Keep­ing it sim­ple to cut the mus­tard

South Waikato News - - Meanwhile, Outside Auckland - RACHAEL KELLY

The death of Mur­ray Ball this month re­minded me of the first time I saw the Footrot Flats movie.

‘‘Who calls their dog Dog?’’ city-kid me thought. Plenty of peo­ple, as it turns out. When I moved to the coun­try my el­derly neigh­bour had a lovely old lab called Dog.

Dur­ing a yarn over the fence one day, I stupidly quipped about the ca­nine’s un­o­rig­i­nal name.

‘‘Well I couldn’t call him Cat, could I?’’ came the re­ply.

(Les­son not quite learnt - I prob­a­bly shouldn’t have asked my friend Tubby how he got his nick­name ei­ther.)

You’d be hard-pressed to find a work­ing dog with a two-syl­la­ble name, a check of the leader­board at the lo­cal dog tri­als shows.

Cole and Jazz were the top dogs, but they com­peted against plenty of Macks, Pips and Bobs.

There was a Keep, a Flow and a Groove thrown in for fun.

Even the house dogs (usu­ally small and yappy) have one syl­la­ble names. I know of a con­fused fe­male wire-haired ter­rier called Rog, but that’s for an­other col­umn.

A yarn with some farmer friends re­veals the one-syl­la­ble name is all about the sim­plic­ity.

‘‘You have to be able to yell at it in a pissed-off voice quickly,’’ one said. Makes sense.

Af­ter­glow Miami Ink, the moniker of the cocker spaniel that won the top prize at Crufts last week, wouldn’t re­ally cut the mus­tard then. You’d be a bit em­bar­rassed if your neigh­bour­ing farmer heard you shout­ing that in the mid­dle of a pad­dock.

And cocker spaniels should only be used for pick­ing up birds you’ve shot, any­way.

Speak­ing of pad­docks though even they have names.

While every­one has a top pad­dock, a road pad­dock and a bot­tom pad­dock, a high coun­try sta­tion near me has pad­docks named af­ter pre­vi­ous own­ers and shep­herds, as well as Roller­coaster (un­du­lat­ing land), This­tle Flat (needs a spray) and Wild Thing (rough as guts, ap­par­ently).

And the art of giv­ing a sim­ple but mean­ing­ful name ex­tends past the fence and the dog ken­nel.

It took me a long time to work out where The Witch Doc­tor’s Cor­ner was on my trav­els home, let alone those named af­ter fam­i­lies that have long left the area.

And where was Bluegum Cor­ner? Where there’s a shel­ter­belt of macro­carpas, iron­i­cally.

A mate of mine drives past it most days on his way to the gooner (that’s the pub - so called be­cause it turns peo­ple into goons) in his Gay Mus­tard, which is what he calls his old se­ries 2 Land Rover.

It’s a rather un­fetch­ing shade of yel­low.

Or he could be in his Town Car, Bruce (his grader) or the Croftie (a sta­tion wagon), could be meet­ing his mates - Storm, Hummy, Crofter, Spoon Fed, Big­gles, Cheese or even Dif­fi­cult Birth for a pint, if he’s in town.

He may even have his dog Thrush with him - but I’ll leave it to your imag­i­na­tion to guess how that poor labrador got his name.

‘‘Who calls their dog Dog?’’, city-kid me thought. Plenty of peo­ple, as it turns out.

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