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In Season Two Episode One of Happy Valley, the mentor constable explains to the new recruit how helpful it is to have a good relationship with the receptionist, Joyce:

Oh, and get well in with Joyce, she knows everybody and everything, and she'll never see you fast.

What is "see you fast"?

What I tried: idioms.thefreedictionary.com (both see and fast pages).

The story takes place in West Yorkshire.


I wonder if it has something to do with fasting as in going without food.

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  • Why does this have to be a British expression? I would have immediately assumed it was using going without food figuratively. As in, she'll never see you lacking (or wanting). The expression see you fast is certainly one I've heard many times before in a literal sense, so that immediately came to mind. Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 6:24
  • @JasonBassford - It's a conjecture, based on the program (programme) taking place and having been written and produced in the UK, combined with my English being the US variety. The mentor and the new recruit both seemed quite comfortable with the expression. I have had to watch the program with the English subtitles turned on -- otherwise I would have missed a lot of the dialogue. Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 18:41
  • But what I'm saying is that it (to me, anyway) makes just as much sense from a US perspective. Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 18:44
  • @JasonBassford - Would you like to contribute an answer? Commented Jul 10, 2019 at 1:20
  • It's not an idiom I recognise in spite of having lived not that far from the south part of the West Riding all my life. However I do recognise the expressions "stuck fast" meaning "in insurmountable difficulty". This is particularly recognisable as part of the expression "She (or he) won't see you stuck fast". I believe that the script writers for Happy Valley were using it in that sense.
    – BoldBen
    Commented Dec 1, 2019 at 20:40

2 Answers 2

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fast in British dialect seems to mean perplexed

from The English Dialect Dictionary by Joseph Wright, 1900.

enter image description here

Link to book entry and page

This text includes the definition To be (or get) fast among it; to be embarrassed, puzzled, or at a standstill, as in the phrase to be fast for, to be at a loss for, to be in want of.

The phrase "see you fast" also occurs in some modern lyrics, but can't tell whether they're using the word this way.

In any case the meaning is that the secretary will never let the recruit be in a quandary.

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    I think the link is broken.
    – user 66974
    Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 4:56
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    Which "British dialect"? I've certainly never heard the expression.
    – WS2
    Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 5:13
  • I would delete the reference to modern lyrics, it should be clear whether the meaning of "fast=puzzled/standstill" is being used that way, looking up the song lyrics ought to be enough. As for the second link, I am in Italy and the link to the dictionary page is not view-able. Have you tried the Internet Archive?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 5:49
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    @WS2 I have no idea which dialect. This is a multi-volume dictionary published by an Oxford scholar in 1900, but it has quotations, sources, and symbols (e.g., nYks) and seems to be a careful job. This volume covers D-G only.
    – Xanne
    Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 5:57
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    @WS2 'Yks' obviously means Yorkshire. I admit I've never heard the expression either, even though my mum came from there. Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 7:56
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A lyrics reference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcQ0kMK0pow

"Hey, I see you fast today, But I much to much I'm missing you At the moment the day breaks"

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    Given that the lyrics don't really make sense, I'm not sure how this helps answer the question. Commented Dec 1, 2019 at 13:32
  • @KillingTime It's obviously connected, but only adds anecdotal evidence. A reasonable 'comment'. And the tune's not bad. Commented Dec 1, 2019 at 14:22

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