Thursday, 16 February 2012


I had always assumed that a nest-egg (of the financial variety) was something that would hatch upon a rainy day. I made this mistake because I have never kept chickens.

Chickens, being giddy creatures, are liable to lay their eggs and then, when they have hatched, to abandon their nest. To stop this happening the solicitous gallicultist will slyly introduce a nest-egg. A nest egg is not an egg at all, but it looks like one and the chicken is fooled. She stays with the nest constantly hoping that the little fake will hatch. Whilst there, she lays more eggs of her own.

The metaphorical potential of a nest-egg that keeps the chicken laying was not lost upon Samuel Butler who in 1678 described a lawyer's office thus:

...mounted in his pew,
With books and money placed for shew,
Like nest-eggs to make clients lay;
And for his false opinion pay...

And from there it became the principal invested in a bank to produce dividends and interest. So, properly speaking, one should, if one wishes to maintain the metaphor and solvency, spend only the interest on your nest egg.

However, in matters financial one should always remember the words of George Best:

I spent a lot of money on booze, birds and fast cars. The rest I just squandered.

I too like chicken pie.


  1. Nest eggs are now just pie in the sky :-D

  2. Douglas Fraser in his BBC blog today:

    "As David Cameron prepared to head to Scotland to set out his positive vision for the United Kingdom remaining united, Alex Salmond was citing the example of Norway.

    "It used its oil funds to pay down debt to zero, and it's spent more 20 years building up a giant nest egg - or more like a golden goose that keeps on laying."

    Now I'm confused ...

  3. moral of the story always have chicken and eggs for a rainy day

  4. Giddy Chickens.! Fake Eggs.! This must be some kind of "Yolk" Whack Whack Oops..

  5. As I couldn't find a slot to post this elswhere:

    Hello, I'm reading your fascinating and amusing book and I saw your remark, under thhe heading Fossil-less, on Ruth. I don't know much about i'ts demise but remembered having seen it in the poem "Munition maker" by Robert W Service:

    "By nature I am mild and kind,
    To gentleness and ruth inclined..."
    I believe this was written during WWI when Service was doing his bit as a stretcher bearer. It may be just sleeping!