I was recently trying to find a way out of the cellar, and this involved moving all kinds of boxes, old wardrobes, broken bicycles, defective household appliances which might come in useful one day, empty beer cases, tables, rope-less swing seats, dusty hats and so on and so forth. And fifth, sixth and et cetera.
It wasn’t an easy undertaking. I’d only popped down to fetch a new light bulb. Unfortunately, this smashed when the brown case fell on it. Should you be planning a visit to our cellar, it would be advisable to wear shoes because of the glass. There are plenty lying around, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to find some that kind of fit. I counted about half a dozen in the heap created by the brown case.
I’ve no idea where that case fell down from or how it arrived in the cellar, although some of the bric-à-brac is probably fertile. As the locks no longer close (should they have ever done so), it could only be of much use if tied shut with old cables. Luckily, they’re readily available as well. I tripped over one, and that’s how I came across half of a booklet published in 1812: ‘Merryweather’s Concise Compendium of Wisdom, Idioms and Expressions Collected during Mr Merryweather’s Journies Around and Through the.’ I’m not sure where Merryweather had been, seeing as the cover was less than well-preserved.
It was an intriguing half booklet, and I hope the remainder might be found in roughly the same area. I’m planning a thorough excavation of the location later this year. Should conditions have been favourable for the fossilisation of more of Mr Merryweather’s work, I hope to be able to provide a reasonably complete reconstruction.
In the meantime, I can offer an interim insight into his anthology, and restore a number of well known sayings to their former condition. As would be expected, many have diverged significantly from their ancestral stock over the generations.This is fully in line with Darwinian theories on linguistics, should he have provided any. I doubt Darwin discussed the issue at the time (he was only three), but he may have done so later.
The Interim Merryweather Report:
i. A bird in the hand may necessitate a convincing explanation.
ii. All roads lead to traffic congestion.
iii. ‘Tis as easy as falling from a log and certainly as painful.
iv. Crying over spilt milk serves no purpose, but it does no harm and might make one feel better.
v. A stitch in time saves a clock repairer from future disturbances.
vi. Rome was not built in a day, but neither was Nuneaton.
vii. Never do today what can be postponed until the morrow. Another fellow might have done it competently in the meantime.
viii. There is nothing common about sense.
ix. One cannot have one’s cake and eat it, but it will go mouldy if left alone.
x. When looking for a needle in a haystack first apply fire.
xi. He who laughs last is probably constipated.
xii. There is more than one way to skin a cat, but none can be considered polite.
xiii. When in doubt one is normal.
xiv. When in doubt, or perhaps not.
xv. One swallow does not empty a bottle.
xvi. If God is indeed a Yorkshireman, then why did He create Lancashire next door? Or at all?
xvii. One ought not to judge a book by its cover, unless it has Jeffrey Archer written upon it.
xviii. Pride cometh before zebras make haste.
xix. A bad labourer quarrels with his tools. A wealthy one blames somebody else’s for the damage, and claims the insurance.
xx. Robbing Peter to pay Paul helps keep Mary healthy, wealthy and wise.
xxi. One cannot teach an old dog card tricks.
xxii. The early bird catches both barrels in the game season.
xxiii. ‘Tis neither the winning nor the losing. It is the taking part that’s so bloody knackering.
xxiv. Learning to take the rough with the smooth is still theft.
xxv. The face that launches a thousand ships will require much anti-wrinkle cream.
xxvi. If alcohol provideth not the answer, then perhaps one should rephrase the question.
xxvii. Too messy cooks soil the broth.