It was handy them being foreign


New Member

I'm reading Outliers written by Gladwell, Malcolm now.

quote from Outliers:

"Here is John Lennon, in an interview after the Beatles disbanded, talking about the band's performances at a Hamburg strip club called the Indra:

We got better and got more confidence. We couldn't help it with all the experience playing all night long. It was handy them being foreign. We had to try even harder, put our heart and soul into it, to get ourselves over. "

What does "it was handy them being foreign." mean here?

  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    It was handy (useful, convenient) that they (the audience in the club) were foreign.

    'It' is the dummy subject used when a clause which could be subject is moved to the right:

    Them being foreign was handy.
    It was handy them being foreign.
    That they were foreign was handy.
    It was handy that they were foreign.


    Senior Member
    American English
    The fact that the audiences were foreign was an advantage to the Beatles (for the reasons John gives in the next sentence).

    Also, we don't say authors' names that way in ordinary sentences; call him Malcolm Gladwell unless you're writing a bibliography.

    (Edit: crossposted with ETB.)


    New Member
    OK, now I get it. Actually it's the word "handy" that confuses me. It does make sense when "handy" here means "an advantage".

    Thanks for your quick replies.
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