Re: Thailand celebrates its Groundhog Day (02/02/14 15:06:02)
Here is another one especially forya.
When the Thai authorities selected today for the ''Big Event'', one wonders if they were aware that Feb 2 is better known in the US as Groundhog Day, when what is basically a giant rodent emerges from its burrow and predicts the weather for the next few months. Following the success of the 1993 film by the same name, in which a day keeps repeating itself, the expression ''Groundhog Day'' has come to be understood as ''an unpleasant situation that continually repeats, or seems to''. As that seems to just about sum up the current state of play in Thailand, the election could not be held on a more appropriate day.
Mind you, even the groundhog would be hard pressed to forecast what's in store for the Land of Smiles. It might be an idea to keep an eye on any erratic behaviour by Bangkok's overweight rodents today for possible clues as to what we can look forward to. At a guess, we could be in for a lot more whistling.
Phil and Willie
Groundhog Day is celebrated in a small Pennsylvania town with the magnificent name of Punxsutawney. The groundhog which puts in appearance every year is known as ''Punxsutawney Phil'', which is a kind of cool name for a rodent. It sounds a bit like a gunslinger from a John Wayne western. Mind you, the name does lose a certain appeal when translated from its Native American origins as ''town of mosquitoes''.
For trivia buffs, the film Groundhog Day was not actually shot in Punxsutawney, but Woodstock, Illinois. Because of the film's success, Woodstock now holds its own Groundhog Day, featuring another celebrity rodent called ''Woodstock Willie''.
By American standards, Punxsutawney is not a particularly unusual name. In the US there are all sorts of peculiar town names, and yes, there's even a place called Peculiar in Missouri. There are also admittedly plenty of normal names, such as Normal in Illinois. Some places sound too good to be true, like the Kentucky village of Lovely.
There are places which seem to go out of their way to confuse, such as a small town in Colorado called No Name and the town of Nowhere in Arizona, not to be confused with a nearby settlement called Nothing. Just imagine if you were stopped by traffic cops and told them that's where you came from. One suspects it wouldn't be long before the handcuffs came out.
Some names are even less appealing, like Arsenic Tubs in New Mexico and a Texas settlement called Toadsuck, a good name for a punk band, one would think. Then, imagine telling people you came from Drain in Oregon. And it's hard not to sympathise with the residents of Dismal in Tennessee.
But my favourite American nameplace remains the town of Boring in Oregon. How about that for a conversation opener?
Snoozing in Snoring
I'd love to come from a place with a name like Punxsutawney. My home town, Reading, doesn't quite have that exotic ring to it. Even so, people still pronounce it wrong. One of the first things a visitor to Thailand is asked is what town they are from and my response is usually met by totally blank looks, so I usually have to add ''west of London'', which admittedly is a bit on the vague side. It would be nice if I came from somewhere which sounded a trifle more intriguing, like Frisby on the Wreake in Leicestershire, or the magnificent Nempnett Thrubwell in Somerset. And there's always Booby Dingle in Herefordshire.
Some of my fondest names come from Norfolk, particularly the villages of Great Snoring and Little Snoring. Thai officials transferred to inactive posts would find themselves quite at home in such places. Close to the ''Snoring'' villages there is another place called Seething, which prompted the local newspaper one day to come up with the splendid headline ''Little Snoring Man Marries Seething Woman.''
As in the US, the UK has its fair share of quaint village names and there are more than a few that prompt childish giggles, led by all the ''Bottoms''. In Yorkshire we have Slack Bottom, not to be confused with the nearby villages of Slap Bottom and Margaret's Bottom. Then there is the Dorset village of Scratchy Bottom. One name to catch the imagination is Bachelor's Bump in East Sussex and the wonderfully named Great Bulging, near Littlehampton, possibly related to Willey, a hamlet just north of London. And we must not forget the splendid Spankers Lane in Derbyshire.
All this almost inevitably brings us to the infamous Piddles.
We have the delightful River Piddle in Dorset to thank for spawning a series of village names such as Tolpiddle, Affpiddle and Piddletown.
Well, that was until 1838 when the good ladies of these places, tired of the juvenile jokes about their villages, forced a name change from Piddle to Puddle. So were born Tolpuddle, Affpuddle and Puddletown.
The name change was a pity really. Our history lessons at school would have been much more entertaining if the teacher had to grapple with the important role of the ''Tolpiddle Martyrs'', pioneers of the trade union movement.
But all is not lost.
I am pleased to report the River Piddle kept its name.
Sorry about the silly names, but they seem to make more sense than politics at the moment.
For the politics facet of life in here, it's there :
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