Thursday, April 19, 2007

Anagram Story

There are two schools of thought.

There are those who believe that Spiro Agnew was called Spiro because Spiro is a nice name, and there are those who believe he was called Spiro for a more sinister reason altogether.

One must first be privy to the knowledge that Spiro Agnew is an anagram of 'grow a penis' before one can fully grasp the rudiments of the second school since the second school believe that this seemingly random choice of forename was anything but.

Picture the scene.

Mrs Agnew has just given birth to a bouncing baby boy. Uncertain about the naming of their child, Mr Agnew - who is something of a practical joker - has what he considers a rather humourous idea. Taking away the letters in his own surname from the words 'grow a penis' he cunningly fashions the name 'Spiro'. And the rest, as they said, was history.

What, then, are future parents to do when confronted with the apparently elementary task of naming their children? Is there any need for someone to calculate every single possible permutation of anagram for a child's name before committing it to... ermmm... whatever it is people commit names to? Aren't the stresses associated with childbirth enough already, without having to worry about Richard Stilgoe waiting in the wings to point out that if Mr and Mrs Platt name their son Boris, an anagram of his name will be 'Spoilt Brat'?

If there's a lesson to be learnt from this it's a simple and fascinating one. Anagrams can be both fearful and fun.

And fascinating.

I can clearly remember the day I discovered them. It was a Tuesday. Keith Williams sparked it all off. During an exceptionally dull 'A' Level Economics lecture my mind began to wander. Keith Williams. Weith Killiams. Unassuming Keith. Ordinarily if Keith was pissing me off I would have just told him to shut up. But "why?", I thought, should I resort to such obvious intellectual depths when instead I could say, "Keith. Your name is an anagram of 'I will make shit'."?

True story.

Anagrams itself is an anagram of 'ars magna', which means 'great art'. And there are a plethora of absolute corkers out there. Famous people have used anagrams as pseudonyms, and even not so famous people, like me (Viz Top Tip c.1988). Private Eye has had an anagrams feature for as long as I don't care to remember. Competitions are run. Prizes are awarded. There's a World's Biggest One for goodness sake.

In the south sea islands
A thousand islets shine

These two lines share The Very Same Letters. Revel in their literary likeness. Marvel at their simple simplicity. Wonder about my avant-garde alliteration. I could look at those two lines for at least about roughly two minutes without getting the least bit bored. Who couldn't?

Of course, the funniest or most peculiar or chilling or clever anagram of them all isn't 'grow a penis'. It's not even someone's name. It's just a word. The word is funeral, and its anagram is quite a paradox.


Roaring Drily said...

Anagrams eh? Now that sounds like "real fun"! ;-)

Quote said...

I'm glad your comments are never angrily 'orrid.

Anonymous said...

Okay! I'll play! Do me, do me!

Quote said...

If I had a dollar for every time...

Damn Beliefs - the real me! said...

I have a dollar :-) (Well a pound, and that's worth nearly twice as much!)

And of course I'm never orrid!