Blue Moon (Origins)

When something is said to happen Once in a Blue Moon then it isn’t going to happen very often. The inference is that it never will. This has nothing to do with the colour of the moon or that on rare occasions light reflecting through smoke and dust particles caused a warm blue glow around the surface, most notably, after the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883 when the moon looked blue for nearly 2 years. Instead, the origin of our phrase is much simpler that that and can be found in the Lunar Cycles.

bluemoon

We all know that every year there is one full moon in each month and all of these twelve moons have names, the Harvest Moon, the Hunters Moon, the Hay Moon and so on, and the dates they are due to appear are listed in red in the Maine Farmers Almanac. However, approximately seven times in every nineteen years there will be thirteen full moons in a given year.

This means that for one month in around thirty-three there are two full moons, the second of which doesn’t have a formal name but is listed in blue, not red, in the Almanac and so it became known as the Blue Moon (the rare one). We have to wait a long time for something to happen during a Blue Moon

Extract from Money for Old Rope Part One & Two

Albert Jack books available for download here

The Full Monty (Phrase Origins)

The Full Monty means the whole lot – the maximum available. The Full Monty is a saying that re emerged in the English language in the mid 1980’s as part of the language of Coronation Street dictionary ‘Street Talk’. It has since been used as the title of several books and a film. There are several suggestion for its origin but the earliest can be traced back to the turn of the century.

In 1904 the tailors Montague Burton (later shortened to Burtons) established their first hire shop in Chesterfield. They made it possible for men not to hire only a suit for special occasions, but also to hire a complete outfit of suit, shirt, tie, shoes and socks and those opting for the full set were known to be wearing the ‘Full Monty’.

Extract from Money for Old Rope Part One

Albert Jack books available for download here

Good Health (Phrase Origins)

Why do we say Good Health when we are about to drink alcohol, which is far from good for us? The answer lies in the 19th century and England’s second deadly outbreak of cholera between 1848 and 1849. In August of 1849 cholera reached epidemic proportions in the Broad Street area of London resulting in 344 deaths in only four days. But there were almost none in any neighbouring areas.

Local physician Dr John Snow suggested cholera was linked to people drinking polluted water and quickly proved this when he found that 87 victims out of the 89 he examined were known to have drunk water from the Broad Street well. Snow famously called for the authorities to “take the handle off the Broad Street pump”, and almost immediately the outbreak was halted.

For a long while afterwards locals would avoid water and drink only ales and wines, knowing the boiling and fermenting process would kill any bacteria in the water used. When drinking they would greet each other with the phrase ‘in good health’, knowing they were safe from the disease.

Extract from Money for Old Rope Part One

Albert Jack books available for download here

Pull Your Finger Out (Phrase Origins)

The phrase these days is associated with encouraging someone to get a move on, or hurry up and complete a task more quickly than they are presently doing. Like so many English phrases it has a military or naval origin. Loaded cannons would have gunpowder poured into a small ignition hole, which was then held in place with a wooden plug.

But in times of battle, when speed was of the essence, the powder would be pushed in and then held in place by a gun crew-member using his finger. Impatient artillerymen, anxious to fire their cannons at the advancing enemy, would shout at his crewmate to ‘pull his finger out’ so that the gun could be fired. It has not been recorded how many digits were lost on the battlefields.

Extract from Money for Old Rope Part One

Albert Jack books available for download here

Facing The Music (Phrase Origins)

To Face The Music has two possible origins. The first is that nervous (often terrified) actors and actresses, on an opening night, would have to go out on stage at the start of their performance and quite literally ‘face the music’ (as the orchestra pit sat directly in front of the stage with the musician facing the actors). In this case ‘facing the music’ meant the actor actually went out and performed, rather than losing their nerve and bottling it.

The second and less likely origin, suggests that a dishonourable military discharge would always result in the disgraced serviceman being marched off barracks to the sound of drummers playing (drummed out), in which case he too had ‘faced the music’.

Extract from Money for Old Rope Part One

Albert Jack books available for download here