"Bandits at one o’clock"

kra

Senior Member
Ukrainian/American English
Is this a reference to something?

Context: Britain. A barman says that to a woman he's into as he sees a couple they both know enter the bar. That's all I know. :(
 
  • kra

    Senior Member
    Ukrainian/American English
    Here's the entire thing:
    ‘Now you’re being abstruse.’ She handed him her
    empty glass. ‘Mix me another, will you?’
    ‘Remind me.’
    ‘Don’t be ridiculous.’
    ‘Bandits at one o’clock,’ he said in a whisper.

    I also don't understand the "remind me" bit. Is "he" being facetious by feigning to forget what drink he mixed "her"?
     

    George French

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    Bandits are coming in at the door that is at one o'clock. (You are facing 12 o'clock and the bandits are coming it from 1 o'clock (30 degrees to the right)

    One meaning if bandit is enemy aircraft. So they could be difficult customers. But even then, bandit could have another local meaning in the pub....

    GF..

    And whether the door is really at 1 is not relevant...

    Do you have some more context?
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Hi kra

    As George says, "bandits" is air force slang for enemy aircraft; "one o'clock" refers to a direction (imagine you're at the centre of a clock face: twelve o'clock is straight ahead).
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    Ah, now you are asking two questions.:p

    Let's work on one at a time: the "bandits at one o'clock" remark is a reference to fighter-pilot language, such as one might see in an old movie about World War Two. Bandits are aircraft identified as belonging to the enemy; the "one o'clock" refers to their location-- imagine yourself standing on the face of a clock, with 12 being directly in front of you, and 6 being directly behind you.

    In such a setting, and between two such people, fighter pilot slang would be more jocular than serious; I would take this to be little more than the equivalent of "look over there and see who just walked in" rather than a warning that actual enemies have appeared.
     

    kra

    Senior Member
    Ukrainian/American English
    I just found out that the excerpt comes from a novel by Mark Mills "The Information Officer." Perhaps the title alone renders George French's military interpretation correct. I guess I'll have to skim the PDF I've found. Thank you for your input, everyone!
     

    Uncle Bob

    Senior Member
    British English
    Hello,
    "Bandits at one o'clock" is what pilots say, or rather said, as a warning to others in war films (in reality?) to indicate that there were, as, George French said, enemy aeroplaces at the indicated direction (1 o'clock when you are facing 12 o'clock). I have heard it used as a warning about the arrival of unwelcome acquaitances, especially when one has just been discussing them. People using it tend to be middle class with airs of "bluffness".
     

    kra

    Senior Member
    Ukrainian/American English
    Ah, now you are asking two questions.:p

    Let's work on one at a time: the "bandits at one o'clock" remark is a reference to fighter-pilot language, such as one might see in an old movie about World War Two. Bandits are aircraft identified as belonging to the enemy; the "one o'clock" refers to their location-- imagine yourself standing on the face of a clock, with 12 being directly in front of you, and 6 being directly behind you.

    In such a setting, and between two such people, fighter pilot slang would be more jocular than serious; I would take this to be little more than the equivalent of "look over there and see who just walked in" rather than a warning that actual enemies have appeared.
    Wow, thanks for the elaborate explanation. :) I can't believe this poor friend of mine was assigned to translate something like that for an intermediate foreign language class!
     

    George French

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    Wow, thanks for the elaborate explanation. :) I can't believe this poor friend of mine was assigned to translate something like that for an intermediate foreign language class!
    That's the trouble with expressions. Often the natives have no idea what the expressions mean. English learners have no chance at all .....

    GF..

    There are so many expression that are just not worth knowing...
    Too many are new.
    Too many are of very local significance..
     
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