Quite coincidentally, after yesterday's blog about conversations overheard in quiet pubs, I was reading 'Down Under' by the inimitable Bill Bryson and I came across this phrase, which he overheard from the people at the next table while he was sitting in a hotel bar in Canberra:
'I tell you, Barry, he was farting sparks!'
Bryson says he believes this was "a colourful Aussie turn of phrase rather than a refence to any actual manifestation of flatulence of an electrical nature". Priceless isn't he!
I suppose most of us hear similar, less colourful but nevertheless intriguing, snippets all the time, often from shop assistants when they're standing chatting to each other instead of serving you. I recently heard a shop assistant say to her colleague "I told her the green ones had more legs but she said that wasn't what she was looking for". I didn't dare ask.
My mother produced a pearl some years ago. My wife and I had taken both our respective mothers to dinner in a boarding-house in Weymouth. Both our mothers were over 90 and both were very deaf, so they had to shout to each other. This being the height of the holiday season, the tables were crowded and close together and it soon became apparent to my wife and me that most of the other guests were following the conversation with fascination. We had a few embarrassing close calls with remarks about other guests as they left the room, such as 'I wouldn't wear that if I were that shape, would you Mary? followed by 'What does she think she looks like!' These caused surreptitious titters but my mother took the prize. The dining-room overlooked the bowling green and as it started to rain heavily the bowlers scurried off the green.
'Oh look, its coming down quite heavily now. They'll have to run'.
'Yes, it is a nuisance for them, George used to play bowls you know and he hated the rain. The first thing he did when he got back in wet weather was get a cloth and rub his balls dry".
Soup on tablecloths everywhere!