Day 413: Inchinnan Drive

Yesterday in Glasgow, when the Mind’s Eye group visited the Glenlee, the tall ship moored on the River Clyde, they walked by the Riverside Museum. Laetitia decided to start the day there with a guided tour. Later they went to the St. Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art. St. Mungo (also known as St. Kentigern), a sixth-century Christian missionary, is the patron saint of Glasgow. The four miracles he is said to have performed are represented in the Glasgow coat of arms. His tomb is in the crypt of Glasgow Cathedral. Harry Potter fans may be aware of St. Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries.

Later their van driver took them to the village of Inchinnan in Renfrewshire, near the Glasgow airport. There was an airship (dirigible) company here during World War I. They viewed the recently restored Inchinnan swing bridge, a bascule (bridge that lifts vertically) over the White Cart Water. They went for a walk on Inchinnan Drive, number 13 in Rude Britain, a street along the edge of the village. On one side of the road is the industrial part of Inchinnan; the other side overlooks a green expanse and the Black Cart Water, a tributary of the River Cart that runs into River Clyde. Off in the distance is Glasgow Airport.

Clive, the van driver, walked with the group and happened to be next to Laetitia. He told Laetitia that the parking lots on the commercial side of the road are mostly empty at night and the view of the Black Cart Water and the planes taking off and landing in the distance makes it a favorite parking spot for lovers. One of his fondest memories as a young bachelor cab driver was when he picked up a young woman at the airport in his cab and she directed him to Inchinnan Drive. Laetitia thanked him and later wrote down the limerick of the day.

The day that he felt most alive
Was when a cab driver named Clive
Picked up a young fare
Who stroked his brown hair
And then told him, “Inchinnan Drive.”

Day 408: Titty Ho

From Airdrie, Laetitia and her group drove west to the Firth of Clyde and north along the east bank. A bit north of Largs, they stopped to visit Knock Castle—actually, two castles: a nineteenth-century castellated Tudor-style mansion and the ruin of one from the seventeenth century. They then drove up to Castle Levan.

The Tower House at Castle Levan is from the seventeenth century and is now a bed and breakfast, but there have been castles on the spot since the fourteenth century, and the original structure has a tragic past. Lady Mary Montgomery, keeper of the castle while her husband was at war, was sentenced to death for torturing and murdering her tenants. Her sentence was later commuted, but her husband was so outraged when he returned and learned what she had done that he confined her in the castle and starved her to death. A ghost, a white lady assumed to be Lady Mary, is said to haunt the castle.

The group finished the day in Greenock on the banks of River Clyde. After a brief walk on a street in the dockside area called East Breast (Rude Britain number 64), Laetitia dismissed her group with instructions about where to meet for dinner and went to a nearby pub for a pint and to write a limerick. The pub wasn’t busy, and she had a lengthy conversation with the bartender. He told her he was a bachelor and that he loved fox hunting. It’s illegal in Scotland, but he has a friend south of the border in the village of Raunds, Northamptonshire, where hunting is still allowed. Every so often they went fox hunting in West Yorkshire and, when they do, he stays at his friend’s home on a street called Titty Ho.

There were always jokes among the fox hunters about his friend’s street address and its similarity to “tally ho,” the expression shouted when a rider sees the fox. In his view, the best joke was his friend’s behavior when they went to a strip club down the street and the friend kept shouting his street name during each performance. Having neglected to put her notebook in her purse, Laetitia wrote the limerick of the day on a napkin.

A fox hunter who in Scotland’s west
Went to a strip show on East Breast
Shouted out, “Titty Ho!”
In the midst of the show
When all the performers undressed.

Day 353: Crotch Crescent

The settlement that became Oxford grew up around a place in the Thames River that was shallow enough for oxen to cross. After the Norman Conquest, a castle was built to control the river crossing and the surrounding countryside, but it was never very important militarily and was later converted to a prison. Described by nineteenth century poet Mathew Arnold as the “city of dreaming spires,” a reference to its churches and university buildings, Oxford has been a college town since Saxon times.

Most of the people in Laetitia’s group today were Laetitia’s group were young adults who found the campus ambience intoxicating. She took them to the Natural History Museum in the morning, turned them loose to mingle with the campus crowds for a few hours, and then collected them again for a walkabout.

Crotch Crescent is another Oxfordshire locale listed in Rude Britain. Located in the Oxford suburb of Marston, this half-moon-shaped street was named for an Oxford professor of music. William Crotch was a composer, organist, and teacher who was named professor in 1797 and remained so until his death in 1847. During the walkabout there, Laetitia talked to a resident who enjoyed the notoriety that his street achieved when Rude Britain first appeared on the market. Sadly for him, the phenomenon didn’t last long. Laetitia summarized their conversation in the limerick of the day.

Hugh relished the humor pubescent
Brought by his address, 8 Crotch Crescent
In which he took delight
But sad was his plight
For the fame it brought was evanescent.

Day 351: Tinkerbush Lane

Oxford is situated on the edge of that scenic range of hills called the Cotswolds, famous in the past as a wool-growing region, now a popular tourist destination. Laetitia took her group to Stanway, a small Cotswolds village. There they toured Stanway House, a Jacobean manor house built during the sixteenth century that, interestingly, has a small brewery on the premises. J. M. Barrie, a Scottish author and playwright who lived mostly in London, often stayed there during the 1920s. It is said that it was during one of his sojourns at Stanway House that he had the inspiration to write the plays and books about Peter Panthe Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up. After the tour, Laetitia and her group sampled some of the brews from the Stanway House Brewery and then headed south to Wantage.

Wantage is southwest of Oxford, in an area formerly part of Berkshire, but now in Oxfordshire. It is the birthplace of King Alfred the Great (born in 849) and was home to John Betjeman, who was England’s poet Laureate from 1972 to 1984. Laetitia and her group visited a water-powered mill that dates from the days when Wantage was a prominent wool-trading center. However her primary reason for going to Wantage is the presence of a street there called Tinkerbush Lane, which is listed in Rude Britain. When the group went to a pub after the visit to the street, they had a lively conversation stimulated by the street name and their recent visit to Stanway House. The conversation inspired Laetitia’s limerick of the day.

As children, we thought they were swell
Those characters we knew so well
In the Peter Pan book
Smee, Wendy, and Hook
And Peter Pan’s Pal, Tinker Bell.

Was this book with its deeds astronomical
Source of a street name that is comical
Called Tinkerbush Lane
Derived, some think plain,
From a Tinker Bell part anatomical?