I haven’t been this moved by a newly-discovered word in … well, forever.
When “coddiwomple” first came across my Facebook feed, I burst out laughing. How could I not? How could anyone not? Just say the word several times. Experiment with accents, like Downton Abbey posh, Scottish Highlander, Texan, Australian. See? You have to laugh.
I’ve taken to wondering around the house saying “coddiwomple” with a Yorkshire accent. Yorkshire is the birthplace of my father. The word becomes a grand substitute for “nonsense”: “Coddiwomple! I don’t believe a word ya saying.” Or maybe it’s a Yorkshire delicacy. I can hear my Great Uncle Dennis now: “Would ya like coddiwomple wi’ that, chuck?”
Why, yes. Yes, I would. (I grew up in Hertfordshire so can’t produce “chuck” with any kind of authenticity. Out of respect for my ancestors, I won’t even try.)
I now find myself using “coddiwomple” multiple times a day. When you work from home, the dogs are the only ones listening, so it doesn’t matter. They understand. But the inevitable happens: I accidentally say “coddiwomple” to the FedEx delivery driver.
“No, no.” I assure him. “It’s not rude. It just means …”
And that’s when the laughing stops. For me, anyway.
Coddiwomple: “To travel in a purposeful manner towards a vague, or as-yet-unknown, destination.” It’s now a serious word, a word to contemplate, a trigger for soul-searching. My eyes look to the horizon.
Is that what I’m doing? Am I traveling in a purposeful manner towards a vague destination? Is this another hireth moment?
I am a coddiwompler. I am coddiwompling. Because hireth says I must coddiwomple. I’m striding purposefully towards my vague destination.
Latitude N 51° 12′ 32″ Longitude W 03° 35′ 37″. Porlock. Somerset. United Kingdom.
That’s a bit specific for a vague or unknown destination, surely? True. But not true.
When I really think about it, my destination is unknown, or at best, vague. Do the latitude and longitude for Porlock match the Porlock in my head? The Porlock from thirty years ago? How old will I be when I get back there to live? Will I regret the move? Will friends and family regret my move? Will I fit in?
So many unknowns. So much vagueness. Like taking a familiar path into thick fog.
But, you know what? One serious word is enough. If I want to get all homesicky, I’ll stick with hireth. I’ll save coddiwomple for good laughs. Maybe I’ll start a coddiwompling club. We’ll coddiwomple free, like the Wombles of Wimbledon Common.
“Underground, over ground, coddiwompling free
The Coddiwomples of Withypool Common are we …”
For non-Brits, or those under a certain age, The Wombles was a children’s TV show about a band of furry characters who cleaned up the rubbish on Wimbledon Common. Great theme song! https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=wombles+theme+song&view=detail&mid=F63DC279D804930E3591F63DC279D804930E3591&FORM=VIRE
Pathway into fog image used with permission: Stuart Warstat. For more stunning images of Exmoor, visit http://www.stuartwarstatphotography.co.uk/