I noticed this headline after talks on Brexit were stalled by whatever they were stalled by.
Stalled talks kick the border issue down the road
I tried Ngramming but, frustratingly, I am only allowed five words so am left uncertain whether my two four-word attempts mean much. There is a tantalising blip around 1948 and I am wondering if Los Alamos and the Manhattan Project have anything to do with can kicking.
But what most intrigued me was that I was expected to know what can kicking was all about. The headline does not use a simile; it doesn't mention a can at all. The headline kicks 'the border issue' down the road.
And more intriguingly the stalled talks do the kicking. Becoming passive, the effect is to kick the issue.
It is a mixed metaphor, at least.
When did the saying start ? Post 1945 ? A-bomb ? H-bomb ?
When did the saying lose the can ?
When did the saying start kicking things all by itself ?
And when did it become possible to do nothing, and kick, all at once ?