Concentrating upon words, their meanings, corruption and derivations, as we have been recently, brought to mind the true story of the substitute teacher who was concerned at the limited vocabulary of her charges.
Since they were boys, she decided to test their use of adjectives in regard to their favourite sport of football. How can you qualify the noun footballer? ‘What??’ O.K. Complete the sentence, ‘David Beckham is a … footballer’.
Prompted thus, one boy offered the word ‘good’. A second boy said ‘bad’. As she went round the class, no further adjectives were offered. ‘Good’ inevitably alternated with ‘bad’. Eventually the pattern was broken.
‘Corrupt!’ said one little chap.
‘Now that’s interesting,’ said the teacher. ‘Where did you pick up that word? Was it from television? ‘Corrupt’. Are you thinking of some footballer who has been charged with a criminal offence?’
‘I didn’t say ‘corrupt”, he replied contemptuously, knowing well that his street credibility was on the line here, ‘I said ‘crap”.
It was a Catholic school and she was a dedicated religion teacher. At Whitsun, forty days after the Ascension, the Holy Ghost descended on the apostles in the form of tongues of fire. I admit I too get confused between these Feasts, the Ressurection, the Assumption and the Epiphany. Anyway the question was asked to name the Feast Day celebrated at Easter.
‘I know,’ says our favourite pupil. ‘It’s the Feast of the Erection!’