English Place Names

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Anglophenia is a funny series of YouTube shorts for Americans who visit England.
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Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce complete with the Royal Seal of Approval.

One of the ways we can tell if someone was brought up in a local area of England is the way that they pronounce place names. They often sound nothing like they are spelled. I follow a blog called Travel Much by Olive Ole who often gives some wonderful recipes from Norway. The latest being her home-made burgers (to die for) using Worcestershire Sauce (click HERE for Wiki origins). I have always been led to believe that Worcestershire Sauce originated in Bengal, India and it was brought back to Worcestershire in England and enhanced by two chemists Lea & Perrins. I make my own version and call mine Elephant Sauce (a family joke).

After informing Olive Ole of how impressed I was after making her recipe, this funny conversation took place:

Olive Ole: Oh maybe you can help resolve the argument I have with Sir Nerdalot at the moment. He claims that Worchestershire sauce is pronounced Woster sauce! How dum is that! If they want it pronounced as Woster, then they should spell it that way! I say it like Wor-Chester-Shire-Sauce, and the Nerd giggles!

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My own version Elephant Sauce

SOL: He is right I am afraid. UK English has a number of names like that. Magdalene College in Oxford is pronounced «Maudlin College» It was a popular way to catch out spies during WW2.

Olive Ole: Noooooooooo! Ah! The teasing will be endless! Or I could just not admit to him that he was right! Yup, that is my best option!

(after this I accidentally posted this reply to Poet Rummager – another interesting blogger I follow, instead of to Olive Ole)

SOL: Further to the Woster confusion – this you tube lesson may be of interest: https://youtu.be/9q7VjLVU8Ec (this is a hilarious YouTube post about pronouncing British Place names by Anglophenia – if you click this it will help understand how different place names can sound from how they are spelled)

Poet Rummager: That was hilarious! I got, maybe, 2 right!! Wow, go me. Thanks for the link — I feel so stupid now. Haha! How do you pronounce Southampton? I bet I’ve been saying it wrong all this time. Wanna bet??

SOL: I am going to have to do a blog about this – it has made me laugh so much. Southampton is as it looks. For nearly every town or village older than 1776 in England, there is a town or village of that name (some with the additional New in front) in North America and many of those names also in Australia, as it referred to where those people (colonists) settled from. Many WordPress visitors first think I am from Southampton, Suffolk County, New York. (There’s 3 places from England) There are also Southamptons or South Hamptons in Pennsylvania, California and Ontario. They all sound the same with a soft ‘p’.

Olive Ole replied to your comment  ‘I am going to have to do a post about this – it’s so funny’. Haha! Looking forward to read it (but wont show it to hubby)

(Then after I sent the original reply to Olive Ole):

Olive Ole: hahahaha love the link! And although I am not American, I would say most of those names fairly similar to the american…

___________

Let us not even begin to get into long Welsh names or those from the rest of the UK.

But my question today is: Are there any English place names that you discovered you have been pronouncing differently?

America’s Cup World Series – Portsmouth

Rita (named by Ainslie's mum after St Rita) sails back past Gunwharf Quays marina.
Rita (named by Ainslie’s mum after St Rita) sails back past Gunwharf Quays marina.

This weekend we went to Portsmouth to view the sailing boats for The Luis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series. With daggerboards to lift the catamarans clear of the water for speed, and wings instead of sails, the America’s Cup Class boat has been described as ‘a fighter jet on water’. The Duke of Edinburgh and later Prince William and Kate arrived meet up with Sir Ben Ainslie whose team was the overall winner this weekend. Ainslie skippered for Oracle Team USA in 2013 but since then has had his own team Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR) and since 2015 has partnered with Land Rover. Some of the best sailors in the world were at this event.

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Fly Emirates Team New Zealand in Portsmouth Harbour. They have an impressive record of winning the Cup in the past, plus developed and brought foiling into mainstream sailing.
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Tall structures. Solent landmark, the Spinnaker Tower (170 m / 560 ft) high) meets it fellow sponsor the Fly Emirates Team NZ catamaran (23.9m 78.6 ft). The residential building known as The Lipstick due to its shape is 101 m / 331 ft high.
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Emirates Team New Zealand crew disembark onto Solent raft after competing in the America’s Cup World Series – Portsmouth
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Portsmouth was crowded viewing all the America’s Cup Class catamarans foils. Overall standings: Emirates Team NZ. Land Rover BAR. Oracle Team USA. Artemis Racing. SoftBank Team Japan. Groupama Team France.
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Transporter trucks with charge to “Bring The Cup Home” to Britain. The America’s Cup trophy, known affectionately as ‘the Auld Mug’, has never been won by a British team before, despite the race originating on the Solent in 1851.

Up and Coming America’s Cup World Series dates:

10-11 Sept 2016 Toulon, France

18-20 Nov 2016 Fukuoka, Japan

Another World Series TBA for the first quarter of 2017

26 May – 5 June 2017 America’s Cup Qualifiers Bermuda

7-12 June 2017 Cup Challenger play-offs – Bermuda

17-29 June 2017 America’s Cup Match – Bermuda (Top Challengers advances to the America’s Cup Match against the last winners: Oracle Team USA)

 

 

The Day Southampton Made Me Cry

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“Time changes everything except something within us which is always surprised by change.” – Thomas Hardy. Southampton Civic Centre Clock (Kimber’s Chimney) © Southampton Old Lady

It has been graduation day at Southampton University. It is always wonderful to see successful students celebrating their achievements and sad to see them saying farewell and hugging their companions while new lost-looking youngsters wonder around the streets nervously.

I follow some of the students in their new careers on their blogs and am proud of the fact that my city has allowed them to travel the world with their exciting work. One student I follow who left a few years ago has a blog entitled My Little Journal (sign up from your email to request to follow).

She was sad when she saw the graduation ceremony being live-streamed and today, under the heading “The Day Southampton Made Me Cry” –  she wrote:

Somehow, all the emotions and memories came rushing back to me. When I looked at their graduation photos, I felt a pang of sadness. I’ve always associated them with Southampton, along with memories attached to each person. And now, as their Southampton chapter is ending, I feel lost. It’s a nasty jab when I realized, if someday I come back to Southampton, everything will be different. I might not know anyone there, and I might feel alienated in a place that was utterly familiar to me. In a way, I guess it’s worse than moving to a completely new place, where you don’t have pieces of dormant memories tucked in every corner of the city, ready to be awoken at any moment.

Southampton means a lot to me. It was the place where I met some of the most incredible people in my life. It was the place where I found my true self, and the courage to be that self. It was the place where I fell in love, got heartbroken, and recovered in a way that made me not just stronger, but also wiser and richer.

Southampton introduced me to the best version of myself I hadn’t known before, and for that reason alone, it holds a special place in my heart.

Usually, I distract myself before I get too emotional. Today, I let myself cry.

I hope I can see you again, Southampton. :’)

Summer Splash

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For two days an otherwise Cool Britannia has been basking in a Mediterranean heatwave.

Normality has stopped while bodies, the colour of uncooked pastry, have headed to the water’s edge to sacrifice themselves to the Sun. Baking and blistering in a desperate attempt to change colour.

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Breathing underwater © Southampton Old Lady

Itchen Ferry Village Details

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Click on image for details
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Sea Otter emerging from Supermarine Factory before it was bombed

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L.S Lowry painting of the Itchen Ferry, Southampton
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Woolston shore, where we used to wait for the ferry before the Itchen Bridge was built.

Further reading on my post The Woolston Ferry

In response to the weekly WordPress Photo Challenge: Details

Inadequate

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I was surprised but not shocked, to see this Care Quality Commission rating chart posted on the window of my local GP surgery (National Health doctor’s office) with the 80% overall rating: Inadequate.

Responses to the question Are services Safe? and Are services Effective? achieved Inadequate. The only different responses on the whole chart were GOOD for Are Services Caring? And REQUIRES IMPROVEMENT for the question Are Services Responsive? None were regarded as OUTSTANDING.

All the ‘Patient Group’ categories achieved INADEQUATE. Not one single listing was marked otherwise.

Older People – Inadequate

People with long term conditions – Inadequate

Families, children and young people – Inadequate

Working age people (including those recently retired and students) – Inadequate

People whose circumstances may make them vulnerable – Inadequate

People experiencing poor mental health (including people with dementia) – Inadequate

I was informed by staff and patients gossiping at the pharmacy next door that if there are not improvements by this Autumn the surgery would be closed down.

There are no dentists in the area – I travel 25 miles to Bournemouth to see mine. This is the only doctors’ surgery in this densely-populated area for miles. I know there to be five good doctors of different nationalities at this surgery who are all under a lot of pressure.

The reception staff often have a difficult time sorting out priorities in a number of languages and have problems registering the transient numbers of temporary residents here from students to immigrant workers.

The system in place also means that it is near impossible to ever get to see the same doctor twice. The telephone can ring all day trying to get an appointment or even to cancel one. It can be an 8-week wait to get to see a doctor. If it is ‘urgent’ patients need to queue up in all weathers outside for at least half an hour before surgery opens in the morning to make sure they receive one of the ’emergency appointments’ allocated for that day only. This is no easy task for someone who is too ill to go to work, women holding babies crying in pain or people with crutches standing on one leg. Once open, appointment slots are usually filled within 30 minutes and none remain for anyone who can get through by telephone. Though if it is serious you can request a call-back from a doctor who may be able to give advice later in the day by phone. Only one type of emergency can be diagnosed each time – If you happen to have an earache when you have gone in about passing blood, then you have to make another appointment.

Prescriptions and hospital referrals get lost, not to mention whole files, and various bodily fluid samples get too old to be tested with neglect. It is no wonder that people end up going straight to hospital, which I must say are marvellous in Southampton with what they have to cope with.

Contrary to popular belief, the NHS not a free service either, the average working person pays around £8,500 per annum with their compulsory National Health contributions. With the rapid population increase and cuts to social services it is like being thrown back to the early 1900s.

There’s my rant for the day. So. What are doctors’ offices like where you live?

Southampton Communities: Indian

The second in my series of the many different cultures that go to make up my city.

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Kuti's Royal Thai Restaurant

As a significant part of our Southampton population, I would need to write a book to explain all the different groups plus a history of India, which I don’t feel qualified to do.

Definition of Indian

There are many living in Southampton who define themselves as Indian. Indians immigrated here way before the Partition of 1947 that divided their land into India and Pakistan. Many Indians living here have never even lived in India nor been on holiday there. Indians might have settled here from Australia, Fiji or Africa. Many Ugandan Asians, that came as refugees in the 1970s, might define themselves as African Indian. Many Indians have been here for generations and although they might be British-born and fully integrated, define themselves as Indian by their strong culture and historic roots. They might call themselves British Asian, English Indian, British-born Indian, or define themselves by their language Hindu, Gujarati, their region – Punjabi or Keralan for instance or their religion Sikh, Indian Muslim, Jain, Brahman, Indian Buddhist etc. All foreigners who have come to settle in Southampton more recently are referred to as Freshies by the people who have lived here a long time. One usually tries to guess by the clothes worn, from the way trousers are pressed to sweater-styles as to what group they belong to – but this isn’t always a correct assumption. Many who have just arrived from India, are often more western in their dress than people who settled here in the sixties. More often than not it is by their accent.

I shall mention the Pakistani and other communities at a later time but the predominant group in Southampton are Sikhs which make up about 1.3% of our city’s population.

Sikhs

Maharajah Dulip Singh
Maharaja Duleep Singh 1845

In the 2012 census 2799 Sikhs were listed as living in Southampton.

We have to go back to the time when the British colonised India and Prime Minister Disraeli bestowed on Queen Victoria the grandiose title: Empress of India.

The first Sikh to arrive in Southampton was the Maharaja Duleep Singh in 1854. He visited Queen Victoria frequently at her Osborne House residence on the Isle of Wight and she became Godmother to his children. Queen Victoria later commissioned talented Indian architects, particularly Ram Singh, to transform parts of her residence and gardens into a ‘flavour of India’. Today much of Britain has a flavour of India, from our seaside piers to rose gardens – not to mention adopted words in our language and our cuisine, which British call ‘curry’. Southampton is a prime example of this flavour with a beautiful Royal Pier which has been leased to Indian restaurateur Kuti, and spacious parks with tropical plants.

People raised here also greet each other with the phrase Acha Mush – Acha a slang word from hindi for ‘I’m good’ and Mush (of Romany origin, meaning mate) which is now an affectionate slang term for a fellow Sotonian.

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Sikh troops recuperating at Netley from injuries sustained in the first world war. Photo thanks: Marion Ivey/The Guardian

Queen Victoria had a large military hospital built in Southampton in response to the Crimean War. This she visited frequently by sailing boat from her Isle of Wight palace. The hospital was later known as Spike Island (the remains of which can still be visited in the Queen Victoria Country Park). In 1894 one entire floor of the main building was given over to Indian troops, one million of whom served in the British Military.

In the hospital grounds, a concrete platform, or ghat, was built at the side of a stream for cremations, after which the ashes would be tipped into the stream and borne back, spiritually, to join the waters of the Ganges.

Gradually Sikhs settled in Southampton from this time in dribs and drabs. Their caste system fit in well with the Victorian class system. It was mainly middle class Indians that arrived in great numbers in the 1950s and sixties to take up work in Southampton law firms or as doctors in the National Health Service. The photos immediately above are of Sikh festivals and two temples (Gurdwaras) in the Bevois Town area of Southampton.

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I have happy childhood memories growing up in a predominantly Indian community. My best friend’s brother married an Indian film star and our street threw out the red carpet, celebrating the wedding for three days and nights. This beautiful celebrity taught me and other children how to dance, Bollywood-style. It is my Indian neighbours I have to thank for opening my eyes to libraries, teaching me to swim, yoga, how to make a perfectly round chapati and the perfect cup of tea.

Further reading:

The Sikhs in Southampton by Ranjeet Singh Shahi

Spike Island – Memory of a Military Hospital by Southampton writer Philip Hoare (Harper Collins paperback)

Corrections: I do not profess to be an expert on the cultures that make up my City. I am happy to take any corrections or additions to my posts.

If you read General G Tony’s comment, you will realise that I have had to adjust my post. I assumed that British piers were influenced by Indian architecture. I have been informed now that they were more influenced by Versailles in a Rococo fashion. However the Prince Regent was a great fan in of Indian architecture and he himself influenced our seaside culture.