Coals to Newcastle

What the heck does that mean anyway? Here’s the way I interpret it: like taking ice to Eskimos. So why didn’t I say that in the title? Because that’s what popped into my head when a colleague, who just returned from a missionary trip to China, related this anecdote.

They traveled far up a mountain in central China. Two hours by bus on a narrow pass, sometimes walking because the bus transmission was slipping. Mud huts with dirt floors, little electricity, and pigs sharing living quarters.

They took clothes for the adults and toys for the children. McDonald’s Happy Meal toys.

Yes, the toys were made in China.

So as he put it: we took Chinese toys back to China. Ah, the circle of life, the global economy, now what the heck about the coals?

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Coals to Newcastle — 4 Comments

  1. It was originally an expression of the British. AND if you remember 5th grade Social Studies, you’d remember that Newcastle was a coal-mining city in England–hence “carrying coals to Newcastle” denotes a useless or unecessary task! lol