Saturday, May 16, 2009


To paraphrase F. Scott Fitzgerald, the English are different from you and I, and no its not that two countries separated by a common language nonsense.

To American eyes many English people are just plain strange. Their habits, humor, mannerisms and occupations are simply foreign to American tastes. As an a devoted Anglophile I find this disturbing.

For instance, according to The Telegraph two people who were quite famous in their field died recently. Each had stellar, long lasting careers. Both would have starved in the US.

To wit:
Margaret Gelling, age 84 when she passed, was a noted historian of English place names. If you have ever wrestled with a map of the English countryside you may have noticed that towns and villages names are generally very place descriptive. Anglo-Saxons had more names for hill, than Inuit have for snow. Over millenia, invaders and languages came and went, and names changed as languages changed. Margaret knew the how and why of many of the places on the map of England, having spent a distinguished career as a scholar and researcher. Later she served as President of the English Place Name Society. Sounds like a Monty Python skit, doesn't it?

American place names are too young, and often too egotistical to merit a place name society. Someday maybe, but not yet.

Peter Dennis: Mr. Dennis was a character actor who gave voice to the stories of A.A. Milne. Imagine making a career of presenting Winnie the Pooh on stage, and providing the voice for numerous books on tapes, and their successors? Mr. Dennis realized that Christopher Robin, Winnie, Piglet and gang were as much children stories as Sesame Street. Milne didn't believe they were either. The Hundred Acre Wood came alive in Mr. Dennis's retelling.

I have spent several happy hours this week, replaying Mr. Dennis's cherished stories. They are more real to me than today's newspaper.

My condolences to both their families.


photo from The Telegraph


ADG said...

Nice post, Toad. On a more superficial note...another reading suggestion....

The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs, and the Perverse Pleasures of Obituaries …by Marilyn Johnson

Toad said...

You are new here so I'll cut you some slack. Take a look at the comments of the Jan 13 post.

Ronda said...

Nice blog. I am just curious, and have a question. Please explain what cracked you up about your May 2 post? I had left a comment, but thought you might not see it. Am I missing something? Please tell.

Toad said...

Ronda: As I admitted there is a flaw in my character. I was struck by the improbability of being struck by lightening on a moving motorcycle.

I have several cousins who have been hit on more than 1 occasion by lightening, so I understand the damage it can do.

Just think though, what are the odds?

It was a joke, it didn't go over. It's probably time to let it go.

Ronda said...

Thank-you, and I hear what your saying. Your right, time to let it go. Sorry. I was just reading (and admiring) your blog when I stumbled upon that post.
Have a nice Sunday.

Toad said...

Ronda thank you for coming and keeping me on the straight and narrow.

I WAS WRONG! The post was in poor taste.

Your comments are appreciated.