SOONER, RATHER THAN LATER, one comes across an English phrase, which leaves one befuddled. Until, that is, it dawns on one – especially on the morning of July 22 – that it was an Oxford Dean, The Reverend SPOONER, who was born on this day in 1844. He became famous as the man who could never say the right thing about anyone or anything – because he was always getting his words mixed up.
Indeed, one of his more (in)famous sayings was that, in a patriotic toast to Queen Victoria, he called for “three cheers for our dear old Queen.” Unfortunately, it came out as “three cheers for our queer old dean!”
I can’t deny the fact that I am an inveterate fan of “spoonerisms”, and have perplexed some of my oldest friends, family members and acquaintances with my penchant for deliberately mixing words up – usually in lighthearted conversations. As a schoolboy teenager, wed to his two-wheeler for getting to and from high school in New Delhi, I had to keep it in trim rain or shine, summer or winter – in other words as a well-oiled bicycle. That led me to the heading of this blog – the spoonerized version of my school-day transport!
Indeed, before the advent of the Internet, one came across in daily life – naturally offline – with some really humorous one-liners attributed to William Archibald Spooner (1844-1930). My late sister-in-law – Shanti Varma (a Girl’s School Principal in Dehra Dun) – shared my passion during our many years in northern India, and is the one who once cited to me, among others, that gentleman’s ‘misspokement’ when admonishing a laggard student in his class: “You have hissed all my mystery lectures” (for missed all my history lectures.)
References: My Diary (1986), the Website just-one-liners.com
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Copyright © 2019 Azim Lewis Mayadas