Yesterday was Luna’s third birthday. She didn’t do much; a bit of a play, a few drinks with her friend from over the back, king prawns for tea, and then a nice long sleep in front of the fire in her fruit box with the knitted patchwork blanket.
‘She’s as happy as a sandboy,’ my wife said.
Which got me thinking, why exactly should sandboys be happy and what is a sandboy anyway? So, as is my wont, I looked it up.
I thought that the happy ‘sandboy’ might be a child playing on the beach, making sand-castles and having fun. In fact, a sandboy was the name of the deliverymen who delivered sand to pubs, theatres and homes in the 18th and 19th centuries. Children were sometimes used, but most sandboys were adults and not boys at all, as in tea-boy, barrow-boy, house-boy etc. Sand was often used as a basic floor covering in pubs - a step up from dirt and a step down from sawdust, which later led to the term ‘spit and sawdust’ establishments.
In America it’s ‘as happy as a clam’, in Australia ‘as happy as Larry’, and of course there’s as ‘happy as a lark’, ‘a dogs with two tails’ and we all know how happy ‘pigs in shit’ are, but the sandboy was happy with good reason; spending all that time in pubs meant that he was often drunk!
Anyway, Luna was certainly happy on her birthday, although I don’t think she was drunk.