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. Or even the extraordinary art of Hikaru Dorondango. (Though I’m definitely going to give that a try.)
My hobby grew out of a childhood habit. On occasions it can make me stop the car, brakes squealing, and zoom into reverse. Or stand still as a statue in the middle of a busy town, smiling. It often has me reaching for my camera. And it can make me late for appointments because I have to make notes.
No, it isn’t trainspotting. But it is a peculiar pastime that some people are going to think is just plain daft. Okay, time to fess up … 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. But soon I discovered that it was also a great source of inspiration. A road or place name may only consist of one or two words, but 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.