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But they couldn’t see the grove for the trees:

“To say it was insane would be an understatement. It was a circus built and constructed by the media and the fans flocked in groves to witness.”

From Sarita Riley:

“Lately, I can’t seem to go a day without hearing the phrase ‘Living the life of Riley’ or ‘Living the life of Raleigh.’ I had never heard this before. Everyone who says it thinks it means that they are either living outside of their means or living the high life. Where did this phrase come from and is it ‘Riley’ or ‘Raleigh’? ”

I’ve never seen it written as “life of Raleigh,” and if I’ve ever heard it that way, I didn’t know it. Life of Riley — “the good life, the prosperous life” — is correct. Since we’re not 100 percent sure of the origin, Sarita can claim that the original Riley was one of her ancestors, if she likes. “Listening to America” by Stuart Berg Flexner offers the only explanation that I know of — “This expression was first popular around 1910 but probably comes from Pat Rooney’s 1883 comic song Is That Mr. Reilly?, which tells what Mr. Reilly would do if he suddenly became rich, such as sleeping in the president’s chair, owning hotels, etc.” If Flexner’s theory is correct, somewhere along the line Reilly became the easier-to-spell Riley.That’s how it was when “The Life of Riley” TV show, starring William Bendix, came along in the ’50s.

The life of Sir Walter Raleigh, 16th-century English soldier, explorer and man of letters, was not as prosperous as he would have liked — his expeditions in search of gold didn’t pan out — but it was exciting, right up to the time he was executed by hanging, which was probably more excitement than he could enjoy.

Deborah Kirby says she saw this in a publication for librarians — “I came within a hare’s breath of ordering a much-needed video … ” The correct form is hairsbreadth — a very small space or distance, the width of a hair. A hare’s breath is carroty, I’ve heard, but not so bad if they floss.


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