Sibford Scene Archive

Sibford Scene 179 September 1994

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Text, letter

English as she is writ

With so many English-speaking tourists visiting their countries, some foreign hoteliers and other businessmen are trying to inform, help or warn tourists by means of notices carefully prepared in their best English. Sometimes such notices do not quite say what was intended. Here are some examples from around the World, provided to us by one of our readers.

  • A notice at the old Moscow airport: ‘If this is your first visit to the USSR, you are welcome to it.’
  • Japanese hotel notice: ‘You are invited to take advantage of the chambermaid.’
  • Croatian hotel notice: ‘The flattening of underwear with pleasure is the job of the chambermaid.’
  • German camp site notice: ‘It is strictly forbidden for people of different sex, for instance, men & women, to live together in one tent unless they are married with each other for that purpose.’
  • Hong Kong dentist’s advert: ‘Teeth extracted by the latest Methodists.’

Not that English~speaking countries are immune from such slips of the pen. The following are from church bulletin boards.

  • ‘There will be meetings in both the North and South ends of the Church. Children will be baptized at both ends.’
  • ‘The ladies of the church have cast off clothing of every kind and they may be seen in the church basement on Friday afternoon.’

Perhaps other readers know of similar gems that they would like to share with us all.

Sibford Names

Part of a letter from a Sibford resident printed in the Banbury Advertiser of 4th May 1893

…we have a few names which it may be hoped will cause a smile to some and offence to none. Although the winter has been a severe one, we have managed to keep good Coles close at hand, and by going a little further we can find a most excellent quality of Wood. At this pleasant time of year there are plenty of Walkers, and though Mann traps are scarce they must be careful, or they might walk into a Webb. We also have a Prophett, and more than a Prophett, for We have a Wise, and to make doubly sure on this point, here lives here a Solomon. It is not every village that can boast of a Bishop but this we can do without fear of contradiction. If any objection can be taken to the flavour of a Leake, we have a Spicer close at hand to counteract it. To those who, being delicate, an East wind seems hurtful, if they come here we can suit them with a West. We also have a Tennant who neither occupies house or land. There are two Horsemen but the horses are lacking. A Young lady resides here; she can never grow old unless she engages in matrimony. Although we have several shops, there is only one where Jewells are to be seen daily without extra charge, and it is a startling fact that although Stowe is fifteen miles away we can get there without the rail in about five minutes, Should the next harvest be a fruitful one we have several Barnes to put the produce in. Sibford is knowm for the goodness of the water, and it is true that we have a rich store of Wells. We read of moveable houses in America, but here we have a moveable Hall of Sibford origin. In case of urgency a Messenger can be found at once, and although we are not entirely free from Paynes we have a doctor at hand who is ready, willing, and able to cure most of them. When sport is required we can always supply the Hunt with a Fox, and we can find a Lamb from January to December. This village stands second to none for good potatoes. but the Greens are good also. Our plum puddings may be considered plain but we have no Currants and only one Raisin. Although this letter has its shortcomings, I must hasten to close it or Mrs. Long will have dispatched the mail.

[The above item from 1893 was kindly provided by Colin Frith. A list of all present-day Sibford surnames is available if anyone would like to emulate this amusing discourse – but nothing libelous please, we can’t afford it.]

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