Yesterday we passed through Farringdon Gurney.
Ahead of us is Nunney Hatch. Tomorrow we’ll go and have a look at Piddletrenthide and possibly Puddletown.
It won’t be easy because the lanes are no wider than a goanna and occasionally we get stuck behind ‘lorries’.
We’re in England. It used to be my homeland. I used to understand the lingo but no more.
Especially in the West Country – it’s the bit at the bottom that extends south-westerly, like a leg that’s kicking Ireland into the Atlantic Ocean.
It’s considered the tourism heart of Britain. But not at the moment, when the fields (sorry, paddocks) are mud, the sky is grey and the trees as far as the eye can see are skeletons (and no, they haven’t had a fire – it’s just that time of year).
When I get back, if anyone complains about the heat, I’m going to kill them and lock their remains in a freezer. I could do with a bit of heat right now, and the warm winds of the Pacific Ocean instead of the winds they have here, which pass straight through you, like razor blades shot from a gun.
Thank God for the English pub. There’s a permanent ban on wind in an English pub. Well, except for that generated by your English Squire quaffing ale. They sit there, eating and drinking until the weather’s fit to live in, which is about April.
And while they’re sitting they chat about neighbourhood… places like Farringdon Gurney and Nunney Hatch. And they talk about lorries. And they call each other Old Chap.
We thought to start with they were having a lend of us, but it’s serious. I have returned to a foreign land where they speak in tongues. I am introduced to people and I stick out my hand and say G’day Mate, and they recoil like they’ve been shot.
I tell them about my ute and they think I’m reminiscing about a surgical operation. I ask for a stubby holder and they give me an ashtray (mind you, there’s not much use for a stubby holder here. Five minutes in the open air and the beer is a brickette of ice).
We have relatives over from England occasionally, to stay with us in Queensland, and they mock our places names. Places like Gundagai, Toowoomba and Boonoo Boonoo strike them as very droll.
I reckon they’ve got a nerve. We stopped at the pub in Farringdon Gurney and told them about Thuringowa. Oh how they laughed! On our way out we told them we thought Farringdon Gurney sounded like an implement used for giving enemas to horses.
Actually, I told them that. My wife made placatory noises and hustled me out the door.
“Worcester” I yelled back through the door. (It’s pronounced ‘Wooster’).
“Alnwick!” (it’s pronounced ‘Annick’).
And if you think it stops with places names – forget it! The people’s names are no better.
“Cholmondeley!” I screamed at the English squire quaffing his ale. (It’s pronounced ‘Chumley’).
“St John!” at his mate. (It’s pronounced ‘Singen’).
“Sidebottom!” I bellowed as my wife closed the door on my fingers. (It’s pronounced Siddy-bow-tham).
Personally I think he needed a quick exploration with a Farringdon Gurney, but he’ll have to wait. Nunney Hatch beckons.