Sorry the blog is late this week – busy week.
I have been known to say “That won’t keep me in beer and skittles,” but I have no idea where the saying came from, so I thought I’d try to find out.
The Freedictionary.com refers to “life isn’t all beer and skittles” as not being able to have fun all the time. Most of the references I found said just this. Apparently, it was a phrase coined in the 19th century. It’s quoted in Tom Brown’s Schooldays, and Charles Dickens used a variation of it in The Pickwick Papers, “They don’t mind it; it’s a regular holiday to them – all porter and skittles.”
The game of Skittles, by the way, has been around since the nineteenth century and is similar to ten-pin bowling. (Funnily enough, it was also known as Ninepins.) Apparently, it’s still played. It was a pub game, with the pins set up in a kind of square pattern and the players were supposed to knock the pins down with a ball. There is also a table version of the game (and I think I have seen that one on my travels).
Porter is a type of ale – if you see the old pubs with the glazed tiles, you’ll often see a reference to porter imprinted in the tiles.
I was beginning to think I’d made up my expression until I came across a website called word-detective.com. There is a 2010 entry that says, “Sam’s parking fine payments keep the city in beer and skittles.” Word-detective.com is a US website, so maybe the original English phrase changed a bit due to the water in between the two countries? Anyway, I’m happy now that I know roughly how it originated and that I didn’t imagine hearing it somewhere.
Have a good week.
©Susan Shirley 2013