Comfort zones and funny bones


By Anthony Deyal

As a long-time fan of the Mumbai Indians since 2009 when Kieron Pollard became a member of the team, I believed that they were going to win this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL) tournament. However, given the fact, proven over the four centuries since cricket became England’s national game, and the many centuries by people like Brian Lara, Viv Richards, Lawrence Rowe and Everton Weekes, we know that cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties.

In fact, no event in that sport is concluded or terminated until the adipose, portly, pudgy and morbidly obese individual of the muliebrous gender, cantillates. In other words, it’s not over until the fat lady sings and, given the handful of people allowed in the stadium to watch the game, there was no such personage present and the television coverage of the game was not a two-way street that would have provided a platform for females with the ability and avoirdupois to perform a post-match aria to terminate the event.

For about 67 years of my life, cricket has been one of the major contributors to my comfort zone or state of mind in which I am at ease, in control of my environment and experiencing very low levels of anxiety and stress. It is why, when I heard that New Zealand fast-bowler Trent Boult had suffered a groin strain, I was more strained than his groin. My fears about the impact of the injury on his ability to play and the capacity of his team, the Mumbai Indians, to win this year’s IPL, were unrestrained until Boult got a wicket with his first ball of the game. Given the colours in which both teams, the Indians and the Delhi Capital, played it was a Boult from the blue with a bolt to the blue.

My blue mood lifted and my comfort zone took over and even did a dance when Mumbai won and Kieron Pollard, who had done a fantastic job as captain when Rohit Sharma was injured, was interviewed. I was on Cloud Nine and the container in which I imbibe the divine Colombian liquid refreshment that provides early impetus to, and is a major part of my dawn delights and rituals, overflowed in profuse, plentiful, copious and superabundant bliss. Call me Juan Valdez.

By now, even if you’re reading one of my articles for the first time, you would have apprehended if not truly recognised that while cricket might be part of my comfort zone, its perimeters, boundaries and borders are the English Language, the only one I know and in which I am allowed to frolic, frisk, gambol, cavort, caper and romp. I started this article with what is known as a “Puzzling Proverb”, one of the several English games I play when I am deep in my comfort zone and want to live, lime and even hide myself in it. Did you know that a mass of concentrated earthy material perennially rotating on its axis will not accumulate an accretion of bryophytic vegetation? You might recognise it as, “A rolling stone gathers no moss.” Or a modern version, “Why doesn’t Mick Jagger have any books by Colin Dexter in his library?” A Rolling Stone gathers no Morse.

Here is an oldie but goodie. A superabundance of talent skilled in the preparation of gastronomic concoctions will impair the quality of a certain potable solution made by immersing a gallinaceous bird in ebullient Adam’s ale. Too many cooks spoil the broth. If you attend a crowded Indian wedding in Trinidad or Guyana, the curries that are their main courses in these events, any flour food (bread, roti, bagels and even ‘bullas’), rice and peas, or peas and rice, all appease my desire to be safely locked away in my comfort zone.

I also delight in “perverted” proverbs like “A hair on the head is worth two on the brush”, “Where there’s a frill, there’s a fray” and “A friend in need is an awful nuisance.” In 1993, the year this weekly column stared in the Barbados Nation, the Mensa Journal (Mensa is the oldest high IQ society in the world) ran a competition to complete the proverb, “If at first you don’t succeed…” The most amusing suggestions submitted were, “Delegate”, “Fudge”, “Give up” and “Cheat”, the last probably by someone who repeatedly tried and tried again (and failed).

I also mess around with “Feghoots”, a type of punning game or a long “shaggy dog” story to help me keep my cool. Here’s an example. The King caught the Count stealing from the Treasury. The Count couldn’t tell where he had hidden the treasure. The King ordered him to be beheaded. The Count at the last moment started to tell, but the Executioner couldn’t stop his axe. That will teach the King “not to hatchet his Counts before they chicken.” There is also the better known, “Two vultures board an airplane, each carrying two dead racoons. The stewardess looks at them and say, “I’m sorry, gentlemen, only one carrion allowed per passenger.” They’re almost as bad as Donald Trump and his continuing to carrion about non-existent election fraud. When he’s thrown out of office, he will have to eat crow and not carrion as he is doing now.

You might have some fun, like me, creating “Professional Drinkers” like builders who get plastered, soldiers all tanked up, well-oiled mechanics, bakers who get pie-eyed and workers in the Jamaican ‘Grace’ company who get canned. You can also Name Play with humorous names for authors. The first lot of these came out in 1933 in “Fousham’s Fun Book” which included (to return to cricket and my comfort zone) “A Guide to Ornithology” by Dicky Bird. Recent examples include “Robots” by Anne Droid, “Car Repairs” by Axel Grease, “I Hate the Sun” by Gladys Night, “Girl On A Budget” by Penny Pincher, “Yellow River” by I.P. Daley, “Practical Proctology” by Bea Hind and Ben Dover, and “Open Pyjamas” by I.C. Hares.

There are one-liners with a different type of name game, “She’s my woman” declared Herman; “Is that a window?” asked Isadore; “On your knees” ordered Neil; “How do you like your eggs?” Benedict queried, and “We old farmers always order a big Mac,” Donald stressed. Then there are “Tom Swifties”, named after Tom Swift, the hero of 33 adventure novels from 1954 – 1971, like “Turn on the light,” Tom said, brightly; and “Take the plane up to 30,000 feet,” Tom added loftily.

Having done a cricket connection, I’m going back to my comfort food group and look at the favourite foods of people in different occupations. Electricians go for currants. Philosophers like sage. Actors definitely prefer hams. Models are mad for cheesecake and Politicians have an appetite for fudge. And to end, I am all for “Twisted Truths” as my advice to those of you who want to make the English Language your comfort zone. If things appear to be getting better, then you have probably overlooked something. If at first you don’t succeed, find someone who knows what he is doing. The only person who got all his work done by Friday was Robinson Crusoe, and if you cast your bread upon the waters, it will return soggy.

*Tony Deyal was last seen in his library reading and playing “Word Games” and trying to create an “antonym palindrome” which has an opposite meaning when read in reverse order. Good men do women bad.


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