See those young aspiring bishops, quite forgotten actresses
Back in the days when the internet was only for US Department of Defense researchers, I was a student. Like most students, my friends and I asked a lot of questions about the important things in life: politics, religion, science, where to score the best cannabis, which Kevin Ayers album was the greatest - that sort of thing. One to which we never found a satisfactory answer was "Who were the original actress and bishop", as in the expression "As the actress said to the bishop"?
Well, in the twenty-first century, when the world-wide web provides us with the functional equivalent of that staple of 1960s futurists, the "computer holding the whole of human knowledge", it occurred to me that this was a question that maybe I could now answer. And it was. I found the answer quite surprising, first of all because in its original form the question has no answer: there are no real-life templates for the bishop and the actress. However, in best Oxford English Dictionary manner, we do know the first occurrence of the phrase, which is much younger than I had imagined.
Nor had I previously known that Americans and Canadians don't use the phrase (not much of a surprise) or that they use "That's what she said" in the same sense.
While that isn't the sense in which the Saw Doctors are using it here, this is a good song. Enjoy.
A word of explanation of the title of this post, which sprang unbidden from my subconscious as I began to write on this topic. In the mid-1970s I was an undergraduate at University College, Durham. As you might expect from a collegiate university, many years of undergraduates (and of undergraduate humour) had led to the composition of various college songs, at least in my college (which was the oldest). I imagine other colleges - or the men's colleges at least - had similar dubious lyrics either extolling the glories of one's own establishment or scurrilously slandering the others. So: approximately eighty yards from my room was another college, St Chad's. Some of its buildings were 18th century, some more recent. (My own college was mainly housed in a Norman castle.) Chad's was originally founded as a seminary for those intending to become clergymen: as a result it retained an aura of High Church Anglicanism. There was also a kind of running gag that it was a hotbed of homosexuality, though I don't think anyone took that too seriously: it was an all male college (of which at the time there were five - now all the colleges are mixed), and its Anglo-Catholic associations joined up the dots, so to speak. (In fairness I should also point out that Chad's was renowned for two other things: the quality of its kitchen (invitations to dine there were highly-prized) and the coolest college ball in the calendar (the Chad's Candlemas Ball, which eclipsed even my own college's Castle June Ball - just).
Anyway, we Castlemen used to sing (on various occasions, especially when rather drunk and passing under the windows of St Chad's) the following lyrics to the tune of Beethoven's Ode to Joy:
St Chad's College architecture may not be fantastical,
But it has a strong tradition that's ecclesiastical.
See those young aspiring bishops, quite forgotten actresses,
Sanctimoniously performing homosexual practices.
(alternatively ".......Anglo-Catholic practices")