A prison pun

Horatio Bottomley (British politician and co-founder of the Financial Times) was in prison for fraud in the 1920s. On one occasion, so the story goes, he was visited by a chaplain who saw him sewing mailbags and said: “Ah, Bottomley. Sewing, I see.”

To which Bottomley replied, “No, sir. Reaping.”

(Adapted from J. P. Bean, Verbals: The Book of Criminal Quotations, and other sources. For anyone unsure of the pun, it’s a play on sew/sow homophony and the saying “You reap what you sow.”)

11 Responses to A prison pun

  1. Alina says:

    Nice one! I love puns/ jokes based on homophones. They are really funny. Let me know if you want me to write a few.

  2. Stan says:

    Alina: Some of them are, anyway. If you can think of a prison-related one, so much the better. I hope that’s a fair wardening.

  3. Alina says:

    I can’t think of a prison related one, but one that my students found hilarious (when I was teaching English) is:

    Two hunters were chatting:
    “Have you ever hunted bear?”
    “No, I always hunt with my clothes on!!”

    It was even funnier as it was accompanied by a drawing too.

  4. alexmccrae1546 says:

    In the spirit of Charles Dickens’ penchant for crafting ‘punny’/ funny, decidedly quirky character names in his novels that seem to descriptively fit the dominant personality tic, odd trait, profession, or social station of said characters, I propose our aforementioned 20s-era politico/ newspaper man be named Horatio ‘Bottomline’ (aka Bottomley) as the apt Dickensian appellation.

    Dickens’ “Hard Times”, dour and demanding school teacher, Mr. M’Choakumchild, exemplifies the perfect metaphoric name-fitting-the-man character moniker.

    The name Anthony Chuzzlewit, a miserly businessman (and his immediate kin) in Dickens’ novel, “Martin Chuzzlewit”, appears to also fit the bill. (“Chiseler” and “twit” aren’t that too far off.)

    Dickens offered a virtual rogues gallery, a cast of hundreds of ‘punny’ character names in his broad range of social-consciousness-lifting, engrossing novels.

    @Alina. In light of all the heated discourse, of late, re/ proposed stricter federal and state gun control legislation in the U.S., my cartoonist brain always sends a message to my funny bone whenever I hear the phrase, “right to bear arms”… thinking literally of “bear (ursine) arms”, or “bare”, as in unclothed, exposed arms.

    I know there are a few funny cartoon scenarios there, just begging to be draw. I’m thinking New Yorker-style gag cartoon fare, or a Gary Larsen’s “The Far Side” take.

    I just came up w/ this groaner headline that might appear in say the Hollywood Reporter.

    —-Venus de Milo set to star in the remake of “Farewell to Arms”. (Clearly not a lot of dialogue in THAT one. HA!)

  5. Alina says:

    I must confess that the image of some big hairy arms pops into my mind every time I hear “the right to bear arms”.
    “Farewell to arms” starring Venus de Milo – smooth!
    Well, in case all these English homophones give you a headache, there is a solution: Hit your head against a window until the pane/pain disappears.

  6. Stan says:

    Alex: Or Horatio Rockbottom.

    Alina: I like your pane/pain pun!

  7. […] Stan Carey tells an old joke. […]

  8. wisewebwoman says:

    I’ve got a friend, Stan, who is a master punner to the point of all of us around him begging him to stop. But my favourite of all his puns is:

    “Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little, which made him rather frail and with his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath. This made him…. what? (Oh man, this is so bad, it’s good) A super callused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.”

    >>quoted from one of his emails, And it’s probably not original!


  9. Now that’s a good one.

    An interesting blog you have here. An Irishman on English eh? Sounds a bit like a Scotsman on etiquette, but then I see that it is not.

    • Stan says:

      Thank you, Don. Sometimes I write about other languages, or language generally, but the focus is on English because it’s the language I know best. I’ll leave the connection to etiquette for another day.

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