A British idiom, meaning "there are much worse things that this". Probably owing its origin to the (justified) reputation of the sea as a place of disasters, wrecks and death.I was not able to find a first date of use for this expression.

Native english speakers are offering another interpretation, that's to say "It is not that bad". This is a more optimistic interpretation, which reminds me of the Engineer's Consolation, namely

you can't fall off the floor

A similar sentiment was expressed by a Mrs Cornish of Eton, apparently (about whom I can find nothing but that she was a generation earlier than the novelist A.C. Benson, 1862-1925). When under the stresses of life she is reported to have drawn herself up to her full height and consoled herself with the reflection that
I am an Englishwoman;
I was born in wedlock;
I am on dry land.
Source for the name of Mrs Cornish: http://www.johnsandoe.com/review_2161.htm. I have known the expression for a long time, but this is the only reference to it I can find on the Web.

A play written by Adam Dodd and Joy Green for Massey University Drama Society (MUDS). The piece is based on Shakespearean archetypes, follows a Terentian Comedy structure and seeks to use as many Shakespearean plot devices as possible, and is largely written in Shakespearean English. In best Shakespearean tradition, too, ideas, plot directions and occasional lines were appropriated from both the Bard himself and a variety of other sources, most particularly (though not only): Blackadder, Terry Pratchett, The Goons, Tom Stoppard and The Princess Bride.

Actors in the piece were expected to contribute to the development of their characters, and the purpose of the project was fourfold: to explore the process of devising and developing a play, to gain an understanding of Shakespeare’s structures, to entertain audiences, and to be fun to perform. It was first performed, to largely enthusiastic reviews, in Palmerston North, New Zealand in August 2010.

Dramatis personae:

  • Ludovico, of Florence: The big lunk
  • Venetia, Contessa of Florence (his cousin): The powerful woman
  • Lady Vesta of Quorndon: The innocent babe
  • Rupert, Duke of Quorndon (her father): the flawed ruler
  • Felicity Sage: The bright young thing
  • Claude Sage (her adopted brother): The sidekick
  • Nanny Sage: (her adoptive mother): The wise fool
  • Zephyr (A sprite, invisible to everyone except Felicity): The imp of mischief
  • Sir Hugo de Malmanche: The malign influence
  • Margaret : Tragedy’s minion
  • Adolphus, counsellor to Venetia: The mistreated villain
  • Bartholomew, Earl of Hastings: The figure of fun
  • Jane (his sister): The comic relief
  • The Doctor: Chorus


The Duchy of Quorndon, on England’s South coast, a place not unlike Brighton, and Florence. (We chose a 1920s setting, but this is not necessary; there is nothing specific in the script to this period)


As the story opens, the Duke of Quorndon, who succeeded to the title when his older twin was lost in a shipwreck (the Titanic is implied here, in our interpretation) together with his child, some fifteen years earlier, is seeking to hand over the reins of power to whoever marries his daughter, Vesta. Suitors have come from all over, including Bartholomew, Vesta’s cousin, who is a wealthy idiot; Sir Hugo de Malmanche, the steward of the Duchy, who survived the wreck which claimed the previous Duke; and Ludovico, a young nobleman from Florence who is seeking an alliance. As Vesta looks set to choose Ludovico, de Malmanche produces a pregnant woman who accuses the Italian of seducing her. Ludovico is banished from Quorndon. The rest of the play deals with the attempts to clear Ludovico’s name, and Vesta’s struggles to avoid marrying either Bartholomew or de Malmanche. The play ends happily with everyone getting what they deserve.

Shakespearean Plot devices utilised in this play:

Why yes, it is rather crowded – but it all hangs together.

The piece is specifically designed for an ensemble, with all the characters getting decent stage time and a good number of speeches, and its gender/age mix makes it particularly suitable for amateur groups. It is currently in the editing stage prior to release as a script for performance by other groups.

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