“What is it?”, said Lucy. “It’s more a question of what was it”, I replied philosophically. “It could have been corn, it might have been hay, even possibly wheat; but right now it is stubble, and more to the point, it digs into your ankles”. “Tell me about it”, whined Lucy, “I’ve got twice as many ankles as you, and, in case you hadn’t noticed, bare paws!”
A word of explanation is perhaps necessary, before I venture any further. Lucy, my chocolate Labradoodle, and I have embarked on an adventure to see whether we can get around the world in just eighty words. The words in question are components of the What3Words geolocation system that divides the planet up into three metre squares; all with their own unique three word identification codes. The trip started at my desk in Huddersfield in the UK (///tall.logo.select) and my first word is to simply change “tall” for “short”, resulting in a new location – ///short.logo.select – which happens to be in the middle of a field of stubble just outside White Hall, Illinois in the United States. Now, I know what you are going to say – “Don’t be silly, dogs can’t talk” – but given that we have stretched credulity to accept that I can somehow travel the planet at the drop of a word, it is not asking much to allow me a talking dog as a companion.
“So where exactly are we?”, enquired Lucy as we left the stubble field and headed into the big city. “We’re entering the city of White Hall, in Greene County, Illinois, population 2,520”, I said, reading from a Google website. (I had to read this out for Lucy because, let’s not be silly, dogs can’t read). “That’s not a city”, she protested, “I’ve seen boarding kennels bigger than that!” “Sush”, I said, “we’re in America now, and this is Main Street, so behave yourself”
To be honest, it didn’t take us long to explore the place, but it was pleasant enough and the sun was shining, and people smiled as the drove past in their cars. For a time, it was a centre for commercial potteries, but most of these have gone now. It got its name from an early building that was painted white – some say it was an inn, some say a blacksmith’s – and the small settlement grew up around it. If Lucy and I walked far enough south we would eventually get to St Louis, to the West is Kansas City, Indianapolis lies to the East, and Chicago is a challenging trek to the North.
“I don’t want to walk anywhere”, moaned Lucy, as I started to question the wisdom of my choice of travelling companion for this virtual trip around the world. We were walking down Main Street, passing the Greene Gable Inn. “Can’t we stop for a drink?” Tempting as the sight of the Inn was, it didn’t look like the type of place you could get a pint of bitter on a Thursday afternoon, let alone the type of place you could take a sweaty labradoodle to. Checking Google Maps we turned on West Lincoln Street and headed for the Para Dice Club instead as they were offering cold beer and free meatballs.
So, that is how we finished up, sitting in the bar in the Para Dice Club (“good friends and cold beer at cheap prices”) in White Hall, Illinois. One word was behind us and there were only seventy-nine to go before we were due back home in Huddersfield. “It’s your turn to choose”, I said to Lucy, “make a selection”. “That’s it”, said Lucy, so that was it. And now we are heading off to ///short.logo.selection. We’ll meet you there.