Inklings: What’s in a name?

  • Friday, December 13, 2013

What’s in a name?

More than you might think!

Juliet first asked that question in the late 1500s. I had reason to ponder the same query some 40 years ago. A nudge to memory brought it all back vividly, coming from a creative agenda at a recent Summerville Writers Guild meeting.

Scribes will take on most any writing challenge to improve their craft. Thus when “Writers Prompts” was the program for that SWG gathering, members eagerly got out their paper and pens – or notebooks and pads. Dena Phillips suggested 20 prompts. Ellen Hyatt led the exercise. We were to choose a prompt, then at the signal, write about that subject for five minutes. At the end of that time we read our work to each other.

The prompts were varied and included such topics as: winning the lottery; choosing a favorite school subject, movie, age or celebrity; having a scary experience; being a particular animal; fascination with nature; and describing your first date. I chose “Write about an experience you have had on a trip overseas.” Now I’m very blessed. Because of Jim’s Air Force career, we had the opportunity to live in England and travel throughout Europe. I’ve seen Buckingham Palace, the Town of London, the Eiffel Tower, and the Vatican to name just a few.

But what I chose to write about was a day’s coach (bus) trip through the English countryside. It wasn’t the destination that was so memorable – as Emerson once declared – it was the trip. And thus began my narrative.

“A group of Air Force wives boarded the coach mid-morning and in British tradition, each of us carried a basket with cheese, fruit, “crustless” sandwiches, cream buns, and a bit of the bubbly. After a few hours of riding, eating and sipping, I was deputized to ask the driver for a bathroom break. I approached this worthy with the request and he smiled knowligly, telling me that we’d stop at “The Bushes” just ahead. Being an American, I translated his answer to refer to a pub. After all, loads of British pubs had names like that.

“All set!” I told my travel companions. “We’ll stop shortly.” And we did. In front of a giant row of bushes. There was much consternation among the passengers but the driver explained that this was normal on such trips into the deserted countryside. And everybody just stepped discreetly behind the ready plant life.And besides, he added “there wasn’t a proper loo within miles, and you ladies seem in a hurry.”

And well, we were. Resignedly we filed out of the vehicle and crept behind the shrubbery to see rolling farmland. Unfortunately it wasn’t deserted. There were two farmers ploughing their fields just a few yards in front of us. They wore straw hats which they tipped in our direction and incredibly burst into a grinning duo of “Rule Britannia”!

We stood stupefied for a minute or two and then Yankee ingenuity kicked in. Whispered conspiracy plans traveled among us almost as fast as the fighter jets our husbands flew. Taking turns we fanned out, spreading open coats as a privacy screen. When all missions were accomplished, we lined up, waved at the farmers, blew them a few American kisses and broke into our own gleeful rendition of “God Bless America.”

Sometimes it’s not the question that’s so memorable. It’s the answer.

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