Wednesday, January 03, 2007

A way with a manger

Over at The Chasms of the Earth, Patroclus is rightly sniffy about using anagrams as a supposedly clever literary device. The annoying thing is when you can tell that a slightly peculiar name is an anagram, but you can't work out what it's an anagram of.

In The Da Vinci Code it was Sir Leigh Teabing, soon revealed to refer to two of the authors from whom Dan Brown didn't - repeat, didn't - rip off most of his plot details. It's such a daft name, you just know it's got a hidden meaning.

And now Torchwood gets in on the act. In fact, that's an old story, Torchwood itself being an anagram of Doctor Who. But the season finale indicates that this is one habit the scriptwriters can't shake off, as dancehall caretaker Bilis Manger (played by Murray Melvin like a cross between Kenneth Williams and a cobra) is revealed to be an acolyte of the demon Abbadon.

Bilis Manger? Immediately, the biro came out. The best I managed were:






Any improvement on these?

Oh, and it seems that the tabloids have run out of news after just three days: H off of Steps not that into girls, actually, shock horror, says The Sun.


Anonymous said...

Sibil German? Don't ask me what it might mean, mind. Although I like 'Blair's Minge' best. Not in that way.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Cherie gets my vote. Not in that way.

Or "Bring a smile"?

(I hate myself for not thinking "Teabing" is a completely stupid name now!)

Billy said...

I didn't spy the Teabing because I assumed it was the kind of name Americans thought we had.

Better than anagrams is when the name means something in French or Latin or whatever. Bizarrely, the Harry Potter books do this well.

Or we could just call characters things like Professor Robert Expertsymbologist or Jacques Renownedcurator.

That would be silly.

Anonymous said...

erasing limb.....*screams at sight of arterial bloodflow*

regains limb *phew*

remains glib

it just makes me chuckle, I want to say "Tea Bing?" and get him a cup.

Thats..Harry Lillis "Bing" Crosby (May 3, 1903 – October 14, 1977) was an American singer and actor whose career lasted from 1926 until his death in 1977....oh I'm doing it

Anonymous said...

The Blairs minge bit has put me right off my Christmas cake and Wensleydale.

Tim F said...

The German Sibil lives in a cave just outside Bremen, and offers gnomic utterances to the coach of the national football team. She also coined the phrase "Vorsprung durch technik".

And Teabing is possibly the silliest fictional name in history. Although I remember David Baddiel's argument that Dickens's creative brilliance was hampered by his tendency to give the hame away with his characters' names. If you got two people called Esther Lovelyvirgin and Sir Jasper Evilbastard, a certain tension goes out of the narrative.

Doc: Cracking crack, Gromit.

Valerie Polichar said...

I came up with bring a smile, but Murph got their first... The German Sibil might be a reference to Veleda (, but that may be expecting a lot...

Billy said...

I can remember reading a review where someone complained about Pynchon naming a character "Mike Fallopian"

Anonymous said...

Murray Melvin , what a fine actor ... 'played by M.M. like a cross between Kenneth Williams and a cobra' ... very accurate description, that.
Blairs minge ... arf arf ... and a lovely gratuitous swipe at the grasping Cherie.
Pynchon is renowned (like Dickens)for coming up with unlikely character names, Benny Profane and Oedipa Maas being obvious (and obviously symbolic ) ones ... 'Fallopian' raises a few questions about old Tom. Maybe his new novel has a character called Herbert Caughtinbloatednarrative.

Anonymous said...

And I forgot to ask ... does Sir Jasper Evilbastard turn up in Bleak House or Hard Times?

llewtrah said...

I was also convinced Bilis Manger means something, but hadn't had time to put it into an anagram generator e.g. Anagram generator.

Results are at Results for Bilis manger

Tim F said...

I like the sound of Veleda. Although there is something a tad TDVC about the whole female shaman schtick.

Murray Melvin was, of course, a Church functionary in The Devils (now doomed to be known as "a film made by that fat bloke off of Celeb Big Brother) although in Torchwood he seems to have been batting for the other side. And Sir Jasper is in Edwin Drood (a line I always use because nobody's read it).

llewtrah said...

Americans seem to think we have surnames like "Hubsteed" so I wouldn't have noticed Teabing either!

Anonymous said...

Bilis info?

Tim F said...

Some of my best friends are Hubsteeds.

And that's brilliant, Anon. I was wondering when Bad Wolf would come into the act...

Mangonel said...

*pant* *pant* *pant* *pant* Am I too late? I hope you started without me? Good!

Ah. Day five and you're not past the FACT page. I've had all this time to get needlessly excited about discussing Langdon's 'scholarly allure', 'captivating presence' and 'low, baritone speaking voice . . . (like) chocolate for the ears'. How Mr Brown does ratchet up the tension! I trust you will be providing me with some relief soon.

Thanks Billy'n'Llewtrah, I'm not thick for not spotting the Teabing thing. And I speak as a BIG fan of tHBatHG. Now that nonsense was inspired.

llewtrah said...

I hope you don't mind, but I've nicked your excellent description of Bilis (Kenneth Williams/cobra) for a post title!

Tim F said...

Llewtrah: Liberty hall, as the Brigadier used to say.

And Mangonel, lovely to see you, but you're in the wrong room, I think. Intermediate Salsa is down the corridor. This is Self-harm Anonymous.

Mangonel said...


Anonymous said...

This is my theory as to who Bilis Manger is:

Bilis is a timelord – which one I will leave to your imagination. His TARDIS is grounded in Cardiff at some point in history though when I don't know. The reason he wanted the rift opened, apart from the deal he made with Abaddon to free him, was that his inert TARDIS needed more rift energy to power up and therefore free this timelord from his imprisonment. He is able to use the last vestige of his TARDIS' power to cross through time for short steps but is only along the timeline of his TARDIS' location.

With the rift opened, this timelord's TARDIS is freed, and naturally materialises in the hub, much to Jack's pleasure – he runs to the battered blue police box and skids to a halt.

The figure at the console turns: it is Bilis Manger.

"You were expecting someone else, my boy?" he asks, a sly mischievious smile at his lips.

Anyway, that my two pennies worth – for what it's worth.

Anonymous said...

Neal Stephenson's "Hiro Protagonist" is my favourite.

Tim F said...

Excellent one, MW. I like the way that you can almost get the word "master" out of "Bilis Manger" but not quite.

Anubis: Your favourite what? Or should we leave that to the imagination?

Anonymous said...

My favourite instance of knowingly Dickensian character naming, that would be, though it came up about 600 comments ago and I was a bit late.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm....well Bilis is an anagram of Iblis, the version of the devil from the Qu'ran. So Iblis Manger would be the place the devil is born?

Best I can manage....

Anonymous said...

I am a year behind (thank you SciFi channel) , but fortunately I don't suffer from Hubsteed Misconception which is described above.
"Blame Gin Sir" is the anagram I like the best, and my theory is probably rubbish, or at the least, contrived.
Bilis Manger is a much older Capt. Jack. He didn't sneeze and become the face of Bo one day, so it must have occured in stages. Like traversing the rift. Do rift hopping villians worshipping eternal evil really keep notes?

Unleash Abbadon, well, that's irresponsible isn't it? Unless much farther along in the future he becomes problematic and Jack/Bilis knows he can survive.
A bit of a long speech for someone that killed the civillian boyfriend without dialog, and said about two words while he was helping everyone find the equation. Which he knew only Tosh had? Because she's scrawling it on biscuit shop napkins in the future?

And he manipulates everyone in Torchwood in a way that even the mind reading casual observer would have difficulty with.

But I thought 13 might be Dr. House's daughter, so who knows.