Searching Google Maps for Meavy, England, where Steven Spielberg was shooting War Horse a few weeks ago, led to me the ancient village of Wells, about 90 minutes to the northeast. There was a moment in a London office of British Airways 30 years ago when an agent said my last name, and that instant I realized that only the British can pronounce it properly. I had unknowingly mispronounced it all my life. I’ve tried to convey how it sounds with pheonetical mimicry, but it doesn’t quite work.
Wells, incidentally, is not to be confused with Tunbridge Wells, which Claude Rains, in the role of Dryden, referred to at the end of Lawrence of Arabia. Prince Feisal (Alec Guiness) asks his opinion of the conflict between the Arab Council and the situation created by the Sykes-Picot, and Dryden/Rains replies, “Me, Your Highness? Well, on the whole, I wish I’d stayed in Tunbridge Wells.”