Monday, 27 September 2010

Camden - gongoozlers' paradise

August 15th 2010

I've already touched on the gongoozlers' paradise of Camden. Actually - er - no, I haven't! I thought I'd posted about it but I think the problems with the prop may have usurped that one.

So, Camden. It comes as quite a shock, seeing all those people out with their drinks and their cameras, just hanging around the locks.

What's really surprising is how they all keep behind the railings - well, they did at Hampstead Road Lock (above). It was a different story at Camden Lock.

Here you have to pick your way carefully around the human trip hazards.

Everyone was friendly, just out to have a good time in the August sunshine. Our passing through must have added to their enjoyment.


Jaqueline Almdale said...

Hello Halfie,
Last weekend I volunteered to tutor students at the Writing lab on campus. As a handful of us waited for students to appear I noticed a deck of fun fact cards on the table in front of me. The purpose of the deck was to familiarize one with English words that have gone out of use, and their origins (Yes I know, boring for most folks but fascinating for English geeks like myself). The fifth card I pulled offered up “Gongoozler!” I let out whoop of surprise and declared, “I’ll have you know this word it still used daily.” My stock rose to its feet amongst the young Masters TA’s. They suddenly viewed me as a wise old sage—after all the word was coined in 1861 and folks on this side of the pond are not familiar with it at all. They were amazed at its use still on the English canals. I suppose I’ll have to buy a white wig and a cape now.
Jaqueline USA

Halfie said...

Excellent, Jaqueline! I'm interested that you have a precise year the word was first used. Can you give any more details?

Jaqueline Almdale said...

Gongoozler is thought to have come into use from the Lincolnshire dialect where gawn and gooz both mean to gape or stare. The 1861 usage describes "an idle spectator staring for a long time at something out of the ordinary." While it was used on the cut by those who plied their trades on the canals in the late 1800's, Tom Rolt brought the word back into popular modern usage again in his books.