Sunday, November 30, 2008

Gone on long enough

This was a bad idea. I admit it. Here are the "answers".

Winners are A. and Soubriquet. Kudos to Mike for at least having an interest. Honorable mention to Adullamite for his abiding love of things English. God bless Frostygirl - I will do South Africa next.

No I won't.

1. Southampton. Titanic Engineers Memorial. (A large number of the crew for the Titanic were from Southampton, so the city was hit hard when she sank in 1912.)

2. Winchester. "Winchester Round Table" in the Great Hall, Winchester Castle. Dating to about 1275.

3. Leeds. One of four golden owl sculptures outside Leeds Civic Hall.

4. Leicester. The Leicester War Memorial Arch in Victoria Park.

5. Birmingham. Statue of Lord Nelson on the Portland plinth. I don't know what that is. I mean I know what a plinth is, but not what the Portland plinth is. Portland cement? Portland, Oregon? What?

6. Coventry. 'Nuff said.

7. Plymouth. The gorgeous interior of the Guild Hall. I think A. said something about being embarrassed. Well, Plymouth is not really that close. Still...

8. Sheffield. The Sheffield Winter Gardens. A major tourist attraction I'm told. At least as told by the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce (or whatever your equivalent of that is.) Obviously not so major as I thought...

9. Newcastle upon Tyne. (I didn't know that was it's official name. I always just called it Newcastle.) The arch to Chinatown, opposite St. James' Park.

10. Liverpool. The turd-like thing on Albert dock. Thank you Soubriquet. Charming. But also known, less informally, as: SuperLambBanana, a well-known sculpture in the Albert Dock area, recently relocated to Tithebarn Street. And the sculptures ARE well known. I think this one has something to do with that sheep (Dolly?) that you evil people cloned. This one is supposed to be crossed with a banana I think. I am not quite up to snuff on Liverpool sculpture, although the Beatles sculptures are nearby. Even Olga the Traveling Bra visited that sculpture area by the docks recently. You can see that here on my friend Claire's blog.

11. Truro. (Cornwall's city). Celtic cross near the Cathedral. A very old Celtic cross I would guess. This is the hardest one of all. But I wanted to include Sage. She never showed up though. Truro is also the home (unless they have moved again) of the Cornwall Pirates (rugby), formerly of Penzance. (Honest to god.) "The Pirates of Truro" somehow doesn't have the same ring to it in these tone-deaf American ears. Sigh. Wake up A. - I'm talking Gilbert and Sullivan here. QED.

12. Bristol. The Nails in Corn Street, "over which trading deals were made." Tea? Slaves? I don't know. The second-hardest one. Now that these have been exposed, I'm sure there will be a run on Bristol. They have a bridge there too, you know. Named after Clifton Chenier. Like you know who Clifton Chenier was. Maybe I will do a post on Famous Bridges of Scotland. Probably not, though.

I am moving on. I have learned my lesson.

Trivia: did you know that the official website for the HMS Victory in Portsmouth gushes on for it's entire home page without telling seekers where the ship is located? Such a job your tourist department is doing for visiting Americans. I am guessing that outsiders (tourists) must not be welcome. Prove me wrong by going to their site and looking for yourself. Maybe they have printed the name of the city too large and I just missed it.


  1. Excuse me.

    This is the UK we're talking about. It may look close on the map but Plymouth is NOWHERE near where I live, so how would I know what the inside of the Guildhall is like? But in fact, as it happens, no wonder it looked familiar....

    They do have instructions on how to find the Victory, but I will grant you they aren't the most clear.

  2. @A. - Just stop it. It looked familiar because you have been inside. Probably sitting in a chair for a meeting for 6 hours. Just admit you blew it. And there are no instructions on that web site home page. Why are you always so disruptive? :)

  3. @Max, the meeting was a great deal shorter than that. And boring. So.

    As for the website, "Portsmouth Historic Dockyard" doesn't give any clues then? Couldn't hazard a guess? Small print I know, but....

  4. How you can argue the case of that website with a straight face is beyond me. How much did you have to read before you found that buried little tidbit? If you were an actual tourist spending 11 seconds on the site if it didn't give you what you were looking for, you would have been long gone. I think this comment confirms what many of us have known for a long time now. Facts don't matter to the illustrious A. Taking the opposite side of any argument where Relax Max is involved is the only thing that is fun for A. Aren't you the least bit ashamed? Please write a 500 word essay on why Max should not be trifled with under any circumstances. Thank you.

    PS - sigh.

  5. Ptah! I knew them all along.

    Great idea really. But if you expect folk in the UK to actually know what it looks like outside of their ken is asking a lot!
    There again, they were all English towns. Had you shown Tighna Bruich then I would have spotted it straight away........

  6. In this essay I am going to discuss the reasons why it is best not to trifle with the owner of this blog, BritishSpeak, the owner being known variously as Relax Max, Yummy Biscuits, and sundry other pseudonyms, but hereafter to be referred to as Max. The meaning of “to trifle with” is generally accepted as to play the fool with; to treat without respect or seriousness; to mock. While I would dispute the fact that I don’t treat Max with all the reverence and respect he is due, I will nevertheless continue to enumerate the reasons why one should refrain from trifling with him under all circumstances.

    First and foremost one must consider Max’s finer feelings, although it is a huge leap of faith to allow that he can have any finer feelings. At all. All the same one must think about this seriously. He may be sobbing in the corner out of sight of all of us. He may cry himself to sleep every night thinking of all the dreadful deeds he has committed against his loyal readership. One should not add to his burden. It may be too much for one dog to carry.

    Then moving on, one could consider that life is too short, and there are better things to do with one’s time. Trifling with Max is inevitably going to take up huge portions of time. It’s not easy to trifle with him. He is a slippery character and well used to trifle. Trifle is probably one of his favourite puddings. In fact I would like to bet that he has trifle all the time whereas most of us have it but once a year on special occasions.

    Added to this, he is a hard task master and will get his own back one way or another. He is not one to take anything sitting down. Well, that is to say, he doesn’t take many things sitting down. I feel sure he can do a certain amount in a seated position. He may even take some things lying down, but I could hardly comment on that. No indeed not.

    Furthermore he will leave unkind comments on my blog. It would not be the first time that he would threaten to see off all my loyal and kind-hearted readers, who have become my close friends over the years. He will terrorise them as he has undeniably terrorised me. I will have no friends in this world. I will be all alone….

    Finally, I don’t want to give him the opportunity to get out his big whip. He may seem an unassuming character but when he gets to grips with that whip, there’s really no stopping him.

    Such an unforgiving person he is, he may never forget. So to sum up, one would be very well advised, not only not to trifle with the character known to us as Max, but probably one should avoid any form of social interaction whatsoever. Believe me, it’s not worth it.

  7. Precisely 500 words.

  8. 1: the Titanic was built in Belfast, Northern Ireland. its home port was Southampton, so its no surprise the engineers might be from there. But I didn't know that.
    Only time I've been to Southampton I was about six years old. I remember seeing lots of huge ships and being very impressed. Must have been too busy eating ice-cream to notice and memorise the memorial.
    Winchester... oh, let me see, about 1978 or 9, I was there for a couple of hours, I like the round table. Despite your comments about me being too esconceed in my northern fortress to believe in the existence of distant Cornwall, (scene, allegedly of Arthur's conception, his mother being Ygraine, wife of the Duke of Gorlois, who in the legend, lived in Tintagel castle)... family holidays were spent there, in Padstow, or nearby. So.. The table, just up the coast from Padstow, Port Isaac, I think, was a place where we met a man whose main business was selling King Arthur's Round Table to gullible American tourists... He would make tables out of wood already ancient, from broken-up fishing vessels, from barn doors, stain them, oil them. sink them in the sea, anything to age them, beating them with chains, burning them... then there'd be the story... of how this had come from an old farmhouse near tintagel, handed down for generations, he'd laugh, say the family's legend was that it had come to their ancestor from a manor some far back relative worked for, and that it was SAID.. to have been saved in a fire from the great hall at Tintagel....
    He sold about six every summer.
    3: My home turf. There are turtles too, on the Civic Hall's clocks.
    Owls are on the city's coat of arms.
    4: Leicester. Nope. I go past it. Simon De Motfort, father of the English Parliament was Lord of Leicester. Other than that I've never had any curiousity about the place.
    5:Birmingham. A city I avoid, a big metropolis of people who talk strangely. I was not aware of Nelson having anything to do with Brum. Portland.. Portland is on the south coast of England and is famed for its Portland Stone, a white limestone much loved by architects, and in favour as plinth material.
    Leeds Civic Hall, and the Brotherton Wing of the Leeds General Infirmary adjacent to it are of Portland stone. Portland Cement is made from kiln-calcined portland stone.
    6:Coventry. Hammered flat by the Luftwaffe in the second world war, not a preposessing place, but famed for its engineers, motorbikes, cars, aircraft, all were made there... oh... and guns. no wonder Hitler wanted it flattened.
    7:Plymouth. I have a very good friend who teaches and researches at the university there. She has absolutely nothing good to say about Plymouth. Especially its people.
    Me? I was last there aged about thirteen. Can't remember anything other than a preponderance of naval vessels.
    8:Sheffield. Just down the road. I pass through, and around, the countryside to the west is beautiful, Sheffield less so. Never been to the winter gardens. Ask a Sheffielder, I'll bet the Winter Gardens would not top their list of attractions.
    9:Newcastle has a Chinatown? hm.
    10:Liverpool. European City of Culture this year. Great art galleries and some good museums, National Maritime Museum, for instance and the Tate Northern.
    The Turd-like sculpture is one of many that have failed to impress the public, or enhance the city. Thumbs down.
    11:Truro. Um, as a kid, I had a model railway locomotive called The City of Truro. Otherwise, celtic crosses are two-a-penny across Britain, every other little town seems to have one. So, Old cross pic?
    Could be anywhere.
    12 Bristol. A great maritime trade centre. Your pic at the header is Brunel's Clifton Suspension Bridge over the Avon Gorge.
    Without looking up Clifton Chenier, I think he was a Louisiana zydeco king, I think Pat Conroy mentions him in his novel Beach Music.

    As for the Victory, and where it is.. I take it you never looked at the tab "Visit", nor the sub-tab "How to find us"?
    Streetmaps, Google Maps, Multimap, "Travelling: How to visit HMS Victory in No2 Dry Dock at Portsmouth's Royal Naval Dockyard.
    The Victory main gate for Portsmouth Dockyard is in Queens Street by Portsmouth Hard."

  9. @Adullamite - I know you did. This was beneath you. And before anyone happens by this blog for the first time and thinks I know something, let me quickly remind you that I only wrote down a list of your largest (English) cities and then went to the various city websites to see what those city leaders considered earthshaking in their cities. Then I stole pictures from there websits and, presto, instant post. But I still know nothing, lest you be mislead. Regular readers of this blog are very aware of this shortcoming of mine already.
    @A. - Thank you for you fine essay. I suppose it is too late to tell you I did not mean that literally. And thank you for your loyalty to this blog. Don't think it has gone... umm... unnoticed.

    Someday I shall actually read that fine essay. Especially since it is probably about me. Not will. Shall.

  10. @Soubriquet. First, let me congratulate you on actually haveing visited (or in the case of one, passed by) each of these cities. I am in semi-awe, I must tell you. And congratulations also for resisting the temptation to scotch the Scot. That was admirable restraint as well. I thought.

    Worst things first. The home page of the official website of HMS Victory does NOT tell the viewer where the ship is. It is not even obvious it is in the United Kingdom to a random visitor, especially if said visitor has little knowledge of the UK. Mind you, I am not saying that if one is a relative of Sherlock Holmes that one could not eventually find the ship's location on the website. But it is not to be found clearly on the front page of the website. As one who has in his childhood been forced to write great mounds of advertising copy against his will day and night, I must inform you that if the location of an attraction is not mentioned prominently and immediately (first sentence, say) then the fickle reader's eyes will cavort off to another page in the magazine or newspaper or to another website. They will seldom dig into a website by punching the fine-looking buttons. Not if they are looking for spots to visit. 11 seconds, tops. Then gone. And the attention gone even before the eyes leave. I submit to you that this Victory site exists to give helpful information about the tourist attraction called HMS Victory. And because they didn't, many a tourist and his money have missed seeing the Victory and instead spent the same money on Hot Dogs and Bacon Bits while staring at the fine Celtic cross in Truro. YOU punch their interior buttons if you wish; I did not. And I am not alone. ::takes a deep breath and continues::

    Truro. Well, I didn't know about the prevalence of Celtic crosses in your country. I bow to that superior knowledge. Suffice to say that the Truro tourist folk think theirs is pretty darn rare. The other choice was their delicious meat pies, but even my friend Adullamite would have guessed that.

    As for the infamous scuptures of Liverpool, I'm sure you agree art is in the eye of the beholder. In a city I used to live in one time, which shall remain nameless (but its initials are A.L.B.U.Q.U.E.R.Q.U.E.) once took taxpayer dollars (including a few of this blogger's) to erect a large (very large) pedestal covered in ugly tiles and placed upon it a rather ratty looking 1954 Chevrolet automobile standing on its hind legs, with a plaque on the pedestal that proclaimed "Chevy On A Stick."

    Although the "sculpter-artist" was paid quickly and left town even more quickly, it was not art in this beholder's eyes, and still is not art to this day in his eyes, as said Chevrolet continues to rust away. Or perhaps it is only a pile of rust and broken tiles by now. One can only hope. But one must allow for artistic license in these things, and it is ungracious for you to refer to Liverpool's turd sculptures as turd sculptures. At least you didn't have to help pay for them. So there you are. Bob's your uncle. Or something like that. (You folks are not the best British English teachers in the world. Perhaps I should have said something like Sweet Fanny Adams, or Bloody hell. Each equally baffling to this soon-to-be-higher-taxed American, thanks to brother Barack. But I digress.) Where was I?

    Ah, yes. Winchester round tables. Well, other Americans may indeed be being duped. Not I. If they are still buying them, then the joke is on them because the man sold me the original. And promised to ship to to me soon.

    Say nothing bad about Plymouth; the name is sacred to American Pilgrims who step on large rocks to get out of boats.

    How very interesting your information was. As usual. Thank you. And I hope you will one day stop as you pass Leicester. Their language is not that hard to learn. Or so I'm told.

    Well, now, this comment on your comment is considerably short of my goal, so please allow me to continue.

    I am sure you know the name of the dialect spoken by those lucky enough to live in Leicester (those few who speak English, I mean.) Others reading this might not know, however, so let me tell them the dialect is called "chisit". Why? You may well ask. Oddly, to understand that, you must understand the Lincolnshire mentality. Which is, if someone comes to visit you as a tourist with money to spend, your job is to make fun of the way they speak.

    Without going into all the endearing traits and lovely quirks of Leicester English. let us just say that one the most common phrases used by the Leicester tourist who visits Lincolnshire, is "How much is it?" Pronounced in Leicesterese as "chisit?" And so the Lincolnshire shopkeepers (who speak such impeccable English themselves) feel free to mock. So they say. Or perhaps the origin of the dialect is from a different source. I learned this from a roundtable maker in Cornwall whose hobby is editing entries on Wikipedia.

    I must go.

  11. Just a note for readers who have a "thing" about correct spelling: I make no effort to spell check on Sundays, and even if I did, some of the words are probably real words anyway and thus would not be caught by the spellchecker. So if you see the word "there" and it should have been "their", or the word "websit" and the e is missing, just look at the date of the comment. It is probably on a Sunday. Thank you.

  12. She showed up and hadn't a clue, and didn't want to show her ignorance.. I hadn't a clue which was the one from truro as I have only ever seen it from a distance, nor from the other cities pictures..

    How was your thanksgiving btw...

  13. Eerily enough, I visited the HMS Victory yesterday, and despite being blind drunk on mulled wine, I managed to find the ship with considerable ease.

    I wonder if Admiral Nelson ever had difficulties locating it?

  14. I'm sorry I missed this. We were out of town for Thanksgiving, and I don't usually blog on the weekend. Obviously, having never been to England, I would not have got any right. All my graduate study had to do with medieval England. And they didn't have photos.
    But it was a VERY interesting exercise. Next time, don't do it over a holiday!

  15. Oh Max....

    The best reason to go to Portsmouth being to see the Victory, I'd assume you might persevere a little with the admittedly poor website. Those with the attention-span of a gnat, obviously won't, which is a good thing, because I'd prefer the Victory not to be crowded when I eventually visit again.
    As for Plymouth, those pilgrims voted with their feet, just couldn't wait to see it dwindle behind them.
    Pilgrim-wise, I lived for a while in the village where John Wesley grew up and started preaching. He was barred from the church there so he preached from the market cross.
    Liverpool should be ashamed of paying for the Turd sculpture, after all, they could have just directed the perpetrator elsewhere.. Albuquerque, perhaps?

    Re: your sourcing of these pictures from their respective city's websites. Let it be known that cities are not always very good at websites. They pay vast sums of money to some company linked loosely to a city-councillor's wife's best friend, who has been on a course and thinks it ought to be easy.....
    Birmingham, U.K., most famously, recently produced hundreds of thousands of glossy leaflets with a nice panoramic photo of Birmingham's skyline. Unfortunately, despite all the committee meetings and artwork approvals, nobody noticed until they'd launched the thing, that the skyline looked like nowhere around their city.
    Not surprising. It was Birmingham Alabama.

  16. Are you kidding me? Did they REALLY do that on their brochures? That's hilarious!

  17. A quick check of google shows that, sadly, the Chevy on a stick still exists. Well, at least it is perched way down on the edge of town across from the air base. Most citizens don't have to look at it. Pity those that must drive by it on the way to work at the base. Sigh.

  18. Link to BBC news item.
    720,000 leaflets printed... Birmingham 'denies' it's an error, say it was just a bit of generic cityscape... Oh yes, I'll bet, just a coincidence the generic cityscape was a city of the same name? out of all the generic cityscapes you might pick?

  19. @Soubriquet - The plot thickens even more. Check this out: On the Wikipedia page for Birmingham England there are several pictures, one (of Nelson on his Portland Plinth) that I took for my post. Scroll down the page quite a bit until you come to the "architecture" section, and there is the picture of Nelson. But just now, I was looking at pictures of the skyline of Birmingham, Alabama, on Google image search, and noticed picture of what it says is downtown Birmingham, Alabama. Check out the glass building in the background of the statue and compare it to the pic that is supposedly in Birmingham, England. The black iron fence is missing, but that glass building sure didn't move across the Atlantic. What do you make of this? Now, I suppose they are probably "sister cities" and all that. But, c'mon.

  20. The thing is, I am almost positive from what I can find, that the glass building is in Birmingham, England, and not Birmingham, Alabama like the second picture caption says. I have been by Birmingham, Alabama on the freeway, but never went downtown, so I don't know personally. So what I need is to find someone here on the blog who is intimately familiar with either Birmingham. Either the city in England or the city in Alabama, and tell us where this glass building is. Then we can take the next step.

  21. That's the Bullring Centre Birmingham uk.
    and Horatio Nelson again.

  22. Okay. Then the caption on the one with the people sitting on the monument is captioned incorrectly as being in Alabama. That's a relief. I was wondering what a statue of Nelson would be doing in Alabama! Actually, I am also wondering what he is doing in Birmingham, England as well. I can't find his connection to that city. He wasn't born there, and of course he didn't die there. Perhaps he was simply so famous that there are many statues of him in several cities. I will do more research. Thanks for telling me that the picture was in England. That helped.

  23. From the ‘Gentleman's Magazine’, May 1812, pl. II, p. 417. Following the Battle of Trafalgar, towns and cities throughout Britain erected memorials, towers and statues to Nelson’s memory. The statue placed in the Bull Ring in Birmingham in 1809 was the first in Britain to honour him. Erected by the inhabitants, it is also the earliest known public work by its sculptor, Richard Westmacott. Nelson, in uniform, leans on an anchor with the prow of a ship behind. The 7ft 6in figure was originally protected by a spiked fence, traditionally said to be made of the pikes used by British infantrymen in the French wars of 1793 –1815. On the base is the mourning figure of Birmingham, accompanied by children bearing a trident and rudder. This print was published in the ‘Gentlemen’s Magazine’, May 1812, together with a letter from Joseph Wilday.

    ‘Birmingham Jan 1 Mr Urban

    ‘Inclosed is a sketch of the statue to the memory of the immortal NELSON in the centre of the market place of this town, executed in bronze by Westmacott, a statuary of the first eminence. For this patriotic testimony of grateful veneration, a subscription of upwards of £3,000 was raised among the inhabitants, at the period when the glorious victory of Trafalgar animated the breast of every Briton with joy and gratitude. In this work intended to perpetuate the greatest example of Naval genius. Simplicity has been the chief object of the arrangement. The Hero is represented in a reposed and dignified attitude, the left arm reclining upon an anchor. He appears in a costume of his country, invested with the insignia of those honours by which his Sovereign and distant princes distinguished him. To the right of the statue is introduced the grand symbol of the Naval profession ; Victory the constant leader of her favourite hero, embellished the prow. To the left is disposed a sail, which passing behind the statue, gives breadth to that view of the composition. Above the ship is the facsimile of the Flag Staff truck of the L’Orient, fished up by Sir S Hood the day following the battle of the Nile, presented by him to Lord Nelson, and now deposited at Milford as a trophy of that ever memorable action. This groupe is surmounted upon a pedestal of statuary marble. A circular form has been selected as best adaptable to the situation.

    To personify that affectionate regard which caused the present patriotic tribute to be raised, the Town of Birmingham morally crowned in a dejected attitude, is represented by groupes of Genii or children, in allusion to the rising race, who offer her consolation by bringing her trident and rudder. In the front of the pedestal is an inscription (see Plate II)

  24. If you go back to the article that the supposedly-Alabama-but-actually-UK picture is from, it's all about Birmingham UK, talking about Cadbury's chocolate and so on. All this in a section called Travel USA Canada.

  25. @Sage - Yes, I thought I felt your silent presence. :) Thanksgiving was good. Turkey, pumpkin pie and real football. :)

  26. @Lord Likely - Blind drunk, milord? I imagine you were feeling your way along then. What a feeling to be standing so close to where Lord Nelson finally took his from a sniper, wot? Having been shot at by so many irate husbands, I'm sure you felt a kindred aura as you felt your way along the deck. He only had one mistress, though. Toodle pip. :)

  27. @Janet - Ummm... it wasn't a holiday in the UK :) And I'll bet you could have got some. Try the American version for me. It's much easier. You don't have to read the lengthy post, just scroll down to the pictures. Hope you had a good Thanksgiving.

  28. @A. - Cadbury chocolates? That I understand!



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