I very rarely comment on current events here, although obviously they often inform the way I write as well as some of the things I write about. I speak regularly to one of my oldest friends and as we are such old friends we have a lot of shared lifetime to reflect on. We consider ourselves so fortunate and think we lived through what we call a golden age, an age which now seems to have slipped away. I’m not talking about the current world crisis in saying this is no longer a golden age – that is something else completely, a unique event. Maybe young people up until the beginning of 2019 would think they were fortunate, would think they live in a golden age, and that us old fogeys had it tough compared to them. When I’m taking to my friend we often comment on the apt phrase, a curse in fact, ‘may you live in interesting times’. After the events of yesterday (January 6th) that phrase seems even more telling.
I’m not going to write about yesterday, but about our oft-used phrase, ‘may you live in interesting times‘. We, like many others really thought it was originally a Chinese curse; it is in fact sometimes just called ‘the Chinese curse’ and most people would understand what was meant. However, on investigating it this evening to find out which venerable Chinese sage, philosopher or emperor said it, in fact it is apocryphal, and no actual Chinese sage, philosopher or emperor said it. To my further surprise it seems it originated somehow from something said by the 19th-century politician Joseph Chamberlain but possibly came into use via his son Austen Chamberlain. There is no equivalent phrase in Chinese!
Here are a few more apocryphal phrases!
- Elementary, my dear Watson.
- Luke, I am your father
- It’s life, Jim, but not as we know it.
- Please, sir, can I have some more?
- Beam me up, Scotty.
- Money is the root of all evil.
- Play it again, Sam.