“Father, father Stikistikistumbolnorseerumbolepropenueharabarabriskonikkiprupolnishnomenudambriko has fallen into the well and I can’t get him out”
After getting away with using the word Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia (the fear of big words) in my column two weeks ago without getting into too much trouble, I’ve decided to tell a story that I have been itching to tell for years.
The problem with the little folk tale I am about to tell is that it runs on a bit, and it could frustrate the average reader. I kid you not, I have seen people roll their eyes so hard listening to me tell this story that they almost saw the previous day.
And without further ado
Once upon a time, there was a small village in eastern Europe where the villagers believed that the longer your name the longer you would live. So instead of naming a child Ben, a family would add syllables and name the baby Benedeka. It wouldn’t be Nina, but rather Ninotchka, and so on.
One day Mr and Mrs Chynne had a little baby boy. They had named their first son Pippen, but they were convinced that his name was not quite long enough to ensure a long life. So when their next son was born, after much discussion, research and deliberation they decided to call the baby by the combined name of all his ancestors from as far back as both Mr and Mrs Chynne could remember.
They named their son Stikistikistumbolnorseerumbolepropenueharabarabriskonikkiprupolnishnomenudambriko Chynne. They were sure that a boy with a name this long would live forever.
One day Pippen and his brother were playing near the well on their farm when Stikistikistumbolnorseerumbolepropenueharabarabriskonikkiprupolnishnomenudambriko fell in. His older brother tried to reach him, but the well was too deep. So Pippen ran to get help.
When he got near to his home he saw his father ploughing in the field.
“Father, father Stikistikistumbolnorseerumbolepropenueharabarabriskonikkiprupolnishnomenudambriko has fallen into the well and I can’t get him out,” he cried.
His father leapt over the fence, grabbed his son’s hand and ran to the neighbour Theodore.
“Theodore, my son Stikistikistumbolnorseerumbolepropenueharabarabriskonikkiprupolnishnomenudambriko has fallen into the well and I need to borrow your ladder to get him out!”
Theodore apologised saying, “Oh my dear neighbour Just last week Alexandré came and fetched my ladder to fix his roof.”
One farm over the desperate father called out, “Alexandré, my son Stikistikistumbolnorseerumbolepropenueharabarabriskonikkiprupolnishnomenudambriko has fallen into a well and we need Theodore’s ladder to get him out!”
Alexandré’s eyes widened. “Oh dear, he said, I loaned my ladder to Dimitri the baker. He needed to store his bags of flour in the loft. You can get it there!
Mr Chynne raced into the town calling, “Dimitri, Dimitri Alexandré tells me that you have Theodore’s ladder. I desperately need it because my son Stikistikistumbolnorseerumbolepropenueharabarabriskonikkiprupolnishnomenudambriko has fallen into the well!”
Dimitri ran around the back of the bakery, fetched the ladder, and soon Pippen, Mr Chynne, Theodore, Alexandré and Dimitri were racing down the road to the well on the Chynne farm. But by the time they got there Stikistikistumbolnorseerumbolepropenueharabarabriskonikkiprupolnishnomenudambriko was no more.
He had drowned while they were saying his name.
The fact that we are frustrated, angry and impatient could be a good sign.
But we have to learn that knowing the best thing to do is not the same as doing the right thing.
Don’t be sad. I doubt that it’s a true story. But though you may quickly forget the name Stikistikistumbolnorseerumbolepropenueharabarabriskonikkiprupolnishnomenudambriko, hopefully you will not forget that in an emergency it’s better to do the right thing than cite procedure.