- For Teachers
Q1: La-La Land = an imaginary land? La-La =shangri-la？
Q2: Why did the columnist of Daily Mail say 'the penny drop'?
Thanks in advance!
A couple of years ago, I was introduced to the then Environment Secretary David Miliband at a reception. He pumped my hand and invited me to visit his office for a drink.
Why would I want to do that? Miliband explained that he would appreciate the opportunity to convince me I had got it all wrong over AWCs.
I had no idea what he was talking about. Wasn't an AWC some kind of early warning missile defence shield? And if so, what had it got to do with the Department of the Environment?
I was well wide of the mark. In Labour's La-La Land, AWC stands for Alternate Weekly Collections. The penny dropped.
'Oh, I get it. You mean not emptying the dustbins?' Far from it, said Miliband. We are emptying the dustbins, just once a fortnight instead of once a week.
Last edited by thedaffodils; 04-Aug-2008 at 10:28.
The penny dropped!Thank you!
There's another possible meaning of "La-la-Land". When someone doesn't want to hear something he will say something like 'Don't tell me, I'm not listening', cover his ears, and say "La-la-la..." to blot out the noise. When I first saw 'La-la-Land' I too thought it meant fantasy land, but the more usual term for this is 'Never Land'* (borrowed from Peter Pan).
But I think bother interpretations are possible, and in political rhetoric they change from speaker to speaker (or, with some speakers, from speech to speech).
*PS This expression is further confused by the term 'never-never', used to refer to hire-purchase - 'buying something on the never-never' (a down-payment of €50 and 3 years at €5 per month, for example).
PS on the subject of this idiom:
The image is based on the idea of old slot machines, where you had to put a penny in the slot and then turn a handle until the penny dropped. (Of course, it was an old penny - of which there were 240 in a pound - unless [I don't know] the expression came from the USA [where vending machines were more common]. In that case, the 'penny' would have been a cent; did anything that inexpensive ever get sold in a machine in the USA, I wonder.)Idiom: The penny dropped
* When the penny drops, someone belatedly understands something that everyone else has long since understood.
Gumballs can still be purchased for a penny each in vending machines.
In the US, however, we don't say "the penny dropped." I'm trying to think of an equivalent AmE idiom, and I'm not coming up with anything. We'll say "the other shoe dropped," but that phrase means that the inevitable eventually happened, so it's not exactly like the penny dropping.
("Waiting for the other shoe to drop" or variants thereof refers to an old joke; a person living in an apartment is trying to sleep when his upstairs neighbor comes home late and very noisily. The sleepy person hears the upstairs person's bed creak as he sits down. Then he hears a "thud" as the man removes one shoe and tosses it onto the floor. Sleepy man now waits for the "thud" of other shoe so that he knows the noisy man has gone to bed, and all will be quiet and he can go back to sleep.)