For me, the most colourful expression for being in trouble is: up shit creek without a paddle. It leaves you in no doubt about the extent of trouble someone is in. They’re not only up shit creek, they don’t even have a paddle! And my favourite rhetorical answer to a question that begs ‘Yes’ is: ‘Is the Pope Catholic?’ Alternatively: ‘Does a bear shit in the woods?’

I often hear Dutch people lamenting the fact so many English words are inveigling their way into everyday Dutch language, so I’d like to do something to redress the balance. Let’s stop saying ‘the shit has hit the fan’, which always conjures up unpleasant images for me and leaves me with so many unanswered questions. How did the shit hit the fan? Someone must have thrown it. Why would anyone do such a thing? Were they aiming for someone else and accidentally hit the fan?

Introducing the Dutch expression ‘stront aan de knikker’, an infinitely more understandable image. It means ‘shit on the marble’. I can easily see how during a game of marbles outside, your marble could roll into, presumably, hopefully dog shit. And how that would pretty much be the end of the game. So from now on, when the shit hits the fan, let’s go Dutch and say: ‘there’s shit on the marble’. And then get on with cleaning up the mess.