You all know I love a saying. I’ve invented some and butchered more well known ones. Either way, they are the gifts that keep on giving. Literally.
I’ve been storytelling since I was a kid and I have to give credit where credit is due. My parents did have some failings. They lost me at Disneyland, didn’t pick me up from hospital when I was run over at my own birthday party and let me drive off into the mountains with an old single man (he was nice, luckily).
But my Dad told a great story and my mother was an excellent editor. They also gave me a lot of material to work with. The sayings began early on. Dad used to say: “Well, well, well… three holes in the ground.” He’d been saying this all my life and one day I finally cottoned on. Pretty funny.
Another favourite of his was: “When you’re the father of three daughters.” Take this to mean you can never have whatever it is you’re asking for.
There were some strange ones. Mum used to say, when asked what was for dinner: Ducks feet under the table. Her parents said this too. To this day I don’t know what it actually means but for us it meant, sit down, shut up and wait. You will soon find out what is for dinner.
There was also that crowd favourite when playing Monopoly: “Oh you’ve won second prize in the beauty contest.” This was always followed by: “There were only two people in it.”
When I went on my honeymoon, we kept a diary. I’ve read back over it since and it’s pretty funny. Especially when you read the two different versions of the same story. For example my brand new husband’s description of my first attempt at making pesto as “Emu Poo”, was quite different from mine. If only we’d had separate tents.
But some of the sayings developed on this trip are still being used nearly 30 years later. For example, we were in a Youth Hostel in Genoa, in Italy. Of course in Italy, even back then, Youth Hostels had proper coffee machines at breakfast. Our server Alessandro was explaining the system to the group, which included us Aussies and some Americans.
He said, in his impossibly cute Italian-accented English: “We have cappucino, caffe latte, espresso, americano…”
The Americans: “But where’s the coffee?” followed by: “Where’s the refill?”
The thing I love about sayings is that context is everything. We all still use this saying to poke a little fun at anyone being difficult, particularly while travelling. It especially refers to people who want things to be the same as they are at home and are quite rude when it doesn’t turn out that way.
In the spirit of fairness, there were some other choice phrases coined on that trip where I really captured the romance of the moment. We were up the Eiffel Tower, for the very first time. My husband was wearing his expensive Goretex jacket and leant on the railings at the top, that stop you falling off. He came away with a massive grease stain on the jacket.
No “this is the most romantic day of my life,” from me. Oh no. Rather: “You’ve ruined that.”
This phrase is best used when you want to state the absolute bleeding obvious, and is best spoken through pursed lips.
Sidenote: I have slightly redeemed myself with this additional statement to be used on anyone who is a tight arse: You don’t go to Paris and refuse to climb the Eiffel Tower because it’s too expensive.
Here is quick reminder of some of my other favourites: I can’t rule anything in or out, just lie down on the lounge and the feelings will pass, and in the immortal words of the Aussie Band, The Masters Apprentices: Do what you wanna do, be what you wanna be, yeah.
This brings us to the here and now. I’m always delighted to find out that I’ve been able to really help people with their life dilemmas.
Very recently, one of my dear readers, who I will not name as I only out people I don’t like, has taken one of my sayings to the next level.
She was recounting an unexpectedly difficult situation to someone we both know. This person said: “Tina would say that you were just walking along minding your own business and a seagull shat on you from a great height.”
The mutual friend is now referring to this situation as “shatting”. I love it. There is nothing better than one silly saying that evolves (or degenerates) into another one. And I must say that in a year that seems to be full of shatting, it is timely.
In the spirit of that, me and my friend Karen are getting new travel hats for 2024. They are going to say #4. And whether that is a southern hemisphere #4 or northern, will probably depend on the day. And the people we meet. And the level of shatting.