in which the mowers and tools were kept, was known as 'the agricultural shed'. When my sister and I bought our own houses, out of habit we each called our garden sheds 'the agricultural shed'. This amused our father, who reminded us that the original barn had also been used as a second garage. Getting us to call it an agricultural shed was a ploy to stop us innocently giving away its garage use to any visiting council official, who might then have increased our rates. Probably our children in turn will have agricultural sheds.
There is also a stubborn inertia in the names we gave things. For example, there was a green, perforated steel food safe which was once used to store half stiltons. Over the years it moved house with us and was repainted white, but it was always known as 'the green thing'.
I'm guessing we all have these idiosyncratic quirks which help to define our membership of our individual clan, and set us apart from those unfortunates outside the magic circle.