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Kidderminster

Kidderminster has had some bad publicity over the years because people have a habit of abusing the name for no apparent reason! When I moved to the town in 2006, I began searching for other poets by googling “Kidderminster Poetry”. This is what I got:

Kidderminster Poetry
from E. Cobham Brewer‘s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898

Coarse doggerel verse, like the coarse woollen manufacture of Kidderminster. The term was first used by William Shenstone, who applied it to a Mr. C., of Kidderminster.

Thy verses, friend, are Kidderminster stuff;
And I must own you’ve measured out enough.”

Doggerel from Wikipedia

A derogatory term for verse considered of little literary value. The word probably derived from dog, suggesting either ugliness, puppyish clumsiness or unpalatability (as in food fit only for dogs).

Sylvia Herbert, who was Public Relations Officer at Brintons, tells me that in the 1990s, comedians Punt and Dennis famously derided Kidderminster as ‘carpet town’ so the Mayor invited them to switch on the Christmas lights! He asked Brintons to make a little commemorative rug for them. I like Punt and Dennis but they were deservedly on the carpet here.

I recently heard that Olivier award-winning playwright Alan Ayckbourn has called one of his latest plays The Kidderminster Affair. It is one of two short comedies written and directed by Mr Ayckbourn called “Farcicals”. When asked why he chose the named Kidderminster, Mr Ayckbourn simply replied: “I just liked the name.” I’m a fan of Ayckbourn but I think it’s unfair of him to name his play after a town just because he likes the name. The Kidderminster Affair is described as “a frivolous comedy of fun, infidelity and food fights”.

Next year, Kate Wragg and I plan to tour show Kidderminster Stuff, and most people I have spoken to feel we should change the name to give it wider appeal to promoters and audiences outside the area. After all, it could be the story of any town which grew and revolved around an industry and then suffered when the industry declined. Though we want to share the stories of Kidderminster people, it seems you have to be Alan Ayckbourn to get away with using the name in a title.

Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas!

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6 thoughts on “Kidderminster

  1. I wasn’t aware the town name was used in a derogatory fashion – only time I’ve been there I was towing my caravan down to Cornwall and I think it was my accelerator cable that snapped or something. Anyway we ended up parking the caravan behind a garage in Kidderminster and staying there overnight before getting the cable fixed next morning.

  2. Ah, but do you remember that when the late great Richard Briers got into a terrific tizzy in ‘Ever Decreasing Circles’ all his wife had to do was smile lovingly and say ‘Kidderminster, darling’ for him to roll over in a reverie of bliss. Long before I lived in the region, that was my only reference point!

  3. So can’t quite see your point, or where there may be a problem, remember, any publicity is good ! let people have a go if they want, we who are born and brought up in Kidder, are that proud of the place ,we don;t give a damn! and just between me and you, Iwon’t tell a soul I let you in on this. Anthony Skirving.

    • Yes, any publicity is good but I’m still tussling with whether or not to try touring a show with Kidderminster in the title. Ayckbourn used the name for effect but it is his name that will attract audiences. People tell me they think Weaving Yarns would be a better title. Thanks for sharing your secret which I will of course keep to myself. I know lots of Kidder folk who would say the same 🙂

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