“For some ridiculous reason, to which, however, I have no desire to be disloyal, some person in authority . . . I don’t know who . . . very likely the Astronomer Royal, has decided that, although for such a beastly month as February,
twenty-eight days as a rule are plenty. One year in every four, his days shall be reckoned as nine and twenty. Through some singular coincidence . . . I shouldn’t be surprised if it were owing to the agency of an ill-natured fairy . . . you are the victim of this clumsy arrangement, having been born in leap year, on the twenty-ninth of February.
“And so, by a simple arithmetical process, you’ll easily discover that though you’ve lived twenty-one years, yet, if we go by birthdays, you’re only five, and a little bit over.”
I cannot say this is my favorite line from the beautiful bandy that makes up the comic Pirates of Penzance. In fact, there are so many gilded gems in the narrative I cannot pick one. (Though I would be lying if I didn’t think the Modern Major General wasn’t a shining star.)
But, favorite or not, it is a clever bit of workmanship and I always get a hearty chuckle from the movie.
Musicals have a special place in my heart and the old musicals even more so. The cleverness of wording has always inspired me to be a writer and to push the limits of my own verbal creativity.