Read in today’s Guardian:
Once again, Michael Jackson’s happiness is tinged with pain, as his triumphant return to a magazine coverspot is set in counterpoint to news that a mortgage company is on the point of repossessing his Neverland Ranch. Swings and roundabouts, readers. Swings and roundabouts.
Swings and roundabouts? I had come across this expression before and today, I was going to find out what it meant and where it came from. Off I went to the library, and this is what I found:
An expression of acceptance of life’s fluctuating fortunes, from the modern proverb "What you lose on the swings, you gain on the roundabouts", a fairground metaphor, sometimes said to have been formulated by the English poet Patrick R. Chalmers in "Roundabouts and Swings" in Green Days and Blue Days (1912). When asked during a stopover at Framlington in Norfolk how the fairground trade is prospering, a travelling showman philosophizes, "What’s lost upon the roundabouts, we pull up on the swings." However, a little earlier there had been this in P. G. Woodhouse, Psmith in the City, chapter 26 (1910): "What you lose on the swings, you make up on the roundabouts."
Have a nice weekend all!