Maypole Or Meatball? The Love Actually Conundrum

I’ll be honest… I’m writing this article in an attempt to defend myself in the face of sheer Love Actually related embarrassment. While speaking to my girlfriend about this wonderful film, I let drop that my understanding of Joe’s famous line to Billy Mack is “Ten minutes at Elton John’s, and you’re as gay as a meatball,” rather than “maypole.”

This led to a chorus of laughters from her entire family (who I was trying hard to impress at that time), followed swiftly by a Facebook post publicly outing me for a complete buffoon and woefully uneducated.

But you see, after this savage destruction of ones’ own filmic confidence, I’m writing to prove two things - it’s 100% logical to believe this to be the quote, and it’s not just me.

Let’s kick off. “Gay as a maypole” is a double-barrelled reference, relating to both the gay (happy) celebration of dancing around the streamer covered maypole, and the fact that a Maypole is the banner staff of the Merry Mount gay colony.

To say someone is as “Gay as a meatball” is a far more culturally insensitive-yet-British insult, as another archaically common name for a meatball in these parts is a “faggot.” 

Even though the joke is in very poor taste (and I’ve just ruined it by explaining it to you), it is a very fair assumption to make of a heavily accented exclamation by Gregor Fisher in a 2003 British Romantic Comedy - a strange time for England’s cultural tolerance.

Now for point two. All it takes is one simple internet search, and you can see just how many people got the same idea as me.

Look here

And this right here

Shoutout to Alison, who received the same level of humiliation last year

Go one year further back, it’s clear Love Actually shows EVERY Christmas (as it should) and people still get it mixed up.

So, all of this evidence leads me to one question - am I actually wrong? Did Fisher legitimately say “maypole” in his thick accent, or is there a chance that he said “meatball?”

There it is - possible vindication and an opportunity to rub the truth in my girlfriend’s face, so I have taken this to the highest level possible… Emailing the agent of Richard Curtis, the writer of Love Actually, to get this confirmed from the original source! 

We look forward to reading his response on this oh-so-important question.