xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' The Font of Noelage: A Word About Puns

Sunday, 14 April 2013

A Word About Puns

Isn’t it funny how people groan when someone makes a pun. Personally, I love words and I think puns, well most of them, are quite funny. Some are brilliant.

The title of my blog, The Font of Noelage, is itself quite a witty pun for which I can take no credit . It was created by my eldest daughter, Jane, who is the gifted wordsmith and website whiz who actually set up my blog site for me.

I remember when I was at boarding school in my Leaving Year. We had a boy who couldn’t help himself. He punned about everything. We decided that the next time he made a pun we were going to shove him inside a locker. Well, despite our warnings, he punned again and we did shove him inside a locker. He immediately yelled out, “O pun the door.”

Some of the best puns are in newspapers. My late cousin, Maurie Carr, was a journalist who finished his long career in newspapers writing a much loved column on the back page of Perth’s Daily News. Although he was a brilliant columnist, Maurie really liked being a sub-editor, correcting and re-writing other journalist stories, writing appropriate headlines and then placing them in the newspaper.

He had very good collection of puns, many that came from newspaper headlines. He told me of a Scottish sub-editor who had to write a headline for a report of a soccer match between the powerful and famous Celtic side (pronounce Sel-tic) and a lowly rated team called West Caledonian Highlands, affectionately nick named Calley, for short.

In this particular Scottish Football Association game, the lowly Calley thrashed the highly fancied Celtic. It was as unbelievable as East Perth Under 18s thrashing Hawthorn in the AFL. Well, on this particular night the unbelievable happened and West Highlands Caledonian blitzed the mighty Celtic side 4 goals to nil.

What sort of headline would you write to recognize this truly sensational result. Well, the Scottish Sub editor ran his headline across six columns, three inches deep. It read,

“Super Calley go ballistic, Celtic are atrocious.”

Another one of Maurie’s favourite news headline puns came from a report by a Times of London journalist covering the Spanish Civil War in the mid 1930s.The Basques of northern Spain were attacked by General Franco’s troops and forced to flee to safety across the Pyreness into France.

Naturally, they could not all retreat through the usual border crossings. This resulted in a crowded sea of human misery locked together in a very narrow mountain pass. The Times reporter told of this vast logjam of refugees, fleeing their attackers through a confined mountain passage to freedom, by saying,

“Of course this catastrophe always occurs whenever you put all of your Basques in one exit.”

I was reminded recently of that very witty Scottish sub editor, obviously a Mary Poppins fan, when a friend told me that, “Mahatma Gandhi, walked barefoot most of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little, which made him rather frail and with his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath. This made him...A super callused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.”

He also told me that he was reading a very interesting book about Anti-Gravity that he just could not put down.

At the risk of being cast into my own wardrobe as punishment, now may be a good time for this pundit to cease.


  1. G'day,Noel.Dim forwarded your pun page, which raised a smile or two - thanks! (We met for coffee in Freo)
    We had a painful pun-maker at school in Fremantle,also.He blew in from Adelaide, which might explain things. His favourite was: 'Be a good egg and tell us a yoke'(groan!)
    My Dad's favourite, which is better said than written,was:
    She was only the gamekeeper's daughter, but all the horsemenure.

  2. Thanks, Lee.
    nice to hear from you. That was one of my Dad's favourite puns, too, except he referred to the milkmnan's daughter.


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