I see somebody is planning follow-up to The Meaning Of Liff, the Douglas Adams riff on using place names as words for things which didn’t have words for them before, as in – “Beccles: The small bone buttons placed in bacon sandwiches.”
Jolly good. In 2006, while on the Yorkshire Post, I wrote an appreciation of the Adams book, and similar efforts, which I just found again at
But as I pointed out then, a Punch writer, Paul Jennings, explored the idea back in the 60s or 70s, and might even have done it better. I must have borrowed some examples from Simon Hoggart, who recalled one or two Jennings essays on the same lines in his Guardian column in 2006 and I’ve just refound some that he quoted from one which appeared in The Observer … Babbacombe: an idle or nonsensical rumour. Beccles: an ailment of sheep. Bovey Tracey: headstrong or wilful (“None of your bovey-tracey ways here, Miss!”) Buckfastleigh: manfully (“Aye, and right buckfastleigh, lad!”) Thirsk: a desire for vodka.
Still need to find the Punch essays, if I have not imagined them.

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3 Responses to LIFF ETC

  1. H says:

    The article is called ‘Ware, Wye, Watford’ and was published in The Jenguin Pennings . I can probably send you something.

    • hack4hire says:

      Thanks H. Now you have given me the steer, I’ll try again to find it, but if you come across something sendable, that would be grand. This site defaults to my son’s email address but mine direct is
      Thanks also for the Follow. Nice to get a response, as you will know, from a fellow blogger as opposed to somebody selling blogging advice. Will check your site and reciprocate.

  2. hack4hire says:

    See the original Paul Jennings essay under heading Before The Meaning Of Liff at

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