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Meant to find the canary

Posted by Pamela on January 01, 2007

In Reply to: Meant to find the canary posted by Brian from Shawnee on January 01, 2007

: : While watching Hex, a TV mini series on BBCAmerica, 2 characters make statements to the effect that (central character Cassie) "was meant to find the canary" I've never heard this phrase before, and am wondering if it's used in the UK. "Canary in a coal mine" is the closest I can think of - and from the context this is clearly not what's meant in the script.

: : For those who've not seen the show, (and I am vastly oversimplifying) what she finds is a vase that gives her visions of events occurring well over 100 years prior to her find. Some of these events essentially begin to recur, with her taking the place of the woman she saw in the visions. The vase could be called canary blue, though I doubt that explains it.

: : BTW - I am addicted to this site - keep up the great work!!

: A canary can mean an informer or stool pigeon.

I've looked on google for "find the canary" and there are pages that include finding the canary (the bird), the Canary Islands, Canary Grass, Canary Goats, a Canary Tribunal, a Canary diamond and so on. There is also a person with a mission statement:
"To find the CANARY in the COAL MINE.", which makes no sense since the canaries never really had much chance to get lost seeing how they were carried underground in cages (at least from what I've been told). There is also a song from 1672 "The Citizen Turned Gentleman" which has the repeated line "find the canary" but I do believe it is talking about alcohol

Let him that's melancholy,
Each morning when he gets up
Take of Sack a good cup:
Sing a catch, and again sup:
Sip and sing, sing and sip again and again,
Till he find the Canary doth work in his brain.


Then to dinner go, and after
Let him sit and hatch a laughter:
Sing t'other catch, take t'other cup,
Till each hath drunk his bottle up.
Thus laugh, thus quaff, thus quaff, thus laugh again & again,
Till he find the Canary doth work in his brain.


At supper let him eat
But light and little meat;
Yet trowl the cup roundly away;
But avoid foggy Ale,
And Beer new or stale:
For Wine is the liquor,
Makes the wits to grow quicker,
And each o'er his glass to tell a merry tale.


This melancholy evil
Is a sort of a Devil,
Which wine and not holy water will drive away:
Nothing is so sure,
And perfect a cure,
As wine, as mirth, and good companie:
And if ought doth lack
'Tis a pipe of Tobac---coco---coco---coco---
Which taken may be
When to bed he doth go, gogo, gogo, gogo,

The Dance ended, Cureal and Trickmore rise from their seats.

Thats all on the 7 pages. So I guess what I'm saying is that if "find the canary" is a well-known phrase, then no one is using it. Pamela