RHYS BOWEN: The other day I told my granddaughter I'd be finished in two shakes of a lamb's tail.
"What did you say?" she asked, looking as if I'd suddenly switched to speaking Chinese.
"Two shakes of a lamb's tail. That means almost immediately," I replied. "Haven't you ever heard that expression?"
And then it hit me. We don't use expressions any longer. The world of the young has become devoid of colorful language, of metaphors, of proverbs.
Two shakes of a lamb's tail was something my grandmother used to say. She and my great aunts had a wealth of such colorful language.
N'ere cast a clout until May is out--which I thought meant you weren't allowed to hit anybody until the end of May but really referred to casting off winter clothing.
Too many cooks spoil the broth and all the similar proverbs, of course.
Once a wish, twice a kiss, three times something better when you sneezed.
Many a slip twixt cup and lip. Pride comes before a fall. All of the above directed at me when I was trying something daring, dangerous or new.
My father also had his share of colorful language.
His favorite to me was "don't count your chickens before they are hatched." or usually abbreviated to "Don't count chickens" when I was excited about planning some future scheme.
Another favorite was "donkey's years." As in "That place has been going for donkey's years."
And then he threw in some Cockney expressions picked up from his childhood. (Although he wasn't a Cockney he grew up in London, hearing all this colorful language). "Time to go up the apples and pears." meaning stairs.
Another way of telling a child to go to bed in England during my childhood was "Up the wooden hill to Bedfordshire."
And an absolute favorite from rural Britain was that something would be completed "come dungspread."
Having just written this I think I must put Georgie on a farm in a future novel so I can use such expressions.
Do you think these colorful expressions have completely disappeared these days? Do you still use any of them? Which ones do you remember from your childhood? And is the English language permanently reduced to CU LOL and BFF? I really hope not.