Guts for garters

I remember a teacher on school once threatening to have our guts for garters if he caught us doing wrong again. It means, of course, there will be a serious reprisal.
It is apparently British. I read here.
Despite being a long-lived expression there, aided no doubt by the rhythmic alliteration, uses of it aren't found in any great numbers in other countries. It may well have had a literal meaning as it originated in the Middle Ages, when disembowelment was used in the UK for torture and execution. In these more enlightened times the expression is limited to figurative examples like, "I don't want to tell Dad that I've scraped the car - he'll have my guts for garters". A printed reference to 'guts for garters' appears in Robert Greene's The Scottish Historie of James the Fourth, circa 1592:
Ile make garters of thy guttes, Thou villaine.
Whether that was a literal threat and whether people did actually make garters of the guts of their enemies is open to question. I can find no direct evidence of a documented example of such a practice, but it is certainly quite plausible. Worse things happened; the punishment of 'hanged, drawn and quartered' was on the statue book in England until as late as 1790. There are several other instances in the 16th/17th centuries of allusions to the use of someone's guts being made into garters - "Sir, I will garter my hose with your guttes" etc. The earliest use of the actual wording 'guts for garters' that I can find comes quite a long time later, in a piece by William Curry, in The Dublin University Magazine, 1843:
I'll butter my knife in him, and give him his guts for garters.

Salt on yer tail

My paternal grandmother would sometimes threaten to put salt on my tail. I was never quite sure whether to take this literally or whether she was using an unfathomable metaphor. I was aware of the illustration of the boy putting salt on the tail of a live chicken on boxes of Cerebos salt but that did not seem to help. The phrase appears to refer to apprehending a criminal (Brewers -  “His intelligence is so good, that were you to come near him with soldiers or constables, … I shall answer for it you will never lay salt on his tail.”— Sir W. Scott, Redgauntlet, 1824, chap. xi) but begins with putting salt on an animal you want to catch. Perhaps the idea is that if you are close enough to it to put salt on its tail then you are close enough to catch it.


I could sleep on my nose

If my mother was really tired she would sometimes say "I could sleep on my nose". Whether that us actually possible, I'm not sure.




"New birth then leads to the transformation of a darkened mind, a corrupted heart, a deformed morality, perverted affections, a soul antagonistic to God and a thoroughly miserable state. Reason and conscience regain control over the passions and appetites. Self-centred alienation from God and the disorder it promotes are over."
From my book What the Bible teaches about being born again, p 39


A good fortnight

When I was a boy when on rare occasions my dad happened to see a black person on a beach he would love to say "They've 'ad a good fortnight down 'ere". It's racist, of course, but I like the phrase in some ways as it betrays a very working class mindset. The use of the word fortnight rather than week not only suggests that it would take two weeks to get such a tan but reminds us that factory shut down was two weeks long and best spent down at the beach. The object of such a holiday (long before any skin cancer scares) was to lie on the beach and get as brown as ... that reminds me of another thing my dad would say that is not pc any more.


Skivers, Moochers

I have a clear memory of the first time I heard the word skiver. It was my first year, the first weeks probably, in Grammar School. Our class (1E) was in a demountable classroom near the woods - out of bounds, of course. From the woods we heard singing it was Chirpy chirpy cheep cheep by Middle of the Road. A helpful voice said "Skivers miss". I wasn't a hundred per cent sure what the word meant but no doubt it referred to what I had until then known as moochers (everyone else says mitchers). I think I assumed that skiving from Junior School was mooching and mooching from big school was skiving. Mark Twain called it playing hookey I later discovered.
I see mooch is listed here
mooch Verb. 1. To idle away time, to loaf around. E.g."The kids were just mooching about the streets looking for something to do." 2. To amble along, to walk casually. 3. To play truant. [Welsh use] Noun. 1. The idling away of time. 2. The act of ambling or walking casually. E.g."I'm going for a mooch around the shops."


You have to eat a peck of dirt in a lifetime

There is a proverbial phrase
"You have to eat a peck of dirt in a lifetime (or before you die)"
A peck is an old imperial measurement still recognised in the USA and equivalent to two gallons or nine litres.
The point of the saying is that no-one can escape eating a certain amount of dirt on his or her food or more broadly that everyone must endure a number of unpleasant things in his or her lifetime. It is often said to console someone who has eaten some dirt or had to endure something unpleasant.
My grandfather's twist on it was that
"You don't want to do it all at once"!
It can't be unique to my granddad as it occurs in that modified from in L M Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables.



"Old Princeton theologian B B Warfield used the striking word repristination to sum up Paul’s way of describing regeneration. The word means ‘restoration to an original state’. The soul is made pristine or pure again. This alerts us to the fact that new birth involves restoring God’s image in us. Christ has come so that his people might also be sons of God:."
From my book What the Bible teaches about being born again, p 38

God the New Creator

"When we consider that God alone has the power to create (as opposed to merely fashioning) things, then we see that ‘new creation’ must be his work. Regeneration is a new creation, one that surpasses even the first creation. In Exodus 4:11 God asks Moses: ‘Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD?’ ‘Ears that hear and eyes that see,’ comments Proverbs 20:12, ‘the LORD has made them both.’ If this is true in the physical realm, surely it also holds good in the spiritual realm."
From my book What the Bible teaches about being born again, p 36


Flat Earth Axioms 15

15. Three things to beware of
  • Demonisation
  • Conspiracy theories
  • Blanket condemnation
(This is the last in this series of 15)