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My Word! Feghoots!

By Ashleylister @ashleylister
"The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain." Well, it's certainly doing so with a vengeance at the moment. Hold that original idea (the Elocutioner's Song from My Fair Lady?) for we shall make an approximate return to it later. You're possibly wondering "what's this all about?" I would be, in your boots. The answer is  feghoots!
Let's start, dear reader, with a bit of derivation. A feghoot is simply a poetic jest, a humorous short story ending with a pun. I thought a few blogs of an amusing nature would be go down well in the week of World Mental Health Day - laughter being a priceless medicine. The feghoot was originated (and named) by the American science-fiction writer Reg Bretnor who wrote a series of shaggy-dog sci-fi tales known collectively as 'Through Time And Space With Ferdinand Feghoot.' Young Mr Feghoot travelled in all directions in time and space as a trouble-shooter on behalf of the Society For The Aesthetic Re-Arrangement Of History. Now there's a job! His bizarre adventure stories, often only a few paragraphs long, always ended with a deliberately terrible pun based on a well-known phrase. Do you begin to see where this might be going?
Actually, I've never read any of Bretnor's Ferdinand Feghoot japes, but I did as a child enjoy listening to the radio panel show My Word! which always ended with an extemporaneous feghoot from team captains Frank Muir and Denis Norden. Each would be given a well-known phrase at the beginning of the show and at the end would have to tell a tall tale culminating appropriately in a punning rewrite of the given phrase. The fact that I still remember some of them fifty years on must be testament to the pair's ingenuity and mastery of story-telling.
My Word! Feghoots!
By way of illustration, I'll recast as best I can one example here. The given phrase was "Where there's a will, there's a way." The resulting feghoot might have unfolded somewhat as follows:
An over-wrought cinema proprietor was standing outside the Sydenham Scala on a sunny Friday afternoon, prodding his odd-job man accusingly and gesticulating up to the light-box than ran above the width of the foyer. It read in letters two feet high: SHOWING TONIGHT  -  MOB   DICK
"I can't have that up there like that," said the proprietor. "What on earth will people think?"
The affronted odd-job man shrugged hopelessly and replied "I'm sorry Mr Blinkhorn. When I opened up the crate they sent with the film and the posters and titles and all, well there was one letter missing. I checked twice. Not there. What else could I do sir?"
"You could have come and found me for a start Bodger, before proceeding."
"I'm sorry sir. You were showing the new usherette the ropes and it looked like you didn't want to be interrupted."
"Yes very well, but we can't leave it up there like that. You'll have to fettle a temporary stand-in for tonight. I'll get onto the distributor to send a replacement in the morning.  You'd better get that dick down first and then go to the art shop for materials. Strong red card or something."
"It's closed, sir. Shuts at noon on a Friday sir."
"Damn and blast the inconvenience of it, Bodger. What do you suggest then? You're the odd-job man. By the way, no need to mention the usherette business to Mrs Blinkhorn."
Bodger shifted uneasily from one foot to the other before replying.
"Couldn't we just leave it as it is for one night sir and trust to people's intelligence to sort of fill in the gap? Surely sir, everybody knows that where there's a whale there's a Y."
I found the conceit both clever and entertaining as a thirteen year-old. Some might say I've not traveled very far since! Or course I've liberally re-written Frank's (or was it Denis') script, but what the heck? We're all in cahoots when it comes to feghoots.
Right then. To round out today's blog I'm going to attempt the feghoot as "poetic jest" in its simplest form; none of the preamble, just the poem as pun in tribute to one of my favorite visual artists, the creative conduit and "wild beast" that was Andre Derain (1880-1954). Here's a selfie of M. Derain in his studio circa 1905 as he contemplated launching the Fauvist movement upon an unsuspecting world - vibrant post-impressionist canvasses in bold, vivid, unnatural combinations of colours. He was just doing what he had to do. Of course the critics thought he'd gone mad.
My Word! Feghoots!
Piece Of Mind
The brain, inflamed,
flails madly to explain...
Derain 'insane'
feels mainly others' pain.
That's all folks. Thanks for reading. Stay grounded and have a good week, S ;-) Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to Facebook

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