I received an email from a dear friend this morning. Last time we exchanged notes, both she and her husband were suffering healthwise. He was having an operation for prostate cancer and my friend had a suspected collapsed lung and was waiting to see a specialist.
I was naturally quite worried and concerned. I have never met anyone quite like Susan and am very fond of her. She was my boss's secretary and joined our workplace just before I returned to work after my first maternity leave. She is perhaps the most dotty person ever - full of fun, helpful to a fault, kind and considerate - and... well, dotty.
As cuts were made and secretaries were shared instead of doled out one per manager, all the secretaries were pooled together and I'm sure that Susan's dotty presence and her droll sense of humour were much appreciated. She never forgot a birthday, always found just the appropriate gift (and I have been the recipient many a time, most notably, my wonderful mug) brought flowers from her garden to brighten up the office and generally made work a jolly place to be most of the time.
What has all this got to do with allegories on the Nile? Well, Susan was a Mrs. Malaprop if ever one walked this earth - so much so, that the other secretaries kept a book in which they wrote many of the little 'pearls of misrule' that fell from her lips. How I wish I could get my hands on that book now! It deserves publishing, so funny it was. 'Susan's Antidotes', we'd call it, of course.
As it is, without access to that book, I can only clearly remember one of these gems - her describing a phone call she'd taken from one of my staff -
"X has called in sick. Again. He said he's pulled his Hercules tendon - I don't know what that is but he said he did it in bed, so I didn't like to ask."
True to form, her note to me about her husband said he was 'having the operation to remove the prostrate'. Her email this morning reported on his recovery - which is great news - and went on to reassure me that she too is getting better and her specialist thinks it is nothing worse than 'chronicle bronchitis'.
There is always the possibility that her idiosyncratic speech was carefully planned to amuse. There were times when I was sure it must be. If there's anyone out there reading who can remember any more from that little book, please do share!
What are your favourites?