Readers in the U.K. may find this hard to believe, but Graham's comment is the first time in my entire lifespan of 80 years, 1 month, 7 days that I have ever encountered the phrase "the man on the back of the Clapham Omnibus". I have never seen it in print or heard it spoken and I am not clairvoyant enough to have used it in the past. Graham, you obviously have me confused with some other rhymeswithplague.
So for those of you who are scratching your heads, here is your reading assignment for this beautiful April afternoon:
- If you live in the United States, read The Man On The Clapham Omnibus.
- If you live in the United Kingdom or one of the Commonwealth Nations, read Will It Play In Peoria?
- If you have no idea what I'm talking about, read both articles.
Graham did pay me a compliment, saying, "I do enjoy your precise use of words." I am not nearly as precise as my English friend Doug Braund, whom I met around 1967 in Poughkeepsie, New York, where I had begun working for IBM two years earlier. I thought of Doug when Graham mentioned the word omnibus. Doug was on temporary assignment in Poughkeepsie from the IBM laboratory at High Wycombe in England, and he was very precise. He was modern enough to say bus instead of omnibus, but when he wrote it on paper I noticed that he was careful to write it as a contraction, 'bus, instead of the more common word, bus.
I have no idea how I remembered that today, but didn't it fit nicely into this post?