‘stick it up your jumper’: meaning and origin

MEANING AND EARLIEST OCCURRENCE OF THE PHRASE

 

In British and Australian English, the imperative phrase stick it up your jumper jocularly expresses indifference towards, or rejection of, a suggestion.

For example, the following is from a collection of incoherent sentence fragments attributed by Paul Whitehouse 1 and Jim Reilly to Ron Manager, a fictional football commentator—collection published in The Guardian (London and Manchester, England) of Monday 12th August 2002:

… Welcome to the column that pulls no punches! … political correctness? … stick it up your jumper!

1 The British actor and author Paul Whitehouse (born 1958) was one of the main stars of the BBC comedy series The Fast Show (1994 to 1997, 2000, 2014), in which Ron Manager was a recurring character.

And the following is from Tangled web: Net gossip, published in The Guardian (London and Manchester, England) of Monday 17th February 2003:

You’ve got to love those patriotic Australians, they won’t just play the one half to satisfy their employers, as Remo Nogarotto, head honcho at Soccer Australia explains: “Leeds tried to bludgeon the national coach into sticking to that plan. Harry let Venables know what he felt about that idea. He said ‘Stick it up your jumper, I’m playing for my country.’” (www.planet-football.com)

The earliest occurrence of the phrase that I have found is from ‘Shoddy’ handling of candidates for top Labour job attacked, by Francis Boyd, political correspondent, published in The Guardian (Manchester, Lancashire, England) of Wednesday 3rd July 1968:

The national executive of the Labour Party […] has handled this affair in such a way as to convey the impression that the appointment of Mr Anthony Greenwood […] is a foregone conclusion because Mr Wilson 2 supports him and the Left prefers Mr Greenwood to any other candidate from the Cabinet (or ex-Cabinet) stable—Mr George Brown, and Mr Ray Gunter. […] Mr Gunter, in a series of broadcasts yesterday, seemed to imply that if any trade union should want to draft him as a candidate he would have to consider the fact and could not turn on the union and say, “Stick it up your jumper.”

2 The British Labour statesman Harold Wilson (1916-1995) was then Prime Minister.

In the following advertisement for Trago Mills, published in the Cornish Guardian (Bodmin, Cornwall, England) of Thursday 24th June 1971, it seems that the phrase is used merely to attract the reader’s attention and to introduce “stick it on the wall”:

Stick it up your Jumper . . .
                                                                         Or stick it on the wall.
Before you choose WALLPAPER . . . give TRAGO MILLS a call.
With selection to amaze you . . . from makers who’re the best.
On PRICE by far the LOWEST . . . please put this claim to test.
[&c.]

 

ORIGIN OF THE PHRASE

 

The phrase stick it up your jumper originated in Umpa, Umpa, Stick It Up Your Jumper, a song recorded on Wednesday 28th August 1935 by The Two Leslies, i.e., the British singer-songwriters Leslie Sarony (Leslie Legge Frye – 1897-1985) and Leslie Holmes (Roy Leslie Holmes – 1901-1960)—source: Vintage British Comedy.

The following are the song and its lyrics:

Umpa! Stick it up your jumper
Umpa! Stick it up your jumper
Umpa! Umpa! Stick it up your jumper
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la

A jumper or a jersey when we’re shopping is preferred
For parcels you can’t flick them, for up there you can stick them
It’s quite become the fashion and a slogan we have heard
Last winter we were visiting and this is what occurred

’Twas Christmas Day at the workhouse
And you know how kind they are
Umpa! Umpa! Stick it up your jumper
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la

The master said, I greet you all
And the inmates answered, bah!
Umpa! Umpa! Stick it up your jumper
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la

The grub was duff and the meat was tough
And the spuds had eyes like prongs
They said they were King Edwards
But they looked more like King Kongs

The master said, this pud is good
And a pauper shouted, ah!
Umpa! Umpa! Stick it up your jumper
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la

When henpecked gave his wife
A little present, she said, ah!
Umpa! Umpa! Stick it up your jumper
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la

She said, you know what you can do
With your twopenny chocolate bar
Umpa! Umpa! Stick it up your jumper
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la

You little worm, I’ll make you squirm
And when it’s time for bed
I’ll talk, I will, to you until
You wished that you were dead

And when you want to kiss me
And call me your evening star
Umpa! Umpa! Stick it up your jumper
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la

(instrumental)

They brought the Sheik of Araby
A new wife, he said, bah!
Umpa! Umpa! Stick it up your jumper
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la

He said, she’s fat and her face
Is like a mustard pickle jar
Umpa! Umpa! Stick it up your jumper
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la

The Sheik said, bring me a gay young thing
A dizzy blonde will do
I’m eighty-five and she’ll make me think
I’m only twenty-two

You brought me a fat old hen
When I wanted a hot mama
Umpa! Umpa! Stick it up your jumper
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la

The nut was in his baby car
And doing the la-di-dah
Umpa! Umpa! Stick it up your jumper
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la

The girl said, what, take me for a ride
No sir, you’ll go too far
Umpa! Umpa! Stick it up your jumper
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la

Oh dear, tut-tut, said the saucy nut,
We won’t go far, I’m sure
The girl said, nix, I know those tricks
And I’ve walked home before

And Romeo, if you want to know
Where you can park your car
Umpa! Umpa! Stick it up your jumper
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la—La!

The music critic Edward Betts mentioned Umpa, Umpa, Stick It Up Your Jumper in The Era (London, England) of Wednesday 22nd January 1936:

A Record “Ban” That Was Lifted
The Two Leslies—Holmes and Sarony—broadcast a song a week or two ago with the title—“Umpa, Umpa, Stick It Up Your Jumper.” It was duly recorded and was announced in the Regal-Zonophone catalogue. But when anyone tried to buy the record he was met with the queer reply that it had been banned.
Further inquiries led to the discovery that the record had been put on the “index” because the examining committee appointed by the gramophone trade to exercise a discretionary censorship of new issues, had raised objection to part the lyric.
And now comes the curious part of the story.
When it was pointed out that the B.B.C. had permitted the song to be broadcast without any protest, the committee decided to lift the embargo on the record, and it can be bought by asking tor MR1920.
So that’s that.

The song was still popular almost three decades later—as illustrated by the following from Joining In At The Savoy, by Peter Hepple, published in The Stage and Television Today (London, England) of Thursday 22nd February 1962—Dorothy Wayne had been singing at the Savoy the previous week:

I must say that I was a little taken aback when Dorothy put in the “Oompah, Oompah” bit, but I was almost flabbergasted when this most conservative audience in London took the hint and replied with a roof-raising “Stick it up your jumper”.

The Beatles alluded to Umpa, Umpa, Stick It Up Your Jumper in their 1967 song in I Am The Walrus—as explained by Gil Wahiquist in The Sydney Morning Herald (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia) of Sunday 10th December 1967:

On their last few LPs they [= the Beatles] have consistently satirised the irrelevancies of life.
On their new single “I Am the Walrus” they have gone one step further, to create an unreal world of meaningless events and advice ending with the chorus “oompah, oompah, stick it up your jumper” (Parlophone A-8273).
Absolutely nothing matters any more. There is no need for a story or a connected lyric.

I Am The Walrus (1967), by the Beatles: