A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that


Monday, 21 October 2013

Hooptedoodle #104 - Jeff & Steve



Three Hooptedoodle posts on the trot is usually a sign of something or other, but on this occasion it is merely that we have been busy, preparing for some visitors who will be staying with us for a few days, so I haven’t had the opportunity to complete the paperwork for Weeks 33 and 34 of the Solo Campaign – that’ll be sometime later this week.

Today’s post is nothing political or barbed (I hope) – merely a note to welcome our new friends Jeff and Steve, who arrived this morning and seem to be settling in quite nicely. These are not the aforementioned visitors, as you see – they are Comet goldfish. My son Nick has been reading a lot on the subject, and promises that he will look after them carefully and faithfully. Certainly we have plenty of equipment and jars of special stuff bought in, so if that is a measure of how well they will be cared for we are off to a good start.

My feelings about pets are mixed. Over the years I have had a dog (great when I was 12) a cat (who was a much better friend than I expected) a budgie (a miserable creature – it didn’t do anything interesting except bite anyone that came near and screech deafeningly when there was music on the radio or the hoover was switched on), and that’s it, really. I dearly love to see birds and animals in their natural environment, but I’m too selfish or something to make room for one in my house.

I recall the thoughts of Dali on the subject of animals. He said, I think, that he wasn’t very interested in animals in general, apart from the rhinoceros, which had “divine crenellations”, but he liked them when they were suffering. Dali kept a couple of ocelots at his villa, and he used to get his slave girl hangers-on to walk them around the swimming pool and occasionally throw them in, to promote this state of natural grace which he admired.

Of course I disapprove. Dali was, in any case, a posturing old goat, as geniuses go, so I’ve always dismissed that as a gag of some sort.

Dali with Babou
In this part of the world, there is a slow but constant influx of wealthy townies, coming to discover the people they really are in the country. Although I arrived here in a similar manner myself, I laugh long and loud as the newbie country gentlefolk work through the checklist of things they must have in order to qualify. The Aga stove is too obvious to mention, as are the Land Rover Freelander and the green wellies (implication of horses), and there are certain high-end clothing manufacturers who cater for phoney lairds and would-be horse-breeders of this type. The standard-issue Labrador is usually an early arrival as well, and the dogs always have pretentious names – not at all like Jeff or Steve.

Over the years I have known some astonishing names for pets. My own cat was named Jim, exactly because we had a neighbour who bred Siamese champions, and all her cats were named after Aztec gods, or figures from classical history – or worse. I remember that something called Countess Lucretia got stuck in our garage once, and she also had a dreadful cat named Neoptolemus who used to dig up our flower beds as part of his toilet routine. Given an air-rifle, I’d have put a pellet up his regal backside every day until he got the idea.

I ribbed Nick gently about the lack of daring in his choice of names for his new fish, but he was quite comfortable about the matter. I also mentioned it to my hairdresser (as one does), and she assured me that her daughter named her goldfish Gail and Brian, which also seems a bit humdrum, but probably reinforces a point.

Maybe kids are just less affected in these matters. Perhaps, also, a pet who is a friend should not have a threatening name. Even I can see that Thor would be a daft name for a goldfish. So – yet again – I shall try to have the good grace to learn from a child, and accept that Jeff and Steve are OK. They, of course, do not realize that we call them anything at all – I’m not certain that they realize very much, to be honest.

I hope they are happy here.

I’m interested in this idea of names for pets. Do they reveal things about us that we would be better to hide? Do we name our pets to impress people? What is the best (or worst) name for a pet you have come across? No prizes, but I’m interested, and it might be a good laugh.

16 comments:

  1. Once had a Dalmatian called George and over the years we've had a succession of cats with stupid names. One white kitten arrived and was 'chiristened' Philomena by my wife, but this was quickly changed to Fritz by me (after the cartoon) after an inspection. Had a goldfish called Moby (obviously).

    Thankfully we now inhabit a wildlife free zone.

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    1. George is good - especially for a very docile dog, I think. It has strength, saintly and royal connections and it is simple and unpretentious - implies a calm, strong personality. For some reason, Philomena for me is always Sister Philomena, an Irish nun with bad nerves and a stammer - no idea why.

      My first wife had an elderly aunt and uncle who had two cats, named Blackie and Whiskers - good, eh? These were the cats' names, obviously, not the names of the aunt and uncle. Rather disappointingly, Blackie was, in fact, black. More interestingly, perhaps, Whiskers was black too. I suspect that Whiskers arrived later, and the obvious name was already spoken for.

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  2. Hmm, this is a interesting one. As the 'the sharer of the same house' with three cats and a Guinea Pig (the remainder of two) I can safely say they all have relatively normal names being Maisy, Minnie and Mango (OK the last is perhaps a little odd) with the Cavy coming in with Muffin - his deceased brother was called Chocolate but they were christened by my then 11 year old daughter. The most exotic name I can recall was Rupert for a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel....;-)

    All the best,

    DC

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    1. Good names - Maisy, Minnie is oddly close to Mary, Mungo and Midge - as seen here

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9f0oHGkVoPA

      if you watch this clip, you will be reminded of many things. For example, I was reminded that I believe that Mungo once painted some soldiers for me.

      Chocolate is a good name. Kids are good at this. I also like the Royalist spaniel.

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  3. With dogs you need a name that does not embarrass you when you have to shout it out loud ! (our Spaniel is Charlie).

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    1. Very true - good point - maybe the same should be true of children's names?

      "Tracey-Amber, your tea's ready!"

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    2. I was once in Oxford Circus tube station and saw a youngish woman (probably a nanny or au pair) shout at two young boys who were misbehaving "Xerxes, Ptolemy, come here at once!".

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  4. Never had many pets. My Dad was in the RAF and we used to move about a lot, and in my turn I travelled a lot, so pets were not much of an advantage.

    When we were in Zimbabwe there was an elephant who used to vandalise the gardens around our village. He wasnt a pet, but he was known by all and sundry as Babu, like Dali's pussy cat. A friend of my son's had a great big spider as a pet, which he kept in a glass tank. He called it Thatcher, reputedly because of its personality, but it became a problem because it kept escaping, so he gave it to the local high school. It escaped.

    Cheers - Lou

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    1. Thatcher on the loose. If I ever had plans to visit Zimbabwe, they just got cancelled. The idea of an elephant as a garden pest is pretty scary. I don't suppose they eat beech hedges, do they?

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  5. My old boy (a dog of the Heinz 57 variety - sadly departed four years or more) was called Heathcliff - Heathy for short - named purely because he had big eyebrows ("when I beheld his black eyes withdraw so suspiciously under their brows")... kids these days are of the Harry Potter generation - Professor Dumbledore's middle name being Brian.... :o)

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    1. Very classy - admirable. I like that a lot.

      I am informed that there were a couple of characters in Coronation Street named Gail and Brian, so the aforementioned hairdresser's fish might have a tie into popular culture.

      Bronte is very good though - really like that. My ancient friend Ernie had an old dog that he found in the street and kept for about 10 years, and he never gave it a name, because he thought it probably had a name already. He referred to him on occasions as Isaiah since, as he explained, "one eye's higher than the other" - don't blame me for that one, it's true...

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  6. When eventually Mrs S and the kids brow-beat me into agreeing to get a black lab puppy (don't worry I don't have any green wellies although I do like the countryside in your neck of the woods) I did so on the proviso that I could name it. I decided on 'Snuff' because I hoped the thing would be dead before the kids left home. I do feel a bit bad about it in retrospect and sometimes would pretend the name was given because she 'snuffled-up' in a cute way. It didn't work though as Snuff passed on only a couple of years ago and both the kids had already left home...

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    1. Great stuff - dark undertones - that's what we like...

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  7. No wildlife but my wife and I have a habit of naming inanimate objects. Our first Christmas tree was called George (followed by George II, naturally. Succeeded by his highness Bruno).
    The iPad is Bertie. Sat Nav: Norma. Car: Oslo.

    Sign of madness? Probably. Also means we're running out of good names for our future pets or first born.

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    1. Excellent - that all seems very normal to me...

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