Saturday, 2 March 2013

Steady the Buffs and Peeling Oranges

Every family has its code language, sayings and catchphrases that provide conversational shortcuts. Ours include "Steady the Buffs" and "Peeling Oranges."  These sayings exist and get used without any real reference to their origin and in fact there has been some dispute about where they come from and when they started being used.  We say "Steady the Buffs" when there is any sign of panic or chaos.  In fact The Buffs were the 3rd Regiment of Foot in the British Army who's nickname came fro their pale yellow(buff) jacket facings.    In 1858 an adjutant shouted out 'steady the Buffs' to get his men in order.  It became a popular phrase in the British Army.

As for 'Peeling Oranges?' that's a chastisement we use when someone gets themself a coffee or drink without offering to do the same for others.  I can't find any source for it although we suspect it was used by family after the war when oranges came back into Britain and Grandma would peel oranges for the children.  While googling the phrase though  I did discover this story that touched me.  

Ernest Hemingway, the author would spend hours peeling oranges and gazing into a fire before beginning the write a new novel.  When he was asked about this, he said he was preparing his soul to write - like a fisherman preparing his tackle before going out to sea.  "If I don't do this and think only the fish matter, I'll never achieve anything."

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