Mixed Metaphors and Mangled Meanings

We were talking about mixed metaphors and malapropisms recently when somebody mentioned Albert Reynolds, our former Taoiseach. That’s right: the same Albert who developed a sudden and unexplained cognitive inpairment when called before the Planning tribunal to give evidence about Fianna Fáil crookery. But that’s for another day.

Whatever about cognitive impairments, Albert was a demon for verbal screw-ups, and my absolute favourite was the time he was urging the nation to push for better export performance.

What we need, said Albert, is razor-edged salesmen at the coal-face to bring home the bacon.

That’s right, Albert.

Of course he wasn’t the only politician to mix metaphors. The great Sir Boyle Roche (1736 – 1807) was a past master at it, but at least he did it deliberately in the Irish House of Commons.

All along the untrodden paths of the future, he declared, I can see the footprints of an unseen hand.

How can I be in two places at once, unless I were a bird?

Ireland and England are like two sisters; I would have them embrace like one brother.

Mr Speaker, I smell a rat; I see him forming in the air and darkening the sky; but I will nip him in the bud.

Roche was a comic genius, though his art was often mistaken for the stupidity attributed to the Irish by the English political establishment of his day. Many of his statements have a contemporary ring to them. We should silence anyone who opposes the right to freedom of speech.

I once knew a guy called Tong Au, whose uncle was the king of Bhutan. Tong was a remarkably clever fellow with doctorates in all manner of hard things, and he spoke fluent English, but he had no sense of humour whatever, and no grasp of idiom.

AU!! he used to scream on the phone. A for Apple, U for Uncle!!

Everybody was hairy in Tong’s world.

Oh, he so hairy, I wouldn’t trust him with a bargepole.

That guy, John Green, he very hairy. He mislead us up the garden spout. He give us the infomation in grips and grabs.

Tong’s hirsute obsession reached a high-point of absurdity the day he informed us that we were skating on hairy ice.

As Boyle Roche said, I concluded from the beginning that this would be the end; and I am right, for it is not half over.

8 thoughts on “Mixed Metaphors and Mangled Meanings

  1. Wasn’t it Boyle who also said something like “Fuck (or words to that effect) posterity. What’s posterity ever done for us?”

  2. Why should I care about posterity? What’s posterity ever done for me?

    – Groucho Marx

  3. In today’s times we need to be blunt and direct as politicians have skins like as thick as crocodiles, maybe we need more of the likes of the Duke of Wellington who dished out advice as he seemed appropriate and it was usually straight to the point, so let us hope the Irish nation gives Cowan and Co a firm and resounding kick in the arse at the poles.

    When the enormous glass-covered Crystal Palace (built for the famous exhibition in 1851) became infested with Pigeons – with messy consequences for exhibits and exhibit-goers alike – Queen Victoria urgently sought a solution.

    Clearly, the birds could not be shot. Robert Paxton and the building’s other designers were baffled. As a last resort the Queen sent for the Duke of Wellington to seek his opinion.

    His advice? “Try sparrow-hawks, Ma’am.”

  4. Great point Nemo. Of course the Duke, despite being born in Dublin, was an Irishman, who changed the course of European history at Waterlooo.

  5. I wish I could find the quote. But when the SAS officer Robert Nairc’s death was brought up at one point in the nineties. A Provo said they’d killed him then brought his body to the dog food factory.
    Who owned the only pet food factory on the island at the time?

  6. Said a drunk Northern friend once while brandishing a wallet full of notes and ordering another drink in a Dublin pub, “you’ve gotta come well repaired to the South.” We made sure he left the place stone broke.

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