A Plethora of Proverbs

A senior story

old couple on swing

For some reason, I shoehorned in as many proverbs and sayings as I could. I’ve no idea why I decided this was a good idea. Put it down to my age…

Proverbial Wisdom

I remember when Beth started work in our department. She had the face of an angel and the body of a catwalk model. I confided in my grandparents that I thought I had no chance. I’ve been close to my grandparents since I was small. They’re funny.

Gran looked me up and down, peered over her spectacles, and pointed out that I could smarten myself up a bit. She had thought my last girlfriend a bit of a scruff and I suppose my standards had slipped.

According to Gran, first impressions count.

But Gramps said, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.”

’S funny he should mention books, ’cos Beth and I had been comparing the books we read in the lunch break. I like sci-fi; Beth’s into detective novels. We have different tastes in music too.

But Gran said it was well known that opposites attract.

Gramps reckoned it was birds of a feather that flocked together. “Just look at me and your gran, here.”

I wasn’t sure that proved his point, but Gran winked at me, so I kept quiet.

When Rob in Personnel asked Beth out, she turned him down. She made a joke about him being a fast worker, so I decided it was too early for me to ask her.

Gramps said, “The early bird catches the worm.”

But Gran told me, “Good things come to those who wait.”

So I waited…

In the end, Beth asked me out!

I knew she was The One after a couple of months. I wanted her to move into my flat but was afraid to suggest it. Gran agreed. She thought if Beth said no, I wouldn’t dare ask again. Gran knows me well.

She said we should get to know each other better. “Look before you leap.”

But Gramps warned me, “He who hesitates is lost.”

After a couple more months, I made up my own mind and proposed instead. Beth’s mum and sister were soon embroiled in wedding preparations.

Mum and Gran wanted to help, arguing that many hands made light work.

“And too many cooks spoil the brew,” came a growl from behind Gramps’ newspaper.

In spite of Mum-in-Law having hysterics when Beth wanted to invite her dad, it all turned out well on the day and nobody was hospitalised.

At the reception, Beth’s uncle offered me a job. He was starting up a new company and couldn’t afford to pay much at first, but I’d be given shares in the business. I had reservations. I already had a good job with prospects, and a new wife and mortgage to support.

Gramps was keen, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

Gran said we were better safe than sorry. Beth went on for ages about the great opportunity I’d turned down. Even after her uncle went bust a year later.

That was the beginning of our troubles. Gramps thought I was imagining things when I worried that Beth didn’t look at me the way she used to.

He said, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

But Gran tutted and shook her head. “A stitch in time saves nine,” she said and suggested I take Beth out and buy her flowers.

When Beth belittled all my attempts at bridge-building. I tried to stay positive.

Gran had often told me, “Laugh and the world laughs with you; weep and you weep alone.”

But, according to Gramps, “Misery loves company.” So, although I knew it would worry them, I told them I was afraid Beth was having an affair.

Gramps reckoned knowledge was power. He said I should follow Beth when she said she was going out with her friends.

Gran looked over her specs at him as he went to put the kettle on. She put down her knitting and tapped her nose. “Sometimes, ignorance is bliss.”

Her knitting needles resumed their clacking. Not for the first time, I wondered about Gran. I mentioned that work had offered a two-month secondment up North, helping set up a new branch.

Gran said, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder,” and thought I should take it.

But Gramps warned “Out of sight out of mind,” as he came back with our mugs of tea.

The secondment would mean a bonus though. We were always short of money; the mortgage gobbled up most of our salaries. Gran thought less money worries might give our marriage the boost it needed.

“Money makes the word go around.” She nodded at me.

“Root of all evil. We managed without, didn’t we?” Grandad grunted. “The more money you earn, lad, the more she’ll find things to spend it on.”

Gran gave him a Look. They’re funny, my grandparents.

My old girlfriend got in touch – the scruffy one. We met up in the pub – just to catch up, you understand. I still loved Beth, but a boost to my disappearing self-esteem wouldn’t go amiss. Still, I thought I ought to tell Beth I’d be meeting her.

Gramps said, “What the eye don’t see, the heart don’t grieve over.”

Gran stuck to her guns of honesty being the best policy.

I made the mistake of listening to Gramps on this one. Beth found out anyway and flounced off back to her mum. How could I apologise for not telling her and assure her that nothing untoward had happened? Should I phone? She’d probably hang up on me.

I could turn up on her mum’s doorstep with flowers, except she might slam the door in my face. No, she’d more likely shout at me – her mum certainly would – and three of us would end up going at each other.

Or I could write a letter.

Gran thought that was the best plan. She said the pen was mightier than the sword.

Gramps reckoned actions speak louder than words and I should turn up with the flowers.

But a letter did the trick. We got back together and swore that we’d stay together forever, just like Gramps and Gran. We agreed that although the grass might look greener on the other side of the fence, home is where the heart is.

I found Gramps in his shed and thanked him for his advice. He told me that’s what grandparents were for, to offer younger generations the benefit of their experience. He’d advised Mum and Dad through all the years I was growing up. And through their divorce. Gran still benefitted from his advice, even after all their years together.

“You’re never too old to learn, lad. Never too old.”

Gran was in the living room when I thanked her for her help. Given their differing views on life, the universe, and all that, I wondered how her and Gramps had managed to stay together all these years. She said she’d learned to take no notice of him and quietly get on with doing things the way she intended in the first place. She wasn’t going to change the opinions of a man who didn’t listen, so why try?

“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

I love my grandparents. They’re always good for a laugh, but their advice is rubbish.


cartoon old man


Do you find yourself trotting out things your gran used to say?

(And you used to sigh…)

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10 thoughts on “A Plethora of Proverbs

    1. I loved this one to Cathy. People love to give you the benefit of their experiences but my Mum always used to say listen to advice, see if it fits your situation and feel free to take it or leave it. Your own thoughts and gut feelings are usually the right ones. She was a wise old thing my Mum.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I don’t think my mum had much chance to get a word in edgeways while Nan was alive. Nan lived with us while we were growing up ( Mum’s dad had died not long after the first war from from injuries received). We all received the benefit of her wisdom – Dad included.


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