The Roader’s Digest is ‘the most complete archive of information on the British and Irish road networks on the web.’ from the A1 to the R999; from the B3306 to the B855, they probably have a description of it. [more inside]
Today is the 450th anniversary of William Shakespeare's birth - "...The centenary of Shakespeare’s birth fell soon after the theatres reopened with the Restoration of the monarchy, following the period when the Puritans had closed them down for the duration of the Civil War. His plays formed a staple part of the repertoire, but those of Beaumont and John Fletcher were performed more frequently. Shakespeare only pulled ahead of the pack in the Georgian era. It was around his 200th anniversary, under the auspices of the great actor David Garrick, that he took on his status as National Poet and exemplar of artistic genius...." More here
"As an important part of daily nourishment, women had always produced beer at home and for their own household. However, in Holland from the beginning of the thirteenth century beer production for the general market commenced. In the developing cities more and more labour was divided among specialised craftsmen. Professional breweries were established and the beer industry became a serious trade." -- female brewers in Holland and England, a paper by Marjolien van Dekken looking at how the brewery industry changed in Early Modern Times from largely homebrewed and controlled by women to a more large scale and male dominated industry. [more inside]
In March 1993 Bikini Kill toured the UK. "It Changed My Life" is a film about that tour, with openers Huggy Bear, & contributions by the Raincoats, Sister George, and Skinned Teen. [more inside]
The American Folk Blues Festival 1962 - 1966; Vol 2; Vol 3 - The festival was an annual event with dozens of classic blues greats like Sonny Boy Williamson, Muddy Waters & Howlin' Wolf playing to appreciative UK audiences. "Attendees at Manchester in 1962, the first ever venue for the festival in Britain, included Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones and Jimmy Page. Subsequent attendees at the first London festivals are believed to have also included such influential musicians as Eric Burdon, Eric Clapton, and Steve Winwood. Collectively these were the primary movers in the blues explosion that would lead to the British Invasion." [more inside]
How many of the 114,580 people in Estadio Azteca on June 22, 1986, missed one or both of Diego Maradona’s goals against England because they were in the bathroom or buying a Budweiser? The two legendary goals that decided the World Cup quarterfinal occurred in quick succession shortly after the start of the second half. In the 51st minute, the Hand of God beat the hand of Shilton. Only four minutes later, while the outrage of English fans and players was still raw, El Diego received the ball in his own half, facing his own net. It took him 11 touches and 10.6 seconds to beat six opponents—Beardsley, Reid, Butcher (twice), Fenwick, and the goalkeeper, Shilton—and bury what many consider to be the greatest goal of all time.
At first sight the search for peace and stability in Iraq, and the search for physical and mental fitness in the extreme contortions of modern Yoga seem to have absolutely nothing in common. But curiously they do. Both the terrible structural problems and distortions that underly Iraqi society today, and the strange, contorted poses that millions of people perform every day in things like Bikram's Hot Yoga, actually come from the fevered imagination of the British ruling class one hundred years ago. As they felt Britain's power declining they wanted desperately to go back into the past and create a purer and more innocent world, uncorrupted by the messiness of the modern industrial world - a new Eden forged both by strengthening and purifying the human body and by inventing new model countries round the world. And we are still suffering from the consequences of that terrible nostalgia. BODYBUILDING AND NATION-BUILDING
BRITISH "GHOST TRAIN" FACADES FROM THE 1970s AND 80s
(from the National Fairground Archive digital collection)
(from the National Fairground Archive digital collection)
Icy weather getting you down? How about a nice relaxing beach holiday? The same weather pattern bringing Antarctic temperatures to America is pushing Himalayan surf towards Europe. With storm swell battering coastlines from Portugal to Cornwall, big-wave specialists from around the world are flocking to the unlikely surf mecca of Mullaghmore, Co. Sligo, Ireland. Apparently it's been pretty intense... "Down there was living repeatedly rabbit punched while diving in the deep!" [more inside]
Whether taking all mankind close to the edge with his keyboard contributions to every punk's favorite prog-rock band Yes, or going it solo (in fully sequined gown) with all Six Wives of Henry VIII all the way to the center of the earth, or perhaps with figure skating Knights of the Round Table, or composing the score for Ken Russell's Liztomania (and "acting" in it), or doing definitive session work for the likes of David Bowie, Black Sabbath, etc, or candidly singing the praises of Christianity and/or Freemasonry ... [more inside]
So, you want to eat like a hobbit do you? The big old dragon of Middle-Earth recipes is the charmingly retro 'Middle-Earth Recipes' (now with a more modern and photo-friendly blog version ) from which NPR's Beth Accomando has complied an all-day feasting menu suitable for marathon watching (or reading) assorted Lord Of The Rings media while Recipewise sticks to foods served by Bilbo in The Hobbit itself and explains the Victorian convention of high vs. low tea. (Author Diane Duane's own Hobbit-inspired recipe, Took Family Seed Cake can be made with poppy rather than caraway seed if that's your thing) Need something to do while digesting? Why not read about the history and meaning of the rural comfort food in Tolkien at Strange Horizons " Well Stocked Larders: Food And Diet Of Hobbits" by Stephanie Green.
World War I in Color is a documentary designed to make the Great War come alive for a 21st-century audience. The events of 1914-18 are authoritatively narrated by Kenneth Branagh, who presents the military and political overview, while interviews with historians add different perspectives in six 48 minute installments annotated within. [more inside]
The 'worst storm since 1987' is due to hit the UK over the next few days. It may also hit 'northern France and the Low Countries'. It may be 'overwhelming' and 'there is a risk of some parts getting two inches of rain in a six hour period'. The Met Office has warned that 'England and Wales will be hit by a significant storm on Sunday night with winds of up to 80mph in some areas'. They also said the predicted storm was 'not one you would see every year' and that 'exceptional winds will batter Surrey'. Drivers are advised to 'at a minimum, take a fully-charged mobile phone and warm, weatherproof clothing.' Some media outlets claim, however, the storm will only be the worst of the last five year, though in Bristol it'll be the worst in 'two decades'. Never the less, 'stay well away from trees'. [more inside]
The Guardian presents an animated video explaining the distribution of wealth in the UK (and how it's getting worse).
As Durham clinch the 2013 County Championship at their home ground, captain Paul Collingwood can reflect on success at club and country level, especially this season. For England he's scored more than a few runs against Australia and other sides, and has notched up 10 centuries, 20 fifties and 96 catches in test matches (the long form of the game) alone, in addition to a spot of wicket keeping. He's also captained England to their only global cricket tournament victory. But Paul is most well-known for his catching... [more inside]
HTML Giant reviewer AD Jameson reviewed the movie The World's End. He didn't love it at first. Then he thought about it more. Then he thought about it a lot. [Warning, every link in this post contains spoilers] [more inside]
The new central library of Birmingham (England), the largest public building of its type in Europe, is officially opened tomorrow by Malala Yousafzai. Reviews, pre-opening, have been largely positive [Independent] [Telegraph] [Guardian] [Residents] [Financial Times]. [more inside]
Fifty years ago, another bus-centric race dispute took place. Despite "Just 12 miles away in Bath, black crews were working on buses. London Transport recruitment officers had travelled to Barbados specifically to invite workers to come to the capital" ...non-whites found it impossible to obtain employment working on buses in Bristol, England. [more inside]
"Cuthbert Ottaway lifted the FA Cup as skipper of Oxford University, represented them at five different sports ranging from athletics to real tennis, and once shared a 150-run partnership with WG Grace in the highest level of cricket. His most notable achievement was captaining England in the first ever international football match though. About 4,000 spectators, including a "large number of ladies", gathered to watch the historic game against Scotland at the West of Scotland Cricket Club in Partick on 30 November 1872."
On this day in 1819, 60,000 people turned out at St Peter's Field in Manchester for democracy...and the Yeomanry turned out for a massacre. [more inside]
The street photographer I share with you this week was a man born in Great Britain an entire century before Winogrand and Friedlander. His name was John Thomson (1837-1921) and it is known that he traveled the Far East taking photographs during much of the period between 1860-1879. When he returned to London, he began taking documentary photographs of everyday people on the streets of London. Via madamjujujive
The 2013 Dancing England Rapper Tournament was held last March in Burton upon Trent, but rather than featuring quick flows and clever rhymes, were all about five people keeping hold of flexible swords while doing intricate dance figures, often in a pub. [more inside]
Hey, remember when archaeologists discovered the remains of Richard III under a car park in Leicester? Well, apparently they also unearthed a stone coffin dated to at least a century before Richard. When it was opened, it was revealed to contain... another coffin, sealed and made of lead. None of us in the team have ever seen a lead coffin within a stone coffin before, says one of the archaeologists. Oh sure, it's probably just the remains of one of the founders of the monastery that used to be there, but if the movies have taught us anything, it's that if something is mysterious, it must also be evil, right?
Days after British and International news reporters and photographers started claiming space in front of the Lindo Wing at St. Mary's hospital, (some have been there since July 3, or 10 days before Kate Middleton's suspected due date of July 13), the "Royal Baby" is finally on the way now that the Duchess of Cambridge is reportedly in labor. Millions around the world wait for the birth of the newest addition to the Royal Family, who will be third in line to the throne of the British Monarchy, whether it's a boy or a girl.
Tomorrow, the 2013 Ashes series (England verses Australia) begins with the start of the first match at Trent Bridge (Nottingham). Though England and Australia have battled since 1861, the Ashes were first contested in 1882. Australia lead England 31-30 in series victories. England start as strong favorites with the bookmakers. Glenn McGrath cautiously predicts a 2-1 Australia series win, whilst Ian Botham predicts a 10-0 wipeout for England over the two series. The 2013 Ashes will be streamed live to 53 countries over YouTube. With Britain in the grip of unusual summer weather (sun), much play is likely. [more inside]
Serious Australian actor and illusionist Claudia O'Doherty has come to the UK to make some viral videos for her family's travel agency.
In 2008 the actor Rupert Everett hosted (seemingly from his apartment) a rather strange documentary: The Victorian Sex Explorer ( 2 3 4 5 ), an attempt to follow in the footsteps of famed Explorer, translator, and author Sir Richard Burton and convince us of Sir Burton's passion for sexual experimentation while laying in lots of bathhouses and visiting brothels. [more inside]
"Whereas yesterday's Cora Pearl was eccentric, charming and a little cold-hearted, today's Victorian courtesan, La Païva, is straight-up eerie. Like, so eerie that a lot of people thought she was a vampire. My hand to Baby Jesus, people actually believed she was a supernatural being. " Bizarre Victoria shares (what else) bizarre, scandalous, and noteworthy stories form the Victorian era (and more). What do you serve at a country club for fat men? Devil's footprints! Lola Montez: servant whipper, de facto ruler of Bavaria. Empress Sissi and her No Good Very Bad Life. Aristocratic marriage at gunpoint. Public pubic hair trimming. Specialties of the Victorian Brothel. Curing hiccups by setting your shirt on fire. Gilded Age Arranged Marriages.
Samuel Leech, R.N., fought in the battle between the 38 gun HMS Macedonian, commanded by Captain John Surman Carden, and the 44 gun USS United States, Commodore Stephen Decatur on October 25th 1812.
A strange noise, such as I had never heard before, next arrested my attention; it sounded like the tearing of sails, just over our heads. This I soon ascertained to be the wind of the enemy's shot. The firing, after a few minutes' cessation, recommenced. The roaring of cannon could now be heard from all parts of our trembling ship, and, mingling as it did with that of our foes, it made a most hideous noise. By-and-by I heard the shot strike the sides of our ship; the whole scene grew indescribably confused and horrible; it was like some awfully tremendous thunder-storm, whose deafening roar is attended by incessant streaks of lightning, carrying death in every flash and strewing the ground with the victims of its wrath: only, in our case, the scene was rendered more horrible than that, by the presence of torrents of blood which dyed our decks.
"I’m not saying the Left embraces or even excuses away these clerics, but this strange reticence across the Left not only allows them to fester, but has other consequences."
In the mid-1920s, Claude Friese-Greene filmed The Open Road, a record of his journey through Britain, using the 'Biocolour' technique first developed by his father William. Eighty years later, the BFI produced a digital version of the preserved and restored film. We've seen London in 1926 previously on MeFi, but there's plenty more of The Open Road to see, including weavers in Kilbarchan (1:16), farmers harvesting with oxen in Cirencester (0:52), Glamorgan coal-miners (0:46), and more. [more inside]
"A fundamental shift in the relationship between the government and the governed is taking place: by restricting access to the law, the state is handing itself an alarming immunity from legal scrutiny. There are several aspects to this: the partial or total withdrawal of state financial support for people who lack the means to pay for legal advice and representation; and for those who can pay, a restriction on which kinds of decision by public bodies can be challenged. In the area in which I work, criminal law, defendants who receive legal aid will lose the right to choose who represents them in court. Specialist criminal barrister Francis FitzGibbon on the impact the UK government's legal aid reform plans are having on the English & Welsh justice system. [more inside]
Shut Up and Listen is a radio show by and for artists and DJs with learning disabilities aired on five stations in the UK. Produced by the Brighton-based charity Carousel, the organizers also run Blue Camel Club, England's largest music night for learning disabled artists and their fans in the UK with regular attendance of more than 600 people.
The annual cheese-rolling event, now unofficial and unsanctioned, has taken place at Cooper's Hill. 3,000 people attended this year, watching several races down the steep Gloucestershire hill. After a police warning to the 86 year old maker of previous cheeses concerning legal liabilities, a foam disc was used as a stand-in cheese. Despite failing to raise funding for a inspirational documentary, Kenny Rackers, an American cheese racer, attended and won the first race. [more inside]
Geoff Carter's radical view of building in the ancient world, especially the archaeology of the lost timber built environment of Southern England. It is new research into of prehistory of architectureWith the ultimate conclusion that Stonehenge is the remains of a roofed shelter. [more inside]
How to be German in 20 easy steps; also, from the same author: how to be English. Elsewhere: how to be a really hip German.
When police carried out a routine stop-and-search of her boyfriend on the London Underground, Gemma Atkinson filmed the incident. She was detained, handcuffed and threatened with arrest. She launched a legal battle, which ended with the police settling the case in 2010. With the money from the settlement she funded the production of this animated film, which she says shows how her story and highlights police misuse of counterterrorism powers to restrict photography. [more inside]
This St. George's Day sees news of the next attempt to redress Britain's superhero shortage: Englishman, who looks like Iron Man crossed with a mediaeval crusader. The series promises “brand new, quintessentially English characters, including Greenbelt and Dry Stone Wall”. [more inside]
"This video has been dramatically enhanced in quality, using modern video editing tools. The film has been motion stabilized and the speed has been slowed down to correct speed (from 18 fps to 24 fps) using special frame interpolation software that re-creates missing frames." Watch corrected and cleaned footage of circa 1900s London and Cork (5 min 35 sec). (via)
In a sense what we have is the Americanisation of Britain, or at least of England. A society where everybody has then sense that they can be anything they want to be, and where hardly anybody can. Crooked Timber's Chris Bertram on the evolution of British society since the seventies.
Bristol Tattoo Club & the Skuse Family - Awesome vintage photos from the studio of legendary Champion Tattoo Artist of all England, Les Skuse, who opened shop in 1928 and founded the Bristol Tattoo Club. After his death in 1973, son Danny ran the business and son Bill had his own shop. See Bill and his celebrated wife Rusty in Famous Couples in Tattoo History. Grandson Jimmie Skuse runs the Les Skuse Tattoo Studio today.
An intriguing essay on how young women in Georgian England were able to do science by hiding in the pursuits of the domestic arts.
"Women didn’t find it easy to participate in late eighteenth century science. Experimentation and discovery were not easily compatible with the ideals of domestic femininity – but there were women who rejected these social expectations and became active and renowned."