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Don't Eat With Your Mouth Full

Where can we live but days?

Random Thoughts on Puns, Spelling and Prudery, while walking up the Gloucester Road
As readers of this blog will know, I appreciate a good pun - and a bad one still more so. Hence my suggestion to a visiting Turkish scholar that we meet this morning in the local patisserie, Bristanbul. I worried it might be coals to Newcastle, but being new in the country he was pleased to have a taste of home, I think, and I have returned with a generous present of baklava.

Walking back up the Gloucester Rd., I saw this...


I try not to be a spelling nerd, but it saddens me to find mistakes enshrined in the fronts of shops that haven't even opened yet - and stationary/stationery is basic. Will they correct it, or will they try to brazen it out, like Bristol's machine hire firm, Alide Hire Services, whose lorries always give me a start when I see them? For a while, I thought "alide" must be some kind of technical (chemical?) term, but now I'm almost convinced that it's just a spelling error that stuck. Though it occurs to me that it may be a portmanteau. Was Alide Hire Services named after Alison and Derek, the way Tesco is (or isn't) a shortening of Tessa Cohen?

A little further up, I saw this... I hadn't realized till I checked that Sinbad could be spelled Sindbad - that indeed, it derives from the Sindh river. I suppose the pun lurking in Sindbad might have discouraged the prudish from retaining the "d" - even as it inspired the neatest (if apocryphal) imperialist telegram in history, "Peccavi" - which Napier really ought to have sent on capturing Sindh province in 1844, but which was actually invented by the teenage Catherine Winkworth.

Passing a fuchsia bush, it occurred to me that even in the wacky world of English orthography that flower holds a very special place. It's named of course after a German Mr Fox, and "ought" to be pronounced "Fucks ya". Was it too changed for reasons of prudery - the way the Victorians changed Piddletown to Puddletown? How did they pronounce "fuchsia" in the more unbuttoned seventeenth century?

One of many things I love about the Gloucester Rd. is that, if I keep walking up it for another 30 miles, I will indeed end up in Gloucester. Which gets me to wondering about the non-rhyme between "puddle" and "middle", and what Dr Foster really stepped in.