Yes, it’s all too horribly true: my phone ringer is dead. Or maybe it’s sleeping; either way on any of the various occasions when it is supposed to make a noise – alarm, text, call, facebook message, facebook update, reminder and god knows what else – it is content to make a sudden purr like an intermittent cat. In other words it does everything it should do when it’s on silent, but it isn’t. I have checked and double-checked the settings; I have (in the time-honoured way) turned things off and on and on and off again and still it persists in purring. So I must perforce consider the meaning of the term ‘dead ringer’. Jeremy Irons (once my favourite actor) plays twins in a film of that name, Meat Loaf sang about it and the Radio 4 programme features it. So what is it?
The origin of the phrase is apparently from horse-racing: ‘dead’ meaning ‘exact’ (as in ‘dead heat’) and ‘ringer’ meaning a horse falsely substituted for another which it resembles. Hence a dead ringer, meaning an exact lookalike. At least I’ve always understood it to mean a lookalike, which makes the radio 4 concept somewhat paradoxical don’t it?
Still it’s a fun programme: Tom Baker is a staple and they do Boris Johnson brilliantly:
Here’s the Meat Loaf song:
and here’s the film:
A short one today but what do you expect? My ringer is dead…