The collection started because I was given a delightful set of ideas on how to sail at home. Nearly all of the items made me laugh. If you're like me some of them may make you laugh too. I hope so. If you're not like me - well, there's no shortage of other humor on the web. Suggestions for additions to the collection will be welcomed.
"Alien Song" by Victor Navone was a huge success and landed him a job at Pixar Animation Studios. I won't spoil it by telling you any more here – enjoy it. Alien Song
The article is reproduced here with her kind permission.
The Brits have peculiar words for many things. Money is referred to as "goolies" in slang, so you should, for instance, say "I'd love to come to the pub but I haven't got any goolies." "Quid" is the modern word for what was once called a "shilling" -- the equivalent of seventeen cents American. Underpants are called "wellies" and friends are called "tossers." If you are fond of someone, you should tell him he is a "great tosser" -- he will be touched. The English are a notoriously demonstrative, tactile people, and if you want to fit in you should hold hands with your acquaintances and tossers when you walk down the street. Public nuzzling and licking are also encouraged, but only between people of the same sex.
Ever since their Tory government wholeheartedly embraced full union with Europe, the Brits have been attempting to adopt certain continental customs, such as the large midday meal followed by a two- or three-hour siesta , which they call a "wank." As this is still a fairly new practice in Britain, it is not uncommon for people to oversleep (alarm clocks, alas, do not work there due to the magnetic pull from Greenwich). If you are late for supper, simply apologize and explain that you were having a wank -- everyone will understand and forgive you.
University archives and manuscript collections are still governed by quaint medieval rules retained out of respect for tradition; hence patrons are expected to bring to the reading rooms their own ink-pots and a small knife for sharpening their pens. Observing these customs will signal the librarians that you are "in the know" -- one of the inner circle, as it were, for the rules are unwritten and not posted anywhere in the library. Likewise, it is customary to kiss the librarian on both cheeks when he brings a manuscript you've requested, a practice dating back to the reign of Henry VI.
One of the most delighful ways to spend an afternoon in Oxford or Cambridge is gliding gently down the river in one of their flat-bottomed boats, which you propel using a long pole. This is known as "cottaging." Many of the boats (called "yer-I-nals") are privately owned by the colleges, but there are some places that rent them to the public by the hour. Just tell a professor or policeman that you are interested in doing some cottaging and would like to know where the public yerinals are. The poles must be treated with vegetable oil to protect them from the water, so it's a good idea to buy a can of Crisco and have it on you when you ask directions to the yerinals. That way people will know you are an experienced cottager.
British cuisine enjoys a well deserved reputation as the most sublime gastronomic pleasure available to man. Thanks to today's robust dollar, the American traveller can easily afford to dine out several times a week (rest assured that a British meal is worth interrupting your afternoon wank for). Few foreigners are aware that there are several grades of meat in the UK. The best cuts of meat, like the best bottles of gin, bear Her Majesty's seal, called the British Stamp of Excellence (BSE). When you go to a fine restaurant, tell your waiter you want BSE beef and won't settle for anything less. If he balks at your request, custom dictates that you jerk your head imperiously back and forth while rolling your eyes to show him who is boss. Once the waiter realizes you are a person of discriminating taste, he may offer to let you peruse the restaurant's list of exquisite British wines. If he doesn't, you should order one anyway. The best wine grapes grow on the steep, chalky hillsides of Yorkshire and East Anglia -- try an Ely '84 or Ripon '88 for a rare treat indeed. When the bill for your meal comes it will show a suggested amount. Pay whatever you think is fair, unless you plan to dine there again, in which case you should simply walk out; the restaurant host will understand that he should run a tab for you.
Public taxis are subsidized by the Her Majesty's Government. A taxi ride in London costs two pounds, no matter how far you travel. If a taxi driver tries to overcharge you, you should yell "I think not, you charlatan!", then grab the nearest bobby and have the driver arrested. It is rarely necessary to take a taxi, though, since bus drivers are required to make detours at patrons' requests. Just board any bus, pay your fare of thruppence (the heavy gold-colored coins are "pence"), and state your destination clearly to the driver, e.g.: "Please take me to the British Library." A driver will frequently try to have a bit of harmless fun by pretending he doesn't go to your requested destination. Ignore him, as he is only teasing the American tourist (little does he know you're not so ignorant!).
Speaking of the British Library, you should know that it has recently moved to a new location at Kew. Kew is a small fishing village in Wales. It can be reached by taking the train to Cardiff; once there, ask any local about the complimentary shuttle bus to Kew. (Don't forget that buses are called "prams" in England, and trains are called "bumbershoots"--it's a little confusing at first. Motorcycles are called "lorries" and the hospital, for reasons unknown, is called the "off-license." It's also very important to know that a "doctor" only means a PhD in England, not a physician. If you want a physician, you must ask for an "MP" (which stands for "master physician").
For those travelling on a shoestring budget, the London Tube may be the most economical way to get about, especially if you are a woman. Chivalry is alive and well in Britain, and ladies still travel for free on the Tube. Simply take some tokens from the baskets at the base of the escalators or on the platforms; you will find one near any of the state-sponsored Tube musicians. Once on the platform, though, beware! Approaching trains sometimes disurb the large Gappe bats that roost in the tunnels. The Gappes were smuggled into London in the early 19th century by French saboteurs and have proved impossible to exterminate. The announcement "Mind the Gappe!" is a signal that you should grab your hair and look towards the ceiling. Very few people have ever been killed by Gappes, though, and they are considered only a minor drawback to an otherwise excellent means of transportation. (If you have difficulty locating the Tube station, merely follow the signs that say "Subway" and ask one of the full-time attendants where you can catch the bumbershoot.)
One final note: for preferential treatment when you arrive at Heathrow airport, announce that you are a member of Shin Fane (an international Jewish peace organization -- the "shin" stands for "shalom"). As savvy travellers know, this little white lie will assure you priority treatment as you make your way through customs; otherwise you could waste all day in line. You might, in fact, want to ask a customs agent to put a Shin Fane stamp in your passport, as it will expedite things on your return trip.
Bollocks to your mum! ("farewell and good health to your family")
Dear Maid, |
Please do not leave any more of those little bars of soap in my bathroom since I have brought my own bath-sized Dial. Please remove the six unopened little bars from the shelf under the medicine chest and another three in the shower soap dish. They are in my way. Thank you,
Dear Room 635, |
I am not your regular maid. She will be back tomorrow, Thursday, from her day off. I took the 3 hotel soaps out of the shower soap dish as you requested. The 6 bars on your shelf I took out of your way and put on top of your Kleenex dispenser in case you should change your mind. This leaves only the 3 bars I left today which my instructions from the management is to leave 3 soaps daily. I hope this is satisfactory.
Kathy, Relief Maid
Dear Maid - I hope you are my regular maid. |
Apparently Kathy did not tell you about my note to her concerning the little bars of soap. When I got back to my room this evening I found you had added 3 little Camays to the shelf under my medicine cabinet. I am going to be here in the hotel for two weeks and have brought my own bath-size Dial so I won't need those 6 little Camays which are on the shelf. They are in my way when shaving, brushing teeth, etc. Please remove them.
Dear Mr. Berman, |
My day off was last Wed. so the relief maid left 3 hotel soaps which we are instructed by the management. I took the 6 soaps which were in your way on the shelf and put them in the soap dish where your Dial was. I put the Dial in the medicine cabinet for your convenience. I didn't remove the 3 complimentary soaps which are always placed inside the medicine cabinet for all new check-ins and which you did not object to when you checked in last Monday. Please let me know if I can of further assistance.
Your regular maid, Dotty
Dear Mr. Berman, |
The assistant manager, Mr. Kensedder, informed me this A.M. that you called him last evening and said you were unhappy with your maid service. I have assigned a new girl to your room. I hope you will accept my apologies for any past inconvenience. If you have any future complaints please contact me so I can give it my personal attention. Call extension 1108 between 8AM and 5PM.
Thank you, Elaine Carmen, Housekeeper
Dear Miss Carmen, |
It is impossible to contact you by phone since I leave the hotel for business at 7.45 a.m., and don't get back before 5.30 or 6.00 p.m. That's the reason I called Mr. Kensedder last night. You were already off duty. I only asked Mr. Kensedder if he could do anything about those little bars of soap. The new maid you assigned me must have thought I was a new check-in today, since she left another 3 bars of hotel soap in my medicine cabinet along with her regular delivery of 3 bars on the bath-room shelf. In just 5 days here I have accumulated 24 little bars of soap. Why are you doing this to me?
Dear Mr. Berman, |
Your maid, Kathy, has been instructed to stop delivering soap to your room and remove the extra soaps. If I can be of further assistance, please call extension 1108 between 8.00 a.m., and 5.00 p.m. Thank you,
Elaine Carmen, Housekeeper
Dear Mr. Kensedder, |
My bath-size Dial is missing. Every bar of soap was taken from my room including my own bath-size Dial. I came in late last night and had to call the bellhop to bring me 4 little Cashmere Bouquets.
Dear Mr. Berman, |
I have informed our housekeeper, Elaine Carmen, of your soap problem. I cannot understand why there was no soap in your room since our maids are instructed to leave 3 bars of soap each time they service a room. The situation will be rectified immediately. Please accept my apologies for the inconvenience.
Martin L. Kensedder, Assistant Manager
Dear Mrs. Carmen, |
Who the hell left 54 little bars of Camay in my room? I came in last night and found 54 little bars of soap. I don't want 54 little bars of Camay. I want my one damn bar of bath-size Dial. Do you realize I have 54 bars of soap in here. All I want is my bath size Dial. Please give me back my bath-size Dial.
Dear Mr. Berman, |
You complained of too much soap in your room so I had them removed. Then you complained to Mr. Kensedder that all your soap was missing so I personally returned them. The 24 Camays which had been taken and the 3 Camays you are supposed to receive daily (sic). I don't know anything about the 4 Cashmere Bouquets. Obviously your maid, Kathy, did not know I had returned your soaps so she also brought 24 Camays plus the 3 daily Camays. I don't know where you got the idea this hotel issues bath-size Dial. I was able to locate some bath-size Ivory which I left in your room.
Elaine Carmen, Housekeeper
Dear Mrs. Carmen, |
Just a short note to bring you up-to-date on my latest soap inventory. As of today I possess: - On shelf under medicine cabinet - 18 Camay in 4 stacks of 4 and 1 stack of 2. - On Kleenex dispenser - 11 Camay in 2 stacks of 4 and 1 stack of 3. - On bedroom dresser - 1 stack of 3 Cashmere Bouquet, 1 stack of 4 hotel-size Ivory, and 8 Camay in 2 stacks of 4. - Inside medicine cabinet - 14 Camay in 3 stacks of 4 and 1 stack of 2. - In shower soap dish - 6 Camay, very moist. - On northeast corner of tub - 1 Cashmere Bouquet, slightly used. - On northwest corner of tub - 6 Camays in 2 stacks of 3.
Please ask Kathy when she services my room to make sure the stacks are neatly piled and dusted. Also, please advise her that stacks of more than 4 have a tendency to tip. May I suggest that my bedroom window sill is not in use and will make an excellent spot for future soap deliveries. One more item, I have purchased another bar of bath-sized Dial which I am keeping in the hotel vault in order to avoid further misunderstandings.
I believe these are from a magazine competition where readers were asked to change ONE letter in a familiar non-English phrase and redefine it.
|Harlez-vous francais?||Can you drive a French motorcycle?|
|Ex post fucto||Lost in the mail|
|Idios amigos||We're wild and crazy guys!|
|Veni, vipi, vici||I came; I'm a very important person; I conquered|
|J'y suis, j'y pestes||I can stay for the weekend|
|Cogito eggo sum||I think; therefore, I am a waffle|
|Rigor morris||The cat is dead|
|Respondez s'il vous plaid||Honk if you're Scots|
|Que sera serf||Life is feudal|
|Le roi est mort. Jive le roi||The King is dead. No kidding.|
|Posh mortem||Death styles of the rich and famous|
|Pro bozo publico||Support your local clown|
|Monage a trois||I am three years old|
|Pardonnez-mot||That wasn't funny. Sorry.|
|Felix navidad||Our cat has a boat|
|Haste cuisine||Fast French food|
|Veni, vidi, vice||I came, I saw, I partied.|
|Quip pro quo||A fast retort|
|Aloha oy||Love; greetings; farewell; from such a pain you should never know|
|Mazel ton||Lots of luck|
|Apres moe le deluge||Larry and Curly get wet|
|Ich liebe rich||I'm really crazy about having dough|
|Fui generis||What's mine is mine|
|Visa la france||Don't leave chateau without it|
|Ca va sans dirt||And that's not gossip|
|Merci rien||Thanks for nothin'.|
|Amicus puriae||Platonic friend|
|L'etat, c'est moo||I'm bossy around here|
|L'etat, c'est moe||All the world's a stooge|
This item was suggested by my brother, James, who remembered reading it in Punch many years ago. It has dated slightly - the vehicles are different - but the message seems almost more relevant today.
The Near Thing J.B. Boothroyd|
We only met for a moment
Beside a lichened wall
In fact, to be perfectly truthful
We didn't meet at all.
The road was a 'B' and narrow
I may have touched the grocer
We almost met for a moment
I got half a thumb to the hooter
Did the landscape go pink at the edges
We only met for a moment
And the most alarming aspect
The Female Brain
There are two charming and very complicated diagrams:
|Copyright © 2010||Updated
Mar 6, 2010