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A Potter's Moll: Sycamores, But No Trees

...Now housing developments have names like Spring Glade, (sounds like air freshener), The Mews, Sycamore Close and so on. Someone said that the suburbs are where they cut down trees and then name the streets after them....

Liz Robison expresses a fascination for names - a fascination which these days can often be associated with regret.

I watched a fascinating BBC4 programme this week about David Lloyd George, presented by Huw Edwards. I had not realised what a key innovator he was, being the force behind the National Insurance Act and the beginnings of old age pensions.

Some years ago I read an article in the archives of The Huddersfield Examiner about an old lady who had starved to death. At the inquest her neighbour told the coroner that all she had had to live on was her ‘Lloyd George’, illustrating how important provision in old age appeared to people in the early twentieth century.

Lloyd George’s name was blemished later over a cash for honours scandal (‘Lloyd George knew my father….’), but Huw Edwards believed that Lloyd George despised the House of Lords hereditary privilege and did not think that what he did was so awful.

Anyway the programme was an interesting insight onto the transformation from the Victorian self-help ethos towards the creation of the Welfare State.

We had a pleasant day out in Clitheroe, Lancs., this week where there is an interesting gallery and craft shop called The Platform housed in the old railway station, while present day train travellers use a newer, tackier building alongside. Clitheroe is a pleasant market town in quite a rural setting, overlooked by the mighty Pendle Hill, on the edge of the Trough of Bowland. We ate in a very classy café-bar nearby – the best club sandwich I have ever had. Next door is an amazing department store selling hardware, ironmongery and every kind of household goods you could desire: a really nice old fashioned place, on three floors.

Clitheroe was the location of the famous sign seen outside a café: Home of the Traitors Pie: Lancashire Hot-Pot in a large Yorkshire pudding!

The only bugbear of the day was traffic. It took us two hours to go forty-four miles. Still, it gave us time to notice the boarded up pub in almost every community we passed through, including our own late-lamented Shepherd’s Rest. When we first came to Holmfirth in 1975 it was called The Bare knuckle Boys and apparently it did used to be a pugilists pub. A new landlord thought the name was downmarket and renamed it. We called it The Bare Shepherd.

Names always fascinate me and near Sowerby Bridge outside Halifax we went through an area called Friendly. So there was the Friendly Co-op, the Friendly Inn, Friendly Post Office etc. I hope the community lives up to its name.

Seeing Waterloo Street, Trafalgar Terrace, Mafeking St, and Kaffir Ave on our travels made me reflect on the fact that after the Boer War, battles, even if ‘won’, were still too terrible to commemorate in that way.

Now housing developments have names like Spring Glade, (sounds like air freshener), The Mews, Sycamore Close and so on. Someone said that the suburbs are where they cut down trees and then name the streets after them.

Hairdressers are inventive with names and three we saw were: Headquarters, A Cut Above, and Hair Today.

Our sixteen year old Isuzu 4x4 died this week – too much of a rust bucket to pass the MOT. Our son will try and sell it for parts on e-bay. It has been a valuable workhorse for pulling the caravan and hauling pots to Craft fairs, as well as being the only way we could get out during the recent snowy weather. But we feel too guilty about gas guzzling now and we have decided to do without a replacement, and if we need a truck we will borrow our son’s, and he can use my car.

I had a spare wheel cover made several years ago advertising our Booth House Gallery – hand made ceramics etc. The kids used to joke that Dad could no longer park on the double yellow lines outside the bank because everyone would know who it was.

Last night we of the Huddersfield Welsh Society celebrated, a day early, St David’s Day with a dinner and Welsh flavoured entertainment. Tom and Lynne Meredith and their son, Tom, 17, gave us varied and beautiful selection of music and chat. One particular song has haunted me all day. It has words from A Shropshire Lad by A E Housman and in it a dead soldier speaks to his living friend:

‘Is my friend hearty,
Now I am thin and pine,
And has he found to sleep in
A better bed than mine?’

Yes, lad, I lie easy,
I lie as lads would choose.
I cheer a dead man’s sweetheart,
Never ask me whose.

More from me in a fortnight.


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