To misquote my dear old mum, decide in haste; repent at leisure. What on earth possessed me to choose the name Gruts?
"What? Did you say grunts?"
"No, gruts: G-R-U-T-S."
"GRUTS? That's a strange name."
"Yes, I suppose it is."
"What does it mean?"
"It doesn't mean anything*: it's just a funny word. I wish I'd chosen something else. I seem to spend an awful lot of time spelling it out phonetically for people. It's from a poem by Ivor Cutler."
"He was a Scotch gentleman, but it's really not that important."
"What, there's a poem called Gruts?"
"Well, Gruts for Tea, actually... And it's not really a poem; it's more of a monologue."
"How does it go?"
Gruts for Teaby Ivor Cutler
"Hello, Billy, teatime! Gruts for tea! - Billy! Billy! Come on, son. Gruts for tea! Fresh gruts!"
"Oh, I don't want gruts for tea, Daddy."
"What? I went out specially and got them for you."
"Aw, but Daddy, we had gruts yesterday."
"Look, son, I walked seven miles to the High Wood to get you gruts. That's fourteen miles in all, counting the journey back, and you don't want gruts? I fried them for you. Fried gruts - mm - I fried them in butter."
"I don't want them, Daddy. Daddy, we've had gruts for three years now. I'm fed up with gruts. I don't want them any more. Daddy, can't we have something else for tea?"
"Oh, son! Gruts! They're lovely."
"Daddy, I don't want gruts any more. I hate gruts. I detest them. I have them every day and they're always fried in butter. Can't you think of another way of cooking gruts? There's hundreds of ways of cooking gruts: boil them or bake them or stew them or braise them - but every day - fried gruts. 'Billy, come in for tea. Fried gruts. I've walked fourteen miles. Seven miles to the High Wood and back.' Three years of gruts. Look what it's done to me, Daddy! Come here! Come here into the bedroom and look at ourselves in the mirror, you and me. Now look at that!"
"Yes. I see what you mean. Son, let's not waste these gruts. Tomorrow, I'll go to the High Wood and get something else."
"Look, Daddy, you've been saying this for three years now. Every day we have this same thing. I take you to the mirror and you say we'll have something else for tea. What else is there in the High Wood besides gruts?"
"Well, there's leaves, bark, grass, and leaves. Gruts are really the best. You must admit it."
"Yes, Daddy, I admit it. Gruts are really the best, but I don't want them. I hate them. I detest them. In fact I'm going to take this panful of gruts and throw them out."
"Oh, don't do that! Don't throw them out for goodness' sake! You'll poison the dog!"
It would appear that the word gruts is not quite as meaningless as I once believed: not only have I received an e-mail from a woman in Holland named Ms Grut (who wondered if we might be related), but I also came across the following definition on a website that isn't there any more:
GRUTS. Groats: hulled, or hulled and crushed, grain, usually oats but sometimes wheat, barley or maize. (Glasse, 1747)
… And, more recently, I've been informed that gruts is Kiwi slang for underpants.
… And Charles Darwin temporarily employed a governess for his children called Miss Grut.
… Oh, and it's also Latvian for 'rigid'.