Carry on, Carry On

Posted by Smokey Stover on October 21, 2005

In Reply to: Carry on, Carry On posted by Lewis on October 21, 2005

: : : : : : : : : : : Hi! Can you help me figure out what "cool one's heels" means? I think I know, but I don't know where it comes from. Thank you - Will from Mrs. Morrissey's class.

: : : : : : : : : : It means to wait for a long time like today when I had to wait for my 2pm doctors appointment till 3.30.

: : : : : : : : : : I always saw it as someone walking very fast to get to an appointment where friction would heat the bottom of the shoe and then while waiting for the appointment the bottom of the shoe cools off.

: : : : : : : : : To cool one's heels -- To be kept waiting a long time, as for an appointment. The metaphor may allude to a horse who, tired after a long journey, stands in the stream from which it drinks. (From Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable revised by Adrian Room (HarperCollinsPublishers, New York, 1999, Sixteenth Edition.)

: : : : : : : : Since when did horses have 'heels'? with all due respect to Brewers, surely a bit of thought would have excluded horses from the analogy.

: : : : : : : : if somebody goes 'hot foot' somewhere then they might well 'cool their heels' waiting on arrival. the contrast of cooling heels is against being hot footed - going nowhere.

: : : : : : : : L

: : : : : : : Am I missing something? From the sentence structure I deduce, incorrectly I hope, that Lewis believes that being hot footed means "going nowhere." In the U.S. there is a verb, hotfoot, as in, "Shirley's giving away free samples, let's hotfoot it over there!" There's also a noun: "He was sittin there asleep, so I gave him a hotfoot." SS

: : : : : : Sorry, Smokey, horses do indeed have heels, and if you don't apply proper footcare to a clipped and stabled horse (e.g. not drying its hoofs properly after soaking in a pond) it may develop "cracked heels". Unclipped horses that are kept in a field are less prone to this condition. (VSD)

: : : : : I agree, V, that horses absolutely should have proper hoofcare, heels and all. Do we say hoofs, not hooves? Clipped I'm not familiar with. And I'm surprised no one has asked about the hotfoot, which I thought was an American invention. I may as well comment that the phrase about cool heels that I have most heard goes something like: "Well, I've kept him cooling his heels long enough." Or: "He kept his unwanted visitor cooling his heels in the waiting room while he slipped out the back door for a quick drink." When I have seen the phrase there has usually been a deliberate element. SS
: : : : Yes, sorry, it is hooves, not hoofs; long day at the office! A clipped horse is one whose coat has been trimmed all neat and glossy - however, it is thereby made much more vulnerable to cold and wet. (VSD)

: : : I now know that horses have heels, which surprises me somewhat. as for my use of 'hot-footed', it was poor sentence construction and Lynn Truss is now after me ; I meant that 'going nowhere' (cooling heels) was in contract to going hot-foot somewhere.

: : : it reminds me that there is the classic visual joke in "Carry On Cleo" where the messenger "comes hot-foot from Rome" and is shown with steam emanating from his sandals.

: : : L

: : Are they still making new entries in the Carry on... series? Carry on CLeo sounds like just the sort of thing for a bit of relaxation. SS

: The series 'died' in the 1970s - comedy got ruder, good comic actors were thinner on the ground and the scriptwriters had peaked. Carry On England had Patrick Mower in the lead role andwas so hacked about in editing to avoid losing its certificate that allowed middle-teen kids to see it at the cinema, that it made little sense. The re-released 'director's cut' shows that it was originally OK. the 'offensive' nudity was a bunch of women soldiers wearing only their khaki trousers - re-shot/edited missing such jokes down-graded it to 'poor' from 'average'.

: the last 'proper' Carry On was Carry On Emmanuel le which didn't work because it was a skit on a sex-comedy that was not in itself serious - the writers didn't appreciate that you cannot easily parody light sex-comedy and it came across as simply another poor sex-comedy. Kenneth Williams was appalled at the script, but did it anyway - I think because his friend Joan Sims had agreed and he didn't want to let her down. (the money was very poor even for the big names)

: a decade or two after that came "Carry On Columbus" which starred the most prominent 'alternative' British comedians from the 1980s. IMO bad editing left some of the best performances (Maureen Lipmann comes to mind) on the cutting room floor and a so-so film.

: when those are compared to Cleo, Doctor, Abroad, Don't Lose Your Head, Loving, Khyber etc - they just don't make the grade.

: the series bridged the gap between the Ealing comedies of the 1940s/50s and the slapstick farce of the 1970s - the series could have continued and Columbus could have been very good, but it wasn't - they made the mistake of using a premise calculated to appeal to the American market and which took the film away from its British roots.

: the series was supposed to be resurrected through "Carry On London" a couple of years back, but I think it was eventually shelved.

: the series was quite gentle in a way and reflected a strand of the 'British' way of life which is barely recognisable - stable (if not always happy) relationships, safety, prurience, jobs for life, the health service and public services not in crisis (or under public/private initiatives).

: Under today's mores, the series wasn't very PC - it had its share of "knob-gags" and busty wenches, but for all the apparent sexism, women usually were strong and came out on top. ironically, even though it may have appeared a little racist in places, the only actor to 'black up' for a role (Bernard Bresslaw)actually learned Swaheli to be authentic - only to find that the other 'natives' were either British or West Indian. Still, saying that, the 'foreigners' fared no worse than the white-British characters, so it more reflected stereotypes than discriminated (e.g. Kenny Lynch, well-known all-round black entertainer of the 70s - working as a bus conductor)

: As you can gather, I think it was great comedy with superb comic timing demonstrated by talented comic-actors. if it looks a bit dated, so be it - it was a product of its time and brought together a great array of contemporary talent. for as script-writer of farce, there is a great deal to be learned from the Carry Ons.

: L

Thanks, Lewis, for an immensely informative run-down. I had certainly been curious and more than a bit regretful at the absence of Carry on, but now I see why I don't see it. You sound rueful not only for a formerly enjoyable series, but for a British way of life either gone or headed for the dumpster. I can only say, me too. SS