Call me picky…call me a word snob… but the creation of a new housename by taking bits from owners’ personal names in the false hope that it looks like…well…the name of a house. The criteria normally used for naming houses…location, view, history etc… is surely enough…isn’t it? I always think of the next owners coming in and finding their home is named after the very people who took all the light bulbs and toilet paper prior to their leaving.

“Cut and shut” – a car that has been made by joining the front half of one car to the back half of another, typically after both cars have been damaged in accidents (Oxford Online Dictionary)

THE PEDANT’S PURSUIT OF VAINGLORY

Part Two – ON DISCOVERING NEVADA COTTAGE

I think of myself as a wordsmith,

More a wordsnob if the truth be known;

Sit myself high on a pedant’s stool

And see one trend that cuts to the bone.

The thing that really scuppers my boat;

It sends my longship sinking in flames

Is the forming of a hybrid word,

‘Cut and shut’ from another two names.

Take dogs…Labradoodle…Cockerpoo…

I’m assuming that you will agree,

They cost much less when they were mongrels.

It’s half Bulldog, half Shih Tzu ‘fy’ask me.

So when owners of a cottage who

Are stuck for ideas, then decide

To angle-grind and weld a new name;

A little part of me dies inside.

With names changed to protect the guilty,

Let’s try it with Anthony and Kay.

Kaytone sound less like a house and more

Like cheap headphones you’d buy off eBay.

Sandra and Barry please tell me why

Sandbar Cottage is miles from the shore.

Norm, Else at 2b are not to be

Praised for calling their home Elsinor.

Shouldn’t a cottage take its name from…

Its location, character or view?

House names should celebrate the language

Not stick two together and make do.

So when I found Nevada Cottage…

The very kind of house name I meant.

One that drips with authenticity

Enough to cheer up this malcontent.

At last a house name with history

And a story I can guarantee.

So sure am I that if I am wrong

You can hang me from the pedant tree.

Our hero laid low by circumstance;

The price of tin enforcing his hand

To an exile away from Cornwall;

Found him washed up in an unknown land.

Nevada

He wrestled hardship onto its back

By mining gold out in Nevada.

Then came back home resurgent and placed

A foot on the property ladder.

I stand outside Nevada Cottage

There’s a light on; I’ve got to know more,

Hoping to have my theory confirmed.

With some resolve; I knock on the door.

I stare at the brass Cornish pisky

As the answering takes quite a while.

When at last the door is opened by

An old man with a disarming smile.

Greetings exchanged; I come to the point.

“Tell me why is your cottage so named?”

His laugh dislodged a build up of phlegm.

“Best come through,” he finally proclaimed.

“The missus is in the back parlour

She’s working on our family tree.

Spending hours on that laptop of hers,

Course it’s all a mystery to me.”

And there she was sat at the table

Amid files which backed up his story.

Eager to impress with my knowledge

(The pedant’s pursuit of vainglory!).

I surmised that their cottage was named

From a life better lived…post downfall.

Privation, migration…then gold rush

And triumphant return to Cornwall.

I stood waiting their approbation;

They both smiled in treasured collusion.

“Nice story, Boy, but wide of the mark!”

The dropped jaw betrayed my confusion.

“It’s much simpler than that…”  said the man

In a rasp not unlike Darth Vader.

“You see my name is Neville…well Nev.

And this is my wife…she’s called Ada.”

© gray lightfoot

Hear Gray read the poem at…