I recently discovered that the phrase is “the world is your oyster” not “the world is your lobster” as I had long believed – am I alone in falling prey to such a colossal misunderstanding?
Thank you dear reader, for taking the time to write to me about this issue which is clearly troubling you greatly. I often get questions of this ilk – just last week I had to explain to Tony Blair that when people use the term “war criminal” in conversation around the topic of Iraq they generally are not congratulating him on removing one from power.
The answer – and it will shock you to hear this – was revealed to me in a dream as I slept through a party I was meant to be hosting just a few days ago (the life of a student newspaper agony aunt is both thrilling and exhausting in equal measure, I assure you). Had I not fallen asleep at that moment, your query would have gone unanswered and my guests would have had to listen to my inane banter for even longer than they had already had to suffer through. Seriously, it was like asking Al Gore about his locked box. Firstly let me say that I completely understand the feeling you are experiencing right now, having misunderstood such a commonly used phrase. I used to believe that cucumbers and computers were one and the same in my youth, often asking my grandparents if I could have a computer to eat, and wondering why there were a lack of plug sockets in their greenhouse. Luckily I eventually realised the distinction, but for a long time I refused to eat cucumbers due to my belief that they contained a number of chemicals I had been warned to avoid. It was a truly horrifying state of affairs.
Throughout history there are many examples of people making similar mistakes. Let us remember Napoleon, as shrewd a military strategist as they come (imagine playing Civilisation or Age of Empires with him on the cucumber, the wily fox would eat you alive). Napoleon misunderstood the warnings of an encounter with General Winter in Russia, believing the General to simply be a Brit who had got lost in the wilds of Eastern Europe with a particular dislike for Frenchmen, a là young Edmund Blackadder. Instead, he came face to face with the monster known as the Russian winter. Having come face to face with the Polish winter, I can confirm he made a huge mistake. Imagine weather that embodied the only notable work of Vanilla Ice – a lot of ice, and a horrible experience for all unfortunate enough to come into contact with it.
Closer to home, there are more mundane misunderstandings that still lead to people feeling embarrassed. It can be small things, like accidentally putting in the wrong quantity on an online supermarket order because you confused scales of measurement – ordering 10 carrots is fine, ordering 10kg of carrots is only salvageable if you put out an alert to all neighbourhood rabbits to come and rescue you from the avalanche of orange pouring from every orifice of your kitchen. Likewise, I once interpreted the price of a meal as being fixed rather than based on weight and ended up buying £25 worth of goulash from a Czech street vendor. It was well worth it, albeit a real struggle to carry around with me – I was morestew than man that day.
There are surely many more misunderstandings I could list – my Editors would likely suggest that Jack Davies being given the column next to me is one of them, after they asked him to design a page and it came back with a predesigned space for his ramblings. Yet we are pressed for space, so I can-not go on much further – much like my near 7ft tall friend Kieran when we confronted him with a series of ever decreasing size of doorways.
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