WICKED WORD-Climax in Copenhagen
By V.S. Jayaschandran
Ghost story writer M.R. James, who taught at Eton, was a crossword fiend. He boasted that he could solve The Times crossword while his four-minute egg boiled. Another crossword fanatic questioned the claim in a cryptic letter to the editor. “He may have been to Eton,” punned the letter writer, “but I am sure the egg wasn’t.”
Eton fostered many intellectuals. But Henry Salt did not savour his days there. Salt, born in Nainital, stormed out of Eton in 1884, calling his fellow teachers “cannibals in cap and gown” because they ate meat. He retired to a Walden-like retreat. Gandhi, who made salt at Dandi, learnt about civil disobedience from Salt’s biography of Thoreau.
Gandhi bought Salt’s book on vegetarianism for a shilling in a London restaurant. “From the date of reading this book, I may claim to have become a vegetarian by choice,” Gandhi wrote in his autobiography. He had earlier wished that “every Indian should become a meat-eater, and had looked forward to being one myself.”
Meat and two egg is an English meal that offers meat with potatoes and another vegetable. The fare is so traditional that the phrase meat and two egg means boring. But look before you gulp—it also stands for the male danglers.
Money collected for a festival in Eton was known as salt. The price of salt has risen with vegetable prices. But it can never regain the status it had in medieval England. Only the rich could buy salt in those days. They kept the salt cellar on a high table for dinner. Their servants who ate at a low table got no salt. The expression below the salt, meaning inferior or lowly in status, arose from this division.
Roman soldiers got no pay, but only a salt allowance called salarium. This word evolved into salary. The words sauce and sausage have the same root—they were salted food. But to sauce a girl means to bed her. Sausage, the male meat, needs no pay to rise and shine. Sauce and sausage should make an ideal breakfast in bed.
Supreme Court judges are so sage. They ask why not legalise prostitution if you cannot control it. The preamble will no doubt cherish the kinship that constitution has with prostitution. Both words emerged from the Latin statuere (to stand), which also produced statue and statute, status and state. The demands of turgid manhood, like those for statehood, cannot be denied. Trust the government also to redress a grievous grouse about prostitutes—they play statue when you want to play trapeze.
Statesmen trying to reduce emissions in Copenhagen should erect a statue of Louis XVI. He controlled emissions like nobody else did. The king and Marie Antoinette took several years to consummate their marriage. As French courtiers suspected an erection problem, Marie’s brother Joseph, king of Austria, came investigating.
After questioning the couple, Joseph recorded: “In his conjugal bed he has normal erections. He introduces his member, stays there without moving for about two minutes, then withdraws without ejaculating, and still erect, bids good night. This is incomprehensible because sometimes he has nocturnal emissions, but while inside, and in the process, never. Oh, if I could only have been present once, I would have taken care of him. He should be whipped so that he would discharge semen like a donkey.”
Big emitters like the Indians cannot aspire to be like Louis. They are passionate like the couple in the 17th century poem Walking in a Meadow Greene:
They lay soe close together, they made me much to wonder;
I knew not which was wether, until I saw her under.
Then off he came, and blusht for shame soe soon that he had endit,
Yet she still lies, and to him cryes, “one more and none can mend it”.
Emote, by all means, but don’t emit. Let the world not end with a bang.
Labels: English usage