Sunday, May 03, 2009

A busman's holiday

Thought for the day: What is to give light must endure burning…Viktor Frankl

I am always fascinated by the questions people ask in the column ‘Open Space’ in the Sunday Times. Even I throw in my two bits now and then, and send in some answers as well, which get published occasionally. This has been going on for more than ten years now, and I still look forward to the column, every Sunday.

It’s always a learning process, answering some of the questions. For example, do you know what a busman’s holiday is?
Answer: It turns out that a busman’s holiday is a holiday when you do the same things on your holiday as you do at work. Amongst the origins of the phrase are two which caught my eye:

It is said that the drivers of horse-drawn omnibuses in London in the 19th century were so solicitous of their horses' well-being that the drivers would often spend their days off surreptitiously riding as passengers on their own trolleys to make sure that the substitute driver was treating their horses well.
Another origin calls it a "buzman's holiday." A "buzman" or "buzzman" in 19th century British criminal slang was a pickpocket, and to "buzz" was to pick someone's pocket. The word came from the common practice of two pickpockets working as a team, one of whom would "buzz the mark," or engage the victim in conversation, while the other picked his pocket. Pickpockets are always working to some extent, and I think that's the point of "buzman's holiday."

Interesting, na? I guess I used to have many such busman’s holidays in the past, but, not any more. Also, when I’m searching for answers to such interesting phrases, I come across sites with lots more info to improve one’s English further. For example, can you select the correct meanings for these words without googling?

1. Obeisance: (A) obedience; (B) deference; (C) kneeling position.
2. Obloquy: (A) words on headstone; (B) bad verse; (C) verbal abuse.
3. Objurgate: (A) berate; (B) decide law case; (C) absolve of sin.
4. Obsidian: (A) alarm clock set in meters; (B) stubborn man; (C) dark, volcanic rock
5. Obstreperous: (A) breaking out in a rash; (B) unruly; (C) stumbling.
6. Obturate: (A) stubborn; (B) close by sealing; (C) wrongheaded.
7. Obtund: (A) make blunt; (B) fatty; (C) flat on one end.
8. Occiput: (A) mythical country; (B) back of skull; (C) salute.
9. Occultation: (A) mystical rites; (B) concealment; (C) kissing.
10. Ochlocracy: (A) rule by kings; (B) rule by women; (C) rule by mob.
Joke for the day:

A man approached a female clerk in the department store:
"Excuse me," he said, "but do you have notions?"
"I do," she replied, "but I try to suppress them until 5:00."
"Oh, no," stammered the embarrassed shopper. "You misunderstood. I need to know if you keep stationery."
"Just until the very end," she replied, "Then I just go wild."

Till next time, keep smiling.


austere said...


Aquarius said...

hahahha the joke was too good.

Cynic in Wonderland said...

yus its an interesting read. follow that for years as well.

Keshi said...

So there's no difference between a busman's holiday and mine? ;-)

Those words were a tad hard Amit! I'd hv to be a walking dictionary to know em all LOL!


Arunima said...

haha, got it got it. I got the right link. :-) You are right about my confusion with the links. I remember you going to rediff from blogger and then back to blogger, but I thought it was to the same URL.

I got 6 right that too with the help of my husband. :-)

AmitL said...

Hi, do?Do you send Qs and As too?In what name?:)(Not as Cyn,I'm sure)
Hi, have similar hols?
And,the words-well,what're the answers?
Hi,Arunima-nice memory you have.:)
And,wow-6 right?Congrats to your hubby..hehehe!:)

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