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  1. Chicken Sandwich's Avatar
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    #1

    My mother a little bit of a trial.

    Sybil Fawlty: Old people are wonderful when they have so much life, aren't they? Gives us all hope, doesn't it? My mother on the other hand is a little bit of a trial, really. You know, it's alright when they have the lifeforce but Mother - well she's got more of the deathforce really. She's a worrier. She has these, well, morbid fears they are, really. Vans is one. Rats. Doorknobs. Birds. Heights. Open spaces. Confined spaces. It's very difficult getting the space right for her really, you know. Footballs. Bicycles. Cows. And she's always on about men following her, I don't know what she thinks they're going to do to her. Vomit on her, Basil says.

    Sybil Fawlty (Character) - Quotes
    A quote from Fawlty Towers. I have looked at all of the definitions of "trial" ( trial - Definition from Longman English Dictionary Online ), but I can't really figure out which one fits best. "Trial" seems to describe what kind of person she is. She says that old people are wonderful when they have so much life, but then she contrasts it by "on the other hand". Is she trying to say that her mother isn't wonderful (or that she doesn't have much "life")?

    Thank you in advance.
    Last edited by Chicken Sandwich; 31-Jul-2012 at 14:22.

  2. charliedeut's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: My mother a little bit of a trial.

    Hi,

    I think, from the Longman link you provided, this is what fits in here:

    Quote Originally Posted by Chicken Sandwich View Post
    5difficulty

    [countable usually plural]something that is difficult to deal with, and that is worrying or annoying [↪ trying]: the daily trials of living in a poor country
    be a trial (to/for somebody)My brothers and I were always a real trial to my parents
    charliedeut
    Please be aware that I'm neither a native English speaker nor a teacher.

  3. Chicken Sandwich's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: My mother a little bit of a trial.

    Thanks. I missed that, because I only read "something that is difficult to deal with, and that is worrying or annoying". Since a person isn't a thing, I thought that that definition didn't fit. But one of the example sentences demonstrates this usage for people. I should have read further.

  4. BobK's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: My mother a little bit of a trial.

    I think this useage may be related (in some way, I've no idea how) to the traditional Christian expression 'these things are sent to try us' - an exhortation to acceptance of difficulties. I say 'traditional', though it may be a tradition that's dying out. My Auntie Katy would have said it; she also habitually said 'offer it up'

    b

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    #5

    Re: My mother a little bit of a trial.

    Is she trying to say that her mother isn't wonderful (or that she doesn't have much "life")?
    Yes to both.

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