Friday, 28 July 2017

Is Trebizond the most beautiful place name of all?


Talking about places that should be visited simply for the beauty of their names, Trebizond now comes to mind. I remember using the word to an Englishman in Constantinople who said it sounded better in my mouth than Trabzon. We had only an hour earlier but he had me down as a Victorian.

That evening is memorable for a last look inside one of my favourite hotels, the Pera
Palace, before it was ruined. It was built to serve the travellers from the Orient Express. When you stept into the hotel you were in late Ottoman Constantinople, not modern, mono-ethnic Muslim Istanbul. The next time I went there its charm and wonderful tiles had been destroyed by restoration, a fate that befalls very many hotels in the age of vulgarity in which we live. The Crillon in Paris is the latest victim.

It is also memorable for Steve showing me a secret map of Al Qaeda supply routes. I felt for a moment that I was in Greenmantle, the indispensable book for Constantinople, and his introducing me to raki. I never drink spirits as a rule, but make an exception for raki, a.k.a. ouzo, a drink I like a lot.

Is Trebizond the most beautiful place name of all?  Or do Madagascar and Samarkand have the edge?

There are, of course, no end to beautiful English examples. Flanders and Swann's 'Slow Train' comes to mind, their threnody for the little stations in branch lines that were killed by the Beeching Axe.

Miller's Dale for Tideswell ... Kirby Muxloe ... Mow Cop and Scholar Green ... No more will I go to Blandford Forum and Mortehoe

On the slow train from Midsomer Norton and Mumby Road. No churns, no porter, no cat on a seat

At Chorlton-cum-Hardy or Chester-le-Street. We won't be meeting again On the Slow Train. I'll travel no more from Littleton Badsey to Openshaw. At Long Stanton I'll stand well clear of the doors no more. No whitewashed pebbles, no Up and no Down  
From Formby Four Crosses to Dunstable Town. I won't be going again On the Slow Train. On the Main Line and the Goods Siding

The grass grows high At Dog Dyke, Tumby Woodside And Trouble House Halt. The Sleepers sleep at Audlem and Ambergate. No passenger waits on Chittening platform or Cheslyn Hay. No one departs, no one arrives From Selby to Goole, from St Erth to St Ives. They've all passed out of our lives On the Slow Train, on the Slow Train. Cockermouth for Buttermere ... on the Slow Train, Armley Moor Arram ... Pye Hill and Somercotes ... on the Slow Train. 
Windmill End.

1 comment:

  1. I've always liked Ryme Intrinseca, a village in Dorset.
    William Langley