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9:12am on Thursday, 3rd November, 2005:

More Spookiness


On the flight from Austin to Chicago, I got talking to the person sitting next to me on the plane (or, more precisely, he got talking to me). He was also going to England, but had a different flight out of Chicago; he was an accountant for a software engineering company that sold "business-enabling packages". His final destination was Maidenhead. "Ah, in Berkshire", I replied. Noting my pronunciation (BARKsher), he said that he was going to say BERKshyre until someone in the office who had already been there pointed out his mistake (which, interestingly, didn't used to be a mistake: the mild English term of abuse "berk" comes from somewhat stronger origins in the Cockney rhyming slang, "Berkshire hunt").

Anyway, I mentioned that there are many towns in Britain which have names pronounced entirely differently to how they're written. I told him about Happisburgh in Norfolk, which is pronounced HAZE bruh, but then the person in the seat in front derailed the conversation by interjecting "Cholmondley" (CHUMley) before I could get onto Wemyss (WEEMZ).

So, this morning I'm listening to the radio and they're talking about how some people in East Anglia have received unusually large electricity bills — £59,000 instead of £80, that kind of thing. One of the people interviewed as from Happisburgh, which the interviewer cheerfully pronounced as HAPiz burr.

It's just as well I don't believe in synchronicity or I'd be out in Happisburgh right now trying to sell business-enabling packages to the locals. Well, only those who don't pay their electricity bills by direct debit, obviously, as they'll still have functional bank accounts.

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Copyright © 2005 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).