A Sure Cure for Seasickness Is To Sit Under a Tree

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.

Continue reading A Sure Cure for Seasickness Is To Sit Under a Tree

Notes:

  1. 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)