Friday, 11 June 2010

Is your name Roadrunner?

No doubt about it, you Roadrunners have an honourable place in History. It's one of those occupational names like Clown, Nightsoilman or Scrumper, what nomenclature experts call 'jobbies' in Scotland.

Your ancestors did a job that Father Time has long since drawn his sable cloak around. Roadrunners used to run in front of vehicles waving a red flag, warning of the oncoming danger, counselling people to move aside. For the benefit of the visually impaired, they would shout 'Beep! Beep!' (from OE beepan = to avoid stampeding cattle, poultry, etc.)

Waggons, curricles, open flies, phaetons, growlers. Runaway horses. Cavalry charges. Early trains, like Stephenson's 'Rocket'. Dirigibles. Dreadnoughts. Tanks. All were grist to the Roadrunner mill. But by the time the first cars arrived in the reign of William IV they were beginning to die out - as a profession.

Their name lives on, however, and ancestral urges sometimes impel surviving Roadrunners to foregather at latter-day venues, Cowes Week, Silverstone, Aintree, White City, Salisbury Plain, where their rude encampments a-murmur with soft cries of 'Beep! Beep!' betray their atavistic - but harmless - presence.

What your stars hold in store
by 'Latrans'

Roadrunners, your working days are done. No longer the hustle, the shouting and waving! No more flags! No more beeps! Slow down! Enjoy the view! Smell the wayside flowers! Take time to stand and stare! What's the hurry, anyway? Learn to amble! Learn to snooze! Learn to contemplate! Learn to close your eyes and dream in the lay-bys of life's highways! Learn to trust those who want to be closer to you! Surrender to those who want nothing more than to enfold you in their arms!

(© Syndics of Wile E. Coyote features)

UPDATE: Loyal reader M.Hector sends me this photo of a real roadrunner, taken by himself (or by 'Mee-meep' as he puts it) in the Arizona desert. The man with the red flag is just off-picture.

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