Thursday, August 30, 2007

All gong and no dinner

Has the bastardised version achieved some kind of recognition in Nigel Rees’s new loo-side tome, All Gong and No Dinner: 1001 Homely Phrases and Curious Domestic Sayings?

According to Richard Morrison's review in The Times:
Just recall such fruity exclamations as “I should cocoa!”, or “I wasn’t born on Pancake Day!”, or “I could eat the dates off a calendar!”, or even the one that gives the book its title: “He’s all gong and no dinner!” (and its saucier variant: “He’s all mouth and no trousers”). They are so blissfully surreal as to be, on the surface, virtually nonsensical.

Not having the book to hand, I can't say whether the bastardised 'all mouth and no trousers' does feature there, or is Morrison's own addition (shame on him if so). The publicity bumf on the publisher's site includes a brief extract which doesn't feature that dread mangling:
All gong and no dinner - meaning, of a person, that he is 'all talk and no action'. What you might say of a loud-mouthed person who is somewhat short on achievement. Current since the mid-20th century at least. 'So far, all we have had from the Government is "all gong and no dinner" - to use a phase that a constituent of mine used in a public meeting. In other words, the sound and the fury have been there but the delivery has been missing' - speaker at Welsh Grand Committee (Westminster) (2001). Texan variant: 'All hat and no cattle.'
A fine phrase in its own right - but absolutely not of the same kind as the proper 'all mouth and trousers', in which the lack is implicit. The bastardised 'no trousers' version is, of course, utterly nonsensical and a not remotely blissful violation of the original.


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