people carrier - hostess trolley

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Ariomni

Member
ITALIAN
Hello, everyone. I need help with the meaning of this joke, I can't understand why it shoul make me laugh! o_O I hope you can help me!
They are in an English TV series called "Hebburn". I write here them, in context:

1) Jack: I know Mam's driving can be a bit...chilling.
Sarah: It was like an Alton Towers ride.
Jack:The people carrier is a prized possession, though. It's easily overtaken the hostess trolley.

Well... Here I'm not sure about the meaning of the last sentence (is a prized possession etc)... Any guesses?
 
  • Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    Is Mam's car a 7-seater or something similar -- a van-type vehicle that can carry a lot of people?
    And was she a stewardess/flight attendant before?
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    "People mover" is a common term for those vans, and she apparently considers that a prized possession -- something that's very special to her, that she cares for a lot. To say that the "people mover" has overtaken the "hostess trolley" sounds like it has replaced a hostess trolley that she might have once pushed -- which used to be a prized possession (or at least responsibility in a job she held) -- in her affections.

    Just speculating here. (I have learned than Alton Towers is "Alton Towers Theme Park | UK's Best Family Fun Resort" -- their words, not mine.
     

    Ariomni

    Member
    ITALIAN
    So you think that he is telling that for his mum the people carrier and the hostess trolley are a prized possession? Not for him? because is the son of the woman that is speaking (to his girlfriend)!
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Hello, Ariomni

    A hostess trolley is just, as the images you found suggested, a piece of mobile furniture for serving food from.

    So the sentence has a literal meaning: Jack's mother is prouder of the car she's bought than she used to be of her hostess trolley. The joke lies in the overtones of "hostess trolley". On the one hand, it's a fairly unnecessary piece of furniture in most homes, and Mam was probably exceedingly proud of it because she felt it gave her status, rather than because it was useful. On the other, "hostess trolley" is forever associated in Brit minds with Victoria Wood's song "Let's Do it", which includes the immortal line "Bend me over backwards on me hostess trolley".
     
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    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    This is very much a cultural question, with just a touch of language. In BE (and possibly other forms) a hostess trolley is a heated trolley for bringing food to the table, as in those Google images. Having a hostess trolley was once seen as demonstrating a high degree of sophistication when entertaining guests at a dinner party - it was a prized possession.

    Those who might once have prized a hostess trolley are now more likely to prize a people carrier. (Although that's probably been superseded by a Range Rover with alloy wheels and low-profile tyres)
     

    Ariomni

    Member
    ITALIAN
    Wow, I didn't know about this song! Ok, now it's clearer, thanks! The only thing that still sounds strange to me is the fact that Jack doesn's say "is a prized possession for her", but just "is a prized possession", as if it was prized for him!
     

    Ariomni

    Member
    ITALIAN
    Thank you Andygc, I didn't know that an hostess trolley was a prized possession!
    Thank you everyone!
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    It's a joke, Ariomni ... it's only a prized possession for the person who loves it, not in general. To other people, it might be a useless or pretentious or unnecessary piece of furniture. Loob did a nice job of explaining it -- for which we're going to award her a hostess trolley that we have stored in the basement. :)
     

    Ariomni

    Member
    ITALIAN
    Yes, I've understood it's a joke, I meant that I didn't think it could be a prized possession for someone! XD
    I agree, hostess trolley for Loob! :p
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    (Thank you, gentlemen, but I'm sure Andy deserves the hostess trolley more than I do.

    I'll have the people-carrier, please:cool:.)
     

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    In BrE, a "people carrier" is an alternative name (some people say it's an old name) for a "MPV": a car that's a bit taller than a normal car and has plenty of space for people (sometimes seven of them but often only five) and luggage. We don't call these vehicles "vans" in the UK, because in BrE "van" means a small commercial vehicle: a small vehicle for carrying goods, not people.
     
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    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Sort of. This is a joke about social status in the UK and the British person's interpretation of the motivation behind his/her compatriot's purchases. Apparently, people hoped that the hostess trolley exuded sophistication. At the same time, those who didn't possess one thought, or made out, that hostess trolleys were pretty useless, as Loob says. That was back in the 1980s, I think.

    I'm not sure that the people carrier is a modern parallel to the hostess trolley, because I have never seen it suggested that possession of one these vehicles points to sophistication on the owner's part. They are practical things, because they are spacious and versatile (the rear seats can be removed from some of them), and come with a lot of space for oddments (cup holders!) - but the implication from the motoring press is that few owners use these features, and that people buy these cars because their friends and neighbours have got one: behaviour that (allegedly) betrays a pretentiousness that we might compare with possession of a hostess trolley in an earlier era.

    So the joke sort of works for me.

    (With apologies to any WR member who owns a people carrier. :D)
     
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    Ariomni

    Member
    ITALIAN
    Sort of. This is a joke about social status in the UK and the British person's interpretation of the motivation behind his/her compatriot's purchases. Apparently, people hoped that the hostess trolley exuded sophistication. At the same time, those who didn't possess one thought, or made out, that hostess trolleys were pretty useless, as Loob says. That was back in the 1980s, I think.

    I'm not sure that the people carrier is a modern parallel to the hostess trolley, because I have never seen it suggested that possession of one these vehicles points to sophistication on the owner's part. They are practical things, because they are spacious and versatile (the rear seats can be removed from some of them), and come with a lot of space for oddments (cup holders!) - but the implication from the motoring press is that few owners use these features, and that people buy these cars because their friends and neighbours have got one: behaviour that (allegedly) betrays a pretentiousness that we might compare with possession of a hostess trolley in an earlier era.

    So the joke sort of works for me.

    (With apologies to any WR member who owns a people carrier. :D)
    Thank you, you've been really exhaustive!
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    I don't think there's any need for a people carrier to be a modern parallel to the hostess trolley, because I don't see any need for a parallel: She loved her hostess trolley as a prized possession until she got her people mover, which replaced the trolley as her latest prized possession. Next year she will probably forget the car when some new possession takes her fancy.
     

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    You may be right, Copy, but I'm not sure, because in the UK these two things, hostess trolley and people mover, have a certain cultural significance/comedy potential that goes beyond the individual's attraction to particular products. To put it another way: in this country, hostess trolleys and people carriers were/are seen as a bit "naff", so I don't think it is a coincidence that this woman has possessed both.
     
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    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    Thank you for the additional information -- obviously country may be as important as context. :) I guess I didn't draw any parallels because I didn't see people movers being cool (but then I'm not the target audience). I did, however, think that food trolleys in the home we're fairly cool (for two months when I was very young -- it always hung out at the end of the breakfast bar: we never really used it. Maybe we were just naturally too cool to actually push it into the living room).
     
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