I know I have moaned about this before, but what the hell : a good moan is like the food in a cow's stomach, it should be regurgitated and enjoyed on several occasions. Having established that principle let me say that one thing that is guaranteed to get me frothing at the mouth like a rabid dog is the stupid and pretentious names builders choose for their new housing developments. It is almost as though there is a competition taking place to come up with the most trivial, asinine, ostentatious label they can find for their new duplexes, studio flats or urban spaces. Within ten miles of where I live there has recently appeared such gems as Echo Central, Nexus, Heritage, Suede, Quattro and Intrigue. What kind of person could possibly want to live in such a development? What kind of fool can imagine that what might appear trendy to a dunderhead now will not appear plain idiotic a few years down the line?
Time was when street names told you something. At the bottom of our street is Bradford Road. It is called Bradford Road because if you walk down it you will get to Bradford. Other streets were given logical names based upon specific factors. Chapel Street was the street upon which there was a chapel, River Street ran close to the river, and Towngate was at the entrance to a town. Not far from us there are three short streets. The first has about twelve brick terraced houses and it is called Brick Terrace. The second has twelve houses faced in rather nice red tiles and it is called Tile Terrace. The third street has a mixture of the two and is called Brick And Tile Terrace. You can see the logic in that. You don't need to spend a long time trying to work out what on earth it means. The names tell you something about the houses, not about the people who happen to live in them. But what does Quattro tell you? Other than the fact that anyone living there is likely to be a prat.
The rot set in - as with so many things - in Victorian times. The Victorians were apt to name streets after "great people" or famous battles. The local phone book is stuffed with Gladstone Streets and Balaclava Terraces. It is a trend which, thankfully, seems to have gone out of fashion and therefore we have been spared the likes of Blair Boulevard, Thatcher Mews, Goose Green Glen, or Kuwait Drive. The 20th century brought a trend towards aspirational names. If you were building a row of bleak terraced houses in grimy Heckmondwike you would give them a name like Ambleside Close or Windsor Drive. I live in a 1930s house on Dorchester Road. If you walk down Dorchester Road you will get to Dorchester. The problem is it will take you a couple of weeks and you will pass through Huddersfield, Sheffield, Nottingham, Coventry, Birmingham, Reading, Slough, and Southampton first. But at least you could see a purpose for such aspirational monikers, you could argue that they might brighten the lives of people who would otherwise live on Bog Green Street or Water Closet Crescent.
But what is the point of naming somewhere Intrigue or Nexus? Other than to drive me mad and start me off moaning all over again.