Monday, August 03, 2009

Moaning Monday : Intriguing Suede

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.


  1. We have a Goose Green Way in Yate.

    The problem with Bradford Rd is that it's only Bradford Rd in one direction. If you go the other way it should be called Huddersfield Rd.

  2. Bill : I take your point about Bradford Road but when it gets near to Bradford it does change into Huddersfield Road. As for Goose Green Way - you couldn't make it up.

  3. Anonymous11:11 AM

    It's all better than Brazil, here most of the streets are named dates or people. So you get names like: Rua 7 de setembro: the independence of Brazil; Praça Brão de Mauá, Baron Maua Square... it's a good history lesson, but bloody confusing. My street is Edgard Drohle da Costa, supposedly he was a writer. Imagine this in England... 2nd June 1953 Street or Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman 1905-1908 Road, very confusing. Although what you have got and are getting is far better.


  4. Echo Central!!!!!
    Quattro!! ( suzi will blush)
    I imagine if you walk long enough down an Intrigue Road you would get ,er...Bunions.......................

  5. Tony: Echo Central is in Leeds and Quattro is a few hundred yards from where I live in Fixby.

  6. AV : Good to have you call by. I take your point but I have to say that Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman 1905-1908 Road has a pleasant ring to it.

  7. You mean Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman died aged 3?

    Swine flu?

  8. Fun post. I'm sure it's because I'm American, but they all sound perfectly charming to me! ;^)

  9. Bill : I seem to recall that Campbell-Bannerman was, on the whole, a good egg so his death at the early age of three is to be regretted.
    Willow : Quattro charming? Now come on, that is taking Transatlantic politeness too far.

  10. Since I only know the word "Quattro" as in "Quattro Pro" (WordPerfect spreadsheet program) I always assumed the estate "Quattro" was named after the developer liking the look of his sales' profits' spreadsheet!

    What does "Quattro" mean? - Why would it make Suzi blush?

  11. Edwin : Suzi Quatro was a 1960s/70s rock singer. As far as I know she hasn't progressed to property development - unlike your good self - and therefore it is unlikely to be named after her.

  12. We have things like that in this area, too, especially as leftovers from the real estate "boom." My favorite is "Mesa Meadows," a very unpromising development on the north face of the local Mesa Hill, which much less resembles a meadow than an expanse of bitterbrush, sagebrush & rocks, liberally sprinkled I expect with a healthy rattlesnake population. Needless to say, even during the boom this development didn't do so well.

  13. watch the might splatter...if the street names actually told where you were going i might actually get somewhere...

  14. I live in a small, old village and the street names are classic American names that streets are given...Main, High, Elm, Maple, Bridge, etc. And the names make sense as to what is actually there. For instance, Bridge Street really does have a bridge on in.

    I do find it amusing when neighborhood streets have coordinating names, like a "beach" theme (Surf, Ocean, Seaside) when there isn't an ocean for hundreds of miles. Funny!

    Interesting and fun post, Alan! :)

  15. Yeah, that's pretty ghastly. The US hasn't reached that point just yet, but it's heading there.

    Gonna make driving even more irritating that it already is, I think.

  16. John : Yes, Mesa Meadows would fit in well with my collection.
    Brian : "if the street names actually told where you were going I might actually get somewhere" As always there are several levels of meaning in anything you write.
    Betsy : There used to be a Music Hall song which had a chorus which went "Wiv a ladder and some glasses,
    You could see to 'Ackney Marshes,
    If it wasn't for the 'ouses in between". A bit like your Beach Streets.
    Jeff: Can driving get any more irritating?

  17. Haha . . we're in synch this week Alan. Our developers seem to think that if the estate has 'Lakes' or 'Hills' in it people will flock there despite the fact that there's no water and it's flat as a pancake.


Black Friar

For a time, during the late 1970s, I had a job leading parties of foreign visitors on tours of historic London pubs. One of my favourite sto...