This blog is for everyone who uses words.

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



Monday, 2 October 2017

Spot the Frippet: something from John MacAdam or John McAdam.

Where would we be without John McAdam?

John Loudon McAdam.jpg

Still bumping along a rutted track saying are we nearly there yet? probably. Possibly not even bothering to set out.

Where would we be without John Macadam?

John Macadam (1827–1865).png

A nut short of a poisonous cookie, that's where.

John Macadam was born in Glasgow, and John McAdam was born in Ayr, so they were both Scots (though John Mac didn't get famous until he got to Australia). 

John McAdam invented the macadamised road - that is, one made of small broken stones, in later versions usually bound together with tar or asphalt (John McAdam's nickname, Tar McAdam, has given us tarmac, too, even though the system of road-building called tarmac was actually developed long after John McAdam's death by Edgar Purnell Hooley).

John MacAdam was a politician in Victoria, Australia, who passed laws to regulate doctors, the safety of food, who was responsible for the supplies taken by the doomed Burke and Wills expedition to cross Australia (the sad outcome wasn't at all his fault), and was altogether so large and red-haired efficient and larger-than-life in his position as Hon Secretary of the Exploration Committee of the Royal Society of Victoria that he had the macadamia nut named after him.

Both great benefactors of the world: but would you rather be famous for a road surface or a nut?

Difficult, isn't it?

Spot the Frippet: something from John McAdam or John MacAdam. John McAdam's name should really have been John McGregor - so we might have had macgregorised roads - but his family changed its name for political reasons.



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