Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Ducks In A Row, And Ready To Go

Back to Dorset this morning, the holiday's over. Inevitably that has meant that much of Monday was spent in washing, packing, sorting and tidying. We're not back at Cornerstones for a couple of months, but there will be friends here before we return. I have got all my ducks in a row...

The back two have been in the bathroom for a while - the front two are prizes I won at Anglian Water's Exhibition in Norwich last week. 
But where did this ducks in a row phrase come from? It was very popular in business circles at the turn of the millennium, implying you were organised and ready. It was claimed Stephen King first used the phrase in a novel of 1970...but then more information emerged. People had lots of theories about the origin
  • baby ducklings following their mother
  • the line of metal ducks at a mechanical shooting arcade
  • "ducks" as metal weights formerly used by engineers to define a curve
  • "ducks" as cargo bins which must be lined up on the dock before being loaded onto a ship
...but most etymologists seem to think it came from duck pins – a popular name for the skittles used in a type of bowling popular in Europe and America in the 1700s. In a newspaper of 1889, 'The Plaindealer' made this comment about the politics of the time "the Democrats are getting their ducks in a row, and their ticket is promised to be very strong."

Personally I think the skittles idea is quite believable - and the metal weights and cargo bins seem to be too specialised for general conversation. The experts have not arrived at a unanimous decision on the idiom's genesis, but “to have one’s ducks in a row” is now synonymous in Western culture with efficiency, organization, and preparedness.
Whatever the origin, I know we are ready and will be travelling south very soon!

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