Wednesday, October 13, 2010

"Bob's Your Uncle"

According to Peter Edwards' book Delusion, the expression "Bob's your uncle" is used to show just how simple it can be to do something if conditions are right.  It came into popular use soon after one Arthur Balfour was appointed Irish Secretary in March, 1887, at the "almost tender" age of thirty-eight.  Although first elected to Parliament at age twenty-five, he was considered by many to have gotten the important post only because of the good graces of his uncle Robert "Bob" Cecil, better known as Lord Salisbury, who was then Prime Minister of Great Britain.  In spite of the digs Balfour endured because of his seemingly seamless rise to power on his uncle's coattails - or perhaps because of it - he soon came down hard with a new Crimes Act, stiffening penalties for various crimes by Irish nationalists.  Other (less convincing) derivations of the phrase also exist, all of British origin.