British are obsessed with the post at Christmas. Cards to places like Australia and Canada can take a while via Royal Mail, so you have to make sure you “Post early for Christmas.” In England it is also expected that you give greeting cards to those they see every day. People can get genuinely upset if they are “off your Christmas card list” – which has become a phrase meaning that you no longer wish to associate with someone any more. The first year I resorted to email cards rather than one through the post I upset some very old friends. I have usually made my own Christmas cards and included a ’round robin’(newsletter).
As well as cards there are parcels of presents to be posted to nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts and so on. Online Christmas shopping has made all that easier.
Black Friday is a recent consumer sales hype adapted from North America which takes place after Thanksgiving Day (the last Thursday in November) despite the fact that the UK does not even celebrate Thanksgiving.
Buy Nothing Day is an annual event in Britain to highlight the issues around consumerism, especially in the lead-up to the festive season. It’s a day where you challenge yourself, your family and friends to switch off from shopping and tune into life!
They will be taking over The Art House until 6pm on the 25 November, offering food on a pay-as-you-feel basis, clothes to swap or pay-as-you-feel and books by donation!
Food will be available until it runs out – a big part of waste reduction is challenging the notion that there is always ‘plenty’. Be sure you get a plateful of delicious nosh made from food diverted from landfill.
Drop in any time to enjoy some nosh, swap your clothes, pick up a book and have a chat about the ways you can reduce waste in your own home.
178 Above Bar Street, Southampton, Hampshire, UK SO14 7DW
I have two entries concerning wasted public money for the weekly WordPress challenge: Chaos
Southampton City Council spent £4.6million revamping the civic centre’s main square and pavements which was completed in 2010. But just 18 months after a private contractor completed it (with no expert investigation) large parts of the road began to sink, leaving its surface uneven and cracked.
I don’t know how many times I have fallen over in the City myself – it’s no good just looking where I am going as the shadows create optical illusions, it would be easier to walk on gravel or loose earth. So many have been hospitalised and had their lives ruined. It is cheaper for the Council if pedestrians, cyclists and drivers to claim compensation for their injuries from the contractor than have the street repaired. I think coloured Tarmac would have been a better option for the street and was even better left as it was. Cutting corners always works out more expensive and money always seems to come before people.
The street where the Developer has run off with the cash
Southampton City Council granted £1.4 million of public money to Grays Developmentsin the early 2000s to refurbish Victorian properties in Old Northam Road. This was to regenerate what was once the antiques quarter of Southampton, England.
The man who owns Grays, bought up 30 commercial properties and 68 homes within Old Northam Road had promised to invest millions restoring them within 13 years.
So far there has only been ripping down and dilapidation. No work has actually started, leaving residents and businesses in chaos. Some who lived above shops have had walls to their property removed and just left.
The traders insist that he has spent the money on a house for his mother and ran off with the rest of the cash. Here is a YouTube video of promises from the project manager: Restoration of Old Northam Road
For my local Halloween story I would like to tell you about the real story of Richard Parker. An unfortunate cabin boy who sailed from Southampton at the tender age of 16 only to be eaten by his crew.
In Southampton’s Peartree Churchyard lies an unusual gravestone…
It is the combined stone which marks the grave of Sarah Parker and the memorial of her beloved son Richard Parker, who had reached the age of 17 by the time he became the victim of cannibalism at sea.
Richard Parker served on the English yacht Mignonette, which set sail for Sydney, Australia from Southampton, England in 1884. While in the South Atlantic, the Mignonette sank, leaving Parker and his three shipmates in a lifeboat. Dying of thirst Richard fell into a coma after drinking sea water. As the crew thought he was going to die anyway, they killed the boy to drink his blood, then ate him so that they could survive. There had been many similar cases like this up until that time, which were given over to sympathy from seafarers, even those in Richard Parker’s own family in Southampton. It had been regarded legally as “A Custom of the Sea”.
The surviving three were rescued after 24 days by the German sailing barque Montezuma, named fittingly enough after the Aztec king who practiced ritual cannibalism.
But this case caused a great uproar in Victorian Britain. The men were charged with murder and were found guilty. Although not much was done about the prisoners even when their sentences were later reduced to six months hard labour. Most importantly, their trial, R v Dudley and Stephens established a legal precedent in common law around the world, that: ‘Necessity is no defence to a charge of murder’. It is one of the first cases that law students read about.
If you haven’t read Yann Martel’s Booker Prize novel about the Life of Pi then you may have seen the ®Oscar-winning movie of the same name directed by Ang Lee.
The narrator is a novelist who has been recommended to interview an Indian man named Piscine Molitor Patel, as his life-story will make him “believe in God”.
Pi’s story is how at 16 he survives a shipwreck in which his family and the zoo of animals they are transporting to Canada, all die, apart from him and a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker who he ends up sharing a lifeboat with.
In the novel the tiger who arrived at their zoo was called Thirsty but got mixed up on the list with the hunter’s name – Richard Parker. The novel is an allegorical one about man’s battle between his animal instincts and his religious ones. Pi has been brought up a vegetarian and does not even eat fish.
By a great nautical coincidence, the name of Martel’s tiger, Richard Parker, was also inspired by a character in Edgar Allan Poe’s nautical adventure novel The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket(1838). In Poe’s book, Richard Parker is a cabin boy who is stranded and eventually the victim of cannibalism on a lifeboat. There is a dog aboard who is named Tiger.
A third Richard Parker drowned in the sinking of the Francis Speight in 1846, described by author Jack London, and later a cabin boy was cannibalized.
Yann Martel said: “So many victimized Richard Parkers had to mean something. My tiger found his name. He’s a victim, too – or is he?”
For most who have never had starvation forced upon us it must be difficult to imagine how this could happen. One can only receive clues from behaviours in the animal kingdom.
There have also been three plays written about Richard Parker – ‘Richard Parker’ by Owen Thomas, ‘Mr Parker’s Bones, or The Strange, Lamentable, Bloody, and mostly true History of Parker of Pear Tree Green and of his Captain, the Dastardly Cannibal Tom’ written by Russ Tunney and more recently The Sad Tale of Richard Parker by Cheryl Butler who also works on historical walking tours of Southampton.
Although there are still many shipwrecks, technology is developing all the time and we are now able to convert sea water into drinking water in minutes. Although still expensive, new materials will soon make it available for common use.
To visit Pear Tree Church and cemetery on Peartree Green by satellite navigation, use the postcode SO19 7GY
Bright sunshine combined with tropical-style rain this autumn has meant a great many and unusual rainbows over Britain. I have never seen so many different types in one season. So quickly taking snaps of them (often through rain on windows) before they disappear, here are the ones over Southampton:
The first ever car-race took place at Goodwood race track 75 years ago. For the last 20 years there has also been a Revival, where vintage cars or bikes, race (and sometimes crash). There is a strict dress code for spectators; They must dress in vintage or authentic-looking retro clothing from the 40s, 50s or 60s. Goodwood also employs a number of actors and entertainers who take on characters from those eras.
For a few hours work each morning, I was able to enjoy myself for the rest of the day and take snaps. More people belong to drama groups in Britain than they do football clubs, so it is not surprising that so many make an effort to look the part. But visitors come from all over Europe and the Commonwealth.
The Sixties (Click on photos to enlarge and read captions)
Busker at ticket machine inside tube station
Tube station ticket seller
Each year there is a highlighted theme. This year because it was the 50th anniversary of the England football team winning the World Cup, it was England verses Germany 1966.
No 1 England fans come rain or shine
1966 – “We’re going to win the Cup”
Part of the grounds had a reconstructed football pitch where spectators could join the likes of ‘Bobby Moore’ in a knock-about. There was a parade around the track of traffic on their way to Wembley Stadium, which showed off owners cars that would have been around in 1966. The vehicles included vintage: police cars, milk carts, motorbikes, Mini and Bubble cars, Bentleys, Daffodils, Fords, Hillmans, Jaguars, Rolls, Sunbeams, Triumphs, Vauxhalls, plenty of public transport buses and coaches as well as Germans in Volkswagens.
Glam Cab drivers aka Carry On Cabby (1963 film)
St Trinian’s School Girls feature regularly
Lambrettas for Mods
Butlins Red Coats are always on hand
Shoe size Madam?
I think I was raised in a pram like this
Over the road shops
Over the road shopping for vintage clothing
uniforms become costumes
This woman has co-piloted this plane from German today
pilot getting a lift for take off
Beer tents are a must at British festivals – especially when it rains