Friday, July 09, 2010

Colourful sayings

Do you ever wonder where all those cliches and aphorisms come from? We seem to spout them on a regular basis and some of them are wonderfully colourful, even if their meanings have been lost in the mists of time.

It was usually the older members of my family who trotted these things out any time there was a gap in the conversation. 'It's an ill wind that blows nobody any good' was a favourite of one elderly great-aunt, along with 'it's a long lane that has no turning'; my grandmother preferred 'a little of what you fancy does you good' which is at least clearer, and a great excuse for a bit of quiet excess from time to time.

I don't think any of my family's sayings can beat this, though, taken from a quote on i-Google this morning: 'The black cat is always the last one off the fence.' The author, Solomon Short, adds, 'I have no idea what [my grandmother] meant...' No, nor have I, but I'd love to know whether she knew what she meant. And even more, I'd love to know where that saying came from, and which particular cats it was talking about!

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