Thursday, 13 March 2014
Tubs, Puns and Holy Men
Black tubs are sprouting all over the garden. Paul came yesterday, then today it was Gardener’s turn. Gardener still hasn’t twigged about Paul. Neither of them gives me more than three hours, which means that between them they provide the day’s work I need. Paul is very different from Gardener, no doubt I shall have to train him up. But there’s promise; he may appear in these pages and we may all get to know him as summer progresses.
During tea break he was telling Beloved and me that he’d taken a long time getting to grips with his chainsaw. “I was really nervous handling it at first,” he said. Sensible man, chainsaws are not to be operated in jest.
Beloved, not a hard worker, but keen to be part of the labour force, told a story.
“When the Royal Opera took the orchestra to Los Angeles a friend and I went to the beach, Venice beach, I think it was called. We saw two men juggling with running chainsaws. They were throwing them at each other, catching them in mid-air.”
When we’d finished laughing, Paul said : “Look, no hands.” I told you he shows promise. He’s not bad as a gardener either.
St Gregory was another punster. That awful Ambrose Bierce said of punning: a form of wit, to which wise men stoop and fools aspire. I like it; Bierce often pleases me.
Yesterday was St Gregory’s Day. In spite of my catholic schooling I am no expert on saints, I simply have access to an almanac. The Venerable Bede had this to say about Gregory the Great (papacy 590-604):
He was moved to send Augustine to convert the Anglo-Saxons by an encounter in the Roman slave market with some fair-haired English captives. On being told that they were Angles, he replied ‘not Angles but Angels' and on hearing that they came from Deira in Northumbria, he retorted that he would save them from the wrath (de ira in Latin) of God. And finally, when informed that their king’s name was ‘Aella’, the relentless ecclesiastical punster rejoined that Christian ‘Alleluias’ would soon be heard in their land.
Apparently, Gregory was also responsible for Gregorian Chant. Who says the early Church Fathers didn’t have a sense of humour.
I still like Paul’s ‘no hands’ though.