There is a bad habit, one which unfortunately I share, of considering things which have only the most tenuous of links as plays on words or puns. Call them parapuns if you will (I will), as they are half-baked and rubbish. An example: well an example from my own writing leaps out at me for the pointless amount of work it made me do. Writing a thriller at the moment, there is a scene where a character comes across and ansamachine with 40 unheard messages. This number was plucked randomly to suggest “a lot”. Then via a comic pratfall one is accidentally erased, leaving 39 messages.

Suddenly the idea of “The 39 Messages” seemed hilarious to me. So much so that I then wrote an entire chapter with the messages in. Needless (though it spun out a few interesting ideas) and more importantly, there is barely a link between the 39 Messages and The 39 Steps. There is nothing there.

But of course mine is not in print and will be excised before it gets to that point. Pity be the publisher who though his stock of Noam Chomsky books were getting a bit high and he though of bundling four of them together. As “The Chomsky Quartet”. Play or words with the Brodsky Quartet, coincidence or just rubbish. Parapun at best.