“Dick!” exclaimed Arwen.

“Ooooh. You just said a really naughty word!” said Tamzin.

“No way!” laughed Arwen, “I was just thinking about people’s names—and how they get shortened. I mean, if you’re called Richard you get reduced to a Dick. How on earth did that happen? Can’t see the link.”

“Me neither,” said Tamzin. “And what about people named Robert? You’d think, wouldn’t you, they’d be called Rob for short.”

“Or p’rhaps even Bert,” interjected Arwen.

“Yeh. But for some unfathomable reason, Robert gets shortened to Bob!” continued Tamzin. “Bob!”

“Looks like it may be a case of dyslexia to me,” suggested Arwen.

“Yeh – like Ann being called Nan,” said Tamzin. “Would be a typical spelling error that: Nan instead of Ann.”

“And what about those other names, Tamzin?  Margaret gets to be called Peggy! Christopher comes home in short form as Kit. Edward collapses in a heap to Ted—and Catherine shrinks down to a Kate!”

“Yeh, and what about James being called Jim” said Tamzin, “And now I come to think of it, where does Jack come from as a name for John?”

“Hah! So it was really a John who went to fetch that pail of water with Jill.”

“Doesn’t sound quite right though, does it” said Tamzin, “John and Jill went up the hill…Anyway at least Jill is a sensible shortening of Jillian. But do you know what—Elizabeth—well an Elizabeth has over twenty different short forms. Twenty! How come she gets so many?

“Elizabeths must have a great need to hide from the law—or p’rhaps are burdened with a multiple personality or summat,” suggested Arwen.

“…and they include Betty and Elsa and Lily and…” continued Tamzin.

“The mind boggles!” exclaimed Arwen.

A moment’s pause.

“Actually, what does it mean to ‘boggle’?” asked Tamzin.

“Dunno. just sounded the right thing to say,” said Arwen. “It’s what adults say when they get confused.”

“Adults would never do that, would they?” said Tamzin, with a wink.

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