Humour Me!

Hi there!

It’s the end of October, the clocks gone back, the evenings are now getting darker earlier, so to cheer us up with a bit of witty repartee, I thought I would share two of my favourite amusing finds.

Now I know there will be a few who won’t crack a smile, but that’s okay, because humour is subjective after all. Whatever I write may send folks running to the hills, or make them frown as they disagree that humour isn’t subjective!

Well, never mind about that- just humour me!

The Oxford Dictionary of Humorous Quotations, edited by Ned Sherrin, has a good selection of little gems. Here are a few to be getting on with, from the categories of words and languages:

How do you spell ‘accelerator ‘? I’ve been all through the blasted ‘Ex’s’ in the bloody dictionary. Anonymous related by Dennis Potter (1993)

Man does not live by words alone, despite the fact that he sometimes has to eat them. Adlai Stevenson 1900 – 65. The wit and wisdom of Adlai Stevenson (1965)

This is the sort of English up with which I will not put. Winston Churchill 1874 – 1965.  Ernest Gowers Plain words (1948) ‘Troubles with Prepositions.’

Speak in French when you can’t think of the English for a thing. Lewis Carroll 1832 – 98. Through the Looking Glass.

For more of these delightful quips, you’ll either have to invest in a copy of the dictionary for yourself or patronise your local library. By patronise I don’t mean that you should be rude to the staff, just go and support your library, find a copy and flick though it in the reference section.

Another of my favourite funny reads is a bit of a guilty pleasure, the award-winning column in Shortlist Magazine called Danny Wallace is a Man. Surprisingly it is written by Danny Wallace.

According to search information about Shortlist’s Facebook page, it is ‘Britain’s largest upmarket men’s magazine,’ and Wikipedia also says, ‘The magazine has the biggest circulation of any men’s lifestyle magazine in Britain.’ So it’s a guilty pleasure because I am not an upmarket man, and I certainly don’t read it for men’s lifestyle tips.

As much as I feel guilty, I very much doubt that I am the only female who has a chuckle at the cleverly written observations by Danny Wallace. To quote any of his work would not do them justice, so all I can say is grab yourself a copy of Shortlist, which is out every Thursday.

I hope that you have enjoyed this brief jog through a subject which shows intelligence does not always mean serious.

Take care,



You can’t teach an old dog new tricks! Part Two

Hello there!

In Part One I introduced a few sayings and just started to touch on the intriguing subject of where these sayings originated from.

In the case of the title ‘You can’t teach an old dog new tricks’, says:

“This idea of it being more difficult to teach things to an older dog has been around since at least the early 1500s. For example, in Fitzherbert’s Book of Husbandry, 1534.”

Another well- known phrase ‘going cold turkey’ is likely to have originated from America or Canada, see…/origin-phrase-cold-turkey.

The notion of ‘beating about the bush’ is an old saying that is quite common and Tim Lambert in The meanings of some old sayings explains:

When hunting birds some people would beat about the bush to drive them out into the open. Other people would than catch the birds. ‘I won’t beat about the bush’ came to mean ‘I will go straight to the point without any delay’.

If you just want a straightforward website without any frills, with an extensive range of phrases and their meanings see,

Certain expressions such as ‘bad hair day’ and ‘filthy rich’ are now part of everyday language used in the UK, yet they originated from the USA. For more information see:

The Chinese are also well known for their sayings (proverbs) and an interesting site which shows the similarities between English and Chinese words of wisdom can be found on This site is also useful if you want to impress your friends with a new language as it shows all the phrases in Mandarin. An example from the site is:

Two heads are better than one. 三个臭皮匠,胜过诸葛亮 sān ge chòupíjiàng, sheng guò Zhūgé Liàng (“Three unskilled cobblers are superior to one Zhuge Liang.”)

We can go even further with impressive knowledge from across the globe by quoting some African Proverbs like:

Love has to be shown by deeds not words. Swahili proverb.

The fool speaks, the wise man listens. Ethiopian proverb.

For more of these gems see,

I hope that you have enjoyed reading this taster from the smorgasbord that is English Language sayings. I could go on and on about this subject, but I think I have said ‘enough already.’   So I had better sign off now, before I wander down the path of clichés.

 Have a nice day!


You can’t teach an old dog new tricks! Part One

Hi there!

In this, the first of two blogs, I want to share some things that I love about language: figures of speech, phrases and idioms. These sayings are part of our culture, are fascinating and in some cases have surprising origins.

So to begin, let me start with a definition.

‘A figure of speech is just that – figurative language. It might be words with a literal meaning, a certain arrangements of words, or a phrase with a meaning that is something entirely other than that of the words themselves’ – according to the community information sharing website-

So now that you know what a figure of speech is, you can:

‘Find common phrases with their meanings and origins – What these popular sayings and idioms mean, and their history…’ See, provides detailed definitions of idioms:

  1. A speech form or an expression of a given language that is peculiar to itself grammatically or cannot be understood from the individual meanings of its elements, as in keep tabs on.
  2. The specific grammatical, syntactic, and structural character of a given language.
  3. Regional speech or dialect.
  4. A specialized vocabulary used by a group of people; jargon: legal idiom.
  5. A style of artistic expression characteristic of a particular individual, school, period, or medium: the idiom of the French impressionists; the punk rock idiom.

There are so many great phrases to choose from and there are a number of websites that do a good job of informing us. I will only be using are a ‘mere drop in the ocean.’ Sorry, could not resist that one!

Here are a couple of examples that have their origins in The Bible, as defined by

A fly in the ointment- A small but irritating flaw that spoils the whole. This is taken from Ecclesiastes 10:1 (King James Version):

“Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour so doth a little folly him that in reputation for wisdom and honour.”

In a twinkling of an eye – In an instant. This can be found in:

Robert Manning of Brunne, in Handlyng Synne, 1303: “Yn twynkelyng of an ye

And Corinthians 15:52 (King James Version):

“In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised incorruptible and we shall be changed.”

In have only given you a brief taster, but I hope that you can join me again, when I continue with this thought-provoking subject, and who knows, maybe a few old dogs will learn a few new things from this blog, even if they are not tricks!

Take Care,


Let The Train Take The Strain – Part Two

Hello again!

In part One, I mentioned Chiltern Railways and East Midlands Trains and their services, and this section will discuss two more major train companies and the facilities they offer for business travellers.

London Midland, unlike Chiltern railways do not have a business section on their website but they say:

‘Our First Class offers comfortable reclining seats with more legroom than Standard Class, power points and a smaller private compartment so you can easily work or sit back and relax.’

The London Midland website continues to say:

‘First Class is available on the following London Midland routes:

  •  Birmingham – London Euston
  • Birmingham New Street – Liverpool Lime Street
  • Crewe – London Euston’

Virgin Trains website says:

‘All Virgin Trains services include First Class Accommodation. Seating is larger than in Standard Class, all seats have access to power points for charging mobile phones and laptops, WiFi is free to use and on weekdays, complimentary newspapers are provided. On many services complimentary food is also provided. Holders of First Class Advance and First Class Anytime tickets (including Virgin Business Returns) can also access the First Class Lounges, free of charge.’

The Virgin Trains website continues to say:

‘Our Virgin Trains West Coast Services run to and from London Euston (along the West Coast Main Line) to destinations such as Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham, and our Virgin Trains East Coast services go to and from London King’s Cross (on the East Coast Main Line) to the likes of Edinburgh, Leeds, York and Newcastle.’

For some fascinating info on commutes see, › Life & Style › Life.

With so much choice of trains and facilities, everyone can travel like a business person, and let the train really take the strain!

Take Care