I remember the days. A bunch of sleep-deprived, nocturnal arts undergraduates, slumped in commonroom chairs, allaying our boredom and flexing our otherwise dormant intellects, by indulging in “punfests.” The rules were simple enough. A pun in every sentence with a common theme. The first half-dozen utterances were often witty and clever, with flashes of sheer brilliance. After that, the quality ranged between the silly and the insufferable. But then, no one cared at 3am in a collective caffeine-induced stupor.
Recent story headings in The Age have revived the memories, especially the declining literary quality. Today (Saturday 7/1) your readers are tortured with “Minister’s sea-level view lands him in hot water” (as good as it got – 5 out of 10); “Everything gold is new again, and Ballarat really digs it” (score 2); and “Forgive us our trespass …” (2 again). But that pales beside the tastelessness of “At a stroke, Washington’s Middle East policy left high and dry” (referring to Ariel Sharon’s grave illness).
The punishment is too much. Please spare us the wit. Plain and prosaic may just be the new clever.