Advent 12: Illuminations

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The Titanic leaving Dock Gate 4, Southampton

p1180671Southampton is not usually forthcoming on Christmas lights as much as other cities – What with the Christmas market and so many lights from shops, ships and offices – But, to open up a leisure area for Christmas at West Quay malls this year, a stunning loop of 7-minute, light and sound illuminations ran on our Old Town Wall at the weekend.

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p1180656Depicted, was the history of Southampton’s port, which focused on departures of: Henry V troops leaving for Agincourt, The Mayflower with Pilgrims preparing for America, The Titanic leaving for New York, boats and planes in WW2 manoeuvres, J-Class yachts, powerboats, hovercraft, container-ships and so on.

Do you have any festive lights where you are?

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Southampton’s city square

Remembrance at the 11th Hour on the 11th Day…

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I Will Remember My Father
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I Will Remember Those that Gave their Todays
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I Will Remember Our Tomorrows

When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say,

For Your Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today

(For a really good post about Armistace in Southampton follow this link)

Magazine Nostalgia

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Woman magazine, photographed at Goodwood Revival 2016 © Southampton Old Lady
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Christian Dior – The New Look, which I photographed at the V&A Museum, London
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50s ‘Do it yourself’ magazine. Notice the glamorous plasterer!

I am a magazine hoarder. We are moving so I am, painfully, having to let go of all my magazines and books – keeping just the pages of articles I have written only. My magazines more than anything bring back nostalgia – things I wore, things I made but mainly they reveal attitudes towards women.

Women had to fulfil the manual trades while men were at war – women even built London Bridge!  – But when the war was over, the propaganda department tried to get women back in the home. Glamorous New Look clothing, American-style ‘dream kitchens’ with inventive white goods and beautiful baby prams were everywhere in magazines. But women still had the skills they learnt.

In the 50s Do it Yourself magazine showed you how to build your ‘dream kitchen’ – Rationing went on well into the 50s and if anyone wanted anything they had to do it themselves, Christmas toys, tables – people made everything themselves.

When Woman magazine first appeared it was for the new modern woman who could own her own car, then came Cosmopolitan the sexually liberating magazine – but it really was just about how to please your man in bed and sold you make-up. I worked on the British feminist magazine Spare Rib for a few years and burnt myself out. I still have most of the issues and helped the British Library put them all online. Many of the articles published in them are only just being tackled now. Libraries are getting rid of all their hard copies of magazines, so I don’t know what to do with them. They are too important to throw away.

Magazines nowadays are full of nostalgia Our world is changing so fast,  artificial intelligence, never without instant communication, space tourism – by reflecting on our past we can get a grip of reality before we ‘boldly go’ towards the future.

You might like to see my article on Goodwood Revival – a nostalgia event here

In response to WordPress weekly photo challenge: Nostalgia 

Goodwood Revival 2016

 

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Bubble car at parking meter outside reconstructed Piccadilly Circus

Like being on a giant film set

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)

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.

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Join in a kick-about with the 1966 England Team reconstruction
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Family day out
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We’re going to Wembley

 

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.

 

The Fifties

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Dancing in the rain – we are use bad weather at some point during any British festival
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family fun fair
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Go roller skating courtesy of Butlins

The Forties

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Our North American allies and barbershop quartet
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Goodwood invites Veterans raising funds and awareness of D-Day
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There are vintage air displays from Goodwood Airfield. Everything from Dakotas to Lancaster Bombers

Beer tents are a must at British festivals – especially when it rains

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Heading for the Doom Bar beer tent
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Beer tents are always friendly
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Come step back in time
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stand-up atmosphere
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or you might be lucky to find a comfy chair
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There are a quite a few pub tents
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and gin bars
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Vintage cars are on sale
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One could almost forget that the main event is the racing
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Jackie Stewart (in the cap) Stirling Moss and many other first class drivers and celebrities race each year

 

Copyright © Southampton Old Lady. If you would like to use any of my photographs please consult me first.  If your stand or you yourself are in any of my photographs feel free to use them however you wish. Goodwood Actors Guild Members also have my permission to use any of these photos or add links for their profile purposes. Please credit: http://www.southamptonoldlady.wordpress.com wherever possible.  Thank you

 

Security Heightened on South Coast of England

Portsmouth Harbour Heightens level of response against terrorist threats August 2016 © Southampton Old Lady
Portsmouth Harbour Heightens level of response against terrorist threats

While visiting various ports in the South of England this weekend, it was clear that recent events have lead to increased security of our coastline and of all events that take place on them.

A random attack of a crowd in London by a mentally ill ‘lone wolf’ –  has reinforced that Britain is not exempt from what is happening in other parts of the world.

This together with recent cases of drug-smuggling fishermen and people-smuggling yachts that arrived at “less busy” ports and marinas, has led to increased vigilance.

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Helicopter checks on boats that arrive at Gosport Marinas without the obligatory radio call
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Prosecutors of the three men jailed in two cases of smuggling Albanians here, said Chichester Marina had no border controls

 

All photos © Southampton Old LadyThis post may be re-blogged, but please seek my permission to use photos not pertaining to this article.

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

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

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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.

 

 

We are here..

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WWI soldiers at IKEA Southampton posted on twitter and facebook with the hashtag “WeAreHere”

Today a number of young men in WWI uniforms walked about the town centre in Southampton. If approached, each soldier handed out a calling card with a name of a local solider who had died on the Somme in 1916.

I was moved to tears by this powerful piece of performance art of ‘soldier ghosts’. It was organised by the 1418 Now group using hundreds of volunteer actors in shopping centres and stations all over Britain, to mark the Centenary of the Battle of the Somme.

We will remember them.

For more click here

Europe – Brundecided

Should we remain in the EU?  Should we leave Eurovision?  Will we be kicked out of the Euros?

Daily Mail Euros Wallchart
Daily Mail Euros Wallchart

Europe is dominating the British media at the moment. If it is not The Euros (European football) its debate about a crucial vote on 23rd of June, as to whether Britain should exit the European Union (EU) branded as Brexit, or whether to remain (Bremain).

brexit-jigsaw-750x320I am a person who usually decides on things quickly, but this vote has me bench-crossing frequently. The Media predicts that we are split 50-50 on this decision. And there are advocates for and against, across the political spectrum.

I lived in other European countries for 18 years of my life and took full interest in the politics of the country I was in and voted where I could. I have voted for my MEP regularly from the beginning even when the majority of British never bothered.

The main problem, as I see it, is that Britain has never taken the EU seriously, putting it on par with Eurovision. Britain has taken part in Eurovision since the late 50s. It later became obvious that the winners were not those with the greatest talent, but those with the most political clout, voted for by neighbouring partners.

While most countries send their best performers to Eurovision, Britain, after feeling let down, started sending unknown singers or our once-good, but now has-beens. Any talented British act would lose kudos if they took part: you wouldn’t catch The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Queen, Adele… going anywhere near.

Similarly with the EU, and to our great expense, we have left it to fringe MEPs (Members of European Parliament) to make decisions for us. Many did not even bother to turn up in the beginning. Embarrassingly anti-EU MEPs such as Nigel Farage (enigmatic speaker and far-right-winger) got voted in and used luxury Cunard cruise-liners (he brush passed me to board so I know) to travel to Brussels meetings and verbally insult ‘Beaurocrats’.

EU flags

As the EU has grown, encompassing many more countries that we didn’t sign up for – (Just like Eurovision – since when has Australia been in Europe?) more economic demands have been made of Britain. With increasing numbers of EU immigrants arriving daily on our small island, especially in the South East and Europe’s borders straining with refugees and economic migrants, plus suicide-bombers blasting-off worldwide – now everyone is sitting up and is being forced to make decisions.

I have seen, in person, how the division between the rich and poor is growing wider throughout Europe. Those heading the top of the EU political committees, being wealthy bankers, do not need to be elected. So if you don’t like what they are doing you cannot vote them out. This is my main worry with the EU. (Unfairly, even in Eurovision those countries who put up the most money automatically get to the finals, although this doesn’t automatically make them winners).

I believe in Democracy and do not want to become some sort of United Colors of Benetton that could easily be taken over in the near future by gangsters in a type of Mafia (I share exit thoughts here with left-winger, the late Tony Benn).

Since WW2, Churchill (a Conservative that I agree with here) felt that there should be a United Europe, especially with regard to defence and security. But is this EU working towards this aspect?

In India everything stops for tea.
In India everything stops for tea.

If we had taken the EU seriously at the beginning, it might today, have been something that we feel proud of.

As it stands now, I feel that we share more similarities with Commonwealth countries like Canada than we do with, say, Italy.  Commonwealth countries who we have historically traded with from India to Australia, not only share our similar views on democracy but share English as their common language. The World Wide Web (thanks Tim Berners Lee) has made it easier to communicate and the world is, metaphorically, shrinking.

On the other hand, most of the EU’s ‘green’ ruling that British politicians have dismissed as ‘beauracracy’ I am supportive of.  Because of these rules, Britain is leading the development of a communal ‘Big Science’ and we are producing alternative energy sources, our carbon omissions are down, our seas are cleaner, we recycle, we have more freedom, we are striving for equality of people and an end to repression of peoples because of their race, religion or sexuality.

Conchita Wurst - winner for Austria of Eurovision 2015
Conchita Wurst – winner for Austria of Eurovision 2015

I also loved the fact that Conchita Wurst won last year’s Eurovision for Austria and quite enjoyed Croatia’s song this year. If you don’t regard any of those wins as political then think again!

My dilemma now is: Is it better to REMAIN and hope that Britain will work within to strive for change, or is it too late?  Versus:  If Britain decides to LEAVE to keep our identity, will we come out of the frying pan and into the fire? What extreme unsaid right-wing policies might be implemented if we do?

So are there any others out there still undecided?

I welcome any comments or debate – but please don’t be rude!

The D-Day Wall

The boundary wall of the troop embarkation site at West Quay. © Southampton Old Lady
The boundary wall of the troop embarkation site at the side of the Grand Harbour Hotel West Quay.

Visitors from around the world, but especially from North America, emerge from cruise ships at Southampton Docks and head immediately for London or Stonehenge. Many stay at the prestigious Grand Harbour Hotel on West Quay without knowing that their country’s heroes had stayed on that very piece of land before sacrificing their lives.

Southampton. The day before D-Day
Southampton. The day before D-Day
Port from lift of Grand Harbour Hotel
Port from lift of Grand Harbour Hotel

This historically, was the site for troops to be stationed before going off to wars, from Agincourt to The Falklands.

WW2 allied troops would have health check-ups and their vehicles disinfected. Servicemen would kill time playing cards and etching their names on the red-brick boundary wall. One of the most prolific times was when North American service personnel were stationed here during the run up to the D-Day manoeuvres.

Southampton Docks. Convoy during peparations for D-Day
Southampton Docks. Convoy during preparations for D-Day
Drawing by Major Joseph C. Hazen, Jr The Empire Javelin in which 15th Army Headquarters was being transported to France, she struck a mine on December 28, 1944 in the English Channel and sank.
Drawing by Major Joseph C. Hazen, Jr. The Empire Javelin in which 15th Army Headquarters was being transported from Southampton to France. She struck a mine on December 28, 1944 in the English Channel and sank.
North American servicemen's names etched on to the D-Day wall. © Southampton Old Lady
North American servicemen’s names etched on to the D-Day wall. © SOL

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When the site was demolished, local people campaigned to keep the brickwork of names standing as a monument. Unfortunately, with no glass or perspex covering these names deteriorate each year. Responsibility for the wall shifts from pillar to post.

After some research on the internet I found one man who, in despair, felt it important to catalogue the names that were still legible some years ago. However even by the time I took this photo, last year, some of those have disappeared.

Here is the list according to that person, some of the names are still very readable:

W.E SHIRK, Wm MUELLER, CLEMTATIO, JOE HAMMOND, H.L. EATHERINGTON – ZION T/S, ROBERT M RAY & DAVE RAY OHIO, ROBERT GOLDEN, Geo FABER OF COLO, JAMES HENLEY, LAWRENCE MATHIS 1941 DEC 23, JAMES ?, DES PENNY, VIRRLA PENNY, CALAVERY AMER ? ?, D CHICAGO ILLINOIS, F.F JOHNSON USA, JOE N JONES DEC 22 1944, D.W SMITH, J.C KELLOE, CHARSTON S.C, BILLIE WILSON, P.W ?- AAL, RALPH ODEL, J.L PLIEL, JONY JOHNSTON, BILL ? URBAN, W KNIGHT

And hidden behind dustbins a small demolished section of this wall in jumbled order

M.P CARTER AUG 44, M J WOMPON FEB 45, ?F RECINE – OCT 10,1944 FRANCE, P.D B?EECH – CATAWISSA PENNA, J.C CHRISTEN ?, N ALDEN BOLL M???NN, G.N BUNKER ? – CITY IOWA – 1945 BALTIMORE, EDDIE MEYER ILLINOIS 17/21/44, JOHN HELMLIIIO ELYRIA OHIO 11-4-44, DOOLING – BEVERLY MASS, R FINN, J.E WETTA- CALLAWA MIAMI FLORIDA LAB RY MT NC, ED C??BA??K – BOUND BROOK, JO COURT, ?.M SLATER MAY 13 1937, VANEE, MARTIN VA

Post: 6th JUNE, 2016

IN HONOUR OF D-DAY HEROES, 6th JUNE, 1944