Our neighbour’s apples may be no longer and riper than our own, but always appear to be so. Even on our own tree the best apples seem to be high up and out of our reach. And this doesn’t apply only to apples, so the proverb means that anything we can’t get seems to be better that what we have.
‘That’s a fine trout you have caught, uncle,’ said Brain admiringly.
‘Not too bad, my boy, but you should have seen the one that got away!’
Betty Collins had the same weakness.
‘Why,’ she asked her mother, ‘do you always give Susan a bigger slice of cake than you do me?’
‘I like that!’ protested her sister. ‘Mine’s much smaller than yours.’
‘Than change plates,’ suggested Mrs Collins, adding when they had done this: ‘Now you are both satisfied.’
But they weren’t: each thought she had got the worst of exchange.