Posted by Lewis on April 06, 2006
In Reply to: A coconut? posted by Victoria S Dennis on April 05, 2006
: : : : : : : : Does anyone know the correct usage and origin of the phrase " Every time a coconut!"?
: : : : : : :
: : : : : : : It comes from the fairground game in which balls are thrown at coconuts balanced on poles. If you manage to knock over a coconut you win it. Hence, in your phrase, 'every one is a winner': you win every time.
: : : : : : : DFG
: : : : : : This is, I presume, strictly UK usage? I'd never heard it stateside, so I went googling. Many of the quotes dug up by google could be translated "every time," as if the "a coconut" were superfluous. I didn't get a strong sense that "winning" was as much an issue as inevitability. Did I mis-read the results?
: : : : : It's a British game called a coconut shy that's popular at funfairs, church fetes, etc. It's not that you win every time, it's that everytime you win, you win a coconut. While winning one coconut would be okay, there's not much point to winning a lot of coconuts.
: : : : - as in the old British song in which the fairground stall owner sings "I've got a luvverly bunch of coconuts / Roll a bowl a ball a penny a pitch" (VSD)
: : : The first thing that came into my mind at the word coconut was a picture of Basil Rathbone, as Sherlock Holmes, singing this song (as above) in a London music hall. Unforgettable. SS
: : I assume the coconut game is the source of another phrase: "Give that man a coconut!" I always thought this came from a game where a person threw a coconut at something to win a prize. Having read this discussion, I'm now confused. DFG, are you saying that a person threw something at a coconut and won a coconut? Seriously, a coconut? I'm picturing some hard-bitten working man down to his last penny at a seedy fair muttering "here goes nothing" and then wildly rejoycing at his precious coconut prize. My grandmother tells me when she was a child someone got a banana and the whole street gathered round to gawp, but I didn't actually believe her. Pamela p.s. I can get truckloads of coconuts if there's big money to be had.
: In my British childhood (early 60s), a coconut really was an exotic treat. (VSD)
the standard fairground situation was that the coconuts were placed in eggcup-like receptacles on sticks and the balls were thrown at them. the balls were usually wooden and if you knocked a coconut off its stand you got to keep the coconut. coconut was indeed a rarity in the 1960s and it took some ingenuity for people to get the flesh - my dad used to drill a couple of holes to drain it of the 'milk' and then took a hacksaw to halve the shell (or if impatient, an hammer).