Well…Â I didn’t say I was giving up the song titles completely
This morning I have been faintly amused and bemused by the news from Lewes, where the local council is considering guidelines for the naming of roads.
It all seems a bit futile, and possibly a sign of a council that has too much time on its hands.Â I believe there are similar ‘rules’ about the naming of racehorses which only led to owners getting ever more inventive in order to end up with a name that can be ‘deliberately misinterpreted’.Â Â Give the public (or developers, or horse owners) a set of fixed guidelines and its like setting them a challenge, just like it is with the regimented format for car number plates where car owners still find ways to spell rude words.
More practically, if Lewes ever has a prominent local benefactor, celebrity or whatever called Brigadier Hoare, Lenny Shagmore or Maggie Higginbottom they will not be able to commemorate them by naming a road, avenue or gardens after them.
Another potential problem is that we have a living, evolving, language.Â Perfectly innocent street names can contain words that change their meaning as slang continues to develop or as acceptable words become taboo: like calling a place Gaylord Avenue a hundred years ago then seeing it become a local joke.Â And wasn’t one road in the City of London famously called Gropecunt Lane?
All very pointless really, but the depressing aspect is the idea of rejecting street names because they are ‘aesthetically unacceptable’.Â According to who?Â That is all very subjective – and also subject to changing fashions.Â If a road has a gasworks at the end of it, why shouldn’t it be called Gasworks Lane?Â Â There are plenty of Mill Roads around I am sure, and not all of them refer to quaint windmills but to the famously dark satanic mills of the industrial revolution.
Quite often the only evidence of various examples of local industrial history is in the street names.Â The Victorians were often proud of their achievements and loved to name roads after them, many of them relating to the railways.Â Â Are Railway Approach or Station Road acceptable or unacceptable?
As most roads are named by developers who want to sell what they build it is actually unlikely they will be choosing names like Leper Colony Alley – so yet another level of pointlessness really.Â Â Roads, even in the most urban or areas, will continue to be given names like Badger’s Frolic,Â Wheatsheaf Way, Honeysuckle Close or Poppy Pastures.
And in twenty years time ‘honeysuckle’ could become a slang word for a sexual activity anyway.
I do hope they allow Lettsbe Avenue though.Â It would be a shame if they didn’t.