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He is indeed a vay farny man... He said that he puts so many different jokes in his book that there's something for everyone. Apparently in something rotten there's a joke exclusively for people in the type-setting industry.
'Good. Item seven. The had had and that that problem. Lady Cavendish, weren't you working on this?'
Lady Cavendish stood up and gathered her thoughts. . . . 'It's mostly an unlicensed usage problem. At the last count David Copperfield alone had had had had sixty-three times, all but ten unapproved. Pilgrim's Progress may also be a problem owing to its had had / that that ratio.'
'So what's the problem in Progress?'
'That that had that that ten times but had had had had only thrice. Increased had had usage had had to be overlooked but not if the number exceeds that that that usage.'
'Hmm,' said the Bellman. 'I thought had had had had TGC's approval for use in Dickens? What's the problem?'
'Take the first had had and that that in the book by way of example,' explained Lady Cavendish. 'You would have thought that that first had had had had good occasion to be seen as had, had you not? Had had had approval but had had had not; equally it is true to say that that that that had had approval but that that other that that had not.'
'So the problem with that other that that was that--?
'That that other--other that that had had approval.'
'Okay,' said the Bellman, whose head was in danger of falling apart like a chocolate orange, 'let me get this straight: David Copperfield, unlike Pilgrim's Progress, which had had had, had had had had. Had had had had TGC's approval?'
I laughed till I cried- maybe it caught me at a vulnerable moment , but anyone who can make a career out of writing passages like that has got my vote. The other highlight for me has to be the unmasking of Mrs Bradshaw on the verandah. Brilliant!
Though I am sure Jasper would not claim this is an original "piece of business", I must point out that it was a popular play on words when I were a lad at Grammar school, nearly 40 years ago. In those days, it was about Smith and Jones, who both had taken an English exam, but had disgreed on a question about past tenses. It goes, "Smith, unlike Jones who had had 'had', had had 'had had'. 'Had had' had had the examimers' approval."