Bugger this for a game of soldiers! I’ve heard this phrase used my whole life, and I know it to mean, roughly speaking ‘Stuff this, I’ve had enough!’ used in many different contexts, but I have absolutely no idea where it originates. Hmmm… I thought – I know, I’ll look it it up online, that’ll tell me where it comes from.
Except… there are countless explanations of (and variations of discussions around) what the phrase actually means, and many suppositions and ‘guesstimates’ of what ‘a game of soldiers’ may refer to, but there is no clear, definitive explanation as to how and when and where it all began. Instead I’ve found countless pages of repetitive entries referring back to each other over and over again in some tautological circle-jerk of search engine optimisation.
Sadly it seems I’m quite clearly on a hiding to nothing with that one… another phrase I checked the origin of once I’d thought of it. Apparently ‘a hiding to nothing’ refers originally to betting terminology, where your odds of winning a particular bet are basically non-existent. At worst, you may be beaten; at best, you get nothing. Hah! Not sure on the accuracy if that particular explanation, but it does seem to relate well to the outcome of my intended task today.
So I suppose I have no option today but to give up on my fruitless search for the original source of such a useful phrase, apparently now lost in the mists of time, giving rise to the frustrated desire to mutter dejectedly under my breath those immortal words ‘Bugger this for a game of soldiers!’ before going off to make myself a well-deserved cup of tea 🙂