Thursday 17 March 2011

Mixed Metaphors Part Three

Avoid mixing fire and water metaphors - floods and waves can’t be sparked.

It was gutted by a fire that left three millions of damage in its wake (Try “a fire caused three million of damage”.)

Today Morrissey reignites a simmering row… Alexandra Topping Guardian Sep 4 10 He could bring it back to the boil if it’s simmering, but not ignite it unless it’s petrol.

a turning point in attacking the fungus of "boiler-plate" (The UK Corporate Governance Code)
Sebastian Coe, who has won gold medals in the past for running, now wins another for this line in his platitude-rich autobiography The Winning Mind: “There are times when there is a need to dig deep and find another gear – while never losing sight of the bigger picture.” (via Lucy Kellaway in the FT Jan 2011)

a discrepancy that rams home the continuing gulf between the City and the rest of us (emphasises)

Add another bow to his string Guardian Oct 2 10 (Bows have strings, not the other way round.)

bone china rolls hot off the kiln (The Times gets over-excited about Wills and Kate souvenirs Nov 18 10)

combing for talent with a fine toothbrush (You go through things with a fine-toothed comb.)

Confine “sear” to things that can sear, eg “searing heat”. “Searing hunger” is nonsensical.

Doubt was sown = the seeds of doubt were sown, or doubts were raised

heaped for steeped This place is heaped in tradition. BBC news Oct 9 10

If such a huge link in the corrupt chain as the city of Moscow is tinkered with, the entire state edifice might come tumbling down. (It’s a chain with one huge link. How do you tinker with a link? If your tinkering breaks the link, the chain will break – was it holding up the edifice?

It’s good to see Gyllenhaal throwing away “that dark cloud of anxiety and moral seriousness that usually hangs over him like a halo”. Philip French, Obs Jan 2011

Riders tilt at nude rollercoaster record (How about “try for”?)

silver bullet for magic bullet (a silver bullet kills a werewolf; Salvarsan was the “magic bullet” that killed the organisms that cause syphilis)

The grass roots have got plenty to chew over. BBC Breakfast October 5, 2010

the trappings of power are thin Andrew Grice Indy March 2011 (Does he think it means something like “wrappings”?)

They've got other things on their mind, like paying for their children's college fees, and running their family's purse strings. BBC Oct 22 10 (You keep a tight hold on the purse strings because they hold the purse shut. You run your family finances.)

will move heaven and high water to... (Combines “will move heaven and earth” with “come Hell or high water”.)

More here at

More mixed metaphors and garbled cliches here, here, here and here.

Thursday 10 March 2011

Inspirational Quotes

No one told me that having fun is not as fun as I thought. Unmarried 38 year old Times Feb 5 09

Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away. Philip K Dick

It took me years and years to understand how people promote themselves, not just in this business, but in life. Gina Mckee

Have you noticed that people who, as a response, say, "Life isn't fair", are mostly the ones who have nothing to worry about? @franosch

Settling into your own home, particularly once you have children, is a rite of passage that few of us seem prepared to give up. John Stepek

“Politics is a court and if the king’s eye lights on you, you are a powerful figure. If the king’s eye wanders elsewhere, you are out, whatever your title.” Lord Saatchi

Don’t loiter hopefully, go now. Mariella Frostrup

Sometimes you have to push the reset button and start over. Don't let your history stop your destiny! @6london

Self-approval is acquired mainly from the approval of other people. Mark Twain

Life can’t be solved by admirable maxims from modern literature. Agatha Christie

You are stuck with the persona you are wearing when the wind [changes]. Guardian 7/20/09

Later on he much preferred strangers to his own family, because they kept out of his bathroom and he was free to present his own idea of himself without the risk of some one remarking, "Why, Reggie! You loathe poetry! How can you! You always said it was such humbug!" Joking Apart by the Hon. Mrs Dowdall

Human nature is much the same everywhere. Miss Marple

“They mistakenly believe that everyone is remarkably different from everyone else.”

The trouble with many of these positive thinking doctrines is that they encourage you to try to convince yourself you can run before you can walk.

Usually narcissists are charmers.

Most people are not the Amazing Kreskin. (

You need to learn that getting a paid job in the arts will be very, very difficult and is not something you should feel entitled to. @Beaverlasvegas In Dear Jeremy column, Guardian, Feb 5 11

More here and here and here.

Thursday 3 March 2011

Whatever Happened To...? 7

“live” yoghourt which had magic powers that plain old “dead” yoghourt lacked
apple doughnuts
asparagus soup
Bates eye exercises
black cherry jam

character defects or flaws (became bad choices)
chat rooms
collections of dolls in national costume
commemorative thimbles (and the idea that they were a good investment)
Commer lorries
complaining about women drivers (when all the evidence shows that they are safer drivers)
Danish pastries
disc cameras
drives as in whist drives
ecotowns (now being “quietly abandoned” according to, Mar 1 11)
Everton mints
extracting gold from seawater
flavouring food with rum
flotation tanks

hake and chips
hiding computer knowledge from employees
Hooray Henries
Idris orange juice
Les Bottines Souriantes
ley lines
magic realism
manganese nodules
mass media
miniature televisions
mink farms
Mr Softee

negative ions which were supposed to be so good for you (given off by kitsch water feature in your living room)

nouvelle cuisine
nuclear deterrence
Oat Crunchies
office memos
past life regression
PDAs you controlled with a “gestural language”
poetic truth, emotional truth, a higher kind of truth
premium-rate phone lines
punnets made of wood strips
puzzling over what the “information economy” could possibly be
pyramid power

rock and chips ("Rock" was dogfish, now "cat shark".)
slide projectors
split screen
terrible Web ads for tooth whitening

the new paradigm (that was going to supplant the old, scientific paradigm any day now – back in 1975)

the prefix "cyber"
the sound of fingernails on a blackboard
walkie talkies
wearing curlers under a scarf
whingeing about computer jargon
whingeing about the difference between uninterested and disinterested

More here, and links to the rest.