In the Q&A I did for the Austin Chronicle, there is one entirely fictional item.
We all know about Reverend William Archibald Spooner, for whom the spoonerism (such as the time he announced a chapel hymn as “Kinkering Congs Their Titles Take”) was named. Fewer people know about his younger brother, Sir Evelyn, who left the family business for India in 1860 to became a colonial administrator and ended his life in a tea plantation in Ceylon. In his day he was a more extravagant blunderer than his brother – in fact, family letters suggested that he departed for the colonies because his absentminded reversals had caused so much social and emotional turmoil in his Victorian surroundings. He was said to resent how William’s spoonerisms gained him international notoriety and once told someone that “the spoonerism was maimed after knee, sea I may, and Willie’s tolerance shouldn’t be affronted.”
That I created a backstory to William Spooner’s blundering is fitting, given how most of the spoonerisms attributed to the man were invented by others. (It’s also possible to deliberately reverse sounds and words — just last night I heard about a fire dispatcher named Dick Dickerson
who could tell whole stories full of spoonerisms — and humorists like Colonel Stoopnagel have long plied their stuff.) But the backstory of Spooner — that he was an absent-minded guy, maybe with some brain disorder, but not as prodigious a spoonerizer as we think — is so boring, don’t you think? We can make up much better ones. Go over the top.