A ballad that allowed no smirking at the back.

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Couch Tomato

Senior Member
Russian & Dutch
The album showed Bedrock to be skilful magpie collectors and observers, and a cunningly versatile team of songwriters. At their most obvious, they went larkily after traditional English preoccupations such as sunbathing and Sunday afternoons. But the album's real strength lay in the gentle melancholy depths it plumbed on tracks such as 'So Low', a gorgeous unfurling tune loosely hung around the theme of meteorology, and 'To the Brink', a ballad that allowed no smirking at the back.
(Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English 2 - Student's Book with Answers)

What do you make of "at the back"? At the back of what?

Thank you in advance.



 
  • Couch Tomato

    Senior Member
    Russian & Dutch
    Thank you, Tazzler.

    But why didn't they just say that? It wasn't obvious to me. Is "no smirking at the back" a set phrase that is often used to address activity going on in a classroom?
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    But why didn't they just say that?
    Too easy - "no smirking at the back" carries a lot more meaning with it.
    It wasn't obvious to me.
    I suspect you've not been in the back seats in a biology class :)
    Is "no smirking at the back" a set phrase that is often used to address activity going on in a classroom?
    Stereotypically, the teacher will say, "And now we are going to talk about reproduction... SILENCE! ... no smirking or comments at the back! This is not funny, this is a serious matter!"

    Most people will recognise this.
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    I recognise the phrase exactly as explained by PaulQ.

    I struggle to know quite what it means about the music, though!
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    If you search Youtube for "I Am Kloot - To the Brink" you will hear a somewhat harrowing ballad, but well-sung and produced. This is probably in contrast to Bedrock's "Low Down" which may contain some some suggestive lyrics and may have caused smirking at the back.
     
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