Things are busier than ever with our attempt to move and live on a boat at the moment. I haven’t time to devote to well-researched thought-out posts. Instead I have found a lot of what I want to write about already out there.
Four years ago Southampton had a big commemoration – 100 years since the sinking of The Titanic.
Why is it so important to us? Well, out of over 900 crew members 750 were from Southampton. Unless you were in charge of a lifeboat – most of them drowned.
Repercussions of that event over a Century ago are still felt in Southampton today.
If you are interested here is a BBC Documentary presented by Bernard Hill, the British actor who played Captain Smith in the Cameron film. It’s about 25 minutes long, so unless you are interested in Southampton or The Titanic, you are forgiven if you don’t click:
There is a plaque on a large anchor outside a derelict church in Southampton’s High Street (QE2 Mile) which reads: The Church of Holyrood erected on this site in 1320 was damaged by enemy action on 30 Nov 1940. Known for centuries as the church of the sailors, the ruins have been preserved by the people of Southampton as a memorial and garden of rest, dedicated to those who served in the Merchant Navy and lost their lives at sea.
There are many memorials in this peaceful place to those lost at sea. From mediaeval captains that went down with their ship to those bombed while bringing supplies during WWII.
There is a special corner dedicated to the crew who drowned when the Titanic sank. Of her 1,517 victims, Southampton was home to 538 of the 685 crew members who died on this White Star liner’s fateful crossing to New York on the 15th of April 1912. It was like our 9/11 – our city lost a generation.
I have been meaning to write about the Holyrood neighbourhood of Southampton for some time. In the 1960s a new area of council flats were developed on that which was raized to the ground by the Blitz. In the last decade Southampton council has employed mural artists and sculptors to reveal the history of the area. However, Marie Keats, another Southampton blogger I follow, has been able to do this so much better than I on her ‘I Walk Alone” wordpress site – so if you are interested in her lovely mural walk around the area please do visit her blog: http://www.iwalkalone.co.uk/?p=22590
When two Sotonians meet, inevitably they will start talking about ships. The Port is a big part of our culture and important to those born here. However the majority of people living here are not from Southampton. They never even get to see the Port of Southampton, unless they love sailing, go on a ferry or cruise, study at the University’s Oceanography Centre or work at the Docks. So like trainspotters, if an interest is shown, the shipping conversation will delve into anything from tonnage the state of boiler rooms. So hopefully not being too big a bore, here is my experience of our wonderful Port vistors in 2015:
Bramble Bank is a shallow area between Southampton shipping lanes and a cricket match takes place there on Boxing Day at low tide and in August.
Hoegh Osaka is one of the worlds largest container ships at 51,000 tonnes. Last January it had to ground itself deliberately on Bramble Bank in Southampton Waters when it got into difficulties after loading 1,400 new luxury vehicles from the Port of Southampton. Hoegh Osaka also made it to the BBC’s Year in Pictures for 2015: http://www.bbc.com/news/in-pictures-35102257.
In March, the Queen officially launched the P&O cruise ship Britannia from Southampton. in May the crowds came to see Cunard’s three Queens: Victoria, Elizabeth 2 and Mary 2 all set sail together from Southampton – an event that was later repeated in Liverpool.
I took this at Southampton Boat Show as part of the WordPress Photo Challenge on the theme: CONNECTED.
I don’t know if there is a similar word in your country but here in Britain, as well as being physically attached, ‘Connected’ can also refer to someone who has an unfair power or wealth because of who they know. Examples:part of the Aristocracy or Royalty, having the King’s ear, sleeping with the director or related to your boss.
Much as I love Southampton, which has some wonderful positive things to offer cruise ship tourists (which I shall get around to writing about more – I am usually a positive person) these are some snaps from my home city in support of Banksy’s Dismaland.
If you have not heard of Dismaland then please do an image search online. This is a ‘bemusement’ park that has been opened up in South-West England, for six weeks, by a group of 59 British artists including: Damien Hirst, Jenny Holzer, Jimmy Cauty, Bill Barminski, Caitlin Cherry, Polly Morgan, Josh Keyes, Mike Ross, David Shrigley, Bäst, and Espo… headed by Banksy. Actors (as disgruntled security guards and staff) and writers have also been employed (Julie Birchill re-wrote a macabre Punch & Judy script).
The Tropicana swimming resort in Weston-super-Mare, a one-time holiday-haven, has been turned into an anarchistic statement about Western capitalism – A Disneyland gone wrong.
Banksy hails from near-by Bristol. He possibly recalls as a child, summer days on the sands and pier at Weston-Super-Mare, which have deteriorated now. The type of British family that used to spend their holiday here, no longer have money for resorts. Pictures like this can be found at tourist areas throughout Europe. In London, visitors are sad not to meet people like characters from Downton Abbey.
But don’t book £3 tickets on the Dismaland website, or you will just be trolled. The project highlights the down-side of Britain emulating USA-style boom and bust financial strategies. Our boom from the 1990s sub-prime-type/hedge-funding and such, burst its bubble in 2008. Although the Government has announced that the Country is now “doing well” – giving themselves generous pay-rises; people argue that these strategies have little way of ‘trickling down’ any benefit to the common people. There is also a sense of childhood loss, a feeling of being cheated by the false promises of a fairytale with a happy ending.
I stare out at the gangrenous remnants of a burnt-out and buckled boardwalk.
I once walked along here in my long white gown to my wedding reception at the pier’s head.
A teenage discotecque, held every Saturday afternoon, paraded the latest fashions.
Mecca Ballroom danced the night away, and in the early hours there were women
Weeping over fights among bouncers and drunks.
New wooden jetties, hoping to entice wealthy yachts and bearing ‘No Swimming’ signs, have become diving platforms today for sunburnt disobedient boys in trunks.
Diving through oily green waves of frothy seaweed, they wiggle down with the pipe fish and grey mullet to boat wrecks, over-stewed and stuck in the bed of blue-grey clay, razored with cracked cockleshells and broken bottles.
Here is the underworld city to hermit crabs, sea slugs or the occasional murder victim anchored by heavy slabs of concrete.