Sunday, 22 November 2015

A Land Of Milk and Honey

There's that unproven claim that there's only 'six degrees of separation' between all the peoples of the world. It's a fun exercise, the chance for some big time name dropping, the challenge to connect in the fewest hops to 'the good, the bad and the ugly'.

What can be played out with characters, can be played out with words. A form of lexical travels. Try going from King Henry VIII's codpiece, to the brackets that are holding up your shelves, or 'gonads' to the New Testament. These all have a chain of connection, just as there is for the town that we've just passed through. A London's east-ender, climbing the proverbial greasy-pole, cloud-cuckoo land, the original Peruvian capital and an insight into the psychology of the medieval peasant's mind.

Pizzaro and his conquistadors in their insatiable quest for gold came upon Xauxa, (X being pronounces Sh, even when the spelling changes to using: J) an Incan centre of mineral and agrarian wealth. They name it: 'Pias de Jauja' implying a place of easy plenty, and establish their administrative capital here. The surmised belief makes it's way back to Spain in a Latinised form, from whenst it becomes Anglicised to 'Land of Cockaigne'. A place where "houses are made of barley sugar, street are paved with pastry and shops supplied goods for nothing". It's a short jump in the lexicon chain to take Cockaigne to Cuckoo and then to it's eponymous "Cloud". " A "place where roasted pigs wander with knives in their backs to make carving easy, grilled geese fly directly into your mouth, cooked fish jump out and land at your feet, sex is freely available, it's the land of eternal youth". All flights of fancy, and so Cockaigne becomes synonymous with idleness, gluttony and all the other deadly sins.

Cockaigne also gave its name to a vertical pole upon which was perched a ham joint. A piece of meat, that for the part starved peasant serf lost in the benighted stagnation of the late 1500's, would have been an improbable bonanza. To climb the greased pole, an impossible dream. By the mid 1800's the name has now been corrupted, yet still carrying the 'idlers' association, and is 'jokingly' applied to person born within hearing of Bow's Bells. A Cockney.

Jauja, the real place, has had a roller-coaster ride. First it was always a blessed land: guaranteed irrigation, karst limestone, way-station on the Inca's Royal Road. Then came the curse of the Conquest, and the virtual enslavement of its population, and the dubious status of 'capital'. Later, it hits a new high with its proximity to a wealthy population in the newer capital and a dry climate conducive to 'consumptive recovery'. Wealth again flows in, Capilla Cristo Pobre is built and the sanatorium and the cemetery fill with tuberculosis sufferers. That is until the discovery of the antibiotic: Penicillin. Today it is just another Peruvian pueblo. Not a "Never-Never Land", if ever it was. No free stuck pigs, no ready basted geese nor flying fish land at my feet. I can't comment on the sex.

If you know someone, who knows somebody, who's an acquaintance to another, and their surname is " Cockane", you can now inform them of their derivation, although it might be advisable not to suggest that they are 'idle'. If you choose to do so, pronounce it "Idol"'s how language evolves.

Name dropping time: My first employer's best man was then married to HRH Princess Anne, three hops on the chain. The same number as can connect me to President Putin, only I'm not going to show my 'working' for this one.