From the Peter Haining
Archive. These are taken from a collection compiled by Thomas Cook employees in
Nottingham during the period 1987 – 95:
‘You are invited to take advantage of the chambermaid ‘
Notice in Japanese
‘Ladies are requested not to have children in the bar’
Announcement in Norwegian cocktail lounge.
‘The lift is being fixed. During that time we regret you
will be unbearable’
Notice in a Bucharest
‘The flattening of underwear with pleasure is the job of the
Notice in a Yugoslav
‘Our wines leave you with nothing to hope for ‘.
Swiss restaurant menu.
‘Ladies may have fit upstairs’
Outside a Hong Kong
‘Special today—no ice cream’
Swiss mountain inn
‘Order your summer suit. Because of big rush we will execute
customers in strict rotation’
In a Rhodes tailors.
‘We take your bag and send it in all directions’
‘Teeth extracted by the latest Methodists’
Hong Kong dentist
These were being published in books from at least the late nineteenth century. Peter Haining, most of whose archive we now hold, collected a number of them for a projected book. Here are some examples he found. The first were sent in for a prize competition of c1900, the second bunch was assembled by Charlie James from a northern comprehensive school in 1987 and the third lot of howlers has a more international flavour:
Ben Johnson was the man who wrote a life of Bothwell. Bothwell was the man who murdered Mary Queen of Scots.
The fire of London, although looked on at first as a calamity, really did a great deal of good. It purified the city from the dregs of the plague and burnt down 89 churches.
Edward III would have been King of France if his mother had been a man.
When will you expect an eclipse of the sun to take place?
In the night.
The sun never sets on English possessions because the sun sets in the west and our colonies are in the north, south and east.
The zebra is like the horse, only striped, and is chiefly used to illustrate the letter Z.
A primate is a Prime Minister’s wife.
The Iliad was written by Marie Corelli.