Are you the sharpest tool in the box?

Article published on Jan. 9, 2008
Article published on Jan. 9, 2008

'It is the affliction of the world that the suckers are normally so self confident and brain-boxes are full of self doubt,' so Bertrand Russell, British philosopher and historian, who has been complaining for a long time now. In many cases Europe's masterminds certainly show themselves to be quick-witted. Expedition.

In the old world of poets and thinkers one thinks of the beginnings of human discovery - of a return to primates. In this world it is said that one is not a clever clogs if one hasn't 'reinvented the wheel' (das Rad nicht neu erfunden). On the Iberian Peninsula, one moves further along the timeline to say that merely a reasonably intelligent Spanish person 'just won't set the world on fire' (no has inventado la polvaro).

The Polish simpleton hides his stupidity behind bigger actions – whoever demonstrates intellectual absence here, simply 'could not have discovered America' (Ameryki nie odkryl).

On their part, the French, if anything, portray this timelessly. However also in the Hexagon, through the trite statements of their counterparts, one can willingly refer back to an aged and simple invention, saying that it is guaranteed that 'the instrument with which one cuts through butter cannot have been invented by a blithering idiot' (Il n'a pas inventé le fil à couper le beurre). Alternatively, perhaps due to the shallow, tepid comments of their conversational partners, one can also speak of a person as 'not being the discoverer of lukewarm water' (Il n'a pas invente l'eau


In English one can very skilfully spice up the conversation by speaking of absent ingenuity. The blunt comments of English idiots earn them the reputation of not being the sharpest tool in the box.

Some mothers really do have them; it just takes a little turn of phrase to unmask them.