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06 November 2012

“Fond membership”

Two members of the BBC Advisory Board:
Sir David Morley and Major Gethin-Jones of Abershotgun.
Both are highly literate gentlemen who either did not see
the letter before dispatch or, more likely,
were as amused by the joke as I was
The other day, I received an emailed letter from my favourite Moscow club. Cutting out the business part in the middle, this is how it read:

Dear Ian Mitchell

It is time to renew your British Business Club Membership for the coming year. Will you please make arrangements to make payment as per your details below.....

We hope that you have fond membership of the BBC fun and enjoyable and trust that you will come again next year.

Best regards

Advisory Board
The British Business Club

in Russia

     “Fond membership”, indeed! And “fond membership of the fun and enjoyable”, is even better. Due to the punctuation (the lack of a comma after “enjoyable”) I also have “fond membership of the fun and enjoyable and trust”—or did have until I get to the end of the sentence and had an opportunity to go back and re-read it with a view to sorting out the real meaning, which had been so well camouflaged by the chaotic grammar.
     At first I thought “membership” was a misprint for “memories” as that is the natural word to follow “fond” in such a context: “We hope you have fond memories of the BBC fun.” But then I encountered “enjoyable” and had to revise that theory. Nonetheless, I rather liked the idea of “fond membership”. It has a ring to it. I also liked the idea of “membership of the BBC fun”. Join the fun; become a member of the fun. Who's quibbling?
     I know what it means. But do you?
     If not, there are better times ahead! I urge all readers who might be interested in the sort of entertainment which derails grammar on Club nights to consider joining this excellent little organisation.
     See www.britishclub.ru  for details.

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