There will be four (4) people in the whole of the world who have any idea of what the title means, and I’m not sure about at least three (3) of them.
Toller Porcorum is a mixture of Olde-Anglo-Saxon toller, meaning valley, and latin porcorum being the genitive (plural) of pig. According to the internet, so it must be true, the Toller is the old name of the river which flows through the village of Toller Porcorum, which has since been named the river Hooke, but my friend Rosalind Buttered-Crumpet informs me that it means “valley” and so “valley” it is.
So I spent the weekend in the valley of the pigs.
“Are there pigs?” I enquired.
“Not a one.” retorted Rosalind, authoritatively.
One does not argue with Rosalind. An acclaimed (and bronzed, she told me not to omit) erstwhile writer of many things not limited to cordon-gendarme cookery, she knows. Had she not made the decision to spend time in the real world, in a Felicity Kendal stylee, she would be a rather good blog writer.
Anyway, we had spent some considerable time discussing the merits of the American (mis)use of words such as “leverage” as a verb, management-speak and its uselessness and, more importantly, the word “like” as a hesitation mark. Like, er, like, um, ah. And the general concensus is that it had close to zero value in any context apart from that of its original meaning, for instance when introducing a simile. But more than simile, it introduced a smile. And a conundrum, as you will see.
Sunday brought us to a publick house known as the Spyway, a smugglers pub in Askerswell. I can recommend this pub on a nice day as there is an ample garden with attractive water feature and, if you ask, you can get an ashtray too. Inside if wet is not so attractive an option as the bar is small. Cosy is a word which would also describe it adequately, but small is more accurate.
Into the second pint, mid-discussion into the colouring of the bee orchid (don’t ask), the young lady-in-waiting approached our table and interjected “Excuse me, did you order like haddock?”
Conversation stopped. “Like haddock? No, not us.”
She left, bearing what was presumably like haddock, to seek those who ordered it, leaving us to work out how “order like haddock” should be punctuated.
I have since tried going into the shop to order some Marlboro, like haddock. It is not easy, you have to mouth the words in a haddocky way, as haddock (so far as I can gather) can not, or will not, speak. You can’t point like a haddock, as haddock’s extremities are designed for navigating the salty depths, not for pointing. It is like being paralysed in a foreign country whose language you know not wot. Of. I assume that you can’t order like haddock, you can only really order like a human.
I have tried Joe’s Fish Restaurant. “Have you anything like Haddock?” I asked. Apparently there is nothing like haddock, although obviously cod would be more like haddock than, say, cottage pie. So I assume that there is nothing that, technically, is like haddock, and conclude that the young lady must have meant “Did you order, like, er, um, haddock?”
My message to young (and old, alike) is this:
“Like”. It is a versatile word, being a noun, verb, adjective, preposition, conjunction, adverb, even a verbal auxiliary and not least a suffix, in the case of haddock-like.
It is not a substitute for er, em, like, arrrgh.
And my message to those lovely people who explain from positions of apparent authority that it doesn’t matter if we spell properly, use our native language properly, and pick up junk American langauge faster than we can build a new McDonalds is this:
Yes, it bloody well does. Like.