Via Incoming Signals I discovered an archive of scripts for the British sketch comedy show “A Bit of Fry and Laurie.” As an aficionado of the Higher Lower British Humor, I was delighted, but didn’t expect it to be LH material—until my wife drew my attention to “Gordon and Stuart eat Greek.” If you have some acquaintance with Greek, either Ancient or Modern, you will enjoy this little scene.

If you don’t know Ancient Greek, the bit about the word “genoymeen” will zip right past you, so I’ll explain that it’s an old-style Brit pronunciation of γενοιμην, an optative form meaning ‘may I be’ or ‘that I might be’ that was so familiar to those who partook of an old-school classical education that Rupert Brooke could insert it into an English poem, “The Old Vicarage, Grantchester,” which is online in many places but apparently only here with the Greek bit in actual Greek:

ειθε γενοιμην . . . would I were
In Grantchester, in Grantchester!


  1. You mean that retsina isn’t made by fermenting lumber?

  2. Oh, I found that a while ago, while searching for the sketch “European Deal“, which I think might also interest you.

  3. Heh. Thanks much!

  4. I still don’t understand how Hugh Laurie went from here to starring in “House” – does his Scottish accent come through in that series?

  5. Lovely, Steve. An almost bottomish scene, one might say.

  6. aldiboronti says

    Hugh Laurie’s American accent is honed to perfection. In fact, Bryan Singer, director of The Usual Suspects, X-Men, etc, and producer of the series, had no idea that Laurie was British when he heard him in audition.
    I do hope he gets the Emmy for which he’s been nominated, although I’m rather torn as Ian McShane is up for one too. (But didn’t he get one last year, in which case – you go, Hugh!)

  7. And all this time I thought “genoymeen” was just funny-sounding nonsense.

  8. Graham Asher says

    May we have breathings and accents on ειθε γενοιμην, please? Sadistic of me to ask, I know. I suspect that ειθε is paroxytone and γενοιμην is properispomenon but those are total guesses.

  9. It’s είθε γενοίμην. (Er, if that doesn’t come out right, it’s acute accents on both iotas. There should be a smooth breathing on the first but I’m too lazy to figure out how to do that.)

  10. Self-loathing Greekborn says

    It’s ‘eethai (‘th’, as in ‘thirst’) yehneemin’.

  11. Lars Mathiesen says

    Not in Received Greek, I’m sure. But what public school Greek before 1987 makes of it, that article is no help in discovering.

  12. It’s ‘eethai (‘th’, as in ‘thirst’) yehneemin’.

    Only in Modern Greek pronunciation, which is irrelevant to English pronunciation.

  13. David Eddyshaw says

    For Brooke, “Eyethee ginoymin.”

    However, even when I did Greek in what I suppose was a public school (but in Scotland, so it doesn’t count) in the 1960’s, the pronunciation taught was basically Sidney Allen-type. On the other hand, we’ve always been far ahead of the benighted English when it comes to Culture.

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