Posted by Gary Martin on July 28, 2006
In Reply to: Setting Thames on fire posted by Bob on July 28, 2006
: : Setting Thames on fire = The Thames was a carding machine used to dress cotton and it was activated by turning a handle. Someone who was lethatgic was said not to be likely to set the machine on fire because of friction. Likely explanation ?
: Since there is a simlar Roman expression, using the Tiber River, and a German one using the Rhine, the relation to the carding machine seems unlikely to be the source. See previous discussion at http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/6/messages/616.html
That phrase was in the newspapers over here (UK) in 2000. There was a lot of hype about a millennium fireworks event in London called the 'River of Fire'. It turned out to be something of a damp squib and the newshounds jumped on 'Didn't set the Thames on fire' as the next day's headline.