Inspired by the following Decamot items:
crater, weather watcher, tongue, ball, philanthropist, reward, mug, Wales, anaconda, barn
The very first occasion that Anthony can remember being totally embarrassed and wishing that the ground in front of him would open up so that he could jump into instant oblivion, he was aged approximately five and a half.
He was standing on the stage at Riverview County Primary School - his local brand new educational establishment, erected hastily after the War to demonstrate a tangible reward for five years fighting the Germans and the Japanese. In front of him was an anxious audience stuffed full of proud parents and assorted dignitaries including the Mayor, the local Member of Parliament, and a beaming Headmistress who had let it be known privately that the script for the school play was her own modest contribution.
Young Anthony waited nervously for his cue to deliver the solitary line he had been allocated in his role as one of five shepherds in Riverview CP’s first ever nativity play. He had rehearsed it over and over the previous evening sitting unobtrusively in his next-door neighbour’s car with a mug of water to lubricate his larynx, there being no quiet room in his own house.
As Joseph and Mary moved centre stage, surrounded by fellow classmates dressed endearingly as assorted farm animals, young Anthony, pointing confidently stage left, spoke what should have been
“I see a star shining bright” but which emerged from his mouth as “I shit in a car only last night”
Now, to a strictly impartial observer, he might have got away with it had not the utterance been accompanied by a sonorous fart in c-sharp major.
In further mitigation, it might have helped had the thee kings then arrived as indicated by shepherd Anthony from stage left and not from stage right and, better still, astride three noisy Harley Davidsons rather than three wobbly cardboard camels but that really would be retrospective wishful thinking.
It wasn’t as if this was a classic Spoonerism of which the best known is attributed to someone proposing a toast at a black-tie event when “let’s raise our glasses to the dear old Queen” was transformed into “Lets glaze our arses for the queer old dean”. Nor is it a malaprop, that classic figure of speech in which real words used in the wrong context were mined for humorous effect by Mrs. Malaprop in Sheridan’s classic eighteenth-century British comedy, The Rivals.
If Mrs Malaprop had married Dr Spooner they might have given birth to children afflicted by a new linguistic virus which combined both figures of speech in novel ways. For example, if your family name is Carr and you name your twin boys Austin and Maurice, will they have to pursue a career as motor mechanics? In which case farting in unison might simply be passed off as prime examples of twin exhausts in action.
Then again, imagine the embarrassment for a professional toastmaster, well used to enunciating tongue twisters, being asked to announce the imminent arrival of guests at an up-market celebrity charity ball and being presented with a Mr & Mrs Literation …
“Ladies & Gentlemen all the way from Clapham Junction, and making a return visit again this year, will you please welcome Mr & Mrs Literation and their young actor son Al … Literation!”
Would he would be honour bound to repeat it?
“Oh, and look here! It’s Mr & Mrs Conda and their suffocatingly affectionate daughter … Anna Conda”
Young Anthony’s early thespian faux pas was followed by others and his self esteem not aided by a supercilious history teacher at his subsequent Grammar school who probably thought he was helping his pupil by excusing his verbal indiscretions with the sweeping assertion “Crater by name, Crater by nature” adding with heavy sarcasm, “Hardly surprising then that HG Wells should choose to have his Martians crawling out of a crater on Horsell Common”
Mind you, this was a bit rich coming from some one rejoicing in the name Professor Theodore Cretin who once criticized Churchill for authorising the dropping of bombs at random and who had been taken off guard when Tony Crater asked if he would be kind enough to indicate on a map the exact location of Random. Tony also asked Cretin where the Germans had imprisoned their ostriches and were they treated as well as those German ostriches who were held by us on the Isle of Man?
“I think you mean hostages Crater. You remind me of one of my former students, one Stanley Gibbons, who insisted that he would pursue a career buying and selling postage stamps and went on to be a highly successful philanthropist”
Another early sufferer from this combined linguistic affliction was the late David Colman, a distinguished BBC sports commentator who, on learning that the footballer Asa Hartford of West Bromwich Albion had recently been reported as suffering from a hole in the heart condition, proclaimed that he had transformed himself into a whole-hearted midfield player.
What is generally unknown outside the limited confines of the primitive Hawthorns commentary box is that Colman’s commentary was accompanied by a lengthy sonorous fart in c-major.
“My guest today is the eminent behavioural psychiatrist Dr Tony Crater whose early work on regional dyslexia led to the sub condition now recognised as Wind Assisted Craterism. Tell me Tony, before we listen to your next disc, what prompted you to pursue this area of research?”
“Well Kirsty, I have been described in some intellectual quarters as anally retentive, a term as you know which is derived from Freudian psychoanalysis. The very expression itself gave me the inspiration for my research. If you insert a U-bend into anal, you have a word which means regular i.e. once a year, which also appears at the heart of prunes. It was clear to me that there had to be a connection between farting and music. After all it was Mozart who wrote copiously about bodily functions who also pioneered the use of wind instruments in orchestral works”
“And who paid for this research?”
“Most of the initial field work was completed in a converted barn near St Albans but funded by the University of Islington North which has a unique windbag faculty, but additional funds were made available from the University of Wales which, as you probably know, is known colloquially to its inhabitants as the Land of my Farters”
“Do you have any advice for sufferers who want to avoid the embarrassments you suffered growing up in the leafy suburbs of Surrey?”
“Become a proficient weather watcher so you know the direction of the prevailing wind. You can ameliorate some of the embarrassment by delivering speeches down wind of your audience”
“Finally what is the story behind your final selection – Flight of the Bumblebee by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov?”
“I would like to dedicate it to my mother who had an unsophisticated sense of humour and always referred to it as Flight of the Bumble Bee by Fanny Rip-Your-Corsets-Open. She heard it introduced thus by some popular musical hall radio comic of the time. She could play it faultlessly on the piano but had never heard the word onomatopoeia. Which perhaps illustrates that Wind Assisted Craterism might simply be genetic”