I grew up with sayings,
maxims, proverbs, knew them
ere I understood,
and every now and then
some chance remark or action
brings one close.
Teaching. Stints of swimming
duty at a nearby pool. And then
they built a bigger, better one
a mile or two away.
The old one closed, and Michael
asked me how
they'd carried all that water all that way.
A version I supposed,
of coals to Newcastle.
Teaching again. The school
is bordered by large houses.
Ample grounds with conker trees.
Not unknown for boys to infiltrate.
One does, the very day our friendly pol-
ice liaison officer is visiting.
He asks the boy if he has ever heard
how mighty oaks from little acorns grow.
The boy responds emphatically: he's
not darned taken any acorns -
only conkers, sir!
Working in his study
planning an assembly
a colleague head
looks out to see
a lorry, flashing light,
parked in his drive.
The drive has speed bumps.
The study door flies open.
A workman stand there.
In the area repairing roads.
Half a load of tar to spare.
The drive need s some repair.
He quotes a price.
My friend agrees.
Rushes out with sermon notes.
Returns to find
the bumps no longer visible.
The bill exorbitant.
Not the price agreed!
The price. Square yard, sir!
A foot of it lies on the drive.
Telling the tale,
weakly he would say
he thought the man was kosher
who had a flashing light.
I thought of how we shouldn't spoil
(what?) for a halfpennyworth of tar.
This last is interesting (to me). I believe originally the saying was not to spoil the hog. Later "hog" became "sheep", but when I was a boy we said "ship". I took it to refer to tarring the ship's decks to make them waterproof. But was it a natural slide from sheep to ship?
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