Thursday, August 11, 2005

Lincoln by day

Walked further down the Lincoln High St, below the Bailgate's "Steep Hill" Rd to a very conventional pedestrian area. One block away was the Brayford Pool, a broad stretch of river used as an inland harbour for nearly two thousand years. Unfortunately the surrounds of the Pool were an architectural mess, with no evidence of any planning oversight in the area. New red-brick horrors in international bland style were being erected even now.

The Tourist Information Centre was actually a bit short on Lincoln-based activities outside of its Cathedral and Castle. The most appealing was at Burghley, nearly an hour and a half away, so I filed that. The handful of listed walks were also quite a way away. A little later on I leafed through the Lincolnshire volume of Arthur Mee's series on English counties which opened with the juxtaposed statements of Lincolnshire being the second largest county (to Yorkshire) and the least-visited. Hmmm.

We retreated to Bailgate for the remainder of the day. It was getting quite warm, so we sat in a corner of the Cathedral yard while I settled into "The Unbearable Lightness of Being in Aberystwyth".

Since the July bombings in London and the revelation that the instigators were home-grown, there has been a lot of discussion about how to properly integrate the children of immigrants and what it means to be British. The "Sixty Million Frenchmen..." book I was reading throws a light on the French solution, which is to avoid collecting any statistics on racial/religious background and of treating all members of its citizenry the same. Because of its centralized administration, even overseas territories of France are treated simply as an extension of the land and its peoples. Guadeloupe and (historically, painfully) Algeria were parts of France and its citizens were French.

[Postscript: This turns out to be a problem because it officially "eliminates" racism by defining it away: no statistics are collected on how various racial groups are discriminated against so a whole class of problems are ignored.]

As to defining a common thread for the British? An inability to spell the language they bequeathed the world. Even BBC-1 News threw up a slide listing "intergrate immigrants" in a story on responses to the July bombings. Just today in Lincoln I've seen elaborately created signs - in metal, neon or wood - of the like of "Family's welcome". The tourist boating company Parties Afloat misspelled its own name on an advertising banner as "Party's Afloat". Even the UK Mensa site multiply confuses its and it's (I tripped over this site by accident this week while looking for something else.) Almost every major tourist brochure is riddled with embarrassing typos. When Napoleon called Britain "a nation of shopkeepers", maybe he meant " a nation of grocer's' ".

Uncomfortable evening as Bondi definitely had tummy problems. Every time I dozed off to sleep, I started dreaming I was in a peat bog. The evening news set off alarm bells about a gigantic Siberian peat bog thawing . Hell's bells: if a Giant Siberian can do that, what are the environmental consquences of a Giant Malamute doing likewise? Your average Siberian Husky is about 28kg, only 40% of Bondi's 70kg (11 stone).

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