Author Archives: Barbara

In memory of my cousin Ernst

About a year ago, when I returned to my mother’s home village in Bavaria for the first time after 20 years I went to see my uncle, my mum’s 82 year old brother, and his family. It was an emotional occasion to see them again after so long, especially as I finally met my cousin’s wife and his 18 year old son.
Yesterday, when my father phoned me from the nursing home, as he does every day at about 7.30 pm, he said he had had a phone call from my  mother’s sister and that my cousin had died unexpectedly on Thursday evening. He died instantly due to an embolism and all attempts by his   son to rescuscitate him were in vain.
I am still in shock and find it difficult to come to terms with his tragic death and the fact that his wife and son could do nothing to help him. He had just come home a few days ago from hospital, He had had a back operation and was looking forward to going to a health spa for a while in order to recuperate. He was fine after the OP and felt so much better now that his back had been fixed. He was a carpenter and needed to recover fully before being allowed to return to work. He had gone for his daily walk, as ordered by the doctor, but on his return home collapsed, without any sign or hint of feeling unwell.
The embolism killed him instantly. He was 48.
I spent all my summer holidays with my relatives in Bavaria and I remember how we children roamed the forests and fields for weeks, how we camped ‘out’ in my cousins little wooden cottage. After I fniished HIgh School in 1982 I left to go to Australia and never had the opportunity to see many of my cousins again, so the memories I have will always be the ones of us as children on those long summer days. The last 30 years flew by and although we are all adults with children of our own and I have become used to life’s ups and downs, it is still hard to comprehend when such tragedy strikes and a life is extinguished so suddenly.

Bald ist unsers Lebens Traum zu Ende,
Schnell verfließt er in die Ewigkeit.
Reicht zum frohen Tanze euch die Hände!
Tut’s geschwinde;  sonst enteilt die Zeit!

Theodor Storm


Well known Mis-quotations

Popular misquotes – ‘the things they never said’.

Many phrases and sayings have entered the language as quotations by known authors. Some of these are accepted into the language with scant evidence linking the phrase and the person, and some are just plain misquotations. These false attributions, although generally quite easy to disprove as many of them as supposed to derive from films or works of fiction, join the popular fallacies as the most difficult to remove from the popular consciousness.

There are some untruths which people prefer to believe than to have refuted. It seems that, for a large enough percentage of the population to keep a phrase in circulation, the sense that a quote sounds appropriate for a particular author or fictional character is sufficient, regardless of whether they actually ever said it.

There are a startlingly large number of ‘quotations’ which, on investigation, turn out to be false. Some of these probably wouldn’t persist apart from their ‘misquote’ notoriety. Here are a few examples:


Attributed to:


Beam me up, Scotty.

Captain James T. Kirk, in the Star Trek series.

The closest that Captain Kirk ever got to this was “Beam us up, Mr Scott”, in the ‘Gamesters of Triskelion’ episode.

Come with me to the Casbah.

Charles Boyer, in the film Algiers, 1938.

The line doesn’t appear in the film, although it was present in some early trailers. Boyer did epitomize the suave, debonair French lover and became somewhat typecast in such roles. The ‘quotation’ came to the public consciousness via Chuck Jones’s cartoon skunk “Pépé le Pew” in a satire of Boyer’s performance. In later life, Boyer tired of the endless repetition of the phrase and attempted to disassociate himself from it.

Dreams are the royal road to the unconscious.

Sigmund Freud, in ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’, 1909.

The line doesn’t appear in this book, or any of Freud’s works. It derives from others’ summaries of Freud’s theories.

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?

The Wicked Queen in Disney’s animated film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, 1937.

The actual line is ” Magic Mirror on the Wall, who is the fairest one of all? “.

Elementary, Dear Watson

Sherlock Holmes

Holmes didn’t say ‘Elementary, Dear Watson’ in any published story. He came close in a couple of books, but never that exact phrase.


England and America are two countries divided by a common language.

George Bernard Shaw.

This supposed quotation doesn’t appear anywhere in the copious writing of GBS. A similar idea was expressed by Oscar Wilde in The Canterville Ghost, 1887, some years earlier than Shaw was supposed to have said it:

“We have everything in common America nowadays except, of course, language”.

It’s life, Jim, but not as we know it.

A saying associated with Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) in the Star Trek television series.

The saying does not occur in the series but derives from the 1987 song ‘Star Trekkin’ ‘ sung by The Firm. The nearest equivalent found in the series is (There is) ‘No life as we know it’ (here), said by Mr Spock in ‘The Devil in the Dark’, 1967.

If you gotta ask what jazz is you’ll never know.

Louis Armstrong.

The misquote is an invented variant of Armstrong’s response ‘If you still have to ask… shame on you’, quoted in Max Jones in Salute to Satchmo, 1970.

Me Tarzan, you Jane.

Tarzan (Johnny Weissmuller), in Tarzan, the Ape Man, 1932.

The actual dialogue (not a classic example of the screenwriter’s art) went like this:

Jane: (pointing to herself) Jane.
Tarzan: Jane.
Jane: And you? You?
Tarzan: Tarzan, Tarzan.
Jane: Tarzan.
Tarzan: Jane. Tarzan. Jane. Tarzan…

Play it again, Sam.

Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), in the 1942 film Casablanca.

One of the best known movie misquotes. The nearest to ‘Play it again, Sam’ in the film is ‘Play it, Sam’, which is spoken by Ingrid Bergman’s character, not Bogart’s.


The white heat of technology.

Harold Wilson, British Prime Minister 1964-70 & 1974-76.

What Wilson actually said, in a speech at the Labour Party Conference, October 1963, was:

‘The Britain that is going to be forged in the white heat of this revolution will be no place for restrictive practices or for outdated methods on either side of industry’.

Warts and all.

Oliver Cromwell

There’s no evidence to support the idea that Cromwell ever said ‘warts and all’.


Why don’t you come up and see me sometime?

Mae West, in the 1933 film She Done Him Wrong.

A bit nitpicky this one, but what West actually said was:

‘Why don’t you come up sometime, and see me?’

You dirty rat!

James Cagney

This line didn’t appear in any of Cagney’s many films. In a speech to the American Film Institute in 1974 he made a point of saying:

‘I never said “Mmm, you dirty rat!”‘



Jim Croce & Maury Muehleisen

Jim Croce (January 10, 1943 – September 20, 1973)


Which way are you goin’
Which side will you be on
Will you stand and watch while all the seeds of hate are sown
Will you stand with those who say that His will be done
One hand on the Bible, one hand on the gun
One hand on the Bible, one hand on the gun

Which way are you looking?
Is it hard to see
Do you say what’s wrong for him is not wrong for me
You walk the streets of righteousness
But you refuse to understand
You say you love the baby, but then you crucify the man
You say you love the baby, but then you crucify the man


Everyday things are changin’
Words once honored turn to lies
People wonderin’ can you blame them
It’s too far to run and too late to hide

Now you turn your back on all the things that you used to preach
Now it’s let him live in freedom if he lives like me
Well your line has changed, confusion rings
What have you become
Your olive branches turn to spears when your flowers turn to guns
Your olive branches turn to spears when your flowers turn to guns