One of the most favoured expressions of all time is "Fook you!" That coupled with the appropriate gesture (see pix of the little hooligan above) is instantly recognisable the world over & whose meaning are never in doubt.
Well, here's the meaning behind the raised finger & the history behind that oft used & abused phrase that has entered our modern lexicon. I received this history lesson from me friend Kevo (TQ mate!) & thought I'd share it with you. I have reproduced said email verbatim.
Reminds me of that old adage, you learn something new everyday. Indeed . . .
Before the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, the French, anticipating victory over the English, proposed to cut off the middle finger of all captured English soldiers. Without the middle finger it would be impossible to draw the renowned English longbow and therefore they would be incapable of fighting in the future. This famous English longbow was made of the native English Yew tree, and the act of drawing the longbow was known as "plucking the yew" or "pluck yew".
Much to the bewilderment of the French, the English won a major upset and began mocking the French by waving their middle fingers at the defeated French, saying, "See, we can still pluck yew!".
Since'"pluck yew" is rather difficult to say, the difficult consonant cluster at the beginning has gradually changed to a labiodentals fricative "F", and thus the words often used in conjunction with the one-finger-salute!
It is also because of the pheasant feathers on the arrows used with the longbow that the symbolic gesture is known as "giving the bird.
And yew thought yew knew every plucking thing!
PS: If any of you have any interesting stories bout the origins of local swear words/gestures, please feel free to share them with us here.