Behind the deserted cinema in the centre of Tunbridge Wells.
Some months ago a I referred to the word "mondegreen". It describes the mishearing of a phrase in such a way that it is understood with an alternative meaning. In a book called Mondegreens by J A Wines, which I find in a charity shop today, I read the definitive account of how the word was coined. The American writer, Sylvia Wright apparently invented it. As a child, she write, she was fond of the ballad The Bonny Earl of Murray, which she was convinced included the following stanza:
"Ye Highlands and ye Lowlands.
Oh where hae you been"
They have slain the Earl Amurray
And Lady Mondegreen".
A miss hearing of
"They have slain the Earl of Murray
and laid him on the green".
Most of the reported mondegreens in the book are a little disappointing. It is usually those that happen to us that seem funny. One exception is the mishearing of the hymn, which has resulted in hundreds of teddy bears being named Gladly as a result of a the mishearing of "Gladly the cross I'd bear".
A hot still day. The air is heavy and humid and the voices of people talking quietly carry across the grassy undulations of Calverley Ground.