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.

12 comments:

patroclus said...

Oblivious to the obsolescence of the profession, your grand-daughter is training herself to be a fine roadrunner, sometimes even joyfully shouting "beep beep!" to herself while in her cot.

Often also to be found shouting it out of the car window along with her version of her own name. "Ya-ya! Beep beep!".

I, Like The View said...

this section is wonderful:

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!

my mother instilled in me the protestant work ethic, however the advice for life that I'm - trying - to pass onto my children is more akin to your quoted verse (maybe not the very last part, I figure they'll discover that for themselves at some stage)

you're such an education, Christopher!

(-:

Dave said...

I am changing my name by deed-poll to Nightsoilman.

Vicus Scurra said...

Most educational. There are a lot of Pratts in my ancestry.
Patroclus failed to mention that your granddaughter is 17 years old.

Charlene said...

I learned something I didn't know. What a gift. Thank you.

Dave said...

By the way, what kind of oil is delivered at nights, anyway?

Christopher said...

Patroclus: I'm so pleased her language development is coming on so quickly. You can go far in life with 'Ya-ya! Beep beep!'. It's like only knowing Ça va in French.

Jax: Thank you. I don't know why this should be, but the minute I typed your name, dodgem cars came into what passes for my mind. It may be connected with this post, of course, but can you think of any other explanation?

Dave (1): I should do so forthwith. A little baptismal self-indulgence boosts the morale no end. (Cf. Justin de Villeneuve, Dizzee Rascal, etc.) And who could fail to fall in a big way for someone called Dave Nightsoilman? Your affective future is assured.

Vicus: Pratts? Then we're closely related. I thought as much.

Charlene: Well, this is good news. I'd be more than happy to account for any surname you might care to submit. Happy weekend!

Dave (2): Why, midnight oil, of course.

Z said...

I'll expect to see Dave in his honeycart next week.

I'm awfully glad never to have had any work ethic instilled into me. I feel no guilt at doing nothing at all.

Your final sentence in italics, before the update and photo, remind me of the first record I remember listening to, Anne Shelton's Lay Down your Arms. I was about two, and I remember being struck by the huge wittiness of "Lay down your arms and surrender to mine". My first excursion into a play on words.

Christopher said...

I thought you had quite up-to-date sanitation, Z, with drains and all. No?

Anne Shelton. Goodness. Yes, I remember.
Lay down your arms. Lili Marlene
. And something about lighting a candle. Absolutely right. I see you've got your satnav set for Memory Lane. Or is this one of your apps?

Christopher said...

Jax (if you come here again): I remember now. A friend was telling me the other day how as a 13-year-old she had been on holiday on the Adriatic with another family which included a 15-year-old boy for whom she conceived a frantic but untold passion. On one occasion they went to the fair together and shared a dodgem car. During the course of their circuit she scraped her bare leg against his badly enough to cause a nasty graze and to draw a little blood, which of course mingled with his. She was unconsolably upset when the wound, symbol of her passion, healed and the scab came away. I don't know if you've had a similar experience?

Z said...

No indeed - that is, we do have drains but they lead straight to our wonderful septic tank, which was last emptied twenty-eight years ago and still is digesting away healthily. It's marvellous, far better than wasteful (of water that is, in dry East Angular) mains drainage.

My first musical heartthrob was Perry Como - Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket, never let it fade away. Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket, save it for a rainy day. For love may come and tap you on the shoulder, some starless night. And just in case you feel you want to hold her, you've got a pocketful of starlight. Or something like that. It made quite an impression on me.

Not long after that, I fell in a big way for Bamber Gascoigne.

Ahem. Back to iAssociate,

I, Like The View said...

not in the Adriatic!

(-: