Philosophy within Expressions

October 13, 2016 OPINION/NEWS

Colin O’Brien



Hazel Speed

I wonder if the young generations of today will be creating expressions which have a philosophical meaning for themselves and their children in the way of their Grandparents’ sayings. If so, I wonder what they might be.

It was only recently my mind went back to the shrewd saying in the realm of religion when a person, perhaps near death, requested a visit from an old priest and a young priest.

This is known as hedging one’s bets in that an old priest will adhere to the traditional teachings of the church and the beliefs of old Biblical teachings. However, especially if a death-bed confession is planned by the person dying, an old priest may refuse the confession and absolution whereas a young priest may be more understanding and obliging where forgiveness is at stake.

For other religions, only God can forgive.

In general terms when one is worried, I like the saying from The English Civil War (Oliver Cromwell) – ‘Trust in God and keep your powder dry’. In other words believe God will help and bide your time for a while, ie. See what will happen first but be practical in other things whilst waiting, ie. Keep your powder dry. That was essential when shooting with muskets as wet powder would not ignite.

In the realms of finance, we are reminded ‘neither a lender nor a borrower be’ especially as TV ads now give other alternatives to preclude lost friendships over money issues. Banks are also a wise source regarding loans too and one should study the safest source at repayment rates which are attainable and fair to all. We all realise these matters are not so straight-forward hence the numerous pawn shops these days.

Forms of fashion have changed throughout the decades since the following saying was used, it seems unbelievable now that it was a really useful comment at times of potential embarrassment, but it would have been understood by all the ladies present and some may give the game away by their glances.

One may say, or be told, that ‘Charlie’s dead!’

I am not going to tell the reader what it meant as you will have fun finding out. Try not to cheat (not sure if it is on Google), just ask those who are older and they will smile or laugh. Rest assured, it has an innocent meaning.

Every Mickle makes a muckle

This simply means save as many pennies as you can then you will soon have (old money £ terms), a three-penny bit, then a sixpence, shilling, florin, half-crown, five shilling piece, Ten Shilling note, a Pound Note, etc.

The moral of the saying being keep saving and you will soon be surprised how it mounts up.

Now is not always

Whether this is a good or bad time in your life and circumstances, it will not last forever.

So if you are happy and fulfilled it won’t last forever.

If you are unhappy and unfulfilled (take encouragement), it won’t last forever.

The following saying should be kept in context of generations long since gone and should not be taken as a universally true statement. That said, sadly, it was often spoken with just cause when the remark was common place.

There’s nothing as cold as a step-mother’s breath

In the days of severe poverty or hardships where money and food were both hard to come by, some men with children would marry again due to the unexpected death of their first wives, mostly the second marriage was to facilitate a housekeeper and substitute Mother for a widower’s young children. Sometimes, of course, the marriage was out of love and worked well and happily for all but those who married out of dire circumstance, without love, the step-mothers were sometimes cruel to another woman’s children to bring up and the children were left in no doubt that they were there under sufferance. Most sad.

Many step-parents were good, kind and loving, treating step-children as their own and in love of them. In later decades step-mothers adopted children to prove their love. Historically, this may not have been possible before those improved times, for a lot of reasons.

So in context, the original saying of those hard times is apt and an awful truism about the unkind step-mothers.

Having seen “Who Do You Think You Are” one evening on TV (and I will not tell you the person who was tracing his ancestry), he discovered at one time a family from whom he was descendant had a large number of family members all living in one room.

Outside ‘on a step’ was another relative and the step was their registered ‘home’.

The person tracing his tree asked why the family could not take the person in overnight but apparently there was not any ground space where they could lie.

What made me sad as well as this fact, of course, was that the person on the step probably had no personal possessions, no company and nobody to protect them as they slept on a stone step.

As you, the reader, look around your homes, imagine if you had no possessions because you had no money or home (like the homeless of today sleeping on someone else’s stone step).

I hate scenes in movies or real life incidents when an emotionally precious belonging or only item a person may own is taken away from them. It breaks my heart. Everyone has the right to own something. The rich go to great lengths to illustrate the point and many of the famous architectural buildings or homes we could name were probably built by people who slept on stone steps elsewhere at night.

The celebrity, upon hearing he had an ancestor who had a step as their home and also had to sleep there, was obviously holding back his tears. As a celebrity, he will have signed contracts which, I would think, may have made him a millionaire by now so I am pleased for him and believe he will be kind and generous towards others even before he learned of his ancestor’s story, but especially so now.

The darkest hour comes before the dawn

As with all these aphorisms this one is self apparent and also a tautology as the night will get as dark as it will become then after that starts to come into the day’s light once more.

As a saying it means when you think a situation is really bad or you are more and more worried about something then just about that time there is a metaphorical beam of light and things do not seem so bad at all. It is understood that night time is difficult when one is worried but the above saying is said to people day or night as it has a metaphorical meaning as well as a practical one.

If you check google and search for old sayings and their meanings then you will find long lists so I will leave you with a few and let you discover their meaning, but I think one of my favourites from decades ago, through to today and forever valid, is the following and would be fun if it was a poster on walls of certain medical clinics both for its humour and wisdom, ‘Don’t forget, keep yer ‘and on your ha’penny!’


For lists of various sayings the Royal Navy has provided lots such as


Hot shot

Son of a gun

Sheets to the wind

Swinging the lead

Taking The King/Queen’s Shilling (The Press Gangs)


General terms


It’s only a bad workman who blames his tools

Everything comes to those who wait

Marry in haste, repent at leisure

Never sweep things under the carpet

Don’t put off ’till tomorrow what you can do today

Charity begins at home revenge lives next door

Why have a dog and bark yourself









Hazel Speed

Photo (c) Hazel Speed – used by kind permision to Tuck Magazine

Hazel Speed is a Philosopher, Writer, and Artist with various creative projects at differing stages of development. Her flaship project is an animation which has produced a film short: Hazel has also written an E-novel, ‘Just Suppose…!‘ which is available via the attached link.

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