Saturday, 30 August 2014

Permabulators perambulating

Walking along St Peter's Street in Canterbury today on our way to the Goods Shed for lunch I was astonished to see this parade of permabulators appearing around the corner from the Westgate Towers.

As one who can remember sitting in his Nibs Chariot (I think that is how it is spelt - I was only two years old at the time) and who, as a father, wheeled his baby daughter into the garden to sleep outside the kitchen window in a coachbuilt Silver Cross, I found the sight of this procession doubly nostalgic.

I sent an ambassadress to enquire whether the participants belonged to a club or were engaged in some festival and she returned to inform me that they had denied affiliation to any organisation; merely declaring that 'they were all mad together'.

Of course, today's children are shaken to pieces in small-wheeled tube and canvas contraptions. Is it any wonder they always seem to be grizzling about something or other?

A 'perambulator' originally meant 'a person who walked', and there was usually a purpose attached to the exercise such as surveying or measuring. 'Permabulating' was thus the activity of a perambulator. The word was first used to describe a child's carriage in 1858 and three decades later 'perambulator' had been abridged to 'pram'. But even this word is falling into disuse. When did you last say 'pram'? 

Probably when you were talking about the Parameter Random Access Memory of your computer.

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