Archives for posts with tag: King Canute

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

“The more things change, the more they are the same.”

This is a well-known quotation from Les Guêpes by Alphonse Karr.  (The  Penguin Dictionary of Quotations)  Les Guêpes translates as The Wasps and was a journal.

To turn the tide was something King Canute could not do.  The expression is used about changing trends in behaviour, morals and other aspects of the life of communities or nations.

File:Cnut the Great Obverse.jpg
Coin of Cnut the Great from the British Museum

Photo credit Wikimedia commons http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cnut_the_Great_Obverse.jpg

The tide is turning; there are signs that change is coming.

Birds wheeling is an expression which puts me in mind of seagulls rising on thermals.  Birds don’t have wheels or even push anything on wheels along.

Turn the tables on is an expression about reversed circumstances.

A turntable revolves on a record-player (vinyl records) or to turn a railway engine (locomotive).

It all hinges on… is an expression about possibilities.  A door-hinge allows a door to open.

The key to … A key opens a door, a drawer, a piano.  Without it nothing is accessible.

It’s key has become a popular expression in recent years, turning it into an adjective.

A key person is also known as a linchpin.  This is a pin, which keeps a wheel attached to an axle, preventing disaster.

It’s pivotal.  A pivot is a point on which something balances.  A seesaw has one in the middle, but if the two children are different weights, it will not balance.  They have to make an effort to make it go up and down.

The crux of the matter is…

…crux is Latin for cross.  The cross on which Jesus died is pivotal to the Christian faith.

In The Acts of the Apostles, St Luke wrote about how a cripple was healed in the name of Jesus by Peter and John (Chapter 3).  In the following chapter Peter explained to his accusers the good news. Chapter 4 verses 8-22

That put a spanner in the works.  Used properly a spanner tightens and loosens nuts (on the ends of bolts).  Any machinery with a lump of metal loose in it is likely to malfunction or jam.  In a figurative way a spanner in the works might describe an unexpected difficulty.

Take a crowbar to it.
A crowbar is a very heavy lever.  A smaller version is a jemmy, which is associated with burglars.  Jemmy, like Jimmy, is a pet form of James.

If someone is in a flat spin they are agitated.

To do the twist was popular when I was young.  The twist was a dance, possibly the first which broke away from traditional dancing such as ballroom, Latin-American and country dancing, in that it did not require partners.

Twist and turn are often used together.  A winding road, a writhing snake…

Margaret Thatcher, when she was Prime Minister, made a famous speech.  She said, “The lady is not for turning.”  Everyone seems to remember the speech and the debate about making a U-turn, but I don’t suppose I am the only one to have forgotten what the policy was.

Nowadays if a driver tries to go on a route not programmed by a satnav (GPS device), a voice might say “Do a U-turn.”

Turning points are stages during life when changes are made.  I wrote a poem with this title in April 1995.

Turning points

Each time we think of You,
Not self, we acknowledge
Our choice.
Paul and many others
Suddenly converted
By You
Have powerful stories
To tell and tell again.
But we
Following tradition
Take small steps quietly
Led on
Weekly through bread and wine
Repenting at leisure.
How few
Truly renew their vows
At each baby’s baptism.
Do you?

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Procrastination is the thief of time.

Procrastination is one of the best examples, which I can think of, of a word derived from Latin.  “Pro” means for and “cras” means tomorrow.  If you put something off for too long it may never get done.  This is a quotation from ‘Night Thoughts’ by Edward Young. (The Penguin Dictionary of Quotations)

Another well-known saying on the same theme is
Do not put off until tomorrow what you can do today.

There is another expression about getting around to it, as in “I’ll do it when I get around to it.”  A few years ago someone had the bright idea of making ornamental plates with the wording “A round tuit” on them!

Time flies when you’re enjoying yourself…
…and drags when you are bored.  Flies here means goes quickly.

Can you spare a minute?
Spare and minute are both interesting words.  Minute here is a noun and spare is a verb.

What do you do in your spare time?
Here spare is an adjective describing the time left aver when you have attended to all the things that are necessary for daily living.

I won’t take any more of your time
is a leave-taking expression.

Thank you for your time
i
s another.

Mark time.
Before people had clocks and calendars they could keep track of the passage of time by making marks.  Marking time often implies not having anything interesting or worthwhile to do.

Time and tide wait for no man.
King Canute famously discovered this!

You cannot stop the march of time.
This is often connected with progress.

About time, too.
A greeting for a late-comer?

He hasn’t the time of day for him.
He won’t even say “Good Morning” to him.

Time is a great healer.
This is a saying.  Many things take time to heal.  Of itself, I doubt that time heals.

Time will tell.
The outcome will become clear in the future.

She is having the time of her life.
She is enjoying herself more than ever before.

Take one step at a time.
This is a way of telling someone not to try to tackle a big project all at once.

Take one day at a time.
This is all anyone can do.  It often takes ill-health or other difficult circumstances to make people focus on the present.

All in good time.
I wonder whether this is a corruption of “All in God’s time”.  It is an expression encouraging patience.

Time stood still.
This sounds like a graphic way of describing a pause.  Sometimes in unusual or frightening circumstances people perceive things as if they were in slow-motion.
We measure time by the movement of the earth, indicated by the position of the sun in the sky.

There is a story in the Bible where extra time was needed for a battle to be won and the sun stood still.  It can be found in the book of Joshua Chapter 10 verses 12 to 15