Thursday, 14 January 2010

Better than a poke in the eye?

I didn't realise how conservative (please note the small 'c') I was until brewers started messing with pub names. After I have enforced world peace, and made being hungry illegal, my next act as global dictator will be to ban the re-naming of pubs. The only exceptions will be to allow hostelries suffering under travesties like 'Slug and Lettuce' to revert to their original names. They are, after all, the nation's history: we can re-examine it, re-interpret it but, Hollywood please take note, we should never re-write it.

But when it comes to eateries, especially those at the lower end of any scale of culinary sophistication, the British have long enjoyed humorous monikers. Fish and Chip shops glory in names like 'Chip off the Old Block' and 'The Plaice to Eat'. We just love to hate a pun. And the replacement of one letter with another is a great favourite. It sounds almost the same but that small difference has a big effect on the meaning. How about 'The Frying Scotsman' or 'Chip Ahoy'? (OK, I made that last one up but I bet it's out there somewhere.)

What I really like is local flavour. In Norfolk dialect, for example, here is pronounced hare so hairdressers have a field day with names such as 'Hair Now' and 'Hair to Impress'.

Culture, as well as language is, a factor in the naming of establishments. My nearest pub is on the edge of an estate that acts as a magnet for police cars and social workers. In the car park, under the pub sign, is a trailer-style fast food outlet whose name reflects the rough reputation of its hinterland. It took me a while to work out why it was called 'A Snack in the Mouth'. I hope, gentle reader, it takes you just as long.


  1. Sorry, got it in one. Must be the dark side within me.....

  2. I, for one, like the Nor-folk. Them, and those from Sussex (regrettably no pun on the second one, it's just the way it washes out).

  3. So I am ruminating on the Instant Karma that is my unfortunate due, according to your comment in your last post, and I am playing the words in my head, as well as I can remember them:

    "Instant Karma gonna get you....
    Gonna smack you right in the face....."

    Not the first verse, but I think it occurs somewhere in the song. So I am wondering if this most recent post of yours isn't the result of the Karma Gods working quietly in the background, telling me to watch out.....

  4. I'm with Cogitator, got it in one but then I've been on jury service all week. Not much Karma to be heard in court. I'm beginning to wonder if I'm the odd one out never having been smacked in the face, everyone else seems to be at it.

  5. Sorry, got it in one, but then I live on edge of the dark side ie "The Cross" (Mile Cross Estate, Norwich) so regularly run the gauntlet.

  6. I lived on George Pope Rd for a time so was probably part of the gauntlet. Funnily enough the junior school for the catchment was a joy. I haven't had the pleasure of Blyth Jex but heard many colourful tales. No doubt that high school's recent change of name and status (an academy now, I believe) will have made all the difference.

  7. Recently was joking with a headteacher friend who has just moved from being head at a school in a 'rough' area to one in a leafy suburb. The school motto is, 'living a fuller life'...or something. We had a good joke about what it would be for a much more deprived area...
    'proving that not all adults hit you'
    'providing you with a smoke free room during the day'
    'aspitarions beyond daytime TV.'
    ...we got really dark