What’s in a name?
Well, quite a lot actually, like my means of identification for a start. I suffer from continual misunderstandings regarding my name and I believe it’s totally and utterly unjustified so I’m taking a stand and writing a post about it. For the record.
My first name is……..Dawn. There should be nothing remotely incomprehensible about that, it’s a daily event AND a name. Lets not even go there with my maiden and married surnames because they each require a separate post and you wouldn’t believe how equally ludicrous they are anyway. My high school nickname was Prawn. Ingenious, no? Unimaginative, yes, most definitely. But it stuck anyway, and now I’m also a nanna it seemed like the perfect title for a blog ‘Words With Nanna Prawn’. Yer reckon? But, many bloggers who get into conversations with me address me as “Anna”. When you string wordswithnannaprawn together people look for a recognisable name (because surely she can’t be called prawn???) and lift the ‘anna’ part out of the string. I usually correct people, because I’d rather they got it right and save us any mutual embarrassment at a later stage in our blog relationship, (but not you Le Clown!!!, you can still call me Anna), but these things tend to stick, so in addition to Prawn (which my wonderfully insensitive nephew informed me that Australians use as code word for “nice body but you’d want to throw the head away”) I am also now an ‘Anna’, thanks to WordPress.
It could be worse of course, but not much; my husband’s work nickname used to be “Honey Monster” see Exhibit a):
Exhibit A – video link of the Honey Monster
I’ve shared with you several times that the other half is a ‘Big Fella’ but I may not have revealed yet that he is also golden, hairy and dances gratuitously and annoyingly in your kitchen, so I apologise if this comes as a shock. Honey Monster was shortened for a while to “Honey” but back in the day, Yorkshire men were not that comfortable with addressing another man in an all-male workshop as “Honey” and so it got shortened even further to just “H”. I think being reduced to one letter of the alphabet is the most pitifully humiliating and pointless nickname that anyone could ever have to admit to.
As for me, his better half, well, being British and from a dead end Northern sea port, I’d never been accustomed to being asked for my first name every time I ordered a hot take out brew before I arrived in BrisVegas; it just wasn’t something that was done back in Blighty (though seven years on they may have dragged themselves into the 21st Century and may not just be just shouting ‘tea?’ at every customer in the shop). But even if I had ever been spoken to like a normal human being and valued member of the clientele, there would have been a pretty good chance they’d get my name right in Yorkshire. Here in Australia, one of the biggest obstacles to settlement has surprisingly been my accent which appears to be ‘lost in translation’ Down Under. Australians are able to understand a myriad of accents from countries across the entire globe, but give them one little person from a small county in England, and they are stumped. After one too many ‘incidents’ on campus last year, trying to just order “tea and toast for Dawn, NOT DON” I was impelled to write the following poem/ditty.
The first draft was work-shopped in the Creative Poetry course where fellow students, and my tutor, Ross Clark, encouraged me to extend it further than the original five or six verses….. so you can blame them for its final interminable length.
Please Note: If you happen to be an actual poet like, say, Graham Nunn or Pascalle Burton, please look away now: seriously, I’m begging you, what you may be about to read is not for your eyes!!!, you will be deeply offended and infuriated, not only by its tum-tee-tum-tee rhyming couplets, but also by its sheer crappiness.
Along with some ‘serious’ poetry, I submitted this in my final portfolio, out of spite and annoyance really to tell you the truth. There was something just a little bit too pretentious about that course and part of me just wanted to be silly and light hearted again, and just be ‘me’, whoever that a.k.a me should be. The person that marked this poem though soon brought me back in line, and, oh the irony, “found the language a little too hard to follow” – so if you’re not from Yorkshire, you too may find yourself a little lost. If you’re Australian you might just want to sit it out entirely, after all, you do seem to think I’m a member of the Italian mafia.
I mean FFS, do I look like a ‘Don’????
I’m seriously considering getting one of those Carrie Bradshaw necklaces so I can ‘wear’ my name at all times, have bought my own travelling coffee mug so that I can write at least one of my various pseudonyms on it in indelible ink and CAPITAL LETTERS SO THAT I CAN SHOUT IT AT BISTRO STAFF, and if all else fails will take an interpreter with me when I’m out and about. Seriously, you have no idea how much this annoys me, yet amuses everyone else that I meet for tea/coffee dates. It’s often the only thing that makes me a little homesick, because in Yorkshire, ‘that’s where everybody knows my name’. Cheers and pass the alcohol please.
Can you repeat that?
It’s not a crime to be softly spoken; it’s not a fault if you don’t understand,
the flat vowels of a dialect not easily amplified, by the waving and gesturing, flapping of hands.
Explaining slowly, in words of one syllable, clearly, with eye contact, refusing to blink,
mouthing in unison, a nervous strained melody, a comedy duo named ‘Cafe Lip Synch’.
The locals grow restless, as they queue through the door,
when you ask for my name, their feet shift on the floor.
If vainly I claim “like the start of the day”,
will it give you a clue, or lead you astray?
“When Rolf saw her spreading her skirts all around”,
It’s The Dawn, not The Don, however it sounds!
If I took you to moors that are Wuthering still,
and lost you among satanic dark hills,
would you be speechless, struck dumb by “baht ‘at”?
the colloquial saying for not wearing a hat.
If we went all ‘up market’ to North Harrogate,
and I ordered a plate of four Eccles cakes,
drank flagons of tea and asked “where’s tha’ bin”?
Would you form a reply or pass me the cream?
If we roamed through the Shambles of York’s cobbled streets
would you be wary of folks that we’d meet?
A Viking heritage alive in their genes,
from their red hued hair to a battle axe gleam.
a flint hard exterior, and no mucking about,
barking orders at tourists when there’s no need to shout.
A dead pan dry humour; stoic and proud,
stocky and ‘plain like’, you’d stand out in their crowd.
We could ramble to viaducts carrying trains chuffing steam;
A ‘s’tralian alien all ‘nithered’ and sheened,
by the rain that falls sideways and prickles your eyes;
would you put on an anorak to keep yourself dry?
Could we build bridges and translate local lore
with a mother tongue corrupted by your fatal shores?
As the mist crept in slowly and wrenched from your view
the landmarks and signposts you thought you once knew.
Could you find a path back through the bracken and heath?
Left alone ‘on’t’ high crag, with the night winds and sheep.
Or would Yorkshire just seem like the end of the world?
if you hadn’t grown up there, a lass, (not a girl).
©2012 D.J.Silversides all rights reserved by the author. Admiration is admirable, but copying this poem without crediting me for the work would just be theft.
(and would totally destroy your street cred, this is one of the crappiest poems ever written, if you steal it the shame will be on you for your poor taste by theft)