[Ads-l] a saying: "not what it used to be. . . ."

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Wed Jan 6 16:29:35 UTC 2021

George Thompson  wrote:
> In a post yesterday, Geoff Nathan wrote " Of course my memory isn't what it
> used to be. If it ever was..."
> This put me in mind of a saying that I connect with NYC: "the Village isn't
> what it used to be, but then, it never was" -- Greenwich Village, of course.
> It wouldn't surprise me to learn that there is a cuneiform tablet in the
> British Museum that reads "Nineveh isn't what it used to be, but then. . .
> ."  Is Greenwich Village really the original site referenced?  Or are there
> earlier examples?
> I don't have a citation for this motto in my NYC notes.  I must have seen
> it in a book that I no doubt own, but which one?

GAT: I came across an analogous remark about the U.K. humor magazine
"Punch" in 1901.

[ref] 1901 January, The Pall Mall Magazine, Volume 23, Number 93, The
Drama: An Optimistic Survey, Quote Page 102, George Routledge & Sons,
Ltd, London. (Google Books full view) [/ref]


[Begin excerpt]
“Punch is not what it used to be,” we hear people grumble every day.
“No,” replied a witty contributor; “but then Punch never has been what
it used to be.” The memory, in short, is a sieve through which the
pains, annoyances, and boredoms of the past slip easily away, while
its pleasures are retained and glorified.
[End excerpt]

Here is a link to the QI article: Nostalgia is not what it used to be


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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