blues and twos noun earlier than 1985

blues and twos noun earlier than 1985

Slightly earlier evidence from 1985 was supplied by ‘hugooooo’ and ‘hb1616’.

Blues and twos is a colloquial British phrase referring to the blue flashing lights and two-tone siren of a police car or other emergency vehicle which is responding to some incident (although the lights are no longer necessarily blue, nor the siren necessarily two-tone). By extension, the term is now sometimes used to refer to the emergency services themselves.

The term was apparently popularized by the ITV (Carlton) television series of the same name, which first aired in 1993. However, its history goes back further than that; the earliest evidence that OED editors have been able to find so far is a 1985 quotation from the Times:

1985 Times 19 Nov. 14/7 They..came in with blues and twos going crazy.

But it doesn’t seem plausible that a colloquial term like this was first used in the Times—it’s likely that police officers were using blues and twos long before it made its way into the British national press.

Given this, can you help us find earlier evidence for blues and twos? Perhaps an ex-police officer knows of a pre-1985 log book containing the phrase, or of an internal memo or report in which it’s used.

Posted by OED_Editor on 13 December 2012 15.42
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