A Hard Day’s Knight, and Other Such Markfoolery


“Once a warrior gentle of birth, 
Then a person of civic worth, 
Now a fellow to move our mirth. 
Warrior, person, and fellow, no more! 
We must knight our dogs to get any lower. 
Brave Knights Kennelers then shall be, 
Noble Knights of the Golden Flea, 
Knights of the Order of St. Steboy, 
Knights of St. George and Sir Knights Jawy. 
God speed the day when this knighting fad 
Shall go to the dogs and the dogs go mad.”
(Ambrose Bierce, 1914.)

Critics of paronomasia may suggest that puns and their devoted pundits offer nothing more than an adult’s counterpart  to the long-suffering and much maligned “knock knock” joke. Of course, puns tend to evoke dramatic moans and rolled eyes, while the “knockers” are followed by a dismissive “that’s cute!” or a “it’s bedtime, sweetie.” It is with that same spirit that I smiled when I first stumbled upon these watercolor sketches by Richard Wynn Keene in 1860.

Dykwynkyn (1809-1887), as Keene was sometimes professionally known, was sculptor, mask and property maker and costume designer for many successful and noteworthy pantomimes, in this case for a Christmas production at Her Majesty’s Theater. The knight costumes provided some of the visual humor for “Harlequin and Tom Thumb! or Merlin The Magician and the Good Fairies of the Court of King Arthur,” the theater’s first such production. Years later, playwright T.W Robertson described Keene as “the presiding genius of all theatrical Christmas revels,” referring to what became his trademark lavish designs.

In the margins of his sketches, Keene labelled the prototypes as short, foggy, long, and dark “knights,” incorporating a modicum of wordplay humor. Today, naturally, we’d have so many to offer, especially those that reflect over a century and a half of subsequent pop culture. Henry, while peeking over my shoulder, suggested “Knight of the Iguana” “Wasted Days and Wasted Knights” “Boogie Knights” and “Let’s Spend the Knight Together.” I, on the other hand, could barely ponder past the Beatles’ reference. Perhaps, it is indeed time to “call it a knight!”

Forgive me, Mr Bierce.


The Noble Hump



Hump Day. I hadn’t heard reference to that naughty, innuendo-laden term in many a year … until I started my commune with Facebook. Now, each Wednesday, I see myriad status updates make mention thus. Some are meant and met with regret; others with stress, relief, or reluctant exuberance. But, in any case, we are meant to smile.

Some folks who either work the “odd” week or seek any work at all, feel a sympathetic hump. Others diligently use it as both goal and benchmark.
What of those worker bees who work a ten day stretch? Do they feel a mightier hump?
Similarly, do those that work a “two day on, one day off” schedule, enjoy a rhythmic pattern of quick & intermittent humps? Does such a “hump” become standard and thus less enjoyable? Does frequency indeed lend contempt?

Do we vacation, break, and retire from the hump altogether? Or simply giggle as we reminisce of the humps of our youth?
What of those individuals who work part-time … do they experience “Humpus Interruptus”?

The “rhetorical” hump. This euphemism of yore confounds me. I wallow in such endless questions … with the only knowledge that of uncertainty.
I best shun the familiar hump and set my sights on Thursday. Both Scarlet and the Cure would nod in agreement. These are simply days. Although we are unable to toast the “mid-week” in unison, we all collectively share in the experience that is “tomorrow”!

Save the “humping” for the wondrous creatures of the planet’s noble Animal Kingdom. They know divisions of neither time nor week, but seem to appreciate well the Art of the Hump!


(Image: “A Secret Best Kept” by Mike Davis, 2011.)