“I need to learn to make sandwich”, “Oh it’s so easy. Just take two slices of bread, place tomato & cucumber rings and a layer of cheese between them, and Bob’s your uncle”. “Why, thank you! That was simple!”
Simple indeed. But the simplicity doesn’t quite rub on to the statement that extols it, does it? What does Uncle Bob have to do with a simple sandwich making exercise? Nothing at all, except the fact that he, who was better known as Lord Frederick Roberts helped win the battle of Kandahar in 1878, and made it as simple as making vegetable sandwich. Well, almost! If the reader’s on confusion course, let me rush to dispel any more of it. It’s an English expression, me hearty! One that refers to simple steps to get something done. Now if you don’t have a fetish for expressions, chances are that you will skim most written material to just make general sense of it all. Here’s another. My ex-colleague brooks no nonsense at work, and always stands up for what he strongly believes is right. A very impartial fellow. When I was in his team, he’d once suggested that I ‘nail my colours to the mast’. Well, my only brush with colors had been the vibrant bar graphs I used in my presentations. Being a bit slow on the uptake as ever, I was trying hard to figure out how to nail something intangible. Thankfully, the old chap understood my blank stare and was quick to explain what he meant. That I need to take a firm position and not budge when I’m talking to the management. That I need to hoist my flag (colors) firmly. That’s him being his usual expressive self.
So what’s with such expressions, when you can drive home the point with plain vanilla English? The answer lies in the question, my friend. They render the language flavorful, and generally give an aura of intellectual well-being to the speaker. To cut a long story short, it boosts vanity! While Statistics goes over my head, my fellow English student would be all at sea wtih numbers. Why do I get a feel that his problem would be sorted quicker? While I would say with pride that I dared to jump off a 100 feet high cliff, our dear finance minister would bite the bullet in announcing bold policies. So, when the kid of the house was raising cain over a toy his dad broke by chance, and when the dad got him a bar of chocolate to pacify him, and when the kid was happily gobbling up the bar, and when the dad wanted to apologize to his son about the toy, the mom suggested that he let sleeping dogs lie! Right, else the kid would have sure gotten all over his dad, much like his pet spaniel!
While the need’s not pressing, it helps to be expressing! To Davy Jones with people who say this is a piece of excreta, but I’m certainly not going to get my dander up and go over the top!