Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Jo and Rich have the lurgy

I have just been writing an e-mail to GB mentioning that Jo and Richard have the lurgy. The spillchucker (my version of a spell-checker) told me there was no such word. Rubbish, I thought. And so, naturally, I put ‘Define: lurgy’ into Google. This referred me to a Wikipedia entry which I précis herewith - The lurgy (also spelled lurgi) is British English slang for an unspecified or mythical contagious disease, generally one considered inconvenient and non-fatal with obvious symptoms, such as influenza or the common cold. Phrases like "I've got the lurgi" are commonly heard when somebody is explaining why they cannot attend a social occasion, come to work, etc.
Almost certainly it is a nonce-word invented by Spike Milligan and Eric Sykes, scriptwriters for the 1950s BBC radio programme, The Goon Show. In a 1954 programme of The Goon Show, "Lurgi Strikes Britain", Ned Seagoon must deal with a national outbreak of a highly dangerous, highly infectious and — as it turns out — highly fictitious disease known as the Dreaded Lurgi. It eventually becomes apparent that the disease is merely a convoluted ruse perpetrated by the arch-criminals Count Moriarty and Hercules Grytpype-Thynne in order to sell large numbers of brass band instruments, the playing of which is claimed to be the only cure.

It’s a pity Richard no longer has his trumpet – he might have been able to cure himself and Jo!

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