Sunday, 26 June 2011

boat race

D'you know what a /ˈkɒksən/ is? It's a term used in nautical lingo and denotes the lad or lass in charge of a boat's navigation unless a superior officer is present. It's spelled <coxswain>. According to OED the term goes back to cock and swain. A cock or cock-boat is a small boat towed behind a ship. A swain is a young man attending to a knight. The spelling originally was cock-swain, but in the 19th c. the spelling coxswain established itself. Coxswain is often abbreviated to cox

Next question: D'you know what a coxed eight is? Well, there are boat races between colleges of various universities, e.g. between Oxford and Cambridge. The boat of a team sometimes has eight rowers and a cox; this is called a coxed eight.

Enough of this long 'foreplay'. What I actually wanted to tell you is this: There once was a boat race commentator for the Beeb - Howard Carpenter -  who came out with this double-entendre in 1977:

Isn't that nice! The wife of the Cambridge president is kissing the cox of the Oxford crew.

Thank you, Howard!

Disclaimer:  Any mis-interpretation of the above quotation is the sole responsibility of the reader of this blog post.

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