Something nasty in the woodshed
is a quotation from Stella Gibbons’ very perceptive and entertaining book, Cold comfort Farm. One of the characters never got over seeing something nasty in the woodshed!
It could be described as a millstone round her neck.
A millstone is used to grind grain into flour. It is very heavy. Anything which is an unnecessary burden could be described using this expression.
Run of the mill means ordinary. A mill-run is a diverted stream used to turn a water-wheel.
As still as a millpond is related to the proverb, still waters run deep. The millpond is very deep, providing a reservoir for the mill-run. Although water is running out of it, it does not appear to be flowing on the surface.
His stock has gone up.
Stock is a word with many meanings. Farm-stock means the animals. A stick may be a stock or a staff. Someone who makes a fool of themselves may be a laughing stock. There are stocks and shares. A stiff collar used to be called a stock. The contents of a shop are its stock and have to be valued at the annual stock-taking. His stock has gone up means his reputation has improved because of some recent action.
Don’t get bogged down in…
…detail, perhaps. Bogs suck people in. Usually they can extricate themselves, but it is a nuisance and takes time. In extreme cases it takes their life.
If you throw enough mud, some will stick.
This is what the popular press does all the time, regarding people’s characters. Throwing mud-balls is antisocial behaviour. Some of the mud has to be cleaned off afterwards. The saying is about throwing insults. Some of them are likely to be true.
Stake out means measure. A fence post may be a stake – a stick with a sharp end.
Narrow the field does not mean put up a new fence within a field. Rather it is part of the process of making a short-list or eliminating runners in a race.
Good fences make good neighbours.
Knowing where the boundaries are is important in property ownership and in behaviour.
Give it some welly.
Welly is short for wellington boot. The Duke of Wellington gave the boot its name. Give it some welly means use more force.
Sitting on the fence is not taking sides on an issue.
When the tree’s fallen every man rushes to it with a hatchet.
Timber is valuable. This speaks of opportunism.
The sweetest rose possesses the sharpest thorn.
A possible meaning here is that the most desirable things may not be attained without danger. I learned these last two sayings from others online several years ago.
Jacob ram Photo credit David Merrett from Daventry, England via Wikipedia