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NAUTICAL SAYINGS (What a Stitch Up!)

Wednesday November 26th, 2008
ImageWe all love to put a complicated job to bed. There is something distinctly satisfying about getting something well and truly finished or Ďall sewn upí as we like to say. But to be honest Iím not sure any of us would actually like to have to finish the job that that seemingly straightforward phrase 'All Sewn Up' is derived from. You guessed itÖ we are not talking tailors!

ĎAll sewn up.í harks back to the days when it was distinctly unhealthy to keep the dead bodies aboard a ship, especially in warmer climates. Burial at sea was the norm more for health and safety reasons than anything our latter day rituals would suggest. It was far more gruesome.

The bodies of sailors unfortunate enough to die from disease or get killed on the high seas were invariably sewn into a length of sail canvas. The canvas was stitched from toe to head with the final stitch piercing the deceasedís nose. They were then unceremoniously dispatched to the briny with cannonballs attached to the makeshift shroud to make sure they sank thus replicating a decent burial.

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