Sunday, June 15, 2014

Geography of Havering

From The Poke: Time Well Wasted.
One of the great benefits of teaching, of course, is learning from our students. And the internet means never having to stop learning! The latest lesson comes by way of my illustrious former student Micah, who shares this illustration of the musical promise proclaimed by none other than The Proclaimers in their early-90s hit. The band -- fronted by identical twin brothers Charlie and Craig Reid -- was formed in the same year that Pam and I got together, and became known to many North American audiences a few years later through the sound track to the quirky film Benny & Joon.

Here is another version with Mary Stewart Masterson and another with the lads, and yet another with the lads all grown up.

Many fans ask what the meaning of haver (or haiver) is. According to the OED and other online sources, it is a chiefly Scottish or northern English term meaning "To talk garrulously and foolishly; to talk nonsense."

In any case, it is one of several things the singer would walk 500 miles -- or even 500 more -- to do with (or to) the object of his affection. The map above answers the most obvious geographic question raised by the song. I bet that some of my other students, though, can take this a bit farther if they use their atlases or GIS tools to answer a few more:

  1. What are the surface areas of the two circles in which this lover would be willing to walk? We have the radii (500 and 1,000), so the rest should be simple.
  2. What portion of these areas is walkable, i.e., dry land?
  3. What if he went only by roads?
  4. What languages might he haver in once he got there?

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