I’m always interested in the origins of words, phrases and sayings, and as the next subject I’m to write about is being alone or on your own, on your Tod, on your Jack, on your Larry are phrases which sprung to mind. The first two are derived from an American jockey, James ‘Tod’ Sloan. He came from a poor background and was neglected by his parents; however he became internationally famous and eventually became the jockey of the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII. He rose quickly to fame, and his fall was quick too after he was suspected of betting on his own races and banned. Cockney rhyming slang ensured his fame endured in the phrase, on your tod/Tod Sloan, but probably few people know that today. On your jack, is another example of rhyming slang, from on your own/Jack Jones. As for on your Larry, that seems an utter mystery and explanations I’ve seen seem to be wild guesses. It’s probably just one of those inexplicable phrases!
The reason I’m thinking of these phrases which mean being on your own, is that I’m pondering on the ‘alone’ aspect. Being alone can be wonderful, giving freedom to do or live as you please, or it can be terrible, if you are lonely or forced to be isolated. In the past, and even today, religious and spiritual people self-isolate to dedicate their lives to practicing their faith. Sometimes their isolation is within a community, a convent or monastery, sometimes totally and distantly alone, a hermit or anchorite. Isolation is also used as a punishment – either cast out from a group or imprisoned in solitary confinement. This punishment is probably as old as society, casting out and excluding is simple, and effective. It has been used as a weapon, even today people innocent of any crime are kept away from their homeland in order for a political goal to be attained.
Today being isolated has taken on a different meaning, and people are experiencing a different way of life in order to keep safe. For many it has not been easy, for many it has been cruel, for many it has almost broken them. For some this time has been an opportunity to discover aspects of themselves, which may or may not be positive, but perhaps even for the negatives, some good and promise of hope and better days will come. At first, for months this was forced upon us, now we have more choice. Some are using that choice wisely, some are dangerously foolish. However people are living day to day now, it is not like it was before, and it will never be as it was before. That does not have to be a bad, thing; we can all make the choice to use it for good, our own, for others and for our world.