Daily Archives: June 9, 2010


Heading towards the kitchen in Domus Logogustationis, I spied Maury sitting with his head in his hands. “Why so glum, chum?”

Maury looked up. Actually, he looked rather down, but he looked up at me when I spoke.

“I had an old chum for lunch.”

Normally I would launch into the obvious pun, but Maury looked like such a chump, I let it slide. “An old school chum?”

“Oh, I think this chum was old school, yes, probably. Whatever school it belonged to would have been rather old, I’m sure.”

Pause. “I… You what?” I looked again at Maury, and realized that he looked perhaps a little more peaked than piqued. “Oh. Some dodgy salmon?”

“I am wondering,” Maury said, “whether, when the menu said chum, it actually meant fish refuse, shark bait.”

“Well, where did you have it?”

“The Spa Diner.”

“Oh, yes, west on Queens Quay, isn’t it. I ate there once. The staff seemed friendly.”

“Oh,” Maury said wanly, “my waiter was certainly chumming around. It actually seemed a bit much as a chumbled my chunks of chum.” (Chumble means “nibble” or perhaps “munch” – Maury did not say chunder, but he looked as though that might be next.) “The atmosphere was less than elegant. They had CHUM on the radio.” (That’s a venerable Toronto hit radio station.)

“You should have gone to the Cambodian place,” I said. “Then you might have heard Chum Ngek.” (A master of Cambodian classical music: www.youtube.com/watch?v=DoMc4BJAoho)

“And not eaten yecchy chum neck.” Maury pulled a little face and looked a whiter shade of pale. “An evil coincidence it was that a nice food fish came to have the same name as a rather variegated mess of fish trash.”

“Coincidence indeed,” I said, “especially given that chum meaning ‘fish refuse’ or ‘shark bait’ may have come from Scots chum meaning ‘food’, while chum meaning ‘spotted salmon’ comes from a Chinook word meaning ‘spotted’ or ‘variegated’.”

“At least I didn’t eat an old chamber-mate,” Maury said, adverting to the origin of the chum that means “friend”.

“Well,” I said, turning towards the fridge, wherein a bottle of fizzy awaited my attention, “would you like some champers?”

Maury made a faint wave. “In a bit, perhaps. At the moment I have a chummy ache.”