“What a shambles!” That’s what my mother used to say about my bedroom. She meant of course ‘What a mess!’. And to be fair, it was. And my desk still is!😊 The word ‘shambles’ originally meant a stool or a money-lender’s table, from the word for trestle table legs. In the early 15th century, it came to mean an open-air meat market/slaughterhouse. Until the early 20th century, it always meant something involving bloodshed. You’ll find it in Shakepeare’s Othello and Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. But since then, it’s come to mean ‘a state of great confusion and disorder’. The 1970s kindly gave us the adjective – ‘shambolic’. And there is still an open-air market in the town of York in England which is called The Shambles.
The market in Glasgow is called The Barrows, or ‘ra barras’ in true Glaswegian. It comes from the hand carts, or barrows, that people sold their wares from. Old but gold Scottish comedian, Stanley Baxter, used to do a fantastic impersonation of one Glaswegian dialect in a skit called ‘Parliamo Glasgow’.