Legends from our own lunchtimes

Monday, August 20, 2018

I think it’s the “H”.
Sunday 19th August - Sint-Martens-Latem to Gent

I blame the education system.  When we were in year six, our School Reader foisted upon us a poem by Robert Browning; “How They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix”, an horrific tale which along with the rest of the contents of those Readers seems to have irrevocably harmed the eleven year old minds of entire generations, but how we could spell.  

It wasn’t the foaming nostrils and bloodied eyes in the poem that fascinated me though, it was the “h” in the English spelling of "Ghent" in the title that seemed at the time to be some sort of Romantic affectation.  I have no idea why that single letter instilled in me a desire to one day find the place and see it for myself nor why it took more than half a century to actually do so. 

Yet here we are, on a sunny frenetic Sunday afternoon loving being in a town which seems to be galloping along at the same pace as the poem.  Perhaps it senses the last gasp of summer is upon it and it is trying to wring it to the end.  Perhaps the next few days will present us with a clue.


Vallypee said...

I wrestle with that 'h' constantly. Do I 'haitch' it or don't I? It's almost as bad as dropping them when they're really needed isn't it? The trouble is, we come from Sas van Gent, and there's NO way, I'd ever slip a dastardly 'haitch' in there. My finger hovers over the 'h' key every time and my decision is nearly always based on majority rule (readership in other words).

Gent is never anything less than what you've seen, except maybe in sunshine levels. It is my favourite of all European cities, as much for its lively, buzzing vibe and creativity as its wonderful Flemish history. It is Amsterdam, Venice and Antwerp all rolled into one glorious package.

bitingmidge said...

@Vallypee, that "h" is like the "an" before "horrific", an anachronism perhaps from an era when Browning's and Elliott's poems were for children, except that I don't have a readership to consider! 😁. (present company excepted of course!)

Vallypee said...

That's a good point. I never thought of that. The problem here is that if you leave out the 'h' in Ghent for English readers, they think you've made a mistake but European readers see it as incorrect if you put it in...dilemmas, dilemmas. I suppose I could always go French and call it Gand 😆

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