Louis XVI would not be pleased by the actions of one of these British eccentrics
William Archibald Spooner (1844 – 1930)
This famous Oxford don has gone down in history after coining the term ‘spoonerism’. Described as a small albino man with a head too large for his body, Spooner caught the attention of his students for his alleged frequent play on words where letters, words or vowels in a sentence are switched. Some examples attributed to Spooner include:
“Mardon me padam, this pie is occupewed. Can I sew you to another sheet?” (Pardon me, madam, this pew is occupied. Can I show you to another seat?)”
“Is the bean dizzy?” (Is the Dean busy?)
“Go and shake a tower” (Go and take a shower)
Spooner apparently was not fond of his growing reputation as his lectures filled with students eager to hear his slip-ups. And this absentmindedness continued into his daily life too, such as trying to inflate an inflated tire rather than a flat one on his bicycle, and pouring wine on spilled salt at a dinner party.
Lord Berners (1883 – 1950)
A composer, novelist and painter, Lord Berners’ eccentricties began at an early age when, upon hearing that dogs could be taught to swim, proceeded to throw his mothers dog out of the window to teach it to fly. Puberty was tough too, when his brief romance with an older student was ended when he vomited on the other boy. As he aged his eccentricities grew with him and he took to dyeing pigeons an array of vibrant colours at his house in Faringdon. He also had a rolls Royce which was fitted with a harpsichord so he could play music whilst being driven around. His array of interesting dinner guests included a pet giraffe and a horse. When Berners passed away, leaving his estate to his aptly named companion Robert ‘Mad boy’ Heber Percy, his gravestone featured the below epitaph:
“Here lies Lord Berners
One of the learners
His great love of learning
May earn him a burning
But, Praise the Lord!
He seldom was bored”.
William Buckland (1784 -1856)
Buckland was a theologian, geologist and also became Dean of Westminster, but he is remembered best for one of his more eccentric tendencies. Buckland had a simple life goal – to eat his way through the entire animal kingdom. Buckland munched his way through panther, crocodile and even mouse on toast which he served to dinner guests. Apparently the worst tasting creatures he devoured were moles and bluebottles, however the most remarkable wasn’t an animal at all, but human. Reportedly whilst visiting the Archbiship of York he was shown the heart of Louis XVI, unable to resist such a rare delicacy Buckland exclaimed ‘I have eaten many strange things, but have never eaten the heart of a king before’, and gobbled it up.