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TOPIC: The woodpile thing.
The woodpile thing. 11 Months, 2 Weeks ago  
I dont know why you wouldn't just say "fly in the ointment", but I was always taught that the phrase is from the black (the origin of the word) bits in wood that you cant cut through.

Yet looking through the internet it seems that only burning escaped slaves is used as an explanation for it, even though this makes no sense.

Does anyone else know about the first origin?
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Re:The woodpile thing. 11 Months, 2 Weeks ago  
honey!oh sugar sugar. wrote:
I dont know why you wouldn't just say "fly in the ointment"
Exactly, especially if you're saying it in public and don't want to be insulting. Anyone taking the "political correctness gone mad" line is, in my view, just having a laugh at their ability to be hurtful to people they don't like anyway. In fact, one person whose "PC gone mad"-type comment about this I noticed online the other day has shown signs of racism before so no surprise there.

The OED page where the phrase appears says that it "is said to derive from an incident in the U.S. in the time before the American Civil War when a group of escaped slaves who had been conveyed along the Underground Railroad to Pultneyville, New York State, with a view to crossing Lake Ontario into Canada were enabled to make the final stage from a warehouse in which they were hidden to a boat by means of woodpiles set up across the wharf through which a concealed passage had been constructed. (see further N.Y. Folklore Q. (1958) 14 16–25)"
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Re:The woodpile thing. 11 Months, 2 Weeks ago  
Funnily enough this over sensitivity issue is reflected in the main topic for this forum; miscarriages of justice. The morality of years ago is, in many areas, now considered "beyond the pale". But when you start locking people away for incidents that, a few decades ago, were considered irritating, naughty but acceptable is shocking. DLT suffered worst for this. As did Neil Fox. And Chris Evans. And Rolf. And the worst victim of this Time Machine Morality - Jimmy Savile. A pincher, slapper and groper but now regarded as a rapist which he surely wasn't. Ever.
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Re:The woodpile thing. 11 Months, 2 Weeks ago  
My understanding of the phrase is just a simple matter of camouflage. The eponymous nigger is dark brown, hiding (I know not why, doesn't matter for the purpose of communicating the idea) in amongst brown wood in a dark, shady place. Hence, he represents a surprise that one can't spot until one is close up or in the situation itself. He's a factor that can't be discerned from outside the context.

The fly in the ointment, meanwhile, is a small but important blemish, marring an otherwise flawless expanse of ointment.

I think it's a shame to lose useful short-handed for meaning because of unfashionable vocabulary. What's next? The pot can't call the kettle black?
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