This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Thing To Do Today: be Hovisian.

I think this rather lovely word may be a brand-new.

Hovisian, as in Hovisian childhood.

I saw it in The Daily Telegraph on May 12, in Neil Tweedie's interview with Andy Kershaw, and at once I realised that this is a word the English language has been needing for a millennium without knowing it.

And what does it mean? Well, with a brand new word it's not possible to be quite sure, but I think I have a general idea.

In Britain, Hovis is a well-known brand of brown bread, but Hovisian (surely pronounced ho-VEE-sh'n) is nothing to do with bread. It's more to do with Ridley Scott.

And Dvořák.

And Dorset.

No, really.

The thing is, in 1973 the advertising agency Collett Dickenson Pearce put together an advertisement for Hovis bread. It was filmed in Shaftesbury in Dorset, but it had a Lancastrian voice-over and a sound-track of the New World Symphony tenderly arranged for brass band.

It was directed by Ridley Scott.

Here it is.

Such is the power of advertising (or this advertisement, anyway) that Hovis is forever associated with a down-to-earth (and probably northern) nostalgia for juvenile hardship.

And who hasn't fallen prey to that.

So, all together now: when I was a girl I didn't have a coat, not even though the snow came right up over my wellies - and my dad knitted them out of old bicycle tyres stuck together with spit.

Wellies? Why, we ran barefoot all year, we did, frost or not, with nothing but dripping to rub on our chilblains.

Chilblains? Chilblains?? We could never afford luxuries like chilblains. The best we ever had was half a verucca between us and a touch of athlete's foot.

Have fun!

Thing To Do Today: be Hovisian. This word comes, I think, from a 1973 advert for the brand of bread, though as far as I can tell it doesn't seem to have appeared in print until 2012.

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