The Funny Thing about Wells Street… by Sarah Gedye.

The funny thing about Wells Street is that there aren’t any wells.

Maybe there were when it was named, when wells were at rather more of a premium than they are now. Back then, the well would have been the focal point of a community, the water cooler of the day. It would have been the spot where people stopped and chatted about what was on T.V. last night, except of course the entertainment options were severely limited in the days when wells were a chitchat hotspot. Rather than ‘Did you hear what Joey Essex said on T.V. last night?’ or ‘Which film won Best Picture at the Oscars?’, the chat would more likely be based around the humdrum necessities of struggling to stay alive for another day.

‘Is there any water in the well?’ was a big talking point. Probably the biggest. In fact, had there been a survey industry back in the days when wells were the big cheese in the water supply world. ‘Is there any water in the well?’ would have come a comfortable first on the Family Fortunes quiz-o-meter of answers. Luckily for all, there was no Family Fortunes in those days, and precious little family fortune, to be honest. Lots of misfortune, to be sure. Misfortune by the bucket-load, but Family Misfortunes would have been a very different show. In fact, it would have run alongside the well chitchat for its subject matter.

‘We asked a hundred people if they had the Black Death, how many had the strength to answer?’

‘We asked a hundred witches if they could float, how many were scrupulously honest in reply?’

How could Vernon Kaye make a cheeky joke about that?

Okay, it’s not funny ‘haha’ that Wells Street has no wells—more funny peculiar—but what would you rather have? Dysentery, a low mortality rate, and spinsters being burned at the stake for simply owning a black cat? Or indoor plumbing and Vernon Kaye?

It’s a question for the ages.

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