Wouldn’t a butcher’s dog be fat rather than fit…?

I see Boris Johnson is again saying that he’s “fit as a butcher’s dog”, this time after being confined to Downing Street. An odd saying to dust off, and one he used as recently as September.

The etymology seems to be that a butcher’s dog would be well fed on scraps of meat, possibly making it fat rather fit.

Johnson seems unlikely to boast that he’s fat as a butcher’s dog, although he could have laid claim to the fitness levels of a fiddler. According to Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase& Fable, street fiddlers were thought to be fit because they moved around so much. It is not known whether Downing Street fiddlers move around that much, should such a fanciful figure ever slip past the eyes of the libel lawyers.

Johnson is much burdened by metaphors, as if he carried around a sack to hand them out like a crummy Santa.  Last week he said science had given the world two big boxing gloves to “pummel” coronavirus, but warned that a vaccine alone was not a “knockout punch”. Metaphors can be tempting, but really it’s a tiresome habit. Is that how he thinks ordinary people speak?

Should you not be keeping up, Johnson is self-isolating in Downing Street following a meeting last week with Tory MPs. Now six of those MPs, two political aides and Johnson are all in isolation.

From the short film clip the prime minister put out, he might be said to look as scruffy as the baker’s old mongrel, what with his hair being all over the place as usual. But Johnson boomingly reassured us he was “full of beans”, “hitting on all cylinders” and “bursting with antibodies”.

The prime minster said others should “follow the rules” if contacted by the system. Well, yes – but perhaps they should follow the lockdown rules before that happens.

All this mask-wearing and keeping your distance isn’t always easy, I know, but was it really necessary for those MPs to meet in Downing Street within, well, spitting distance of each other? Many of us live by Zoom, Google Meet or Teams these days, our work and even our social lives compressed into a low ceiling within a small screen. Was meeting Boris Johnson in person really that important?

The first of the visiting MPs to be mentioned was Lee Anderson, who later tested positive for Covid-19, causing Johnson to be shut up inside Number 10 in the latest twist in the Westminster soap.

Thanks to Martin Belham of the Guardian for pointing me to Mr Anderson’s website, where the MP hosts an eccentric “Best of British” quiz.

Here are some of the questions:

Do you think schools should fly the union flag?

Do our children know enough about our history and heritage?

Do you feel proud to be British?

Are you fed up with the media fuelled criticism of our country and the Woke Agenda?

And, lastly, are you now wondering why on earth you wasted a vote on me at the last election?

The words in one of those questions might not be 100% true as reading that list made my eyes go funny.

Mr Anderson is said to have lost his sense of taste after meeting Boris Johnson. Based on his jibe about the “woke agenda”, it’s possible he lost it before that.

Let’s hope he recovers well enough to lay claim to that butcher’s dog.

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