The changing paradigm of the anagram diagram can only lead to the anodyne

I’ve always had a bit of a thing about anagrams. I suspect constructing them is a mild form of OCD; but even if that is so, they’re harmless and entertaining.

The idea of ‘the game’ is to rearrange the spelling of a person or organisation in such a manner as to suggest their real nature and personality accurately or ironically. On this basis, Piers Morgan becomes Romping Arse or Ron Smearpig. You get the idea.With Piers, one always wishes his surname was Canute, but you can’t have everything in this life.

So to take some people in the news recently, Janet Yellen becomes Yale Jetlane (ironic), Mitt Romney becomes R.M. Moneytit (perfect), Donald Tusk is Dodunk Last, and Jeremy Corbyn emerges from the chrysalis as Moreby Crynger (suitably Dickensian) or Ben C. Merryjoy (ironic).

However, the arrival of Chinese politicians onto the world stage presents something of a problem for we radical Anagramistas. Apart from anything else, some Nazi phoneticist somewhere – a mysterious Bond villain who strokes cats and lives under a Pacific Atoll – keeps changing the way we should spell their names and cities. So there you were, minding your own business, and that terrific Mao Tse Tung anagram you had (Set Atom Gun) goes out of the window because the bloke is now called Moshe Dung.

Further, research shows that Asians are not good on the whole with r’s, and Chinese names tend to be monosyllabic. The best one can do with Chinese security spook Lu Wei (Uw Lie) is not exactly inspired, and for all I know completely inaccurate.

Then there’s the love affair with x’s, and q’s without u’s. The letters x and q are every rearranger’s nightmare. Huang Shuxian, deputy secretary of the Central Committee for Discipline Inspection – lucky man – was very nearly Ian Shag (something funny) but somehow, Huxu doesn’t fill the ‘funny’ space terribly well. The best I could manage was ‘U, Shanghai Xu’ and then I gave up.

Qi Jingmei – senior economist with the State Information Centre – is so unfair as an anagrammatic name, it would become the subject of a major Sino-British diplomatic incident were it not for the fact that the rubber-backboned British Establishment uses its spinal disability to engage in every form of bodily origami in order to please Beijing – which used to be called Peking….and still is when ordering duck in a Chinese restaurant. Jimi QI-Gen – the world famous rockstar Stephen Fry groupie – is as good as it got.

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