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Reply #37: "couldn't run a whelk stall" is a British phrase for incompetence [View All]

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muriel_volestrangler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-28-10 10:14 AM
Response to Reply #9
37. "couldn't run a whelk stall" is a British phrase for incompetence
especially financial (ie it's a street stall selling whelks, which should be pretty easy). Somewhat similar to "couldn't organise a piss-up in a brewery". It dates back over 100 years - uses in the OED:

1894 J. BURNS in South-Western Star 13 Jan. 3/4 From whom am I to take my marching orders? From men who fancy they are Admirable Crichtons,..but who have not got sufficient brains and ability to run a whelk stall? 1928 N. SHUTE So Disdained iv. 159 If you try to run him as a manager as well, then your luck'll be out... He couldn't run a whelk stall to make it pay. 1965 O. MANNING Friends & Heroes xiv. 148, I said we were all disgusted at the way the School had gone down; and I said things would be no better under Callard. I said Callard couldn't run a whelk-stall. 1966 Hansard Commons 22 Nov. 1283 The great majority of hon. Gentlemen opposite have not the qualifications to run a whelk stall profitably. 1981 Financial Times 1 Apr. 15/2 None of them has had enough practical experience to run the proverbial whelk stall.
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