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Mixed Blessings


By Miranda

Have I told you that, in childhood, I lived in the tropics. Despite the climate our family observed Christmas with the full catastrophe of roast dinner (minus the unobtainable Brussels sprouts) and a Christmas pudding lovingly made months before and carefully aged, hanging in the pantry.

But this was the tropics and, let me tell you, a Christmas pudding hanging in the pantry, be it never so airy, is not going to dry out and mature as you might expect in a more temperate and less humid climate.

Indeed, by Christmas the pudding closely resembled the thing from the crypt, sporting a thick rind of multi-coloured mould and what looked like, on occasion, fungi.

Our cynical parent suggested we just knock the mould off and, since the pudding had to be boiled for another three hours on the day (yes, that goes down well in 30-degree-plus temperatures and close to 100 per cent humidity, along with the roast in the oven), it would be fine. And, since we did that and enjoyed the delicious result, he was probably right. I think one year he actually took some specimens into the lab for the biology guys to have a look at, just in case we'd cultivated something new and intriguing. We hadn't.

And what has this to do with language?

Well, listening to the radio recently, I heard an industry spokesperson talking about new legislation and the effect on those 'enacted'. I took this very passive use to suggest that those 'enacted' meant those affected by and, more particularly, those whose task it was to incorporate the requirements of the legislation in their company dealings. It was a new one for me.

But then he went on to describe 'growing the productivity cake'... now, increasing productivity is 'a good thing' and representing that growth in a pie chart (of whatever size) is reasonable but I can't think of growing a productivity cake without being taken straight back to the mouldy pudding!

What's your favourite mixed metaphor?

13 Responses to

Mixed Blessings

linmor said:
August 02, 2013 at 1:10 PM

I remember one 40 degree Christmas Day when my Dad needed to use a hammer and chisel to cut the Christmas cake because the icing had set so hard.... is that a case of breaking the ice (ing) or having your cake and not eating it too or looking before you sink your teeth into it?

August 03, 2013 at 8:27 AM

'As cute as a button'

tiggercat said:
August 03, 2013 at 3:01 PM

'Don't burn your bridges till you come to them.' I think my hubby meant 'we'll cross that bridge when we come to it' or 'don't burn all your bridges'!

pdiaco said:
August 04, 2013 at 12:08 PM

Maybe he meant 'impacted' rather than 'enacted', but I see what he means. Our lives are governed by dozens of Acts, but there is no Act that says you can't invent a new word or new meaning.

daffydill said:
August 04, 2013 at 1:23 PM

I think there is a lot of misuse of the word 'impacted' these days. When I hear someone say that a person or group of people will be impacted by something, I have the image of the people being hammered into the ground.

August 04, 2013 at 1:56 PM

as dad used to say out beyond the black stump

August 04, 2013 at 8:29 PM

Two common mixed metaphors that you hear nowdays are "It's not rocket surgery" (rocket science vs brain surgery) and "you can't teach an old dog to change it's spots"

lucilleaa said:
August 05, 2013 at 1:58 PM

'You can't change your mind in the middle of a trip.' was my Grandfather's favorite

sussanah said:
August 05, 2013 at 11:32 PM

I have a friend who mixes up "I couldn't help myself" and "I couldn't resist the temptation" to end up with "I just couldn't resist myself" LOL

August 06, 2013 at 7:51 AM

Not sure if this is a mixed metaphor or not, but it's classic: an Australian Rugby star recently said on ABC radio "them flick passes aren't in our abattoir"

August 06, 2013 at 2:00 PM

A bit off the current topic but an ex-partner of mine was once complimented on his vocabulary. His serious response was "Do you mean words and stuff?"

August 11, 2013 at 10:27 PM

Super rugby lingo: Francises in the South African conference find it difficult to play any of the Australasia francises in their backyard with the referees and all.

jonah said:
August 11, 2013 at 11:30 PM

Hi Miranda Your opening sentence in "Mixed Blessings" is "Have I told you that, in childhood, I lived in the tropics". I have always been uncertain, and still am, as to whether a question mark should follow such an expression. Please clear up my uncertainty. Thank You!