Many Happy ReturnsWednesday, August 31, 2016
My friend and virtuoso violinist Marc Destrubé informed someone I was born in Mexico. I corrected him by telling him I had been born in Buenos Aires but it had been in Mexico City in 1968 that I had spied a beautiful long-haired blonde in a mini skirt with stupendous legs and that I subsequently married her.
Since Destrubé was not entirely wrong in an email he wrote:
So I wasn’t completely up the spout. (And where does that expression come from?)
So I researched it since I had personally had never heard that expression before. The Oxford Dictionary had this:
Definition of up the spout in English:
up the spout
1.No longer working or likely to be useful or successful: his petrol gauge is up the spout
More example sentences
2. (Of a woman) pregnant.
3(Of a bullet or cartridge) in the barrel of a gun and ready to be fired.
And there is this which is quite cute.
Today is my 74th birthday and I was struck by a birthday greeting from my friend and actor Allan Gray:
Have a great day Alex - many happy returns.
It just so happens that I know where that expression happy returns comes from. My proof of it is this cover scan of one of my favourite (and my mother’s) nautical author C.S. Forester and his taciturn (very Gregory Peck) character Hornblower.
It wasn’t until the advent of the 20th century (the Titanic being a glaring exception) that sea travel was considered safe. To be a captain in His Majesty’s Navy in the 18th and beginning of the 19th was a dangerous profession. To be able to return from a sea voyage was a lucky thing. To do it often even luckier.
And so I wish all those who sent me birthday greetings and specially Mr. Gray many happy returns in their futures.