Having got up very early this morning, about 4.30 (and I’d been awake for ages), I was tired enough to go back to bed a couple of hours later and then slept in – it was after 9 when I got up. As I came in here clutching my breakfast (dry toast and black tea, darlings, I’m so dull), I muttered “I’m all behind!” and found myself thinking “like a cow’s tail.” And that reminded me of a conversation I had with Pam and Peter about expressions that used to be in common use and now are rarely if ever heard. Old saws, clichés, common expressions – I think that many of them have been forgotten or at least not passed on to younger people, in some cases superseded by jargon that lasts a few years and vanishes again.
Advice to take your coat off indoors, or else when you leave you “won’t feel the benefit,” for example. Isn’t that a brilliant one? It always did amuse me, but I hardly ever hear it now. When was the last time we referred to a baker’s dozen? I wonder if children now have any idea what that is. We mostly use teabags, so ‘one for each person and one for the pot” has gone by the board – well, teapots have too, come to that. Although mind you, now many of us make coffee rather than use instant, I suppose the expression could cross over to that, not that it has. Interesting that we can be bothered to dispose of coffee grounds but that tea leaves are too much trouble….having said which, I’ve several tins with loose tea in, but that’s because I like different sorts of tea. I’m afraid I don’t bother when it comes to straightforward builders’ tea. And when it’s just for me, I only occasionally use a pot, even though it tastes better poured from a pot because the leaves have swirled around and released more flavour, I usually put them in a one-cup infuser.
Then there are words and phrases that come from books, have been used through several generations but probably have pretty well vanished. Most of those from the reliable old-stagers, the Bible and Shakespeare come into that, despite Mr Gove’s efforts to rekindle reading of the Authorised Version by having one put in every school. But there are also everyday words with a literary background, such as gamp for an umbrella, which you never hear now (well, I wouldn’t put it past the Sage. He still calls a coach a charabanc). Or words from history – my mother’s grandfather referred to a policeman as a peeler, she herself said bobby. Apart from the occasional reference in a harking-back newspaper to ‘bobbies on the beat,’ that’s about gone unless you’re well over 50.
Oh darlings, help me out here. I could think of loads of examples earlier on, but now my mind is quite empty of thought. What do you think?