Creativity: Making a right pig's dinner of a dog's breakfast

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The Independent Culture
WE ARE all out to lunch, according to Val Crysell, to explain why there is a dog's dinner and a pig's breakfast. R J Pickles says: 'As animals have to entertain, work, hunt or forage for a living, they are working-class and do not have lunch - a middle-class affectation. Bears have negotiated a picnic break.' Len Clarke alerts us to the disputed existence of a mythical beast, half frog, half manatee, known as a free. Hence the philosophical disputes over the existential status of a free lunch.

Eleanor Hinds points out that of all creatures, only homo sapiens has passed through the first of the three stages of civilisation, Survival, Enquiry and Sophistication: 'In other words, animals are still at the 'How can we eat?' stage, whereas humans have reached the 'Where shall we have lunch?' level.' She also mentions that while we can have a dog's breakfast, we never have a pig's dinner. 'It could be that pigs don't have the same perception of time.' Nicholas Gough believes 'Alpaca's Lunch' to be the term we seek, citing an 1891 literary reference (M E Wilkins, New Eng. Nun 44): 'Matilda came in her voluminous alpaca, with her tin lunch- pail on her arm.' J E Lamper reminds us of the existence of Luncheon Vultures, and suggests also that 'newts have a virtual monopoly on alcoholic beverages'.

'Why do we hear only of cabinet re-shuffles and never of the original shuffle?', asked C W Morton last week. 'The first cabinet shuffle,' R J Pickles replies, 'took place in 1265 when Simon de Montfort was defeated by Prince Edward.' David K Smith looks to his dictionary rather than history book: 'C W Morton seems to assume that the meaning of 'shuffle' in 'reshuffle' is that of rearranging cards. Chambers offers another definition, that to shuffle is 'to behave shiftily'. With that meaning, and assuming the verb leads to the noun, we have a cabinet reshuffle indicating that the ministers are behaving shiftily once again; there's no need to ask when they did that before.'

Finally, middle initials, the use of which, according to Stuart Cockerill, is a status symbol: 'Here in Yorkshire, vicars charge for Christenings by the syllable, so few parents can afford to grant their offspring the luxury of a middle name. The middle-classes resorted to a single initial (only the uppermost of the middles stretching to a 'W') whilst the rest of us had to do without. Opulent southerners flaunt middle names and hyphenated surnames, the most heartless even abbreviating their precious birthright to a single, humbling, throwaway initial.'

Claire J Paul sees her middle initial 'uniting the female and male sides of my name. I feel it also unites the female and male aspects of my personality into a perfectly formed whole.' Her J stands for Jaime, which we thought was a Spanish chap, but she says is a French chappess.

We now want to know: Why are boring American tennis players more boring than boring Swedish tennis players? (N James). Which profession, other than advertising, brings most sadness to most people most of the time? (Stuart Cockerill). Why are there so many men called Stuart Cockerill? (Rachel Niaz). Who designs the houses which estate agents don't describe as 'architect-designed'? (Howard Pell).