Saturday, 25 February 2012

Nettles and dock leaves: does anyone know of a proverb?

After fiddling about all morning  (reorganising my bookshelves, taking a son to the optician at lunchtime, and sorting out laundry), I finally settled down to think about working on my Chapter 5 draft.  This is the new chapter that started life as a conference paper, begged for consideration as an article but never quite got finished, and has been extensively reworked in the past few weeks.

You wouldn't believe how long it's possible to spend looking for an old proverb about nettles and dock-leaves, that - it would appear - was never actually formulated as a proverb but was just a bit of folklore!

Due acknowldgements to BBC website:Bill Oddie at Loch Lomond
An extensive Google search, WITH speech marks, brought up a saying that I never heard before:-

'Nettle in, Dock;
Dock in, Nettle out
Dock rub Nettle out.
Or an enchanting, unattributed poem.

Whereas, what I really wanted was what I was always brought up to believe: where there are nettles, you're sure to find dock leaves nearby.  Hmph.  My dictionary of quotations has nothing of the sort - only 'grasping the nettle'.  (You could say that I grasped the nettle by trying to find the non-existent proverb!)

And why did a musicicologist want a proverb about nettles and dock leaves?  Well, it's to do with "you can't have one without the other".  Two things that go together.  And because I'm writing about natural metaphors, I wanted a natural metaphor of my own.  Is that asking too much?  Apparently, yes.

I abandoned the search and broke off to bake bread and make a casserole, then watched the Big Bang Theory (don't ask me to share which Sheldon trait I was able to empathise with!), and finally got back to Chapter 5 with a suitable sense of purpose.  Oh, yeah!  I worked on the paragraph that I saved to Evernote over coffee-break at work yesterday.  It has grown to three quite substantial paragraphs now, but I'm happy with it.  I was able to incorporate ideas I was recommended to think about, a year or so ago.   

Now I need to go over the rest of the chapter to see if I can polish or tighten anything up, and check that it ends satisfactorily.  But maybe not at 22:50 on a Saturday night!

No comments:

Post a Comment