Almost every time I have been reminded that “punning is the lowest form of wit” I’ve been able to point out that the person had involuntarily chuckled (occasionally belly-laughed) prior to forcing out the groan. Only once did someone counter this observation with, ‘yeah, but even though it was funny, it was still lame’. What? It’s either funny or it’s not.
Either way, I have my standards – and they’re usually tested by shopfronts. The multitude of Thai restaurants in Newtown, for example, that include Thai Me Up and Thai Foon, border on the painful. Although I do like From Here To Maternity in Neutral Bay. I do remember hooning around in a car with members of Leonardo’s Bride in the early ’90s, when someone suggested ‘The Yeeros Living Dangerously’ as an EP title (after the Peter Weir film). It was only a matter of time before a kebab joint adopted it, but Magic Lunchbox had a release out by that name the following year (on the Troy Horse label).
At university, when focaccia was all the rage, some mates kicked similar ideas around. We came up with a cafe called Focaccia Later. Yeah, such an emporium of fine toasted foodstuffs did eventually open under that name. But nobody’s come up with a similarly themed eatery called How the Focaccia, have they? Or the Oxford Street Turkish take-away called ‘Gay Pide’ (not that there’s anything wrong with that).
I was in Wagga Wagga in the week before Christmas — you can tell I’m just a visitor because I called it by its real name; locals shorten it to ‘Wagga’ — when I saw this travesty:
It’s crap because, in the first place, there’s no telling what the shop’s about. From Here To Maternity sells maternity wear. Focaccia Later and How The Focaccia would sell focaccia. Gay Pide would sell pide. What does a shop called Ruma....Has It sell? One can only suppose the owner is named Ruma. But what is it that Ruma has got?
Of course the name ‘Ruma’ is also a bit of a problem. On first sighting, it’s hard to tell how to pronounce the word – you need the context of the whole name and you have to be familiar with the phrase. In all, what Ruma has is a crap name. And the proof is the shopfront itself.
That’s right, gone bust.
What’s in a name? A shop by any other name might actually stay in business.
A blogger called Ben has undertaken a worthy sociological task to compile and maintain a repository of pun shopfronts, under the fitting title of ‘Tanks A Lot’. He accepts submissions; how could I withhold this little gem? He no doubt agrees: tanks a lot for ruma has it, Ben.