With two other families, we spent a day in Portsmouth. Arriving in plenty of time to hit the shops at the factory outlet at Gunwharf Quays (my summer wardrobe is now suitably supplemented) we also managed to have a look around the historic dockyard. While the men and children managed the tour, my friends and I reminisced about our last visit. On that occasion, I set foot on HMS Victory and distinctly remember the guide sharing the story about the origins of the phrase ‘square meal’.
Accordingly, I believed that the square wooden plates (rimmed to avoid spillage) that were used to serve the most substantial meal on board ship were the basis for the saying. However, I’ve since investigated this on-line and there’s a strong argument to suggest this is spurious and that the origins of the saying lie in nineteenth century America with the advent of the phrase ‘square deal’ and ‘fair and square’. Now I’m not sure what to believe. Also, during that visit, I learned that the Hardy Monument in Dorset, doesn’t relate to Thomas Hardy the writer, but to his distant relative the Vice Admiral Sir Thomas Hardy. It was to this man that Nelson made his famous request ‘Kiss me Hardy’ while on his deathbed. Through public subscription in 1844, the 72 foot high monument was erected in Portesham.
With such misconceptions, I wonder we have confidence to believe anything we read or hear. What do you think?