I see our friend Aubrey the regular poet-about-town and contributor to this ongoing ‘blog’ (to use the parlance of the young and unpoetic, for was there ever such an uneuphonic word) has been lately exploring the backstreets of Dormer’s Wells, a suburb to a suburb with a name like a matinee idol. But there is nothing new in estate agent upspeak, as witnessed across the pond where they insist on calling themselves real-estateers, though whether the adjective is meant to encourage us to think of ‘by royal appointment’ or ‘honest guv, we really do have this bridge to sell you’ is far from clear. Now, far be it for I to perpetuate the myth of the estate agent as anything other than probably actually jolly nice professionals, but certain of their profession have been known to partake in the marketing department’s grade-A dollop of bovine excrement when it comes to rebranding so-so neighbourhoods, and for most of the last century their chief crime was to refer to Ealing as ‘the Queen of the Suburbs’.
No such hyperbole at this week’s workshop, where Michael Harris kept his wordplay to an almost-anagram and if Niall Cassidy were exaggerating about his father always sitting down, we won’t stand for it. Daphne Gloag may have been rather fanciful with her flying bath, but she pulled it off with panache, while Alan Chambers looking up at a construction crane while keeping his feet on the ground. Plain-talking John Hurley has been recalling some of the kisses in his life, all very believable, leading to James Priestman seeking to demystify the opening of Genesis. Doig Simmonds has been having some weighty but very true thoughts about the holocaust, leading to a complete contrast from Pat Francis as she swung on the swing of her memory, and who’s to say she didn’t ? The seven gazes into the mirror of time were then recounted by Peter Francis (haven’t we all been there), and finally Martin Choules gave us a fact-based comparison between the fact-free theories of early astronomers.
So why was Ealing assumed to be a) superior to all other suburbs and b) female ? One wonders if the occurrence of the world-famous Tuesday workshops had anything to do with it, if by ‘world-famous’ you mean ‘known about equally on every continent by that tiny proportion of the world who read poetry, in English, and went to the right sort of school’. Or was it a barbed comment on the presence of The Question Amateur Theatricals and Terpsichorean Troop with its attendant the drama queens ? Tom Eliot was always keen on the moniker, saying that every town should have three names, it’s everyday practical name (“Ealing”), it’s fancified, unique, name (“Queen of the Suburbs”), and then the name that is known only to its residents, who will never tell it. After much intensive research here in the Archives, we can now exclusively reveal this name to be…“town”, as in “I’m just off to town, want me to pick you up a more interesting name ?”