Spike Milligan? John MacGregor? William Gordon Stables? Anonymous?
Dear Quote Investigator: The nausea of seasickness feels endless. An absurdist quip suggests that the only genuine remedy is a return to solid ground:
The best cure for seasickness is to sit under a tree.
The Irish-English comedian Spike Milligan has received credit for this line, but I haven’t been able to find a citation. Would you please help?
Quote Investigator: In 1971 Spike Milligan published “Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall”, the first volume of a seven-volume memoir recounting his experiences during World War 2. During one episode in 1943 the troopship Milligan was traveling on encountered turbulent weather. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1
The storm never let up. It was only this that prevented U-boat attacks, though I know many a sick-covered wreck who would rather have had calm seas and been torpedoed. A poor green-faced thing asked, “Isn’t there any bloody cure for seasickness?”
“Yes,” I said. “Sit under a tree.” I had to be quick.
Milligan presented the joke in a question-answer format. Yet, he did not create this jest which has a long history.
Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.
- 1972 (1971 Copyright), Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall by Spike Milligan, Part 3, Chapter: January 1943 — At Sea, Quote Page 135, Book Club Associates, London. (Verified with scans) ↩