Bob’s Your Uncle

You all know that I am a little obsessed with Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie.  Just recently I finally splurged and purchased the David Suchet as Poirot version of Death on the Nile. I’ve watched it repeatedly since it arrived and despite having seen it previously, I was surprised to find the Simon Doyle character saying “Bob’s your uncle” in the market scene.  From context it clearly meant “there you have it” or “easy peasy”.  I was fascinated so headed to the internet to figure out exactly what it meant and where it got started.

The more prevalent explanation is that it came about when Robert Cecil, the Conservative British prime minister appointed his unqualified nephew Arthur Balfour as Chief Secretary to Ireland back in 1887.  Since Arthur was clearly not fit for the job “Bob’s your uncle” became the explanation about his selection.  Of course, this account is controversial as the phrase can’t be found in any print reference until almost 40 years later. But this is the etymology that I like.

So imagine my surprise when just two weeks later, in a restaurant in Chattanooga (during my trip to Nashville), I stumbled upon Bob’s Your Uncle Hard Cider on the menu.  I almost never do alcohol at lunch but I had to make an exception this time.  I even managed to remember the source of the name.

And as if “Bob’s your uncle” hasn’t fallen into my path enough, last week one of the YouTube channels that I follow did a list of popular idioms and it was titled “Bob’s Your Uncle”.  Apparently the phrase is fairly common in Britain, but crossing my path three times in a month seems remarkable. I keep telling myself it’s just a coincidence but….

What could the universe be trying to tell me?

37 thoughts on “Bob’s Your Uncle”

  1. My father’s only brother was Named Bob. He had no children of his own. Sadly no nepotism ensued.

    I would say that a Baader-Meinhof occurrence is the universe trying to get your attention, but obviously if it didn’t already have your attention you wouldn’t have noticed the convergence of “Bobs”.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. My own Baader-Meinhof lately has been with a set of traditional Japanese graphic patterns. As I related earlier, Robin has been obsessed lately with Japanese vintage textiles and garments. The design of those textiles often employs one or more of the traditional patterns, each of which has a name and a symbolic meaning. Now that I have learned some of the names, I keep seeing the patterns used in various places and on disparate objects which don’t have any obvious connection to Japan. The other day I was in Target and noticed the pattern in the floor of the grocery section. I pointed it out to Robin and commented, “Shippo”. It’s Buddhist in origin and symbolizes “Happy Ending”.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Rise and Shine Baboons,
    My thought is the same as Barb—you must have an Uncle Bob out there somewhere. Those synchronicities are always interesting though—when something jumps out at you again and again.

    I had a Great Uncle Bob, my maternal grandfather’s brother. He was a disgusting human being—overtly racist, stinky, physically dirty, snuff chewing with a drizzle of brown spittle running down his chin. He probably suffered from bipolar disorder given the fact he would talk and talk without much sense and be up all night at times.

    Given that, I would not ever drink the cider with that name. To this day I shudder at the thought of Uncle Bob. WHy my parents and grandmother ever let him through the door bewilders me.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I actually don’t have any living uncles. My last uncle passed away in August. I didn’t have too many uncles to start with — Walt, Jack and Art (who we called Wink). I’m not going to list off great uncles but there weren’t any Roberts or Bob’s among them either. The nepotism thing is interesting though because YA is making a job change at BIW. She starts on Monday in the Event Solutions Group (a fancy-dancy way to say Travel) which is where I worked for 32 years and knew everyone. I’m not worried that she got the job because of me; the req was open for a couple of months because the hiring director was really worried about getting the right fit.

      The another question on the table is can my thoughts about her joining the travel division and whether she will be happy there be causing the universe to throw “Bob’s your uncle” onto my path?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I think that last was the real reason, Sherrilee.
        By the way, did you not come across the other part? People will sometimes say “Bob’s your uncle, Charley’s your aunt.” Whether derived from the play “Charley’s Aunt,” I have no idea.
        For the record, I have never in my life used either expression.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. The stories go on and on. When I was little, I asked my grandma about him and why she let him visit,and all she said was, ‘Well, he is your grandpa’s brother.” In later years she told me she really disliked him. He married her sister. She said he had raped her sister and she was pregnant. As things went in that day, the parents made them get married. Seven children later, her father intervened and initiated a divorce because Bob was so cruel to her and the children. Then her father supported them financially. Nothing in that family turned out well, though.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. OT – This is something that a friend and neighbor of mine posted to FB. It may be of interest to some of the local baboons:

    “Other Skies Weird Fiction Bookstore will be opening its doors! If you like tales of fantasy, science fiction, and horror, we have books for you! We have been working hard to build an independent book store from scratch, with an inventory that started as a personal collection, so it is a very momentous occasion for us and we are very pleased to finally be able to share with you!
    We will be open 6-10pm Friday Oct 28th, 12pm-10pm Saturday Oct 29th, 12pm-7pm Sunday Oct 30th, and open 5pm-9pm on Halloween!
    803 Dodd Rd, West Saint Paul MN 55118.
    It is a smaller space and we will be going with the flow as far as accommodating the amount of people shows up, so bear with us! This is also why we will be open all weekend! Street parking is available – the lot behind the building is a private parking only.
    Other Skies is the brainchild of couple Josh and Becca. We are artists/illustrators and imaginative fiction enthusiasts who have been collecting books, art, and oddities together for years.”

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I’m the opposite of VS for relatives named Bob – on my mom’s side there was her dad, her brother who died in WWII (whose memory was commemorated when we traveled to France), her brother-in-law…and a couple of my cousins’ husbands. Only one cousin on my dad’s side…

    There was another idiom that popped up this week, and I was thinking it would make a good blog post to find the origin – if only I could think of it now! Maybe by day’s end…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Another OT – Took a short hike on Raspberry Island this afternoon, and the foliage of the trees on the river bank were absolutely luminous. Get out there, baboons, soak in as much beauty of these precious fall days as you can.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. I do too. Most of the leaves on the trees on either bank were vibrantly yellow, almost golden, shimmering in the sun. Truly a glorious view to behold. And there wasn’t a soul there except me.

        Liked by 4 people

  7. TR (Tangentially related) –
    We’ve received a holiday book catalog from U of M Press that contains this one coming out in Jan . 2023:
    Take My Word for It: A Dictionary of English Idioms
    There are dozens of interesting-looking books in here… highly recommend it.

    Liked by 2 people

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