This column is rated PG 13 for profanity, hilarity and the overuse of chocolate. Skip this one if mere words bother you.
NOBODY could coin an insult like Shakespeare. A lifetime ago I used to teach English to twelve year olds. When I started hearing a lot of lame profanity among Christian school children, I knew it was time for Shakespeare.
Men from children nothing differ.
Much Ado About Nothing (5.1.36)
Heaven truly knows that thou art false as hell.
The tartness of his face sours ripe grapes.
A knot you are of damned bloodsuckers.
Richard III (3.3.6)
You are strangely troublesome.
Henry VIII (5.3.112)
You blocks, you stones, you worse than senseless things!
Julius Caesar (1.1.36)
HA! And on and on. You knew the man meant business when insulting his enemies. For some reason, when I taught English, the insult of choice usually had something to do with the words ‘cocksucker’ or ‘dickface.’ Tiresome. So we’d go through some of the plays with the more virulent characters, and get points for using the most creative insults. Makes me giggle just to remember.
Brits are just hilarious in their use of words. We are having so much fun this trip simply trying to figure out British English. What with it being the ‘Mother Tongue’ and all that, one would think we Yanks would have an easier time of it.
But no. We were looking for a certain ‘tube stop’ the other day and found a sign that said ‘Subway’ pointing to some stairs. Miraculous! We walked down the stairs, under the boulevard, and came up on the other side, laughing our heads off. What happened to the subway? Did the Lierheimers make it disappear? Nope, “Sub” = under “Way” = street or boulevard. It was a tunnel to get under the busy street. Duh.
The “Tube Stop” was half a block down! And all the apologizing. “Sorry!” if the clerk is a microsecond late, “Sorry!” to mean “I didn’t mean to block your view of the rate sheet, “Sorry!” to mean “Excuse me, can you give me directions to the nearest chemist?” HA!
And such wordiness. My friends kid me about my wordiness, they have never been tourists in Britain. We went to Madam Tussaud’s today, and the woman behind the counter was as painstaking as she could be, instructing me that my family was simply too big to qualify for the family rate, and did I want to buy a packet of tickets to get a discount to other places like the Eye, or the Tower of London.
NO, please, just Madam Tussaud’s. Please. That’s all.
So in we went, and I made a great number of new friends. HAHA! Come and meet them.
Oh, my, what a completely dorky tourist thing to do. But how fun. And you know, the science of building these things is really pretty exact! All of the sitting, measuring and modeling. You know the Queen granted seven sittings to Madam Tussaud’s for her figures? And Prince Harry is actually pretty tall? And at five foot seven, (really!) I tower over Tom Cruise? And Michael Jackson, God bless him, looked like he could step off the stage?
Gracious, what fun. How nice to set aside these pressing life questions. Now how about the puddings? To a Brit, a ‘pudding’ can mean anything from a custardy dessert to a steamed pie with (ewww…) kidneys in it. Kidney pudding, anyone?
So, and I am cracking myself up just to write this, I’d like you to see some ‘puddings’ incarnated in chocolate from a lovely shop on Leicester street.
So there you have it. Hilarious words from an appreciative ear. Words mean something, words are a blast, words are everything. We’re off to bed, and on to the next adventure in the morning. Much love to you all,