Dagenham and madness

In colloquial English, there is the expression “barking mad” which means insane. If you are a native English speaker, you’ve probably heard of it.
Now some people who live in London occasionally use a local variant of “barking mad” which can take several forms: “one stop/two stops/three stops towards/short of/beyond Dagenham”.
So what is going on here? Well, the District Line on the London Underground has a stop called Barking. If you continue along the line out of London, in three more stops you reach a stop called Dagenham Heathway (the fourth stop is called Dagenham East). So these various phrases relating to Dagenham are ways of suggesting that someone is mad. There is even a song called “Three Stops Short Of Dagenham”.
I suppose the confusion in the various forms of the saying arises from the fact that most people have no idea how many stops there are between Barking and Dagenham and whether one is thought to be short of or beyond Barkling depends on whether one is travelling out of or into London.
Do you know of any other clever phraseology for suggesting that someone has lost it?

One Comment

  • mavis

    ‘Not quite a full shilling’
    up here.
    Relates to when pieces were ‘nicked’ out of the edges of sliver coins. Or so I have been led to believe.


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