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#1 27-08-08 11:58:40

Zipper
Verified Member
From: Darwin, Northern Territory Aus
Registered: 20-08-04
Posts: 2,695
Website

It's cold enough to ...

CANNON BALLS !!! DID YOU KNOW THIS ? I DIDN'T!

It was necessary to keep a good supply of cannon balls near the Cannon on old war ships. But how to prevent them from rolling about the deck was the problem. The best storage method devised was to stack them as a square based Pyramid, with one ball on top, resting on four, resting on nine, which rested on sixteen.

Thus, a supply of 30 cannon balls could be stacked in a small area right next to the cannon. There was only one problem -- how to prevent the bottom layer from sliding/rolling from under the others.

The solution was a metal plate with 16 round indentations, called, for reasons unknown, a Monkey. But if this plate were made of iron, the iron balls would quickly rust to it. The solution to the rusting problem was to make them of brass - hence, Brass Monkeys.

Few landlubbers realize that brass contracts much more and much faster than iron when chilled. Consequently, when the temperature dropped too far, the brass indentations would shrink so much that the iron cannon balls would come right off the monkey.

Thus,it was quite literally, cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey... And all this time, you thought that was just a vulgar expression, didn't you?

-------------------------

I didn't know this but it sounds feasible. I've often wondered where the expression came from, this is the only explanation I've heard so far . Especially considering that a large part of the UK/Australian/New Zealand idiom & slang derives from sailing.

I remember a Two Ronnies sketch about Moscow in the Russian winter - Ronnie Barker said that while wandering around Red Square, "if you hear a 'Kalinka', you'll know it's brass monkey weather".


Zipper ("G'Day Mate!")
I'm not 65! I'm only $59.95+tax
www.drivingnt.com

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27-08-08 11:58:40

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Re: It's cold enough to ...



#2 27-08-08 12:28:06

driver69
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Re: It's cold enough to ...

I had heard that before, did you know that the young lads who had to carry the gunpowder and cannon balls were called "powder monkeys".  I remember seeing a programe some years ago and that`s where I heard it.

Before that I was told the term refered to the 3 brass balls that hang outside a pawnbrokers.


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#3 27-08-08 16:56:23

DampDog
Verified Member
From: Staffordshire.
Registered: 04-02-06
Posts: 1,538

Re: It's cold enough to ...

"Son of a gun" is another one. Now more commonly used as an expression of disbelief.

This saying also originated from around the same time. Early warships had very cramped quarters, sailors slept between the cannons because that was the only space available. They sometimes had female company on board, some ships even carried prostitutes. Other times a sailor's wife would be allowed on board so that he would not have to leave the ship, and potentially desert.

In any case, many children were conceived between the cannons, or guns. Woman who gave birth on the ships typically also did so between the guns. Fathering a child on board was frowned upon an if the said sailor was identified could be flogged or worse. In an attempt to avoid this punishment, that farther would be named as "son of a gun". A bit strange I wonder what the daughters where called.



"Not enough room to swing a cat"

Nothing to do with animal cruelty! The "cat" is a cat-of-nine-tails, a type of whip used to discipline sailors. The whip being made from strips of leather attached to a handle.The "cat" used to administer lashings that would sting and leave welts on the recipient. The whippings would take place on the deck, because below deck there was not enough ceiling height to swing a cat-of-nine-tails.


ADI (car)
1st CT (5)

I used to be a compleat idiot, until some bits fell off...

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#4 27-08-08 19:46:53

FRANKS
Verified Member
From: WALES
Registered: 05-06-06
Posts: 530

Re: It's cold enough to ...

Well I never!!


Try always to be honest in everthing you do.
Be an 'HONEST BUSINESS PERSON'
Gain respect in ever thing you do

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#5 27-08-08 20:23:27

Mutley
Verified Member
From: Aylesbury,Bucks
Registered: 31-03-08
Posts: 33

Re: It's cold enough to ...

More Please!!!!!


DSA Grade 6 Adi,IAM Masters and Senior Observer,RoSPA Gold,Local Authority Fleet Trainer and Assessor, NDAC on Road Trainer.

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