Wednesday, 31 January 2007

The Name Game

As it happens English Heritage is inviting claims to the throne, to celebrate the opening of a new exhibition centre at Battle, and of course I am staking my claim to be queen. I like the idea of naming places after what happened there. After decades of holiday journeys across Britain - first as, and subsequently with, children - our journeys should be punctuated by places named 'Tea', 'Potty' and 'Sick'.

In Northumberland last summer we were impressed by the laconic accuracy of this sign. Someone suggested local inbreeding might explain such explicit guidance, but my roots are close by, and I prefer to think it shows a wry, existential wit. One feels the practice might usefully be extended to other objects. Tree, car, etc.

My cousin Helen grew up in a house named 'West House'. It had a gateway with stone gateposts. On one was carved 'West', and on the other, 'House'. She says that on one occasion a friend, who had only read the post on the right, arrived deeply impressed that she lived in a house named 'House'.

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