"When I was a kid and we had a slow start to our day my mother would say 'we're off like a herd of turtles'. It still makes me smile."
"My nana says 'that really turns me on' about ANYTHING. Good ice cream, a movie, music, doesn't matter."
"... 50/50 chance my mum is going to say 'and we're off like a dirty shirt' when leaving an establishment."
"My mother used to say 'he's got his wobbly boots on' whenever she saw someone drunk."
A reader writes: "Trying on trousers in a dress shop recently, I was horrified to see yesterday's knickers emerge from the leg of my jeans. I picked them up and thrust them into my handbag. Moral of the story: Do not try to get away with wearing yesterday's jeans again today. Or: Do not undress by removing both jeans and knickers in one movement!"
Steve Horne of Raglan writes: "While doing educational aid work in the northern Indian city of Dehradun I came across a huge, black, hairy spider on my hand towel. I muffled a scream and walked over to the toilet and flicked it in. I flushed. The beast hung on under the rim and continued to climb out. In desperation, I attempted to fill a bucket in the nearby bath. One spider leg appeared over the top. Throwing the water at the toilet I watched the spider shrivel up. Feeling very brave and in a loud voice I exclaimed: 'It was either you or me, beastie!' I found out later that this species of spider was harmless."
Old school teachers
Brian Daniels of Whangamatā writes: "Ten years old in Scotland, back in the 50s, for talking in class, as a punishment, I was made to stand tippy-toed facing the blackboard, hands above my head stretching as high as I could. The teacher then drew a chalk line by my fingertips then gave one of the other boys a cane, instructing him to whack my bum every time my fingers dropped below the chalk line. If he refused, he would have to take my place, and I would have to whack him. Lasted about 10 minutes. Ouch."
A reader writes: "At an upmarket English school in the 1950s I was up before the headmaster for being constantly in trouble both in and out of the school. He wanted to get rid of me. 'Smith,' he said (not my name), 'you are BAD, your work is BAD, your attendance is BAD and your conduct is BAD. I'm going to get you a job. Now, when are you 15?' 'I'm not 14 yet sir,' I replied. He was shocked and sat down and buried his face in his hands. 'Oh, crumbs' was all he could mutter. I, too, was sorry I wasn't old enough to leave school."
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"At high school, chemistry monitors had access to a whole range of lab chemicals after hours," writes a reader. "We made nitrogen triiodide, an unstable contact explosive once dried out, among other things. Many of the chemicals in the lab would not be there today – white phosphorous, sodium, bromine and many more."