the wooden hill to Bedfordshire

English translation: go upstairs to bed

GLOSSARY ENTRY (DERIVED FROM QUESTION BELOW)
English term or phrase:the wooden hill to Bedfordshire
Selected answer:go upstairs to bed
Entered by: zmejka

17:39 Apr 18, 2009
English language (monolingual) [Non-PRO]
Art/Literary - Folklore
English term or phrase: the wooden hill to Bedfordshire
this is a passage from Neil Gaiman's "Neverwhere", a description of the Flying Market:

One stall was piled high with bottles, full bottles and empty bottles of every shape and every size, from bottles of booze to one huge glimmering bottle that could have contained nothing but a captive djinn; another sold lamps with candles, made of many kinds of wax and tallow; a man thrust what appeared to be a child's severed hand clutching a candle toward him as he passed, muttering, "Hand of Glory, sir? Send 'em up the wooden hill to Bedfordshire. Guaranteed to work." Richard hurried past, not wishing to find out what a Hand of Glory was, nor how it worked...

*
could anybody please give me an idea as to what the wooden hill to Bedfordshire refers to? thanks!
zmejka
Local time: 05:14
go upstairs to bed
Explanation:
the wooden hill = the (usually wooden) staircase

Bedfordshire = jocular reference to 'bed'

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Note added at 7 minutes (2009-04-18 17:46:11 GMT)
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However, I have no idea how that fits in with your context, unless it is the idea of frightening poor little children into going to bed with his gruesome ornament!

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Note added at 38 minutes (2009-04-18 18:17:22 GMT)
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Not necessarily, Asker: this is such a very familiar idiom, there doesn't need to be any fantastical connection at all.

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Note added at 1 jour13 heures (2009-04-20 07:13:52 GMT)
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In the light of Bill Gray's helpful research into the 'hand of glory', it sounds as if this not meant to be literally 'sending (children) upstairs to bed', but rather a more figurative use, meaning 'send people to sleep' (i.e. render them immobile', as Bill explains).

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Note added at 1 jour13 heures (2009-04-20 07:14:52 GMT)
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That would certainly seem to refute the idea of any literal 'parallel Universe' wooden hill or Bedfordshire.
Selected response from:

Tony M
France
Local time: 03:14
Grading comment
thanks very much for your help, everyone! and special thanks to Bill Gray for the references!
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer



SUMMARY OF ALL EXPLANATIONS PROVIDED
5 +7go upstairs to bed
Tony M
3all of the above and more....
William [Bill] Gray
3up (wooden) stairs to bed
Maureen Wilkins (X)


  

Answers


4 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
the wooden hill to bedfordshire
up (wooden) stairs to bed


Explanation:
I think I recall this from what my parents said to me as a child to get me to go to bed.

Maureen Wilkins (X)
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:14
Works in field
Native speaker of: English
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14 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
the wooden hill to bedfordshire
all of the above and more....


Explanation:
While acknowledging the responses from Tony and Maureen, here are a few extra thoughts:
1. The "hand of glory" is a candle "rendered motionless all persons to whom it was presented" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hand_of_Glory)
2. Here you can read the words of the song: http://www.jilldaniels.com/UP-THE-WOODEN-HILL.htm
3. In response to the askers comment: There is a Wood Hill prison, and a Wooden Hill Primary school, but neither are in Bedfordshire. However, as Tony says, there does not necessarily have to be a direct parallel in all the references.

Hope this adds to the interest of an unusual posting :-)





    Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hand_of_Glory
    Reference: http://www.jilldaniels.com/UP-THE-WOODEN-HILL.htm
William [Bill] Gray
Norway
Local time: 03:14
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
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3 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +7
go upstairs to bed


Explanation:
the wooden hill = the (usually wooden) staircase

Bedfordshire = jocular reference to 'bed'

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 7 minutes (2009-04-18 17:46:11 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

However, I have no idea how that fits in with your context, unless it is the idea of frightening poor little children into going to bed with his gruesome ornament!

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 38 minutes (2009-04-18 18:17:22 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Not necessarily, Asker: this is such a very familiar idiom, there doesn't need to be any fantastical connection at all.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 1 jour13 heures (2009-04-20 07:13:52 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

In the light of Bill Gray's helpful research into the 'hand of glory', it sounds as if this not meant to be literally 'sending (children) upstairs to bed', but rather a more figurative use, meaning 'send people to sleep' (i.e. render them immobile', as Bill explains).

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 1 jour13 heures (2009-04-20 07:14:52 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

That would certainly seem to refute the idea of any literal 'parallel Universe' wooden hill or Bedfordshire.

Tony M
France
Local time: 03:14
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
Grading comment
thanks very much for your help, everyone! and special thanks to Bill Gray for the references!
Notes to answerer
Asker: in this book, there is a London Above (the usual London) and a London Below (a different dimension), with otherworldly parallels with London geography: Knightsbridge turns to Night's Bridge, etc. -- so I suppose there really is a wooden hill and a Bedfordshire in this world.


Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Maureen Wilkins (X): great minds think alike!!
2 mins
  -> Thanks, Maureen!

agree  David Moore (X)
30 mins
  -> Thanks, David!

agree  Jack Doughty
43 mins
  -> Thanks, Jack!

agree  Andrey Belousov (X)
5 hrs
  -> Spasibo, Andrey!

agree  Robin Levey: Absolutely right. I vividly recall my grandparents sending me - over 50 years ago - to climb the 'big wooden mountain'. They were ambitious people, bent on getting me as tired as possible. No mere 'hills' for them!.
6 hrs
  -> Thanks, R! We lived in a boat, so none of this for me!

agree  d_vachliot (X): This was one of the first English idioms I learned. Funny it came up, I was discussing it with a friend the other day!
21 hrs
  -> Efharisto, Dimitris! What a coincidence... and it's quite an old-fashioned one too. I was brought up on Cockney rhyming slang myself. / "up the apples and pears" an' all that...

agree  airmailrpl: -
1 day 12 hrs
  -> Thanks, airmail!
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