"The Full Bifta" What on earth is it?

A little divertion on the subtle subject of "The Full Bifta"
Courtesy of Matthew Ledge
an ex.member of Pennine Brass and developer of the original Web site

Since joining Pennine Brass, I've heard this phrase time and time again, the "Full Bifta".

Now being the kind of enterprising guy I am, I decided to look into the matter a bit further (yes, really, I did, a bit).

It's just as well no one could see the look of utter bewilderment and puzzled thoughts I had about this phrase when I first heard it and I considered the 'Full Bifta' to be a number of different things (wild thoughts went through my tiny brain):

A spicier meaning?

Is it some kind of Curry? Now, I know Bruce like's his curries, perhaps the Full Bifta is some kind of Vindaloo / Dhansak / Masala / Balti mixture kind of thing cunningly made up by the King of Curry himself? The mind boggles, because if it was, it would be a hot 'un! I quickly dismissed these thoughts when I heard it say, "we need the full bifta to come tonight". If it was a curry, it would have to have legs......(there again you may well find 'alive curries' at some, not so reputable establishments?)

Hit Squads-r-us

I next considered that the Full Bifta could be some kind of Pennine Brass 'hit squad', come 'bouncer team', you know, we are going to 'biff' you up and so forth. Now I'm thinking, maybe if you didn't attend rehearsals, Ian (maestro Porthouse) would send these guys to hunt you down, the 'Full Bifta' will be upon you with their mighty forces, SAS style? If you didn't have any other reasons, there's a definite incentive to get your chops over to your chair twice a week (and more before contests!).

Any registration cards with the name 'bifta'?

Now, hang on a minute....Bifta....Bifta.....maybe Bifta is a playing member? I know better now, I can actually remember all the band's names, so that's out.

Sssshhhh, it's a Secret!

My thoughts then wandered wildly as you can tell; maybe the 'Full Bifta' is like some sort of secret society? You know the type, can't ask to join and can't be asked to join, it's sort of, errmmm, happens. Similar to a cult, yes, a Pennine Cult-ish, cultural, highly secretive kind of 'Famous Five' society? Maybe the Full Bifta is really a secret 'handshake' belonging to such a society?

Rise and go forthwith to the Pub

Recently, we had an online contact form completed from the website, it read, "I think PB are the full bifta............".
Blimey, it seemed everyone knew what the Full Bifta was except me! Maybe there having a laugh, I thought, maybe it's some kind of odd induction for new (ish) playing members of the band, maybe.....ahhh, yes, that's it!

Maybe, the Full Bifta is some kind drinking session test at the Rising Sun down the road? (You've seen the kind, the ones with the 10000 Yard Ale glasses). Maybe this guy who e-mailed, was saying Pennine Brass can really down their Ale's?

You have to be bluffing?

Who remembers 'Call My Bluff' - maybe the full 'bifta' was a made up word on this cult quiz/game show? Thoughts of Frank Muir went racing though my head.

And then, there was light....

And then.....yes, miraculously, the penny dropped. The full bifta: going for it, giving your best, giving it to them, however you see you 'full bifta' as, it's a positive phrase. It's a "play as well as we can by giving it the full bifta and who cares what anyone thinks so long as we know it was the full bifta' kind of thing". The full bifta is the stuff that full bifta bands are made of and it's the full bifta that scares the other's into really knowing we give it the full bifta. Phew, too many full bifta's for you?

So your thinking I'm going to stop there aren't you? If you've not had your full bifta's worth, read on.

Bifta Origins

Well, for you nerds out there, I actually went one step further and have done a little research into the word 'bifta'.

Here's what I first found out and is the best match for Pennine Brass.

A phrase originating from Merseyside, UK:

"give it the/some biftas": To try hard, to put effort into a given task. [Merseyside use] " Source Link

"biftah" (slight spelling difference but much the same) is a Noun, it means:

1. A cigarette.
2. A marijuana or cannabis cigarette. Source Link

And in this circumstance, 'bifta' means Bifta-here it means big or strong or both. Source Link

Here we are again: Bifta - Another name for a reefer (see reefer!)" What's a 'reefer'?, it's a 'A Spliff, funny cigarette, herby rolled one....' Source Link

And again with similar spelling: "bifter" = cigarette circa. 1990 - to date (Liverpool area) UK (NW) Source Link

Mmhhmmh, these could be dodgy. Make sure you don't say we are giving the full "biftah's" around any law enforcement officers.

Ok, so that's the 'formal' (?) analysis over with, 'bifta' seems to originate most in slang use and doesn't appear in your high brow dictionary stuff like at Oxford and Cambridge. So put you copy of the Oxford Dictionary back under that wonky kitchen table leg, you won't find it in there.

The Bifta of Links

On my trawl through the marvels and dodgier side of the web, I came across some 'interesting' Bifta links, here they are, but be warned I've not researched these in depth and I take no responsibility if you get into any 'full bifta' bother for looking at them:

Bifta Origins? I am in no way, at all, advocating that you visit this site! So there. Of interest, looking through the many sites dedicated to 'bifta' following, the majority are within this 'theme'!

Erasure Here's what Robert Marlow of 'Erasure' says: "I could never tell because at all the gigs I ever played with her it was like, 'One Two Three Four' and giving it the full bifta, like". Who's actually going to admit they like Erasure then?

Some Guy's Home Page Looks like a bit of a mixture here?

OK, that's your lot. Trust me, they were the better bits of the bunch, that I found anyway.

So, if you didn't know what a full bifta is, hopefully you sure as do now, it's definitely a phrase worth remembering.

If you want to add to the bifta bunch, links or bifta origins, please let us know,We will put your comments up for all to see!

The Full Bifta End

Matthew Ledger
28th September 2001