On the never never

Language changes and evolves according to the trends and fashions of life. I imagine that the expression to buy something “on the never never” has probably reached the end of its useful life.
It means to buy something in small instalments. Before credit cards came along and the banks decided there was money to make from that business, it was customary, particularly in the first half of the 20th century for people to finance large purchases by using payment plans that stores, farmer’s societies and other cooperatives offered. Sometimes this was called hire purchase, meaning the buyer “rented” the product for use until they had paid all the instalments whereupon they became the owner. Other arrangements involved paying sums on a weekly basis until all or most of the product had been paid for and it was delivered to you.


We bought the fridge on the never never and won’t finish paying it off until next year.

In the past, people often had to wait to acquire something new and household management involved setting small sums aside each week for the different future purchases they were working towards.
Once credit cards became popular, the idea of laboriously saving up for appliances etc. became old fashioned and people like my parents’ generation who were brought up in the depression and would comment on the younger generation getting everything so fast seemed out of touch.


Not even thirty and they have a two story house, two cars, a timeshare and a huge wardrobe! Talk about having it all!



A couple of weeks ago people were wishing each other “Season’s Greetings” which is another way of saying “Happy Christmas and New Year” or “Happy Holidays”. It may be a bit old fashioned and reminiscent of greeting cards but the phrase is still hanging in.  The season referred to is, of course, the festive season of Christmas and the following days celebrating the birth of Jesus and the change of year.

Season is also the term for a quarter part of the year: spring, summer, autumn, winter. Here it is associated to the climate, the length of the day, etc. And from there we get the use of season to refer to periods when some activity is taking place.

The duck-shooting season commences in May and lasts for six weeks.

 The clay court tennis season lasts for much longer than it used to.

The opera season is awaited with much delight by its fans.

Raspberries have a very short season – a few weeks in midsummer at most.

 We even refer to season in the television world to refer to the number of series a particular programme has had.  Usually it will be one season per year.

Empire is now in its fourth season for the Fox Network.

 Another logical use is to refer to female animals who are ready to breed.

My mare is in season now, so she stays in a paddock away from the other horses, especially the stallion.

 But how do we get to season meaning add spice to food?

Now season the meat, in other words, add some salt and pepper to add flavor.

 Or the noun form,

Paprika is a colourful seasoning for this dish and there is no reason why saffron wouldn’t work well too!

 And then we have loads of other versions: off-season, high season, both common in the travel business.

Finally, we have ‘the silly season’, which is that moment of the year when people seem to be doing crazy things, publicity stunts, making up exaggerated news.

And now for another antic from the silly season: local man Keith Willis has chained himself to a pole in the supermarket carpark with a dozen chains and 40 padlocks and says he will marry the first girl who can manage to unlock them all.