What’s in a name?

I feel like I ought to be writing about our first intrepid adventures on fast flowing rivers, like nearly being swept over a weir, or the mechanical problems we have been having with the engine/gear box/prop shaft/propeller (not sure which it is yet) and other Indiana Jones type stuff but what is really exercising my mind at the moment is boat names. Amusing names, inventive entertaining names, witty names but most of all, really bad pun names.

Let’s start with our very own Golden Girl. We didn’t name our boat so we had no idea what had prompted such a name, I did wonder if it had previously been owned by a Marilyn Munroe look alike, but believe it or not we have met people on the network who know people who remember the former owners having a Golden Retriever so that is likely to be the somewhat less glamorous explanation. Most people that comment on the name assume it relates to a woman rather than a dog and they are forever asking Gill if she is the ‘Golden Girl’. Of course she loves to confirm that she is indeed such a vision whilst I usually stand behind her miming a contrary viewpoint. When I’m feeling really mischievous I tell them that I get my chance at weekends and watch their faces change as the uncomfortable image of me in a long blond wig and stilettos poisons their mind. Those conversations don’t usually go much further.

There are currently ten Golden Girls in existence and if you are wondering how I know that it is courtesy of a web site which carries a searchable database of all officially registered craft. It’s possible to waste inordinate amounts of time on it on a rainy day trying to find the most common, most corny or most torturous names on there. Serendipity for example crops up one hundred and ten times and I reckon we have probably seen half of them already on our travels. There are lots of predictable names like Escape, Great Escape, Narrow Escape and Fire Escape, well not actually Fire Escape I made that one up but you get the idea. Then there are the sixty something ageing hippy owners who pay homage to their rebellious early years with names referring to various rock albums. Pink Floyd seem to feature heavily with the inevitable prism and refracted rainbow logo accompanying The Dark Side of the Moon, or the welcoming Wish You Were Here inviting all and sundry to follow the sweet scent of marijuana as they drift along at a slow walking pace trying to escape their encroaching old age. Oh and a surprisingly large number of them are ‘Comfortably Numb’. I wonder why?

Occasionally I spot a name that is genuinely amusing; ‘May Contain Nuts’ being a favourite (two of them so far) and they get extra points for resisting the temptation to have a bad illustration of a packet of dry roasted peanuts painted on the side of the boat. There are, not unpredictably, many native birds represented, heron, kingfisher (341 the last time I looked), wren and moorhen being obvious choices and they often come accompanied by wildlife illustrations of varying competencies. Some are truly outstanding whilst others, without the associated lettering might leave you wondering if you were looking at a kingfisher or a Unicorn.

Most girl’s Christian names are featured, as are amalgamations of the owners names but the ones that really stick in my mind are the appallingly torturous puns from hell. You might think that hairdressers and fish and chip shop proprietors have the monopoly on murdering the English language but they have nothing on narrow boat owners. I’m probably going to get into trouble one day when somebody that made up one of these abominations reads this blog so I apologise in advanced and assure you that it’s really just me and my pet hates that are at fault, not your taste. Honestly.

There are endless variations on Dunworkin and other tenuous references to retirement; Knotatwork, ouch! Some are really quite difficult to decipher such as the attempt to meld the wonderful Black Country accent to a somewhat smug declaration of a life of leisure in the form of Geedupwerk. Or something like that, I can’t remember the exact spelling and why would I? Knot features in a whole variety of sentiments and descriptions, rarely referencing a joining of two pieces of rope or a means of securing the boat to something. Oh no, that would be far too sensible when you can use it to endlessly represent a misspelled negative adverb. Y knot, Maybe Knot, Waste Knot, Want Knot; the list goes on and on and ends with the outstandingly useless description of a narrow boat; Knot a Yot.

I will leave you with one disturbing piece of boat naming nonsense which relates to our very own Golden Girl. The database I referred to earlier also records name changes and reveals that in a previous life our precious home was called SMITH! Go figure.

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