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31 Jan 2013

A Bridge Too Far

I’m writing a book about idioms, currently entitled As Right As Rain, to be published in the autumn. One of the entries is ‘a bridge too far’, which – if you’re old enough – you will remember is the title of a film starring almost everyone you had ever heard of at the time: Laurence Olivier, Dirk Bogarde, Sean Connery, Robert Redford, Gene Hackman, Ryan O’Neal, Michael Caine to name but a few. The screenplay is by William Goldman, who also has – among others – Butch Cassidy, Marathon Man and The Stepford Wives to his credit.

In A Bridge Too Far, there is a scene in which a corporal offers a mug of tea to Major-General Urquhart, played by Sean Connery.

‘Hancock,’ splutters Sean. ‘I’ve got lunatics laughing at me from the woods. My original plan has been scuppered now that the jeeps haven’t arrived. My communications are completely broken down. Do you really believe any of that can be helped by a cup of tea?’

‘Can’t hurt, sir,’ comes the reply and Sean accepts his tea.

Not immediately relevant to the idiom, but the joy of writing not-quite-reference books like mine is that you can slip this sort of thing in anyway. I’ve also got in mentions of Spike Milligan and of Flanders and Swann, and I’m only up to the Ds.

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