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Hamlets and Humph

July 22, 2014

Jeff Rients’s table for generating random hamlet names made me snort tea down my nose, and reminded me of something I heard some years ago that caused a similar involuntary (and uncomfortable) explosive nasal exhalation of my midday cuppa.

It was an episode of the long-running BBC Radio 4 comedy programme I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue, recorded before an audience in the city of Nottingham. As was customary, the legendary (and, at the time of which I speak, octogenarian) chairman Humphrey “Humph” Lyttelton opened the show with a short, humorous lecture on the locality, which included these remarks:

It’s well documented in official records that the city’s original name was “Snottingham” or “home of Snotts”, but when the Normans came, they couldn’t pronounce the initial letter “S”, so decreed the town be called “Nottingham” or the “home of Notts”. It’s easy to understand why this change was resisted so fiercely by the people of Scunthorpe.


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