What’s in a name?
Want to know a secret? I have an unusual hobby, which until recently I hadn’t told anyone about …
No. It isn’t toe wrestling!
Or extreme ironing.
Or lion taming.
No! Not even the extraordinary art of Hikaru Dorondango. (Though I’m definitely giving that a try.)
My hobby grew out of a childhood habit. You may think me daft, but sometimes it makes me stop the car, brakes squealing, and zoom into reverse. Or stand as still as a statue in the middle of a bustling town, smiling like a Cheshire cat. It often has me reaching for my camera – and makes me late for appointments because I have to make notes.
No, it isn’t trainspotting.
Okay, time to confess … I have a thing about place names. I collect them. There, I’ve said it.
I used to get car sick, so it began initially as a distraction. However, I soon discovered that it was a great source of inspiration. Even though a road or place name may only consist of one or two words, it usually tells a story. Sometimes it leads you down a path to an intriguing make-believe destination … which may even wind up in a book. It doesn’t really matter. The fun part is the discovery.
I have all sorts of names in my collection. Here are some from my neighbourhood.
Steeple Bumpstead … I love this one and not just because it contains a three-letter word I shall avoid mentioning. I imagine hobbits living here in bumpy dwellings beneath a lofty spire.