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Aperçu: The p is silent, as in swimming

Max Klinger, Tod am Wasser (Der pinkelnde Tod) / Death by the Water (Death Pissing). Oil on canvas, 95 x 45 cm. 1881. Museum der bildenden Künste, Leipzig.

"The p is silent, as in swimming,"

my new office mate Mrs. Simpson said.

I was eighteen; I didn't know diddly-squat—

save that she was too old for me, and yet . . .

(But somewhere, too, a Mr. Simpson surely slept!)

Sixty-six years on, alas, she's dead.

(Athough it might be maybe not.)

If one had known then what now's perforce forgot . . .

(Ah, what one so often wished one knew!)

"Youth's a terrible thing to waste on the young," quips GBS's aperçu.

Notes: GBS is the familiar abbreviation for George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950), still celebrated in the 1950s as a playwright and critic.

At least until the appearance ofThe Simpsons on television, the p in Simpson was not pronounced in the "British English" current in South Africa.


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