I came across an intriguing booklet in the Camden Arts Centre bookshop called The Regional Book by David Matless published by Colin Sackett’s wonderful Uniformbooks.

As I’ve not finished reading the booklet yet, this post isn’t a review as such, for that you’d be hard pressed to find a better one than Ken Warpole’s masterly post in The New English Landscape eg.

The Regional Book is […] allusive, a gazetteer of 44 Norfolk places, each described in telegraphese, halfway in style between Pevsner and the poet Roy Fuller. It is very persuasive.

Spare and enigmatic The Regional Book is a masterwork of brevity, poignancy and punch.

Although I have neither the author’s depth-of-knowledge nor writerly skills I find myself drawn to the condensed format of The Regional Book (much as I ‘d previously been drawn to Patrick McGuinness’s exquisite entries in Other People’s Countries) and felt tempted to have a go.

Here’s what I’ve so far come up with for, in this example, the Dollis Brook:

The Dollis is a main tributary of the River Brent which is itself a tributary of the River Thames.

The name Dollis originates from Dollis Farm earlier named Dalys (1563), The Doles (1574), Dallys (1584) before Dollis  in 1822. The entomology of the name most likely refers to the portions or shares of land in the common field from the Middle English dole.

Moat Mount, Mill Hill, Scratchwood, Nut Wood, Highwood Hill and Furze Hill.

The Dollis Brook rises in a low-lying escarpment of wooded hills to the north west of London. A shaded brook. It runs under dense tree cover for much of its length. As a result aquatic plants fail to thrive and the bare brook-bed of red-earth clay and pebbles and detritus is visible.

Yellow iris and water-pepper grow along its banks. Kingfishers, grey wagtails and moorhens can be seen.

The Brook flows eastwards, in a valley defined by the Totter-ridge in the south and the linear village of Arkley in the north, and then flows southward through Woodside Park where it merges with the Folly Brook, before passing under the Dollis Brook Viaduct. Also known as the Dollis Road Viaduct, Dollis Viaduct or Mill Hill Viaduct, this is the highest point above ground level on the London Underground system.

The lower Dollis Brook meanders to the Great North Way (A1) and near Bridge Lane in Hendon it merges with the Mutton Brook to form the River Brent.

Dollis Farm and Dollis Brook Viaduct



3 thoughts on “The Temptation of ‘Telegraphese’

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