Great Sayings Revisited: Jack of all trays (and master of nuns)

Jack of all trades (and master of nuns)

This oddity is one of the oddest sayings we’ve ever come across. It’s so odd, in fact, we’ve had to use a thesaurus to look up different synonyms for “odd”. Strange, peculiar, weird, bizarre – we feel this sums up the situation rather well. It’s a multi-level saying which requires much analysis, so brace yourselves as today’s post is going to be too intellectual for many of you.

To approach this saying, which appears at once to be a love letter to trays and a dictatorship over nuns, we’ve broken it into two parts (like one would break a KitKat) to get to the bottom of things. First up, we have that, seemingly, mystifying opening element. Here we go.

Jack of all trays

Jack is a great name. Most people will be familiar with Jack thanks to the film Titanic which stars Leonardo da Vinci as a struggling boyband member who wins a ticket to New York to sign a multi-million dollar contract. Sadly, on the way, the ship hits an iceberg and plunges to the bottom of the ocean. Bugger.

Since then, Jack has been a hugely popular name, which would indicate why it’s become synonymous with trays. A new generation of mothers pumping out sprogs has to choose a name (see our How To Name Your Baby guide for help there) and, as with Kylie for girls, Jack is the one to go with for boys.

Thusly, we have a small army of diminutive young Jacks filling up schools and dinner queues with their trays waiting for their serving of beans and chips. Some of them may go on to become successful boyband members which make girls do that disconcerting “Arggghhhh!” thing. Others will just be a Jack of all trays – nobodies, in other words. Bloody proletariat scum!

(and master of nuns)

Presumably, many of these Jacks will go on to become priests and what not, many of whom will preside over nuns with an iron fist of fury. This is our reading of it, anyway – why else would the saying state quite clearly: master of nuns?

Being a master of nuns would be pretty cool, though. You could say: “Sister Deirdre, would you please make me a cup of tea?” and they’d scurry off, in God fearing haste, to make you a cup of tea. Fabulous. Jack could then sit around his office reading the Bible and making paper airplanes like Charlton Heston does in Planet of the Apes.


In conclusionun (a special type of conclusion based on personality traits amongst nuns), this saying is a myriad of complex machinations. At once, we have the affirmation that Jack from Titanic would have been his era’s Elvis Presley or Lonnie Donegan. At the very least, he could have been a George Formby copycat.

As with most sayings, however, it’s become more of a casual statement about queues in a food line than anything else. Once you’ve picked up your tray, you’re left waiting and wondering what Jack from Titanic would have done. He’d have probably become a nun, or at least a master of them, and it’s this sense of satisfaction which will get you through your day (or at least to the assortment of foodstuffs so you can chow down). In other words, this saying is an affirmation on life. I’d buy that for a dollar.


  1. Master of nuns sounds a bit scary, eh? There’s no way I’d eat anything at the end of a food queue that was served by a mastered nun, trays or not!


    • How about master of… nouns? That would be cool.

      There’s a great series on Netflix called Master of None, you know. Very impressive it is, too, on modern living for 30 summits.


Dispense with some gibberish!

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