Verbal retail therapy

Here in “old” York we are about to get yet another out-of-town retail park — a promised:

… top retail destination in York.

A total of 339,000sq ft of retail and restaurant accom[m]odation 

Such things need imaginative naming (and — see above — loose spelling). This one, for no obvious reason, is to be “Vangarde” — a variant spelling not known in English since the reign of Henry VII— though Gavin Douglas came close:

And Podalirius with drawyn swerd list nocht ces
Alsus the hird to persew throw the pres,
Quhilk ruschis abak for feir, his life to save,
In the vangart throw mony a poyntit glave.

Let’s go shopping!

A cry that brings pain and grief to many a male heart.

Yet, whence came “shops”? Presumably, in the days before manufacture and “retail” went their separate ways, “shops” were places where manufacture, display and sale were not segregated. Where they still exist (craftsmen furniture makers, for an obvious example) they are worth the visit. We may even be returning to that mode, with on-site craft breweries and the like.

Even by the time of John Dryden, there was a whiff of sulphur about “shops”:

In Gospel phrase their Chapmen they betray;
Their Shops are Dens, the Buyer is their Prey.
The Knack of Trades is living on the Spoil;
They boast e’en when each other they beguile.

Then we come to the verbal-noun, defined by the OED as:

The action of visiting a shop or shops for the purpose of making purchases or of examining the goods exposed for sale. 

The OED finds its first usage in:

1764   Zeal Seasonable Alarm London 13 (note) ,  Ladies are said to go a Shoping, when, in the Forenoon, sick of themselves, they order the Coach, and driving from Shop to Shop [etc.].

That’s a new one on me, so a moment’s googling provided the answer:

A Seasonable Alarm to the City of London, on the Present Important CrisisShewing, by Most Convincing Arguments, that the New Method of Paving the Streets with Scotch Pebbles; … Must be … Pernicious to the Health and Morals of the People of England. By Zachary Zeal, Citizen

From which, I guess, we are in the area of eighteenth-century contrived satire. Sure enough, Citizen Zeal proves to be a prototypical Little Englander/UKIPper (here without his long “s” and emphatic italicising of all key proper nouns):

ZealA great Commoner once said, America was conquered in Germany; and I can, with equal truth, affirm that England will soon be lost in America: of this, can there be a more striking and melancholy Proof, than that Carelessness and Indifference, that total want of true old English patriotic Concern, with which most of our Countrymen site tame and listless Spectators of the dreadful Devastation, occasioned by the Introduction of Scottish Administration, and of Scotch Pebbles, into this Metropolis. Not content with the Ascendant, they have so unduly obtained over us, they take this method of publishing it to the World, by razing our Streets, and pulling down our Signs; so that in a short time we shall not have a Foot of English Ground to walk upon, not will there be a Sign of an Englishman left, in the Metropolis of England.

The faithful Pen of History records, that Conquerors, in antient [sic] times, used to throw down the Houses, and to plough up the Streets of the Cities of the subdued Land: The Scots have not yet proceeded so far: Thank Heaven  we have still our Houses to live in; but these Houses so bared, so spoiled of their Ornaments, that many of our Streets seem not the same they were six Months ago; and they are perhaps left standing, only in the hopes, that they may in time be inhabited by these Emigrants, or their Posterity; who,  as the Goths and Vandals over-ran Italy, will, I am afraid, at length overspread and ravage this unhappy Land.

Citizen Zeal anticipated Thackeray, whose pen had a somewhat lighter touch:

vanity-fair… the life of a good young girl who is in the paternal nest as yet, can’t have many of those thrilling incidents to which the heroine of romance commonly lays claim. Snares or shot may take off the old birds foraging without—hawks may be abroad, from which they escape or by whom they suffer; but the young ones in the nest have a pretty comfortable unromantic sort of existence in the down and the straw, till it comes to their turn, too, to get on the wing. While Becky Sharp was on her own wing in the country, hopping on all sorts of twigs, and amid a multiplicity of traps, and pecking up her food quite harmless and successful, Amelia lay snug in her home of Russell Square; if she went into the world, it was under the guidance of the elders; nor did it seem that any evil could befall her or that opulent cheery comfortable home in which she was affectionately sheltered. Mamma had her morning duties, and her daily drive, and the delightful round of visits and shopping which forms the amusement, or the profession as you may call it, of the rich London lady. Papa conducted his mysterious operations in the City—a stirring place in those days, when war was raging all over Europe, and empires were being staked; when the “Courier” newspaper had tens of thousands of subscribers; when one day brought you a battle of Vittoria, another a burning of Moscow, or a newsman’s horn blowing down Russell Square about dinner-time, announced such a fact as—”Battle of Leipsic—six hundred thousand men engaged—total defeat of the French—two hundred thousand killed.” Old Sedley once or twice came home with a very grave face; and no wonder, when such news as this was agitating all the hearts and all the Stocks of Europe.

The Yorkshire connection

If we started with the Vangarde Retail Park, York, we have arrived — by association — about twenty miles away.

Hampsthwaite 01

A couple of years back, I spent Christmas in a cottage (about where the gent with the hat stands, above) in the village of Hampsthwaite. It’s just on the edge of Nidderdale, and noted for having a record succession of six consonants in its name.

A few doors down, also facing the village green (where the finger post, or its later successor, still stands), is the alleged family home of the Thackeray family. The family seem to have been hereditary parish clerks of Hampsthwaite during the late 17th to the early 19th centuries. William Makepeace T’s dad was Richmond Thackeray (that forename is a declaration of good Yorkshire roots, surely).


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Filed under advertising., Literature, Oxford English Dictionary, UKIP, York, Yorkshire

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