What are they on about?

7th July 2000 at 01:00
David Newnham finds that names are in the eye of the beholder

Just imagine, say those who oppose the Government's plans to build millions of new homes in Britain. The countryside will be covered in concrete.

But they're missing the point. It's not the concrete we have to fear, but the street names that come with it. From Tudor Croft and Holmedale to Prince's Close and The Furlongs, our landscape will read like an A-Z of glop.

And then, perhaps, we'll be glad of our funny old primary schools. That's right. I'm talking about Dr Triplett's in Hayes and Lonesome First in Mitcham, Mount Nod primary in Coventry and Ling Bob junior in Halifax.

If names like these seem designed to keep outsiders guessing, then rest assured that Blanda Homes plc would change any one of them to Ivy Mead or Mapledene tomorrow, in the interests of risk management. But, fortunately, a braver mentality has been at work in education authorities over the years.

If a village is called Moggerhanger - and you'll find just such a spot in Bedfordshire - then the lower school is called Moggerhanger lower school, plain and simple. And if Edna G Olds is worth honouring at all (th people of Nottingham were in no doubt), then Edna G Olds is the name on the gate.

Cast your eyes over the Primary Education Directory. It has more than 1,500 pages, and every one is grey with text. But it's possibly the most colourful book in the English language. Had Dickens been able to afford a copy, he'd have found Crudgington and Brimrod, Bugthorpe and Much Birch there for the taking.

At Pratts Bottom or Heap Bridge, they accept their names, warts and all. And no doubt those who find themselves at Tiptoe, Stillness, Moldgreen and Upperthong (not forgetting Netherthong) are proud to tell the world.

Names like Old Falling and New Invention speak to us all, while Worlds End and Four Dwellings, Indian Queens and Round Diamond conjure up images enough to fill half a term of musings.

Does it matter that Idle, Shelf, Wallop and Snoring give rise to the occasional Giggleswick? Are children hamstrung for life at Ham Dingle? Do they feel left out in the cold at Freezywater or excluded at Dropmore?

Perhaps only one community deserves sympathy for the burden it must bear. Yes,my heart goes out to all at Newnham junior school, Ruislip.


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