by Zolton in New Illustration on Friday 1 February 2008

‘Some people call me the space cowboy, some call me the gangster of love, some people call me Maurice, cause I speak with the pompetus of love’. The pompetus of love?! Really. I don’t know what the heck Steve Miller was on the day he wrote that, but I could sure do with some now. Forget his string of catchy singles (and If Fly Like An Eagle isn’t one of the better songs of that overwrought era, then I don’t know what is). Forget his rather plain name (easily done). Steve Miller’s greatest contribution to popular culture was to invent a word — pompetus — that no-one else has ever used since. It’s never been adopted into colloquial lingo. It doesn’t appear in the English Webster. It is, as far as invented words go, a failure. A blight on the sanctity of poetic licence. Shakespeare would have been horrified. Afterall, the legendary bard invented more than 2,000 words and phrases that have since become a part of the common lexicon. Words with meaning and substance, words that kinda make sense such as ‘addiction’, ‘swagger’, ‘undress’, and ‘obscene’. Now there’s pure genius. Not the skewered ramblings of a 1970s hit maker. [illustration by Illustrating Lucy]