Docked a who

When I was little I would travel to school on a bicycle that was propelled by my father. My father would breathe audibly. I decided that this audible breathing was my father saying “poor pears” over and over again.

Well, why not? Pears have a hard life. In the United Kingdom and Australasia, the metaphorical term “pear-shaped” can refer to something that has gone wrong (it’s thought to be from where the phrase “tits-up” is derived). When applied to people, the term can mean “wide at the hips”, which may be negative. Obviously there some the positive meanings – ladies with wide hips are associated with fertility, and were frequently portrayed in certain prehistoric statuettes – and neutral ones – horticulturalist Alan Van Dyke coined the phrase in 1731, when he compared the shape of the cashew and the avocado to that of a pear – but there’s still no denying that pears have a miserable time.

Of course, my father doesn’t give a toss about the plight of an an edible pomaceous fruit. He was just breathing noisily.

When I was still little, there was a time when a cousin of mine (who comes from France) and I argued over the identity of a plastic figurine (Playmobil). “It’s a duck,” said my cousin. “It’s a cow,” said I. How could it possibly be a duck? It had four legs and no beak. Has this lad, the son of a farmer, ever seen a duck? What a wally. You couldn’t make it up.

Then it struck me. It was a dog. He was saying “it’s a dog”. And he was right.

Recently, my science teacher said something along the lines of this:

Remember, there are many different types of bond – intermolecular, covalent, James. Don’t just say “strong bonds” or you’ll be Doctor Mark.

And I thought this:

Who the hell is Doctor Mark?

Is he some kind of byword for problems? You know, a bit like “Gordon Bennett”. Maybe being “Doctor Mark” is like having “gone pear-shaped”.

Then it struck me. Everything became clear. It was as though a lightbulb had been lifted from my head. As quick-witted readers will have guessed, my science teacher meant “docked a mark”.

All was well. I was able to understand my science teacher. It was a leap forward. But then he went and mentioned a person who had obtained a doctoral degree. I will not continue with this, because it would be tedious; and besides, my head has kind of exploded.