Skip to content

What’s in a name?

[et_pb_section][et_pb_row][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text]

Why 'Runcible'?

Illustration of the Owl and the Pussycat by Edward Lear
Illustration by Edward Lear

I live in a suburb of South West London called East Sheen, which no-one has ever heard of. It's halfway between Putney and Richmond, has a population of just over 10,000 and one doctor's surgery. When I booked a flu vaccine last year, the surgery rang back to double-check my details. It turns out that there are 9 Mark Jones's on the register. There are two of us on my street.

One thing I've learned in everything I've done in media is that if you give something a catchy name it stands a disproportionate chance of getting to the top of the queue. 'Mark Jones' is just too common ('popular' might be fairer) to work for a consultancy that stresses the need to think about human fallibilities. So I needed something more memorable.

My wife suggested ‘runcible’ as in the ‘runcible spoon’ used by ‘The Owl and the Pussycat.  Anne's a former English teacher and her suggestion was that Victorian artist Edward Lear just made up this word because he liked the sound of it. It's there for effect, to maintain the flow, and it's left to the reader to decide what it might mean. 'Frabjous' from Lewis Carroll's Jaberwocky was also considered for similar reasons.

They dined on mince and slices of quince,

   Which they ate with a runcible spoon;

And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,

   They danced by the light of the moon,

            The moon,

            The moon,

   They danced by the light of the moon.

The Owl and the Pussycat, Edward Lear

Thinking about this a bit more, Lear was a Victorian artist who used playful language and eye-catching illustrations to make his work stand out. Those are timeless skills. He’d have done well in social media.