Tuesday 15 November 2011

Waterstones, #inkf, and Piddle

Once upon a time there was a village in Dorset called Piddle. Or, more precisely, it was listed in 1212 as being called Pidela Walteri, which is Latin for Walter's Piddle. Piddle just meant lowland and Walter was, one assumes, the landowner.

Anyway, for some reason lost in the mists of medieval time, the Piddle got dropped and the Walter remained. In fact, it started to be called Walter's Farm, or in old English Walter's ton. Then people stopped pronouncing the L in Walter and it just became Water's ton. The important thing was that the people who lived there acquired the surname Waterstone. They had sex and had children who had sex and had children in a long, frenzied line of lust and procreation that led inevitably to the birth of Tim Waterstone in 1939. And his name had nothing to do with either water or stone.

Tim Waterstone founded Waterstones bookshops in 1981 and they are now the largest chain of bookshops in Britain. Then all it took was for me to write The Etymologicon and the lovely people at Waterstones to read and like it and a plan was formed. Essentially, I'm spending the day doing a word surgery. The idea is that you tweet a word to me with the hashtag #inkf and I'll do my best to tweet back with an explanation. Try to include @inkyfool and @waterstones.

It could all have been very different, though. If that Dorset village had dropped the other half of its name I would be teaming up with Piddles.

This is Wyre Piddle in Worcestershire, which I've actually visited.


  1. d e a r
    Posted by M.H. Forsyth

    what fun to read the background of waterstone

    yesterday i visited the
    waterstone book shop in oxford
    to promote four launched books of
    my publishing company

    >printingeria windropss<

    with seat
    also in oxford
    visit... website


    i left four colourful and precise leaflets with and of the four books
    with the female manager who told me that the din-a 5 format and comb binding are not easily to display on tables but she listened patiently yet sharply to my xplanations as to the benefits buying and reading will bring to special reading minds.

    by the way...
    i am a mature female also born in 1939. aint that quaint!

    and i love waters and stones and boox in paper and digital dressups.

    and i will tramp to wyre piddle in worcestershire before waterstones disappears from oxford like borders...

    ciao for now with a grateful smile
    teresa bencinic
    >printingeria windropss<

  2. On the main road from Dorchester a signpost to Piddle Trenthide is followed, charmingly, by one to Tinkleton.
    The map used to refer to the river Piddle or Puddle. Hence nearby Puddletown.