Open mouths let in flies

Open mouths let in flies.

I’m told that this is a Spanish expression.  That’s what it literally means.  What would it mean in good, idiomatic English?  A good question.  Let me take you through a case study by way of illustration before I come to the answer.

The year 1980.  One late afternoon in an Army married quarter in the grounds of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.  Sunray walks into his living room “after a hard day at work.”  (No, please don’t laugh!)  He’s obviously in a mood about something.  Anger management was never his forte.  Surveying his wife and three children, he tells his wife, oh so lovingly and tenderly:

There’s you with you f…ing bad eyesight and buck teeth, Ginge in Germany also needing glasses, Bruv and his f…ing asthma and hay fever, Sis with her epilepsy.  I’m the only healthy one here.

Ah, shucks, Sunray, you say the sweetest things.  BTW, Sunray, you commented on physical health, but omitted to comment on mental health.  What about that time you spent in the psychiatric ward in the military hospital in 1974 because you got so boozed up in Cyprus, that you ended punching someone so hard, you nearly killed them.  Oh… that incident, you mean.

Fast forward to the year 2014.  Sunray is now in his living room.

  • No wife
  • No regular contact from his offspring
    • No 1 son lives abroad and sends Sunray a postcard once a fortnight, more out of pity than anything else
    • No 2 son lives 5 minutes up the road and is sick and tired of Sunray bombarding him with 10-20 SMS’s per day, pleading for a visit: “I’m lonely”
    • Only daughter has been estranged from Sunray for 10 years
  • No self-respect
  • No friends
  • Plenty of regimental photos on the walls
  • Plenty of empty whisky bottles on the floor
  • Plenty of empty fag packets to accompany the whisky bottles on the floor
  • The stench of stale urine
  • A dirty, unwashed and unkempt ex-squaddie

Sunray, do you regret proclaiming:

I’m the only healthy one here.

To quote the song by The Stylistics, I betcha by golly, wow.

So, how best to translate the expression into decent English?

Engage brain before mouth.

Have a healthy day, won’t you!


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