The idiom "Never say never" made its debut in Charles Dickens' Pickwick Papers in 1937.
More recently, Justin Bieber nabbed it for the name of a song and film; the Grammy-nominated song was also the theme to the movie Karate Kid.
Dickens' angle was to notsay you'd never do anything because that might limit your achievements. Beiber's song follows the same principle: ''I will never say never! (I will fight), I will fight till forever! (Make it right), Whenever you knock me down, I will not stay on the ground.''
All I can say about that meaning is: Who knew? Not me.
My interpretation is this: Never say never because pretty soon the damn thing you don't want – or don't think you want - will show up in your life with bells on.
An example: After a dreary stay in Los Angeles, I swore I'd never visit the city again. Five short years later and somehow I spent quite a bit of time there – and loved almost every moment.
The key to enjoying LA is not to stay in beige accommodation at beige Anaheim unless your visit's brief and its objective is to visit Disneyland. Best opt for Santa Monica (or nearby) with its wide beach, glorious boardwalk and fascinating people.
Since then I've taken care not to use the expression ''never say never'', however it slipped out after the demise of Dot, the third stray cat who found a home with us.
It had soon become clear Dot had Siamese ancestors – she was skinny, she meowed, she followed, she climbed – including a ladder onto the roof from which she could not get down without the farmer's help. In her dotage she whined, shed hair, needed special food. Even a device that sprayed mother-cat hormones into our living room didn't really settle her.
"I'll never get a Siamese cat again," I muttered to the farmer.
Fast forward, probably another five short years, although the dates are fuzzy, and a dear little pitch black kitten befriended me at the Waipu Vet Centre. It was love at first sight.
Pretty soon it became obvious Pele wasn't a moggie as I'd first thought, but is mostly Siamese. He's skinny, he follows, he meows, he climbs but at least has the skills to descend ladders. He thinks the horse is his friend and he is smart – when my walks are too long for him he hides on the roadside and waits for my return.
He loves people and visits almost everyone who stays in our cabin. They're thrilled, even those who woke to his meowing at 4am. The curtain was open and he was on a chair on their deck, staring in with glittering eyes.
He provides endless entertainment and seems to have an embedded magnet which attracts humans who fall in love with him. No one has immunity.
Already, though, food issues are emerging. Despite being treated for fleas and worms, he's losing hair in places. He didn't recognise as food the new biscuits from the vet which, apparently, all other cats love.
Amazingly, he's sort of taken to a variety formulated for "fussy cats". It even says so on the packet.
As we stared balefully at him one day, the farmer said, "Maybe he's not a cat?"
"What is he then?" I replied.
"Siamese," he declared in a tone which suggested the species isn't feline at all but a separate category of animal altogether. I couldn't think of one reason to refute his theory.