Naming the Teapot

When writing my answers to last week’s interview, the phrase “my trusty pot of tea” sprang unbidden to my lips – or rather fingertips. Possibly this was influenced by Richard IV’s “trusty fruit knife” which saw him safely through a single-handed confrontation with ten thousand Turks at the gates of Constantinople.

There is of course a long history of the naming of swords, particularly mythical or otherwise fictional ones – Excalibur, Durendal, Anduril, Rhindon – but mostly it’s just swords, axes, and hammers that get this acclaim, all weapons of assault and battery. Cooking pots, fountain pens, and other useful articles don’t generally rate a name, which is a bit depressing when you think how much more beneficial non-destructive things are.

Setting a much better example for us all is Lord Ickenham (a.k.a. Pongo Twistleton’s Uncle Fred), who sallies forth to the bathroom at Blandings Castle “armed with his great sponge Joyeuse”. Named, presumably, after Charlemagne’s sword Joyeuse, which would have been a much less pleasant bathtime companion.

The-crown-jewels-blaise-alexandre-desgoffe
Voici Joyeuse! The sword – the big squishy green thing’s a cushion, not a sponge.

Incidentally, the whole cheerful bathtime scrub (possibly while carolling a cheerful ditty) seems that bit more weird when you realize you are sitting in a tub of hot water rubbing yourself with the mortal remains of a late member of the family Spongiidae. Not quite showing respect for the deceased, if you know what I mean.

Naturally, all these thoughts sloshing around in my brain (except the sponge-corpus, that arrived later) soon gave rise to the idea that the aforementioned trusty teapot deserved a name. Joyeuse seemed appropriate, given the joy that a nice pot of tea brings, but the name does seem to be rather at capacity at present.

So I did a bit of research into said teapot, which revealed, among other things, that it was not as old as I’d thought. I’d misread the date letter in the hallmark – the W has a bit of crossover rather than a pointy top in the middle – and it was therefore made in 1946, not 1921 as I had previously supposed. (In my defence, said W is less than two millimetres tall.) So ye olde teapot is 74 years old, not 99, but that’s still pretty olde, and certainly deserving of a name.

Henceforth, therefore, it shall be known as my trusty teapot Parsifal.

the teapot Parsifal

The name started as a nod to Percy Adie of Adie Brothers Ltd of Birmingham (who made the teapot). He was the managing Adie Brother prior to World War II, and his son took over afterward. So he probably wasn’t directly involved in the manufacture of this precise promptly post-war teapot, but teapots to this design were certainly being made by Adie Bros Ltd under his aegis in earlier decades.

Percy is a short form of Percival, also spelt Parsifal (or Perceval, or Parzifal, or, if Welsh, Peredur). But then – and really, as Oberon said in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, “this falls out better than I could devise” – I settled on the name because I remembered that Parsifal is the name of the river in Restoration Day, which at its source is a spring of boiling water. (But, as the Caped Gooseberry points out, it cools over time.)

A very nifty name, n’est-ce pas?

Have you named your teapot, your bath sponge, or any other loyal albeit inanimate sidekick about your halls or hearth? Do tell!


6 Replies to “Naming the Teapot”

  1. My dishwasher is always my Best Maid in the ktichen, and the only other named thing i can think of (apart from all the wotsits and thingys – is Gerrtie, the GPS wayfinder in the car. It’s Gertie, regardless of the voice, although perhaps if we had a male voice it may become Tom or something. Very shiny teapot you have 🙂

    1. Ah, the thingys. Everything in this house is thingy, sooner or later!
      Parsifal isn’t usually that shiny, but it’s recently returned from a visit to the silversmith to see about a loose handle pin and some other minor issues.

  2. This question has stirred a long-sleeping memory of something that I did name, back in my teens. It was definitely an inanimate object, probably of domestic nature (or possibly stationery). Goodness, I hope I wake in the night having winkled this out of the depths of the brain.
    I have named several vehicles, including one of my bicycles (‘Blue Dragon’, from Anne McCaffrey’s dragon books in which the blue dragons don’t have names).

    1. I don’t think I’ve ever named stationery before, despite my fondness for it…although now I’m thinking about pens. I hope it comes back to you!

  3. We have named several of our bicycles: mine are Iris (the road bike) and Daisy (the second hand cruiser). Mr. M’s bikes are less imaginatively named Roadie (the road bike) and Fixie (the fixed-gear ditto). Oh, and his Triumph motorcycle is named Basil (for its green paint; also because Basil seems a good name for an English motorbike).

    Joyeuse is a grand name for a sponge. Or a sword.

    1. Lovely to hear from you! (I’ve tried commenting on your blog a couple of times but blogspot keeps eating my comments – a problem I usually have with blogspot & blogger).

      Iris and Daisy are great names for bicycles, particularly for bicycles bearing one on a flower-photographing expedition!
      Basil seems very suitable for an English motorbike. I once named six little basil plants – Basils Fawlty, Rathbone, Brush, Stag Hare, etc. Alas, they fell victim to untimely frosts.

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