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12 May 2013

Happy Mum's Day!

It's Mother's Day in America.  This is the first one I haven't had to work in a long time.  I am still on disability after surgery.  I must admit that it's nice to have the day off!  I'll even have my birthday (next Sunday) off too!  I sent my Mum something when it was Mother's Day in England and I sent something for today.

I always listen to Radio Suffolk James Hazell on Sundays.  It's a fun show and better than anything on the telly this early in the morning.  They always have a Saying of the Week.  This Sunday it is 'as happy as Larry'.  What exactly does that mean?  This is what I got from


Very happy.

Larry - certainly the best known character in the world of similes. The expression he instigated is most likely to be of Australian or New Zealand origin. The earliest printed reference currently known is from the New Zealand writer G. L. Meredith, dating from around 1875:

    "We would be as happy as Larry if it were not for the rats".

Almost all the other early citations are from Australia or New Zealand; for example, this from Tom Collins (the pen name of the popular Australian writer Joseph Furphy), in Barrier Truth, 1903:

    "Now that the adventure was drawing to an end, I found a peace of mind that all the old fogies on the river couldn't disturb. I was as happy as Larry."

larry foleyBut who was Larry? There are two commonly espoused contenders. One is the Australian boxer Larry Foley (1847 - 1917). Foley was a successful pugilist who never lost a fight. He retired at 32 and collected a purse of £1,000 for his final fight. So, we can expect that he was known to be happy with his lot in the 1870s - just when the phrase is first cited.

The alternative explanation is that it relates to the Cornish and later Australian/New Zealand slang term 'larrikin', meaning a rough type or hooligan, i.e. one predisposed to larking about. 'Larrikin' would have been a term that Meredith would have known - the earliest printed reference is also from New Zealand and around the time of the first citation, in H. W. Harper's Letters from New Zealand, 1868:

    "We are beset with larrikins, who lurk about in the darkness and deliver every sort of attack on the walls and roof with stones and sticks."
Quite interesting.  I like looking up these phrases.  Not sure if this is one used in US.  Must admit I haven't heard anyone use it lol

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