‘soft Mick’: meaning and origin

Used in similative and comparative phrases such as as —— as soft Mick and more —— than soft Mick, the Lancashire * noun soft Mick (also Soft Mick) indicates a great quantity or degree.

* Lancashire is a county of north-western England, on the Irish Sea.
—Cf. also
origin of the Lancashire phrase ‘in Dicky’s meadow’.

The noun soft Mick seems to be composed of:
– the adjective soft, perhaps in the sense foolish, silly, as in the phrase soft in the head;
Mick, pet form of the male forename Michael.
—Cf. also ‘to take the mickey out of someone’: meaning and origin.

The earliest occurrences of soft Mick that I have found are as follows, in chronological order:

1-: From Gland Treatment, by T. Thompson, published in The Manchester Guardian (Manchester, Lancashire, England) of Friday 19th May 1939:

“Thi hair’s gettin’ a bit thinner,” said the barber, “an’ a bit greyer too.”
“Get it cut,” said Owd Thatcher.
“Tha’rt not offended?” said the barber.
“Nay,” said Owd Thatcher. “It’s no crime gettin’ owd.”
“It’s awkard,” said Farmer Platt. “It’s no crime, but it’s awkard.”
“It’s one o’ them things as has to be,” said Young Winterburn. “It comes to all on us.”
“Hasta not read about ’em givin’ footballers gland treatment?”
“Ah seed a bit in th’ papper about that misel’,” said the barber. “It gingers ’em up or summat.”
“Ah’ve used mustard misel’,” said Farmer Platt, “when Ah’ve been sellin’ a horse.”
“They con make owd folks in young uns now,” said Young Winterburn.
“Tha makes me sick,” said Jim Gregson. “Tha knows more nor Soft Mick.”
“It’s reet,” said Young Winterburn.

2-: From Sounds easy—but…, by Fred Billington, published in the Lancashire Evening Post (Preston, Lancashire, England) of Friday 9th September 1955:

I was standing at the corner of Church-street and Lancaster-road, Preston, minding my own business and feeling bored with the occupation when I felt a large hand on my shoulder. The hand belonged to a member of the Borough detective force, and its owner was wearing that ingratiating sort of smile which policemen affect when they intend to ask a favour.
“Are you doing anything special?”
“Not at the moment,” I countered.
“Well, what about joining a line up at the station?”
I hadn’t bargained for that one. “Well…” I began, uncertainly.
“Variety is the spice of life,” he urged. Then, confidentially—“I’ve already been refused more times than soft Mick!”
So I agreed to join the identity parade.

3-: From Lines from Lancs, by James Hartley, published in The Stage and Television Today (London, England) of Thursday 7th December 1972:

They’ve got our giant blarney bhoy Phil Kelly Down Under (based in Sydney) and from what I can gather he’s having the time of his life. The Aussies like him so much they even laugh at his gags!! I’m thrilled to bits for him—and thousands of his fans all over Clubland will feel just the same way.
Incidentally he is not on his ownio: in a brief memo he tells “There are more pros. here than soft Mick. To date I have met up with Frankie Vaughan, the Bachelors, Freddy Garrity, Val Doonican, Bal Moane, Julian Jorge, Brendan Locke.”

4-: From an advertisement for Heaton Park Motors Ltd, published in the Heywood Advertiser (Heywood, Lancashire, England) of Thursday 31st January 1974:

Who is Soft Mick?
You’ve all probably noticed the small labels on rear windows of cars stating “supplied by…” The next time you see a “Heaton Park Motors” label why not stop the driver (not in the fast lane of the motorway, of course!) and ask him about us? Over the years our customers’ satisfaction has sold more cars for us than Soft Mick. Perhaps that is why we are selling more cars now than in the past, when doom and despondency were not so prevalent.
Remember, money is only worth what it will buy. So if you want more than your money’s worth call and see us—you’ll find us a friendly lot, even a bit soft when it comes to part exchange allowances.
Yours sincerely,

5-: From ’Twas the day the bank manager came to call, a letter by H. L. Cosgrove, published in The Guardian (London and Manchester, England) of Friday 4th November 1977:

Banks have lent more daft money to potty companies on so called basic information than soft Mick.

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