Advent 18: The Royals

royal-jumpers

At 3pm on Christmas Day each year, the majority of British citizens switch on BBC TV to listen to The Queen’s Speech.

There will be clips of the Royals and what they did throughout the year; as well as a topic which will be the focal point of what the Nation will focus on in the coming year. This could be an emphasis on: older people who live on their own, disabled veteran servicemen and women, war and our defences, unity of faiths, what is a Christian? etc.

However the speech is really commissioned by the Prime Minister for the Government of the day. People watch The Queen intensely to see if there is a flicker of approval or disapproval in her manner while delivering the words.

For instance, in her last speech at the re-opening of Parliament in May 2016, it was virtually a list from Cameron’s Conservative Party manifesto and The Queen looked very miserable. She just looked down and read it off the paper: “Proposals will be brought forward for a British Bill of Rights. My ministers will uphold the sovereignty of Parliament and the primacy of the House of Commons…”

The programme ends with a rousing anthem of God Save The Queen and though I know of many who will be crashed out and snoring on the sofa by this time on the 25th of December, there will be others standing up and raising their glasses.

royal-jumpers-selfie
Santa took this selfie but where did he go?  The Royals as depicted by Madame Tussauds waxworks in London

 

What it’s like to be British

There have been a number of comedy programmes on television recently about “very British problems”. This has led to some interesting pub conversations about our “Keep Calm and Carry On” character.

£1 British mugs © 2015 Southampton Old Lady
£1 British mugs © 2015 Southampton Old Lady

My daughter sent me the following anecdotes that have been circulating on Facebook:

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image-5 image-3

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A 'SORRY' bus in Southampton England
A ‘SORRY’ bus in Southampton England

Sorry three were repeats as these are jpegs. Saying “sorry” is another British-isms.

Which now leads me to ask:  Have you any other anecdotes about being British to share?

 

 

Ford Transit Celebrates 50th Birthday

Workers at Southampton Ford Factory when the One Millionth Transit was produced. BBC photo
Workers at Southampton Ford Factory when the One Millionth Transit was produced. BBC photo

The Ford Transit celebrates its 50th Birthday today – 9th August 2015.

Inside Southampton's empty Ford plant. Photo by Speed - 28 Days Later
Inside Southampton’s empty Ford plant.
Photo: SPEED – 28 Days Later

ford transits

Vehicles at The Port of Southampton awaiting transportation
Vehicles for transportation at The Port of Southampton © Southampton Old Lady
Giant container ships from China arrive regularly at The Port of Southampton to fill British High Streets with imports. They used to sail back empty. But now return with recycled plastic, antiques and British vehicles. © Southampton Old Lady
Giant container ships from China arrive regularly at The Port of Southampton to fill British High Streets with imports. They used to sail back empty, but now return with recycled plastic, antiques and British vehicles.
© Southampton Old Lady
Transits rolling on Chinese Container ship at the Port of Southampton © Southampton Old Lady
Transits boarding Chinese container ship at the Port of Southampton © Southampton Old Lady

Arriving into the City of Southampton via the M27 Motorway, one used to be welcomed by a huge banner, declaring: “Southampton. Home of the Ford Transit.” Passing the Ford Transit factory the tarmac grounds gleamed with rows of white transit vans. The colour was chosen because white was the perfect colour to keep drivers cool in the days before air conditioning. This gave rise to stereotype phrase “white van man”.

The Transit is essential to many British workers. 600,000 of the utilitarian vans are now built globally each year. But sadly local production ceased in 2013 when the Ford Transit plant at Southampton closed. The Plant, which was one of Southampton’s biggest employers, has remained empty now for two years.

‘28 days later’, a website I follow, is full of photos of abandoned buildings. A wonderful photographer who goes by the moniker ‘Speed’ has taken some stunning images inside this defunct plant. (You may want to check out his best 100 photos): http://www.28dayslater.co.uk/a-life-in-ruins-100-photos-from-10-years-of-exploring-the-uk.t93530

There is a current campaign to get the old Ford plant chosen for the new production of a revival of the 60s Aston Martin – the main demand for this ‘James Bond’ car mainly coming from China. http://www.dailyecho.co.uk/news/13573355.Campaign_launched_to_bring_Aston_Martin_factory_to_Southampton/

007's Aston Martin
007’s Aston Martin

Giant container ships from China arrive regularly at The Port of Southampton to fill British High Streets with imports. They used to sail back empty. But now return with recycled plastic, antiques and British vehicles.

UPDATE December 2015

ford factory demolition

Sadlly the Aston Martin project did not go ahead. The Factory has been pulled down. R I P