I frequently trot out Spoonerisms, especially when tired. For those who don’t know, they’re slips of the tongue or deliberate wordplays named after the Reverend Archibald Spooner, a warden at Oxford University in the 1870s. The first letters of words are swapped with each other, changing a meaning entirely. There’s dispute as to whether he did say some of the things attributed to him but my favourite is: “Three cheers for our queer old dean!” (dear old queen). Another favourite of mine is the Kenny Everett character, Cupid Stunt, which needs no translation, thankfully. He got away with it on National Television, which is the main point.
I’ve always worried that I’d trot one out in a crucial moment. I did once and it was hideously embarrassing. It involved something I’m terrible at, namely, talking dirty.
Talking during sex is an embarrassing thing. Men don’t always understand that what sounds mildly erotic in a pornographic film sounds less than enticing in a stilted British regional accent. Whispered requests or remarks are hard to hear in the heat of passion and above all the rustling and bodily noises and saying “Pardon?” can kill the mood. Pretending you know what was said and agreeing to it blindly is even worse as it can lead to dangerous situations and a reliance on painkillers.
I met a man once who insisted on keeping up a running commentary during a mercifully very brief encounter. I winced and tried to fake enthusiasm as he grunted at me: “You like that don’t you? How’s that big boy?” I was dying inside but tried to ignore it. The final straw was when he used the words “man c*nt”.
“My man WHAT?” I said in a loud voice. I was mortified and glad to see the back of him.
I decided to try talking dirty once towards the end of a long relationship. It was against my better judgement; I’d had a little drink, and thought it was a good idea. I thought it would pep things up and prove that I was much less frigid than I was accused of being. Unfortunately my tendency to drop in spoonerisms coincided. I decided to lean over and whisper in my partner’s ear, telling him what I was planning to do. I think we were watching an especially dull DVD.
“I want to cook your sock.” I whispered.
“You want to what?”
Needless to say, we laughed a lot and I went to bed chaste. I won’t try it again.