|I had always understood that this expression, still to be heard in films of the 60s set in
Cockney London, to be in some way related to this colourful character of the late 19th C.
Bill McLaughlin agrees:
|'You've asked about "Gordon Bennett". I have never heard his name used here the way you
describe but I am sure his name was used in a similar way in New York City years ago. But probably with more
'There was a book called The Scandalous Mr. Bennett. Both he and his father have been written up by some
as "the fathers of modern journalism". The senior J. Gordon Bennett was disliked greatly by the political
structure and high society of New York City because he used his newspaper and editorial page to tell it like it
was (certainly the way he saw it). He had his own fortune and wasn't obligated to anybody. His son, J. Gordon
Bennett Jr. picked right up where his father left off.'
The derivation of the expression is discussed at length on the website:
'As I read the piece on "Gordon Bennett" and having read the book I've referenced above, I think the online
"Dictionary of Slang" has got the story absolutely right! What really got JGB Jr. in trouble in New York City
was his urinating in his intended "in-laws" fire place right in front of all their swanky friends. For that act,
the engagement ended and JGB Jr. was effectively exiled to Paris (he then ran his entire newspaper empire from
there). You could could say that it was the fact that a tipsy JGB Jr. took a leak in the fireplace that the CCC
was formed. John and Marie Louise Mackay had a big beautiful home in Paris (9 Rue de Tilsitt). John Mackay took
an extended holiday there during 1881-1883 (he was between silver & the telegraph) and found a kindred soul in
JGB Jr. Can you imagine these two mighty men, with time on their hands, shooting pool, playing cards, talking
some business and laughing about the fun of knocking Jay Gould off his high horse?'
and a final thought as Bill and I exchange emails on this subject:
'Wouldn't the Bennetts, the Mackays and everybody who ever worked on Trans-Atlantic Cables
have been amazed at our ability to transmit messages and pictures directly using the internet?!'