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).
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Arts & Ents blogs
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- 2 I've been called an abusive and dangerous parent, when all I did was listen to my transgender child
- 3 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 4 Teaching profession headed for crisis as numbers continue to drop and working lives become 'unbearable'
- 5 Chinese student carries disabled friend to school every day for three years
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove