Sunday 28 November 2010


Every Englishman gets a little bit excited about words that begin with an X. We shouldn't, but we do. The Xaviers of Xinguara and xylophonists of Xai Xai may mock our cruciform delight: but to our startled eyes that opening X is filled with fantastic foreigness. It is, if we are honest, the only reason that we ever use the word xenophobia.

From the same root as xenophobia comes xenagogue. A pedagogue leads children, a demagogue leads the people, and a xenagogue leads foreigners. For a xenagogue is nothing more than a humble tour guide dressed up in obscure finery, and starting with an X.

How much more exotic would be our holidays if we entrusted ourselves to xenagogues! Gone would be the grating familiarity of the giftshop and instead we would recapture some magic of travel, some hint of the impossible that is otherwise hidden beneath a thousand atlases.

You don't even need to go abroad. A xenagogue can lead strangers around. The first recorded xenagogue is from Lambard's must-read: A Perambulation of Kent (1570).

The places of which I meant to take note in this my xenagogie and perambulation of Kent, the first and only shire that I have described.

You too, dear reader, can be a xenagogue. Simply show somebody around. At a push you could xenagogise to guests in your own home. And then, you too, dear xeader, would begin with an X.

Then you celebrate by pouring yourself a xeric martini.

The Inky Fool had been map-reading

1 comment:

  1. The Antipodean, wondering if we should make more fuss about having a Xavier in our team,28 November 2010 at 12:38

    I am reading this as I return home from some Batmaniac xenagoguery. We commenced with some terribly xeric champagne, rather than concluding with a contradictory beverage. I'll have some Ximinez once I get home to compensate, although it is more xanthic that xeric.