Thursday, January 29, 2009

Belisha's Beacon

A night of magic with Nige resulted in a long discussion about the Belisha Beacon. There were two issues. First, how did such a whimsical, amiable and very British thing survive the depredations of modernity? And, secondly, why does nobody have names like Leslie Hore-Belisha any more?


  1. Well, 50% of them are disqualified by sex (and you've got the wrong half, btw) ;o)

  2. I'd be interested to know how many of your real-life conversations now conclude with: "Tell you what, I'll put it to the lunatics on the blog tomorrow."

    Red telephone boxes have hung on well too, especially now that nobody uses them. They were all supposed to have been replaced by plastic things but they're actually everywhere.

  3. Eliza Manningham-Buller is still making a pretty good stab at it, but I think the days of Shirley Crabtree, aka Big Daddy, are sadly gone. I blame that post-modern irony thingamajig that the lesser media types are so intent on bowing down to.

  4. What I said, Brit, was I'll post on that first. Nige capitulated.

  5. In the quest for brevity much has been lost, nobody would dare use names like Bernd Frytag von Loringhoven any more. Now we have Tony, Dave and Gordon.
    An old neighbour put a redundant red telephone box to good use, as a garden pissoir.

    Hey, today's word verification..bless, is this part of a master plan I ask myself.

  6. Somebody isn't reading their wife's trashy celebrity mags, Malty.

    We are in a golden age for crazy names. I give you:

    Aurelius Cy Macpherson
    Seven Sirius Benjamin
    Pilot Inspektor Lee
    Moxie CrimeFighter Jillette

    And that's without even mentioning Paula Yates's brood.

  7. Night of magic indeed, me old pal - but what I want to know is what happened after that bit where we were knocking back Hand Grenades at the Pink Pussycat Lounge and entertaining the punters with our famous Charleston demonstration...? It all gets a bit vague after that...

  8. Oh Malty, you are so right. Back in the day I used to be vaguely pally with someone whose full moniker was Jeremy Ranfurly-Plunkett-Ernle-Earle-Drax. Annoyingly he insisted on calling himself Jeremy Drax.

  9. People with memorable names get in touch with me every day. You guys just don't have what it takes. Why, only today I have received letters from "Deluccia Yentsch" about buying a "special present" for my girlfriend, and from "Barrister Sanni Ajamu (ESQ)" asking for my "honest cooperation" in a highly lucrative matter I'm not allowed to talk about.

  10. According to this, Her Majesty may be hoarding all the great names at her own pleasure.
    In any case, the greatest name ever is Mahatma Cote, a youngster who my older brother taught a few years back. Here's hoping that name reaches the corridors of power in the near future.

  11. Probably a relative of Mahatma Kane Jeeves...

  12. I have a few trump cards in the old "I knew someone with a crazy name" game.

    First, I went to school with identical twins both called Ben Blunt. (They were actually called Benjamin and Benedict, but the latter refused to be called Dick once he reached school age, for obvious reasons). You can imagine the difficulties.

    Second, my father claims he knew a pair of brothers in Zimbabwe (Rhodesia as was), called Twig and Pumpkin Twiddle-Staff. Beat that!

  13. A very high standard of silly names all round.
    I can only add a man I did go to school with called Chris Peacock. As yet unconfirmed rumours have it that he also had a cousin called Drew.
    Was I the only one who always looked forward to Indian PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee bing mentioned on the news for the love of his 4th, 5th and 6th syllables?

  14. OK, my last one. I had a friend called Emma who married a Mr Royds. The marriage didn't last long.

  15. When they eventually phase out the incandescent lamp will that be the end of the beacon? I just wondered. They'll have a striped pole with a tiny diode on top probably - it won't be the same.

  16. No one's mentioned the Korean government minister Lee Bum Suk. Or even Canaan Banana...

  17. Or Sir Ranulph Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes, or even Mr Dickshit.

  18. My husband's first job was as a social worker in L.A. One of his cases was a man with seven sons...ALL named "Homer." He also had a case who became Freddy Mercury, of Queen, but that's another story.

  19. My mother used to teach dyslexic kids in a number of Surrey and Berkshire's poshest schools. Once, as she was going in, she heard this priceless interaction between a master just by her and a boy on a playing field in the distance. (Actually I can't recall the name used but, what the heck, it's the principle that counts.)

    Master: Belisha-Smith, is that you or your brother?

    Pupil: It's my brother sir.

    They were twins, I think. The point being, both master and pupil knew exactly what the other meant, and the correct information was indeed communicated.

    The English language is a precious thing sometimes.

  20. Reminds me of Patricia Smith's poem Building Nicole's Mother (written here). It begins:

    I am astonished at their mouthful names--
    Lakinishia, Chevellanie, Delayo, Fumilayo--
    their ragged rebellions and lip-glossed pouts,
    and all those pants drooped as drapery.


  21. it's jeremy RYTON plunkett ernle erle drax, darling.