Laetitia took her group to the Roman Baths near Welwyn and then to Ayot St. Lawrence to visit Shaw’s Corner. Now a historic National Trust property, the house was home to George Bernard Shaw from 1906 until he died in 1950. Shaw did much of his writing in a small hut on the edge of his garden, dubbed “London,” so unwanted visitors could be told he was “visiting the capital.”
Late that afternoon, they went to Nasty (Rude UK number 91). Nasty is a hamlet in Hertfordshire. In Anglo Saxon, the name Nasthey means something like “at the eastern hedged enclosure,” and that is apparently its derivation. Nasty’s only pub, The Woodshed, features in its back room on a big-screen television the 1968 BBC Mini-series Cold Comfort Farm. Based on a comic 1932 novel by Stella Gibbons, it is about a destitute 20-year-old orphan that goes to live with the Starkadders, her mother’s dysfunctional relatives, on the squalid farm after which the series is named. The novel parodies some of the earthy romances that were popular at the time it was written. One of the series’ most unforgettable characters is the eccentric matriarch, Aunt Ada Doom, who is the way she is because she “saw something nasty in the woodshed” when she was young.
After watching part of the series, Laetitia saw that the pub offered Cornish pasties, so the group had those for dinner, along with pints of ale. The pasties were actually made commercially in Cornwall and shipped frozen to the pub, but they were very good. The bartender had a story about a young Cornishman who was new to the area and asked at an inn in nearby Great Munden where there was a place that served pasties. When the innkeeper told him, “Nasty,” he thought it was a derogatory comment about Cornwall and its food and he left in a huff. Laetitia thanked him for his story and wrote down the limerick of the day.
To a young Cornish lad’s great chagrin
When he asked at a Hertfordshire inn
Where he could get a pasty
The innkeeper said, “Nasty,”
So he swears he’ll not go there again.