Do you ever wonder how names get attached to things? I mean, who decides?
Obviously, your parents have a bit of a say in your name when you are a child. I went through a phase of shortening my name to ‘Lou’, which used to make my mother cringe. Even now, I have friends (does a husband count as a friend?) who call me Lou, although I tend to introduce myself as ‘Louise’. Lou Cole sounds like some sort of drain cleaner or an energy drink, perhaps. Not a poet who had a pub named after her for a whole weekend (ha!).
And I have that mad thing going on with the ‘G’ in the middle of my moniker.
I don’t know if anyone remembers me more because of the G-string story. You know the one: I Googled myself a while back and discovered Louise Cole is an underwear model. She’s still there, I checked to save you the bother (you’re welcome).
But if you add in the G (for Gillian, if you really want to know), Google finds me, too. It is a gift of a story to serve as an icebreaker at poetry readings, although I sense some of my friends are getting weary of it now, it’s been done to death.
Meanwhile, I’ve been pondering how objects get names, as do other less tangible things. Like Petrichor. It’s the word used to label the smell of the earth after rain, a word first coined in the 1960s.
I find myself wondering what it was called before then? Surely it is a phenomenon not exclusive to the 20th and 21st centuries? And it isn’t just a smell, either. Go out after rain and Petrichor is not just a scent, it’s a complete sensory experience, certainly out in the countryside (you might not get the same effect in the city, though). It is everything: sight, sound, taste, touch as well as smell. Petrichor? No, the word doesn’t do it justice. I want to find a new name, something fancier and more majestic, but I’m at a loss to know what. Still, I’ve wrestled a poem out of the notion, so it’s not all bad…
Names, and who they are attached to, have me perplexed this week as I meet so many new people and try to put the right combinations together. I’m getting better. By the end of the week I might have it cracked.
I’m on retreat (yes, I know I should be writing. Well, I AM writing, sort of) at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in County Monaghan (thank you Roscommon County Council!). I waxed lyrical about Annaghmakerrig when I was here in February; this is a different experience as I’m staying in the Big House (no, not THAT one).
The surroundings are luxurious, the food lush, the Miss Worby ghost stories hair-raising, inspiration is flowing, and the company is interesting, but my favourite bit has to be walking in the lovely grounds (450 acres of them).
Being August, there are plenty of rain showers, so I’m getting countless opportunities to experience Petrichor first hand. But I still want to call it something else. Yes, but what?