Hoo, Wat(ford), Ware, Wen …

There’s been some sort of verbal meme running through Redfellow Hovel in recent days.

Blame it on Sixpenny Handley, where one of the quality papers was recommending a tasty house for sale. The address alone must add to the price. After that, it was open season.

A Malcolmian aside

— Hold on, Malcolm! Can a “meme” exist outside cyberspace?

Of course. The word predates hashtags, virals and the lot. You’ll find that a certain Richard Dawkins, in chapter ix of The Selfish Gene, apparently coined it back in those dark, pre-BBC Micro days of 1976:

The new soup is the soup of human culture. We need a name for the new replicator, a noun which conveys the idea of a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation. ‘Mimeme’ comes from a suitable Greek root, but I want a monosyllable that sounds a bit like ‘gene’. I hope my classicist friends will forgive me if I abbreviate mimeme to meme.‥ It should be pronounced to rhyme with ‘cream’. Examples of memes are tunes, ideas, catch-phrases, clothes fashions, ways of making pots or of building arches.

Days of yore (before even a 2MHz CPU)

Presumably some medieval meme infected Wiltshire and Dorset in particular, generating place-names that shouldn’t exist outside a Stella Gibbons parody (though her “Howling” is in Sussex — same difference).

Malcolm’s Norfolk origins come into question here, what with Witton and Watton, Thurning and Thurne, Tittleshall and Tuttington, Fritton and Fritton, Creake, Snoring and Peaseland Green.

Mote and beam stuff

So, as the Pert Young Piece set off for her day’s business in the court-rooms of Watford, the word-game of this posting’s title inevitably developed (“Little things and little minds”, we hear you say.)

Acidly, the thought emerged that Watford is about to lose its final link with higher culture, as Saracens remove to Barnet Copthall.

Our learned friend, the Pert Young Piece, added that London postal districts would then have the grand sum of two premier rugby clubs. London Irish are based at Sunbury [TW16] and play home games at Reading [RG2 0FL]. Harlequins (a blood-injury blasphemy at Redfellow Hovel) are at the Stoop [TW2 7SX].

Morning glory

Now Malcolm heads off into the late London morning, to buy the weekend’s rail tickets, via Ponders End, passing Ugley, Wicken Bonhunt and Wendens Ambo, catching a glimpse of Chittering from beside the Cam, on to Ely, along the flats of the Great Ouse, over Hilgay Fen to Downham Market (not far from Stow Bardolph which provided a Shakespearean character) to journey’s end at King’s Lynn (that was “Bishop’s Lenn” before the Reformation and Henry VIII snaffling it as “Lynn Regis”).

So, only one musical accompaniment here:



Filed under blogging, Britain, Daily Telegraph, East Anglia, fiction, History, Law, leisure travel, Literature, Music, Norfolk, reading, Rugby

2 responses to “Hoo, Wat(ford), Ware, Wen …

  1. Doubting Thomas

    A propos of your speculation that houses in Sixpenny Handley must sell at a premium, those in Shellow Bowells, Messing and Mucking must be substantially discounted.

  2. Malcolm Redfellow


    All the same, I’ve spent an hour with Pert Young Piece viewing a flat in Crouch End. Which has always been another of those suspect place-names, to my thinking.

    Memo to self: do try to avoid yet another post on the lines of the Telegraph‘s non-“pitch” for Leap Year’s Day at Loving. It could — oh, so easily — degenerate into strange Austrian villages. Or, even worse, the Pennsylvania Amish country (a liberal Democrat acquaintance was emphatic that “You need to keep left to get from Intercourse to Paradise”.)

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