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A Shout From The Attic: Snickets, Ginnels And Alleys

Ronnie Bray explains the difference between snickets, ginnels and alleys.

For more of Ronnie's vigorous life story please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/a_shout_from_the_attic/

If it took a long time to get to one place from another, it is because the two had no connecting snicket, ginnel, or alley. These are the standard shortcuts and any civilised place has more than a smattering of them. They made the difference between catching a bus and missing one. The simple rule of them was that the running person had right of way.

Snickets were different than ginnels, and alleys were wider than them both. A ginnel would have a wall or hedge on either side, but a snicket could have low fences or a garden hedge on one side. An alley was a place between buildings that had room for something to be there, but nothing was. It could also be paved like a roadway, whereas, snickets and ginnels could be paved for foot traffic, but more often than not, they weren’t paved at all. To really understand the difference, you had to be there. If you mistook one for the other, the locals would not embarrass you. They would just smile and nod gently as if to say, Furriner!

It was hard to kid people that you were from round here if you weren’t. The nuances of language and familiarity with nicknames would expose you as a comer-in, and set you apart from the tribal niceties of the locals until you had gained widespread acceptance. This could take fifty years, but often it took twice as long.


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