I'll get Murphy to keep his mule on stand-by


Senior Member
This is an extract of Love letters by Katie Fforde. The girl is visiting Ireland to meet an eccentric writer. The owner of the guesthouse advised her not to go to his house but at the same time she also wants her to find out if the man is alright or not.

"If he turns on you, you can fly back to England."
"Should I have a taxi with its engine running outside?" Laura was laughing too now.
"No, but I'll get Murphy to keep his mule on stand-by."

Please explain to me the last sentence. Thanks.
  • Beryl from Northallerton

    Senior Member
    British English
    It means, 'no don't bother with a taxi, I'll have Murphy's mule ready to take you instead.' ('on stand-by' = ready, 'mule' = small horse, "No, but I'll get Murphy to keep his mule on stand-by." = jokey retort)

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Is there a character in the book called Murphy, Minhduc? I wouldn't be surprised if there isn't. It's quite a common Irish name, and I think the speaker is just making a joke about the need to have a means of escape, and also making fun of the rural condition of the place: a mule is a less advanced mode of transport than a horse, being a cross between a horse and a donkey. The joke suggests that going to the house isn't really very dangerous.
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