One of my annoying habits according to the LSO (I don’t believe I have any) is reading out the classified ads. Aloud! They can be so unintentionally funny and a lesson to all writers. Be careful how you choose your words. What you write, or what you say, can be construed completely differently to how you meant it.
For example I once saw, in a Worcester newspaper - ‘For sale. Very old black lady’s bicycle.’ I was so tempted to phone and ask how the very old black lady was.
Another favourite, remembered from years ago, was, ‘Pensioner needs someone to cut parrot’s toenails’. What a picture that conjures up, and there has to be a story in it too. Why wasn’t the bird taken to the vet? Why wouldn’t the vet come out to the bird? Why couldn’t the pensioner do the job himself?
How about, ‘Ironing board. Forced to sell due to house move.’ This one didn’t make sense at all to me, unless the seller was moving to a doll’s house, or perhaps the ad had been placed by the long suffering mother of six sons who all wore fresh shirts every day. In which case, I’d flog the ironing board too.
There has to be a story in this one - ‘Rocking chair. Cheap because dog chewed arms.’ I wonder what happened to the dog. And I wonder why the rocking chair’s owner thought anyone else would want it in its chewed condition.
For years people have been describing articles for sale and prospective jobs, often in hilarious ways. A friend once gave me a copy of an old poster which states - YOUNG GIRLS WANTED FOR PICKLING AND BOTTLING. We all know what is meant by it. Young girls are needed to help pickle and bottle fruit, onions etc. but what it actually says is something entirely different. I always have visions of young girls, quite small ones, sealed inside enormous jars. For some reason they blink at me through the pickling vinegar when they should have drowned in it.
And how confusing is ‘Pink basin with matching blue vanity unit’?
But what intrigued me the most must be, ‘Man with well-trimmed beard seeks woman for fun.’ What has a well-trimmed beard got to do with anything and, ooh, it’s too early in the morning to think about it, is the beard somehow involved in the fun? (Answers, not on a post card but in the comments please.)