Saturday, 5 April 2014

Here is the News…



You can’t buy HAPPINESS but you can buy cake and that’s kind of the same thing.

Here is the News…
Do you remember when the BBC Radio began its news broadcast with ’Here is the News…’?   I can’t recall whether it was on the Light Programme or the Home Service but I’m sure they did.  Interestingly when I tried to trace how old the phrase was there was no mention of the BBC and the good old days. The Goddess Wiki traced it back to the Dutch broadcasting company VPRO which has been using the opening sequence of "Here Is the News" since 1981 at the start of their radio and television broadcasts.  Anyway, whatever its origins, Here is the News…

Spring is sprung

(Picture from the web)
Spring is sprung,
The grass is riz,
I wonder where the birdies is.
The boids is one the wing.
Don’t be absoid;
The wings is on the boid.
                        Anon. (Not Ogden Nash!)

The Daffodils are at their peak.  This pot full was a birthday present from Food-loving-Daughter last year.  




 And the cherry tree is beginning to blossom, making it an even harder job to decide upon its future.  It really is in the wrong place, the roots are ruining the ‘lawn’ and the branches are shading far too much of the front garden.  The blossom only lasts a short time but it is so beautiful while it is out.

The Storks are building a nest.
No, our family is not being increased at all (at least as far as I know).  These are real White Storks which look as though they are breeding at Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens in Norfolk.  The last time they built in the wild in Britain was in Edinburgh in 1416 when the Hundred Years War was raging and Henry V had just defeated the French at Agincourt.   The four year old birds were bred in captivity and released at Thrigby Hall in the hope that they would like the tall chimneys there.  A helping hand was given by putting a pile of sticks on one chimney but the birds rejected that and chose to build on another one instead.


(Newspaper picture)

White storks have a wingspan of 7 foot and about 20 of them are seen in Britain each year but they have never arrived in large enough numbers for a pair to match up.  The story of the birds delivering babies has been in the folklore of various countries for centuries but was popularised by Hans Christian Andersen.

The Trial of the Pyx
Did you know that an inspection of samples of new coins, called the Trial of the Pyx,  has been held in Britain since the twelfth century.  The Trial of the Pyx is the procedure in the United Kingdom for ensuring that newly minted coins conform to required standards. Trials to ensure that newly minted coins conform to required standards have been held, normally once per calendar year and the form of the ceremony has been essentially the same since 1282 AD.  They are trials in the full judicial sense, presided over by a judge with an expert jury of assayers. Trials are now held at the Hall of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths; formerly, they took place at the Palace of Westminster.  Given modern production methods, it is unlikely that coins would not conform, but this has been a problem in the past—it was tempting for the Master of the Mint to steal precious metals.  The term "Pyx" refers to the boxwood chest (in Greek, πυξίς, pyxis) in which coins were placed for presentation to the jury.

Oh the shame, the shame…
When we lived in Walton we lived in the middle of a triangle formed by the prison, the cemetery and the hospital (formerly the workhouse).  But so far we ourselves have managed to keep out of the workhouse which is more than my mother's father's father did.  Daughter-who-takes-photos has been doing some more family history research and has discovered that in 1911 the 59 year old Henry Charles Body Snr. was in the workhouse. It was considered terribly shameful to have a relative in the workhouse and people would do everything in their power to avoid having to end up there.

In England and Wales a workhouse, colloquially known as a spike, was a place where those unable to support themselves were offered accommodation and employment. The earliest known use of the term dates from 1631, in an account by the mayor of Abingdon reporting that "wee haue erected wthn our borough a workehouse to sett poore people to worke".  The origins of the workhouse can be traced to the Poor Law Act of 1388, but mass unemployment following the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815, the introduction of new technology to replace agricultural workers, and a series of bad harvests, meant that by the early 1830s the established system of poor relief was proving to be unsustainable. The New Poor Law of 1834 attempted to reverse the economic trend by discouraging the provision of relief to anyone who refused to enter a workhouse. Some Poor Law authorities hoped to run workhouses at a profit by utilising the free labour of their inmates, who generally lacked the skills or motivation to compete in the open market. Most were employed on tasks such as breaking stones, bone crushing to produce fertiliser, or picking oakum using a large metal nail known as a spike, perhaps the origin of the workhouse's nickname.  Oakum is a preparation of tarred fibre used in shipbuilding for caulking or packing the joints of timbers in wooden vessels and the deck planking of iron and steel ships. Oakum was recycled from old tarry ropes and cordage, which were painstakingly unravelled and taken apart into their constituent fibres.  In a shipbuilding area like Liverpool this was the most likely task for many workhouse occupants.

Life in a workhouse was intended to be harsh, to deter people and to ensure that only the truly destitute would apply. But workhouse inmates had certain advantages over the general population in areas such as the provision of free medical care and education for the children, neither of which was available to the poor living outside workhouses until the early 20th century.

As the 19th century wore on, workhouses increasingly became refuges for the elderly, infirm and sick rather than the able-bodied poor, and in 1929 legislation was passed to allow local authorities to take over workhouse infirmaries as municipal hospitals. It may be a reflection of this gradual change from the able-bodied to the sick that resulted in Henry Charles Body being described as a 'patient' rather than an 'inmate' in 1911.  Although workhouses were formally abolished by the same legislation in 1930, many continued under their new appellation of Public Assistance Institutions under the control of local authorities. It was not until the National Assistance Act of 1948 that the last vestiges of the Poor Law disappeared, and with them the workhouses.  

A postcard to the USA
Postal charges in the UK went up on 31st March.  It might have seemed like an April Fool to those who went into their post office on 1st April but sadly, it wasn’t. The cost of sending a postcard to the USA, New Zealand, China, etc.  went up from 88p to £1.28.  I never was very good at maths but I think that is a rise of 45.454545… % .  That being the case, can I expect pensions and benefits to rise by the same percentage?   

LSHMGFOAIDMCC

And in case you don’t know that abbreviation (because I just made it up) it means
Laughing So Hard my Glasses Fall of and I drop my Coffee Cup...

20 comments:

  1. Up until now, I had no idea white storks are such a rarity in Britain. They used to be relatively common in Germany, but of course the continuous reducing of their habitat means they have become something like an endangered species here. There still are several couples living in the middle of Stuttgart, nesting on the old buildings that are in the large park of the Wilhelma (zoo).

    Ripon has a Workhouse Museum; I've been there some years ago and was glad that I live now, and under the circumstances I do. Who knows what would have become of me, widowed early with no children, had I lived in those days.

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    1. I didn't know about that museum. I must visit if in Ripon again.

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  2. Our postage rates have increased here as well, and it certainly has put a spoke in my wheel for mailing cards and packages overseas.
    I have learned a whole lot from this post....glad to see you here again.

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  3. Love your texting abbreviation at the end. Did you know that the OED has a section at the back of the desk size volume that lists two pages of texting symbols like LOL, BTW, IMO, etc. So I guess texting abbreviations have really reached the mainstream! xoxo

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    Replies
    1. No, I didn't know. I have looked a few up on-line but it never occurred to me the OED had listed some.

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  4. Your daffodils are beautiful, and i'll bet your cherry tree is equally so. The storks are such amazing birds, i'm sorry they are so rare in Britain.

    The ceremony of the trial of coins must be interesting to watch. Funny how we humans tend to hold on to such rituals, even when they aren't needed. They keep us mindful of our past, i imagine, and provide a glimpse into what things used to be like.

    Your new abbreviation is very funny!

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  5. Hey John!
    I have a fond memory of seeing lambs frolicking when I was in England in the Spring! Those storks are very big, what a wingspan, I would love to see some.
    Fascinating story about the history of the workhouse.
    That is quite a jump in postal rates from the UK to USA, that makes me feel bad at how much my birthday cards will cost my family in England!!

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    1. No doubt we will all have forgotten how much the increase was in a month or two. I think it was about three old pence when I was little....

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  6. Astounding post - chock full of factoids! If I get no more postcards from you, I can't blame you - yikes on the price!!!

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    1. As if I would let mere cost stop me!

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  7. I heard GB quoting that spring poem so recently, it seemed strange to see it here. I wonder which of your parents you both learnt it from, or was it from each other? That's a huge jump in postage, seems unreasonable to me. I'm getting a pension increase this week (there must be an election this year!) but I think it is closer to the increase in the cost of one stamp rather than the percentage you mention.

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    1. Somehow it isn't the sort we would have learned from our parents - though we learned ,much poetry from Mum. I think it was probably learned by one of us as a young adult and passed to the other by osmosis.

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    2. I remember Nana and Mum both quoting the birdies ditty. I also remember Nana and her "I chased a bug around a tree. I'll have his blood. He knows I will." So risqué in those days. I don't recall Osmosis. Did he go to school with you? I'm sure he wasn't one of our neighbours' children. [I wonder what has become of David, Adrian, Coppernob et al.]

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  8. I think there are still (or again) white storks nesting in the very south of Sweden, in the province of Skåne. - Interesting read about the workhouses. I've got the impression our poorhouses were mainly for the elderly and/or sick people but I'm not sure. I did look into early 20th century asylums for the mentally ill a couple of years ago, as I did have a couple of ancestors who ended their life in one. They were quite huge institutions back then and more or less a self-contained society. - I'm sorry about the increased postage, that is a big rise!

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    1. At least the postage increase for postcards to Europe is a 'mere' 10%.

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  9. So good to have another of your Rambles. The postal charges is a viscous spiral. Higher cost = more people use internet and the many different ways of communicating via it. The more people use the internet = the greater the cost of postage = increased prices = etc ad infinitum.

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  10. A lovely ramble, thank you.

    I didn't know workhouses were called spikes. The only reference I've ever seen to spikes was in "Down and Out in Paris and London" and they were one night only temporary shelters for the homeless.

    I do love your cherry tree, but totally understand about the roots. Doesn't your tall front hedge shade the garden anyway though?

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    1. The hedgeman has lowered the hedge slightly and it is to the North of the garden so all the sun comes from the East (Willow side) and the West (Cherry side) - when it can peep around the house, that is.

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  11. yep, laughter is needed since crying over increases of any kind from your government or mine matters not to those in either one. just had a conversation last night with youngest son and another young man that we need to vote out all our senators and representatives so we can start from scratch.

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  12. Our postal rates go up because the government raids the profits from the post office to fund our 'free house', otherwise known as Obamacare, welfare and food stamps.

    Spring is sprung...

    This sounds like it originated in Joisey, more properly known as New Jersey. Applying an accent from The Colonies, it might be written as:

    Spring is sprung
    Da grass is riz
    I wondah where da boidies is
    Da boids is onna wing
    Don’t be absoid
    Da wings is on da boid

    The use of 'onna' and 'on da' is deliberate and is a manner of speaking for emphasis. Youse got dat?

    ReplyDelete

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