Thursday, April 6, 2017

A Finger in Every Pie

While roaming about the yard of St. Kentigern’s, a 12th century church in Britain's Lake District, my wife and I ran into the docent, who was locking the church doors for the night.

He was a wizened Hobbit of a man, dressed incongruously in a leather biker's jacket and a matching Los Angeles Rams cap.

He took it upon himself to give us a guided tour of the churchyard.

He pointed out a large Celtic cross over one grave and said that the man below "had his fingers in both pies," meaning the man was hedging his bet on Christianity by having an ancient pagan symbol erected above him.

The docent's statement was a corruption of an old expression, "to have a finger in every pie," which means to be a busy body.

It probably first referred to nosey visitors to the kitchen, who couldn't resist tasting the cook's dishes by sticking their fingers into them and taking a lick.

Shakespeare alluded to the expression in Henry VIII, when the Duke of Buckingham says of the meddlesome Cardinal Wolsey:

"No man's pie is freed
From his ambitious finger."

The docent of St. Kentigern’s meant less that the dead man was intrusive, but that he hoped, in the afterlife, to have his cake and eat it too.
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