You’re never too old to learn something new. That’s what ‘they’ say. Whoever ‘they’ are.
Despite investigating the matter for years, across several continents where I interviewed some of the world’s greatest philosophers (and if you believe that I have a couple of bridges for sale that span the River Severn which can be yours for the bargain price of £100,000 each. Cash only!) I was unable to discover who ‘they’ are.
‘They’ are those mysterious creators of wise sayings, commonly known as ‘old adages’ which people have used for centuries.
Inevitably, as the generations pass on, many adages fall out of use, but I still occasionally hear them used, as I did last week when I walked past (at a social distance) two people in the street having a conversation and one was saying “Yes . . . he’s as dim as a Toc H lamp!”.
I’ve not heard that one for decades and never understood what it meant. But as information is now available at the touch of a button, I found out that Toc H is a Christian movement that started out as a rest and recreation centre for British soldiers in Belgium in 1915.
The person who created Toc H was the Reverend Phillip Thomas Byard ‘Tubby’ Clayton – who must have taken ages to sign cheques.
‘Toc’ stands for the letter ‘T’ in the Army signals spelling alphabet and the organisation’s symbol is an ‘Aladdin’ oil lamp with a pale yellow flame.
After years of wondering, I found out what “Dim as a Toc H lamp ‘ meant in a matter of minutes, proving you’re never too old to learn something new . . . or something created in 1915 in this particular case.
Perhaps old adages would have a better chance of surviving if they were ‘tweaked’ a little to appeal to the modern generation.
“There’s no fool like an old fool” could be replaced by “There’s no fool like an American President with a comb over!”
While “Dim as a Toc H lamp” could be updated to “Dim as a Love Island contestant”.
Let’s see what ‘they’ have to say about that!