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Saturday 21 April 2012

Words from the Wise

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?

Submitted to Poets United for their Think Tank Thursday #93 : Quotes


kaykuala said...

Make sense Dave! As long as you have a good answer. Great write!


Elephant's Child said...

It was always ship when I was growing up.

Daydreamertoo said...

I was taken right back to my own childhood with this. Oh, how we wanted those conkers! LOLOL We played it for ages, then, went looking for more. Kids over here have never even heard of it.
This was a lovely read Dave :)

Mary said...

Trying to recollect some of my parents' old quotes as I sit here. They do come back at odd occasions, not when I will them to. One of my dad's winter quotes: "Close the door. I am not working for the electric company." One of my mom's: "Pretty is as pretty does." As for the quote you wondered about, it is Greek to me. We in the U.S. never talked about a "halfpennyworth" of anything. LOL.

Laurie Kolp said...

Very clever and entertaining, Dave... I especially like the third stanza.

Brian Miller said...

smiles...this was clever...i will have to think of some of the quips i used to hear growing up....the third stanza is def my fav...

Ygraine said...

When I was growing up they always used to say ship too.
A great story, Dave. Highly entertaining to read and it brought back some long lost memories for me :)

Friko said...

One uses these saying thoughtlessly. It's good of you to give them shape and substance.

My butcher frequently uses the last expression, mainly when he wants to add a quarter pound of this or that to my order.

Carrie Van Horn said...

My Aunt always had some cool sayings....love this Dave!!

Rachna Chhabria said...

Great poem, Dave.

Dave King said...

Ah, but what makes a good answer? Thanks for yours.

The Elephant's Child
That's reassuring. Thanks.

Yes. We too. I couldn't believe it when conkers got banned in schools for being too dangerous!

I can nnever think of the ld proverbs when I most want to. Except a few, mostly those my dad used: A bad workman blames his tools, etc. (We pronounced it "a ha'poth of tar".)

Thanks - I was most satisfied with that one too.

Thanks for saying so. Always nice to know!

Definitely beginning to look like it wasn't me mishearing or misremembering! Thanks.

Yes, I've often heard it used like that, as well! And I agree about theit thoughtless use.

They were much more used by earlier generations, I think.

Thanks for saying so.

Mary said...

"Ha'poth" -- When I visited your part of the world, I think people there thought I was hard of hearing. I was always saying, "What???" They would repeat whatever again, but louder!