Thursday, July 29, 2021

It’s all in how you look at it

There was a period in my life when I was fascinated (I almost said obsessed) with spelling things backwards in my mind and saying the new word out loud. For example, if someone said, "The thought of eating raw oysters makes me want to barf" I would say, "Barf spelled backwards is frab." Or if someone said, "Let's go grab a sandwich somewhere" I would say, "Grab spelled backwards is barg."

These are not theoretical, by the way, these are real-life examples that actually happened. I believe the previous sentence contains a redundancy. Anyway, there is a progression of events that occur when you make a habit of doing this. People look startled and say "What?", they laugh nervously because it is rather titillating, they join in the fun, they tire of it, they become mildly irritated, they tell you to knock it off, they start shouting at you, they avoid your company completely.

So it is a marvelous way to find out who your true friends are.

It is especially fun to play the backwards game with people's names. It can be a real conversation starter or an ice-breaker, whether at family parties or among groups of complete strangers.

Most of you know, and the rest of you will shortly, that my name is Robert Brague. I don't know how many times I have said over the years that Robert spelled backwards is Trebor and Brague spelled backwards is Eugarb. It occurred to me this morning that in writing, at least, this is not strictly true. Robert spelled backwards is not Trebor and Brague spelled backwards is not Eugarb. Robert spelled backwards is treboR and Brague spelled backwards is eugarB. You do see the difference, don't you? Capitalization, or as they say in England, capitalisation, is always important. Anyway, you can have hours of fun doing this while waiting for the men in white coats to come get you. (I jest, but only slightly.)

Sometimes I wake up in the morning with the lyrics of an old hymn or popular song as my first conscious thought. Today I awoke with this sentence in my mind; it sprang forth fully grown like Athena from the forehead of Zeus:

Trebor spelled backwards is Eugarb.

Now that is just preposterous and demonstrably untrue. I will prove it with mathematics. If Robert were 4x3 then Trebor, er, treboR would be 3x4 and if Brague were 7x2 then Eugarb, I mean eugarB would be 2x7 but there is no way on God's green earth that 3x4 equals 2x7.

I rest my case and trust that all hearts and minds are clear. Perhaps next time, but only perhaps, we will explore the significance of Melchizedek in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. There I go, jesting again.

But only slightly.

For those of you still wondering how and if I stayed warm during my trip to Stockholm, Sweden (is there any other Stockholm?) during the month of February 1969 after forgetting to take a winter coat because I was living in South Florida at the time, I will tell you in my next post.

20 comments:

  1. But if Robert were 4x3 and treboR were 3x4 and if Brague were 6x2 and eugarB were 2x6, then they would be equal (or lauqe).

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  2. Tasker Dunham, what you say is theoretically possible. However, we have in this country a little saying that is appropriate at times like this: “If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we’d all have a merry Christmas.” I am also reminded of Abraham Lincoln’s riddle, if you call a tail a leg, how many legs would a dog have? Someone called out “5” and Lincoln said, •Wrong. The answer is 4. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.” Calling 6x2 7x2 and 2x6 2x7 is just reaching for straws.

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  3. I hesitate to admit it. I do the backwards thing with those ridiculous drug names I see on TV. And it drives me nuts!

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  4. Emma, I have never done that! My unwritten rule, if I had to formulate one, would be that the word has to make sense in at least one direction, and those drug names do not make sense in either direction.

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  5. And Bob spelled backwards is still boB!

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  6. Bonnie, it’s true! But no Tom, Dick, or Harry can claim this palindromic effect.

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  7. There are 10 places in the world named Stockholm!
    Stockholm can be found in 3 countries throughout the world. In some countries the place can be found more than once. For example America, Sweden and Finland. America has the highest number of places called Stockholm, spread across 5 regions.

    As for the main subject of the plot, I think you have lost the post. Rearrange to make sense if you can.

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    1. Ten places in the world? Stockholm Syndrome can be found anywhere.

      U

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  8. As Pontus Pilate once said, “What I have written, I have written.” And as Abraham Lincoln (I think) once said, and if he didn’t he should have, “You can please all of the people some of the time and you can please some of the people all of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.” Come to think of it, he didn’t say “please” at all. He said “fool”.

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    1. I wasn't a Latin scholar like Cro or my Mum but I think Pontus Pilate (sic) who I always thought was Pontius Pilate, probably said "Quod scripsi, scripsi!"

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    2. Of course it is Pontius Pilate and that’s what I thought I had typed. I failed to proofread. Did you know that Rene Descartes said “je pense, donc je suis” before he said “Cogito, ergo sum” and that he never said “I think, therefore I am” at all? Speaking of mothers, my mother would probably say that this conversation you and I are having is like straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel.”

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    3. I like your mother, RWP. It could be worse. Imagine trying to strain a camel and coming away with little more than a gnat.

      U

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  9. "So it is a marvelous way to find out who your true friends are."

    I've found way that requires less mental effort. I just tell them that I hate God, Jesus, America, virtue, puppies, kittens, capitalism, and children. Of course, the problem with doing this is that some people try to drive a railroad spike through my heart....You know, it just occurred to me that, this being your blog, perhaps I should say something remotely relevant to your post. So here it is. I just learned--from Mark Twain's autobiography--that if you add a B to the end of Yreka (I'm sure you know that this is the name of a town in California, but your British readers might not) and read the result backwards, it spells Bakery.

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  10. Snowbrush, How then can we be friends in light of the eight things you profess to hate (although I definitely don’t believe the part about puppies and kittens) and that I do not?? I chalk it up to (a) the physical distance between us and (b) the civility we maintain despite our differences. I simply refuse to engage when you go on a rant, and I, of course, never go on a rant. Avoiding confrontation, that’s the ticket.

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    1. "I simply refuse to engage when you go on a rant"

      Rant means: "speak or shout at length in a wild, impassioned way." Might you be confusing speaking with passion and wild shouting? I can but say that I endeavor to avoid reasonless arguments.

      "I, of course, never go on a rant."

      Would it be possible for me to criticize Trump without you interpreting it as a rant, and demanding that I give equal time to criticizing Antifa, although you have never, to my knowledge, said a word about either? As for your claim that you don't rant, I will grant that this is generally true. However, you do sometimes leave snarky comments and then flee the scene, which leads me to:

      "I chalk it up to (a) the physical distance between us and (b) the civility we maintain despite our differences."

      I don't know if living closer would make us closer or would lead us to avoid one another altogether. I do know that I've cared for you and put a good bit of time into attempting to draw closer to you and to be an asset in your life. Then Trump came along, and it was my perception that you were 95% gone, yet you must understand that, small though my influence is, I cannot witness so great an evil as he represents and not go on the attack. Have I been intemperate at times or alienated people unnecessarily? I can but say that I've never lost a longterm reader without being sorry to see him or her go. Perhaps if I reread every one of my outraged posts, I might word some things more moderately, yet the meaning would be the same. I see in Trump--and the fascist mentality that supports him--the likely death knell to my country, so it is not a time for moderation.

      "How then can we be friends in light of the eight things you profess to hate"

      I might ask how we can be friends when you refuse to engage in rational discussion of important issues? I well remember a time when we were friends, it being my observation that you withdrew from me suddenly and without explanation when I started criticising Trump. As for my hatred of God, Jesus, America, virtue, puppies, kittens, capitalism, and children... I adore puppies, kittens, and children (separately or together), and I profoundly respect virtue, although I sometimes become confused about what it consists of. As for capitalism, I believe that capitalist enterprises should be stringently regulated and heavily taxed. I confess to hating any image of God and Jesus that is used as a rationale for right-wing tribalism, fascism, and oppression. As for hating America, it is my deeply held belief that any country that elects a fascist for president is a depraved country, and if that country claims to uphold democracy and Christianity, it is also a hypocritical country. When Trump was elected, the respect that non-Trumpers held for this country dropped by 42%.

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    2. Snowbrush, one of the difficulties of responding to you is that I don’t know where to begin. So I remain silent, which you seem intent on interpreting as aloofness or cowardice. Perhaps you are right, but I don’t want to talk about it.

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  11. I've now read all that twice (at least) which was remarkable given how I value my time. However what I have not managed to work out is whether you and Snowbrush are still 'friends'.

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    1. Graham, I like to think that we are or at least that we could be. We have been working at it for several years now.

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  12. Compelled to spell backwards? And able to do so? That's remarkable. The only word I know how to spell backwards is "god". As in "Dear dog in heaven".

    U

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    1. Ursula, you know how to spell “Bob” backwards.

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