Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Language notes

According to the statutory planning application notice attached to our riverboat pier, we are to have, not just a signpost or an information board, or a map, but..

an "interchange totem".

Watch out for war-dancing commuters.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Another day....

...another river spectacle. September is the month for Thames-based events. We've already had the start of the round-the-world-race, a tall ships festival, and a visit from another tall ship from Colombia to mark their national day. Today, a flotilla procession was to mark the Queen's record reign.

There hasn't been the most successful record of flotilla events, over the years. There was a spectacular number of boats for the Diamond Jubilee, but it poured with rain; there was a decidedly underwhelming procession to mark the 500th anniversary of Henry VIII.

 And, in the event, this was a very small procession: the replica royal rowing barge donated for the Diamond Jubilee, the Port of London Authority's Havengore and a modern and a historic fire vessel making a bit more of a splash.

But they all had to swerve to give pride of place to the refuse barges muscling through on their way down-river.

Friday, 4 September 2015

Bring out your dead!

Not what the tourists and office workers in Minories would have expected to hear this morning, but to mark the opening of a weekend of events commemorating the 350th anniversary of the Great Plague of London, a small troupe of actors was re-enacting one of the dismal processions you could have seen in London that hot and fetid summer.

There were a couple of labourers to draw the cadaver-filled cart, a couple of doctors in sinister masks and capes, a couple of healthy-looking near-dead to hand out flyers, and for added colour a tavern "hostess" and Daniel Defoe (somewhat a-historically, since he would actually have been a toddler at the time, and created his Journal of the Plague Year from other sources much later).

As it set off, the traffic nearly drowned out the performance, but in the quieter parts of the street it came into its own, even if the participants were almost outnumbered by photographers and cameramen. By now, though, it was taking on some features of music-hall repartee with the people in the office windows or walking unsuspectingly out of a sandwich shop - "Got any dead, missis? Shall I take this one off yer hands now to save time?" (gesturing to the lady's unfortunate husband) and "Look at the pustules on that one!".

Which does make you wonder, especially with all the horrors in the world just at the moment, how long does it take for "horrible histories" to become something one can laugh at or with?

The procession broke up when it reached St Botolph's church, with its exhibition on the event, and even the corpse got to give an interview for the TV.