when an event is described as “another banana skin”, what does it mean exactly?
i’ve written about the “banana skin” problem before, but, why not?
so, “another banana skin” event?
that’s just another problematic event. at this event, something embarrassing may happen. something embarrassing apparently have happened at similar events. some similar embarrassment may occur again, so let’s be extra careful.
that’s what “another banana skin” means.
a banana skin is synonymous with a small silly, funny or embarrassing mistake. this expression is undoubtedly inspired by people actually stepping onto a banana skin lying on the floor. the banana skin on the floor is, of course, slippery. one steps on it and slips up, slips up, staggers and sometimes falls.
if they are lucky and don’t get hurt badly, their slip-up and fall will still make people laugh. people laugh at things like that, and i’m sure it’s all good natured.
anyways, people step onto a banana skin, and they stagger and fall, sometimes face first. if they do it more elegantly, they slide or glide for a distance and then they fall.
elegantly or not, to step onto a banana skin indicates that one is not being careful. being more careful, one can and at least should avoid it.
so, metaphorically, a banana skin stands for some small difficulty, such as any potentially embarrassing mistake that one should be able to avoid. otherwise, one slips up and fall. even if they stagger and manage to regain balance and avoid falling flat on their face, they still risk being laughed at.
okay, here are recent media examples of people tripping over a banana skin, real or figurative:
1. pep guardiola has told his manchester city stars they can take days off when they are retired as the premier league champions chase success on four fronts.
city, third in the table, four points behind leaders liverpool, travel to struggling newcastle united on wednesday night.
and, with their trip to everton rescheduled for wednesday, february 6 because of their involvement in the carabao cup final, city face a congested and challenging fixture list.the goodison park visit comes between home clashes with arsenal and chelsea and guardiola says his players - also in the hunt for the champions league and fa cup - should treat the flood of games as ‘a privilege’.
asked about the possibility of his players resting, guardiola said: “we have a lot of games, so no way.
“it is what it is. but at the same time i tell them it’s a privilege. if you believe it’s a handicap, that’s a big mistake. it’s a privilege.
“when you are 35 years old you can have long holidays. no problem, you will be retired. take a year for holidays. but for now it’s a privilege. take it, enjoy it. next one, win again.
“the competition doesn’t matter. friendly game? win again. play good, prepare well. that’s the only way. after, you work for the next season.”
guardiola, who saw his side brush aside burnley to progress in the fa cup at the weekend, is not taking the clash with newcastle lightly, despite their perilous position one place above the relegation zone.
the catalan insists the game could be a ‘banana skin’ for his side if they are not fully focused.
“i think no team is safe going to newcastle,” said the city manager.
- ‘rest when you’re retired’ – guardiola’s warning for man city trophy hunters, sportingnews.com, january 28, 2019.
2. ole gunnar solskjaer celebrated his first match as full-time manchester united manager with a 2-1 win over watford though he was happier to have avoided slipping up on what he termed a potential ‘banana skin’.
the 46-year-old norwegian - who was named permanent manager on thursday after reviving the team following the sacking of jose mourinho - professed himself happier with the result than the performance.
victory lifted united into fourth place and potentially a place in next season’s champions league, though, arsenal can go back ahead of them if they beat newcastle on monday.
“i’m happy with the result if not the performance,” said solskjaer.
“it was one of those first games back after the international break that you know could be a potential banana skin.”
- solskjaer relieved to avoid watford 'banana skin', afp, march 19, 2019.
3. boris johnson, mp for uxbridge and south ruislip and former comedy foreign secretary, has launched his bid for the conservative party leadership by pledging to boost nhs funding by £350 million a week if he wins.
johnson, real name alexander boris de pfeffel johnson, made the announcement in front of a large red bus emblazoned with the slogan: “it worked before. it’ll work again.”
the move comes in the wake of theresa may’s decision to stand down from the post by the end of june.
“the nhs is an institution cherished by every british citizen, and if i am elected leader i vow to do everything in my power to ensure that it continues to thrive,” he said with his fingers firmly crossed behind his back.
but surely he’s made this promise before, during the eu referendum campaign?
“yes,” he scoffed as his bow tie began to spin around, “and it worked out so well last time that i’d be a fool not to do it again.”
pausing for a moment to squirt water out of a flower on his lapel, he continued: “if there’s one thing politics has taught me, it’s this: the plebs will believe anything if it’s written in big enough letters.”
but how can he be certain that the electorate will fall for this a second time?
“i’ve reneged on just about every promise i’ve ever made since entering politics,” explained johnson, physical age 54, “like when i said i’d oppose the third runway at heathrow and then didn’t even bother to turn up for the vote. and look! i’m still here! can you believe it?”
so, if he wins, will there be any extra money at all for the nhs?
“for the what?” he asked before walking off and slipping on a banana skin.
- boris johnson promises an extra £350m a week for the nhs if elected tory leader (satire), newsthump.com, may 20, 2019.
about the author:
zhang xin is trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. he has been with china daily since 1988, when he graduated from beijing foreign studies university. write him at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.