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).
tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods
tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas
comedy Erm...he seems to be back
tvReview: No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa
tv Gymnast Louis Smith triumphed in the Christmas special
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 PlayStation and Xbox hacked by Lizard Squad
- 2 Katie Hopkins speaks out on childhood obesity: 'Parents of fat children should be prosecuted for child cruelty'
- 3 The Grace Dent Christmas Questionnaire
- 4 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 5 Vagina canoe artist defends herself over ‘obscenity’ charges
Downton Abbey Christmas special 2014, review: Love is everywhere, actually
The Interview finally gets US release after Sony hack and terror threats – but reviews of North Korea satire are mixed
Doctor Who series 9: Jenna Coleman to stay on for whole season as Clara Oswald
Vagina canoe artist defends herself over ‘obscenity’ charges
Doctor Who Christmas special, review: No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Katie Hopkins speaks out on childhood obesity: 'Parents of fat children should be prosecuted for child cruelty'