Legends from our own lunchtimes

Monday, September 15, 2008


Naming inanimate objects is a mysterious custom. Just why certain people see fit to call their car “Karen” instead of “my green Suzuki” is something that I can’t quite fathom.

In some parts of the world and in that particular time in history before street numbering was invented there was arguably some relevance to providing names for buildings. Telling people you lived in “Windsor Castle” is ever so much more impressive than “16A High Street”.

The custom lived on through history though, and even the most humble of abodes took on personalities of their own through their simple nomenclature. Over generations there were so many “Rose Cottages” and “Vicarages” that new and increasingly original means of identifying properties were invented, reaching something of a climax I think with the mysterious ‘Chunda Lu”, a fibro beach house which sat for at least a century on the highway at Burleigh, tucked quietly under the hill.

Often, in the elusive quest for originality and perhaps relevance, parts of the occupants names were mashed together in an invented word which phonetically reminded one of a place far, far away. My maternal grandparents lived in a succession of houses called “Wilmaur” an altogetherly respectable and suitably sounding melding of the first syllables of their surnames :Wilson and Maurice.

I wonder if “Suevic Flats” in Coolum would lose its vaguely exotic aura should one actually meet Sue or Vic?

The naming of resort properties causes particular angst among those who are charged with such duty. Of course it’s all about marketing, and enticing one to dream that truly one is in St Tropez or on Costa del Sol, and not at 27 Brisbane Road, Caloundra no matter how surreal that circumstance may be.

Which reminds me of one particularly frothy afternoon a long time ago, I attended a marketing meeting convened by arty agency types who these days would turn up dressed in nought but black, which come to think of it is exactly how they were dressed even then.

To a man, they bubbled about the research, and the undoubted popularity in the marketplace of the Australian Aboriginal language, citing recent commercial successes with buildings named Ballah and Allungah, which could well have been the Kom-bumerri people’s words for “Sue and Vic” for all we knew.

They asked for some suggestions for aboriginal names for the twin towers.

I offered the names of the only two Australian aborigines I knew at the time:

“How about Lionel and Kevin?”.

The room fell silent, there was a sort of dull snicker from somewhere in the direction of my client, and the black attired ones seemed to be concentrating very hard indeed to hide their displeasure.

And that as they say in the classics, is how the project came to be named:



Joan Elizabeth said...

I will remember this when I am doing my daily battles with the black dressed ones. Thanks for the chuckle.

Anonymous said...

you've made my day :)

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