Got any spotted Dick or is it now called Richard!

THEY LL have us cloaking the legs of tables and chairs with frilly cover-ups next, like back in great grandma s day. The thought is prompted by the news that a council s canteens tried to rename Spotted Dick as Spotted Richard, apparently following the em

THEY'LL have us cloaking the legs of tables and chairs with frilly cover-ups next, like back in great grandma's day.

The thought is prompted by the news that a council's canteens tried to rename Spotted Dick as Spotted Richard, apparently following the embarrassment of staff who are asked for it.

And this, mark you, at a time when barrack-room language is on the goggle-box on any night of the week. That said, you can to some extent understand how the canteen staff may have felt.

Years ago a nippers' comic came out called The Whopper. A newsagent friend told me how he was regularly crimson-faced by the youthful demand "have you got a whopper, please?"

Naturally, his missus thought his discomfiture hilarious, with a certain nod, nod, wink, wink reason. Especially should the enquirer use the comic's correct title.

So you can quite see how folks of a sensitive nature might be a tad rattled over being constantly asked, maybe with a smirk, if they'd got a Spotted Dick.

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What salacious hay Big Ginger Lil - famed Queen Bee of our RAF camp's Naafi - would have revelled in the making of such approaches, had she that item on her menu.

There'd have been more double entendres flying across the counter than Kenneth Williams ever came out with! Clearly the council canteens involved have no belter of Big Ginge's high-octane calibre. The punters would be queuing out the door if they had.

It would be fun to visit those canteens and ask if their Spotted Richard is the same as what has always been known in East London's less salubrious parts as Sore Leg? They'd likely have kittens!

Quite where I picked-up the that uncouthness I forget, probably in the playground at East Ham's Hartley Avenue Infants.

I was all of six when I gleefully repeated it at table the first subsequent dinner we had Spotted Dick for afters. I copped a deserved clout from mum for it. Dad got one too for sniggering.

If there was any justice in the world this Spotted Richard absurdity would backfire on its PC perpetrators. What Spotty Muldoon's real first name is I never heard. Hopefully it's Richard.

Then, in this compensation-crazy era, he could turn up at a canteen advertising Spotted Richard a la carte, and sue their socks off for pain and distress, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, and so on.

He'd probably net enough to have something done about his spots.But nobody is going to question the change to Spotted Richard.

Most of us would rather run a mile than make a fuss about anything. Particularly us men. So a matter as trivial as subbing Richard for Dick will ignite few blood pressures.

The use of Richard or Dick often seems defined by the individual concerned, anyway.

Richard Van Dyke would have been as out of order as Dick Burton would. Though the former's mum doubtless always called him Richard, and the latter was equally known to mates as Dick.

Similarly, Whittington's moggy would have been somewhat wrong-pawed hearing the guv' addressed as Richard - before becoming the big cheese, at least. Yet, we can't really imagine the Lionheart being anything but Richard. For one thing, he doesn't come across as a guy to take liberties with, does he?

Even so, I suppose in the thick of battle he'd gratefully end up owing you for a vital split-second, time saving yell of "Watch your back, Dick!" instead of the formal, longer-winded Richard.

The Spotted Richard business leads to conjecture as to why it was Dick in the first place?

Surely not on the same horrid basis as our Sore Leg? Or because the original pimply Muldoon was Dick?

While giving the present name-changers due credit for trying to keep as near as possible to the original, I can't help feeling they'd have been on a real seller if they'd gone, say, for Dalmatians Dumpling, at least until the clients found out it was just good old Spotted Dick by another name.

Finally, it's worth recalling as students with Richard the Third on our syllabus, us herberts got to dub that infamous character as Richard the Turd or Dick the Sxxx! Both were admirably appropriate.

The Bard would have fully approved. Richard or Dick.

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