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"Use every man after his desert, and who should 'scape whipping?"

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Just when I was getting reconciled with Clapham, along comes this bugger

I've been trying hard over the past few months to remind myself of the things I used to like about Clapham, and to dig out other good things that make living in this land of the rich yob bearable.

Thought I was doing well until I started reading another local blog, which was going on about food and why the SW4 area was up there with the best in London. Well, given that said blog had recently run a paean to a series of new burger joints on the high street, I didn't set too much store by their views on cuisine. But what really turned  my blood cold was the author's use of the word (I can hardly bear to write it) "Clappers" - to refer to this most common of suburbs.

Why does this annoy me so much? Is it because I am an elderly curmudgeon and cannot bear the affectionate diminutives so often used for things these days?

Yes, in part, I am guilty of that. I don't like hearing people refer to "uni" for university and barbie for barbecue. That I suppose is part of the Australianisation of English can mainly be blamed on Kylie and Neighbours. Fine in Brisbane, annoying but unavoidable all over affluent south-east England.

But this one goes back further and deeper - it stimulates one of my deepest hate-glands, and it is all to do with ball games and the class system.

The only other bit of London that gets abbreviated in this was by a certain type of young male adult is Twickenham. And that is usually referring to the stadium where rugby is played. The people who call Twickenham Twickers often call rugby rugger and if they visit or live in Clapham (which is quite probable I fear) they might well call it….well, you get my dismal drift, don't you?

But seriously, is there anywhere else that gets this treatment? (excluding, of course, names that have the -ers ending in their full version, such as Chequers or Yonkers, or Arsenal's nickname…)

Well, at least this outburst of disgust led me to a new word. According to Wikipedia, this usage is a form of  "hypocorism", from the old Greek meaning "child-talk" and now often referred to as pet name,  term of endearment, nickname, etc. Another word, infantilism, springs to mind.

 I wouldn't have minded it at all if it was not for the rugby connection. You will deduce that I loathed that team game which I was forced to play for two of my most miserable years at an English boys' grammar school.

Odd, though, that some nicknames seem fine. I like Pompey for Portsmouth and Big Apple for NYC, The Smoke or the Great Wen for London. Auld Reekie is  just fine so long as it is said in a real Scottish accent. No, it's just the context, it's that attempt to revive the demotic of rich young Englishmen of the 1920s, the chaps and chapesses; it should definitely stay within the pages of P G Wodehouse, old fruit.

Ironic then that I should end up in this suburb full of beer swilling types with those wide-striped shirts with turned-up white collars.

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