Silly Questions: I before E except after K. See?
Thursday 23 June 1994
Stuart Cockerill traces it further back, from ancient Sumerian to Egypt, where hieroglyphs followed the rule: 'Scarab foraging on unidentified carcass before Phoenix with scarab in beak, except after man with shotgun.'
Christopher Bamford says:'This is a dialect reminiscence of the wedding ceremony, in which the husband addresses his wife, proclaiming his right to walk in front of her on every occasion except on leaving the church.'
Why do men have their money ready in supermarkets when women don't? Two theories predominate. The first, offered by male correspondents, maintains that men are more efficient than women; the second, proclaimed generally by females, is that you get out of the shop more quickly, and cause less delay to others, if you keep both hands free to pack the goods before paying.
Richard Crowe further comments: 'A woman's subconscious is reluctant to spend the fruits of the toil of her hard-working husband and provider, who sweats all day over computer or machine tool to supply the meagre offerings that are her housekeeping money.'
Len Clarke says it's because 'the poor, innocent creatures think that all men are still gentlemen, and if they appear helpless enough, the nearest chap in the queue will offer to pay the bill for them'. Chris Bray points out: 'Most cash-desk people are girls. Having one's money ready is a primitive courtship ritual.'
Which brings us to backward planning (as opposed to forward planning). Ms J Darling 'looks forward with hindsight to an impressive history of regression'. She will reveal her secrets at a seminar last March, entitled 'One Step Forward, Two Steps Back'. Fees payable in arrears.
Even more lucidly, Jane Carpanini says: 'Backward planning is what happens tomorrow when you've allowed your front- log of work to get out of hand.'
Next week: cars and condoms. Meanwhile, try the following: Why do they always talk about a Cabinet re-shuffle? When was the original shuffle? (C W Morton). Why is it a pig's breakfast and a dog's dinner, but no animal seems to have lunch? (Richard G Hunt). Why don't you ever see baby pigeons? (Craig Moore). Why do some people use their middle initials? (James T Kirk).
GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival
TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride
Arts & Ents blogs
- 2 California man brutally beat 82-year-old Sikh grandfather he mistook for 'one of those people'
- 4 Charles Kennedy 'had better judgement drunk than many sober politicians' says Ian Hislop
Game of Thrones season 5 episode 9, The Dance of Dragons: Jon Snow returns to The Wall after epic Battle of Hardhome
Touch-screen Teletubbies say hello: Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po are back, now with smart technology
Black Angel: Long lost Star Wars precursor to be made into crowdfunded feature film
Game of Thrones, season 5: heavy metal rockers Mastodon cameo as Wildlings in Hardhome
Environmental Photographer of the Year 2015 award: Shortlisted images go on show
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Michael Gove determined to scrap the Human Rights Act – even if Scotland retains it
Threat to scrap Human Rights Act could see UK follow Nazi example, warns UN official
Church of England 'one generation away from extinction' after dramatic loss of followers