99 YEARS OLD AND STILL QUITE OFF HIS ROCKER...
ROCKING horses are all very well, but rocking sheep are another matter entirely, which is why I felt obliged to phone a young lady for clarification when she sent me an illustrated email yesterday.
The email concerned an “innovative product” called the HiHo Rocking Chair which it described as “the adult’s answer to the traditional rocking horse” but the picture accompanying it showed a lady rocking on something that looked suspiciously like a minimalist artist’s version of a sheep.
The name “Hiho Rocking Chair” also evoked memories of the Lone Ranger’s horse, which he would address with a cry of “Hiho, Silver!” So I rang her up but even before the question of whether it was a sheep or a horse, I needed to clear up another matter concerning how one mounts the beast.
“The pictures,” I said, “show the young lady rocking to and fro, as one does on a traditional rocking horse but it seems to me it may be equally comfortable, if not more so, if one rides it sidesaddle when the curved base will produce a side-to-side motion rather than to and fro.”
“The method is at the discretion of the rider,” she said.
“It’s a question of the right verb to use,” I said. “One would say brangle, daven, pendulate, titter, or waw, if it’s a to and fro movement, but hobble, shog, sally, swale or wintle, if it’s from side to side.” “What about shoogle?” she asked. “A good question,” I said, “but sources differ on the matter. Collins dictionary does indeed say that shoogling can mean rocking back and forth, but the OED just says it means to shake, swing about or walk unsteadily. But to get back to the sheep/horse controversy: the item seems to me definitely rocking-equine in character, but ovine in appearance.”
“We told you it is an innovative product,” she said, which brought me to another vital question: “How much is it?” I asked. “It’s £1,599.99,” she said. “A penny change from one thousand six hundred pounds?” I asked incredulously. “You can get a whole free-range lamb for only £160, including delivery. That’s ten real sheep for one of your rocking sheep.”
“Ours are covered in the finest wool and have excellent wooden rockers,” she insisted.
“And the £160 variety have excellent edible insides which I could fashion into a number of fine meals,” I countered. “And what about the Lone Ranger anyway? He’d have looked silly on a sheep.”
“I’m sorry,” she said in a questioning tone.
“You call it the HiHo Rocking Chair,” I reminded her. “Does that not bring to mind the Lone Ranger’s cry of HiHo Silver, which he called to his horse?”
“Not at all,” she said. “What the Lone Ranger said was not ‘HiHo Silver’ but ‘Hi-Yo Silver’. That’s completely different. But I agree that he would have looked silly on a sheep, which would probably not have understood Hi-Yo anyway.”
“I guess you’re right,” I said, but I still thought £1,600 a lot for a sheep.