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  • Writer's pictureGethin Thomas

Mayflower 400

Originally published on Photoblog by Gethin Thomas NOVEMBER. 28, 2020

[115-365] 28th. November 2020- Mayflower was an English ship that transported a group of English families known today as the Pilgrims from England to the New World in 1620. After a gruelling 10 weeks at sea, the Mayflower, with 102 passengers and a crew of about 30, reached America, dropping anchor near the tip of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, on November 21 [O.S. November 11], 1620.

I'm back. Strictly speaking my PC is back, because I have not been anywhere, being in lockdown, it is back from PC man, and thereby hangs a tale. But let's deal with this double date malarkey first. Whose arguing about the date the Pilgrims landed? Didn't they have ship's logs back then? And what is O.S.?

O.S. stands for old style and this refers to the calendar change from Julian to Gregorian, first introduced in Catholic countries and later at varying dates in Protestant countries. So if the Pilgrims had been escaping persecution from a Catholic country they would have landed on the 21st. November but as they were fleeing persecution from a Protestant one they landed on the 11th.

The calendar changed in the Catholic world in 1582 but in England and it's colonies it changed in 1752. So there was a confusing window of opportunity of only a mere 170 years during which the Pilgrims decided they would make history when nobody knew what the date was. Taking 170 years for everyone in Europe to decide what the date was puts the Brexit talks completely in the shade.

So where are we today? We're in Dartmouth again, but I always try to find little interesting titbits of local interest for you. That is why we are talking about the Mayflower as on it's historic journey into the unknown (unknown by us in Europe in this case), it and her sister ship Speedwell stopped in Dartmouth. Speedwell was not as described in her name. You would probably sue for mis-description today. She sprung several leaks on several different occasions thus necessitating stops in Dartmouth and later in Plymouth further down the coast.

There is a Mayflower Heritage Trail in Dartmouth which is not all about Mayflower but Dartmouth history in general.

This plaque below marks the old centre of the town where Smith Street and Higher Street meet. Here are a few salient points although feel free to read it all at your leisure should you have the time. I have uploaded a large version to make it a bit easier.

Today's word for the day Salient- standing out conspicuously : PROMINENT especially : of notable significance. mid 16th century (as a heraldic term): from Latin salient- ‘leaping’, from the verb salire . The noun dates from the early 19th century.

So leaping out of the screen now are the following remarks. The Pillory and the Stocks were medieval punishments where punishment primarily involved public humiliation. The main difference between Pillory and Stocks is that the Pillory is a whipping-post and the Stocks is a restraint and punishment device. From what I can discover they were similar but the Pillory was probably worse and more likely involved corporal punishment while the stocks was more about humiliation. The local entertainment would involve throwing unpleasant things at people locked in the Stocks like rotten fruit although probably worse too. This tradition still holds today in some ways as there are modern examples of people throwing fruit or eggs at politicians or even performers.

Famously a British MP. and Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott was egged during an election campaign by a protester and discovered to his and the media's surprise that when he instinctively gave a straight left hook to the jaw of the perpetrator his reputation was enhanced rather than the opposite. John Prescott was a former Merchant Seaman and boxer.

Lesson? If you want to protest with eggs, make sure your target is not a trained pugilist. And if you are a politician and punch a member of the electorate in the face on video it won't necessarily preclude you from entering the House of Lords after being ennobled as Baron Prescott, of Kingston upon Hull.

So having left Higher Street going down the hill to, yes you guessed it, Lower Street, I find myself on a terrace with a street below (so that's lower than Lower Street) where a man and a woman are in heated conversation, unmasked. She is saying "people that do that should be put in the stocks" I really am not making this up, this really happened, first I am reading about the stocks on the history plaque and then the first thing I hear is that.

It turns out she is one of the "Covid Police" unmasked, suggesting people who don't wear masks should be put in the stocks. Irony is obviously not even on the horizon. He, interestingly, tells a tale, which is anecdotal obviously, like all tales that are told, in this case about some friends of his son. They live in Hampshire and four young men went into the city (London) on a night out. When the four came home, two shared a taxi "and they shouldn't have done that" says he, well I'm thinking if four of them went out together into London, sharing a taxi home was probably the least of their worries. In any case one of the four got ill (not seriously) but the interesting thing is that the other three all tested positive but had zero symptoms. This does seem to tie into many things I have read. How many have not been tested and have had it? Are those areas worst affected approaching herd immunity?

A recent news item caught my eye. Italy is undergoing a second wave, but they are not witnessing that second wave in Bergamo, the area hit hardest during the first wave. Testing of ten thousand random people in Bergamo in the summer produced the shocking result to the authorities that 57% of them are carrying antibodies, that is close to the standard model of herd immunity of 60% thought to act as a firebreak in transmission stopping the virus from spreading.

Anyway, I am not trying to be controversial, I just throw these thoughts out there for your delectation. Make of them what you will.

Below is the view from Dartmouth to Kingswear the other side. Like Dartmouth the houses are all piled on top of each other and also like Brixham. Now that I am with PC again I am working on my final episode of three about Brixham, which I never got to finish before my PC woes started. Obviously you have already perused parts one and two in great details and are already on your way to being experts on Brixham. That will be my next large Photo Walk post. This being just a 365 post that I got carried away with.

I throw this one in below just for light entertainment as I am curious as to why anyone would go to the trouble of cleaning one door and not the other. Can it just be that the owner is an art lover? Is it a valuable Banksy? Will we see this van door proudly hung in Tate Modern next year. Will the owner retire from roofing and move to the sunny Mediterranean on the proceeds?

As Tony Hancock famously said to his landlady in "The Rebel", one of my favourite films.

Landlady on seeing one of his paintings. "Euurrrggghhhh! It's orrible, what is it?"

Tony Hancock "It's a self-portrait".

Landlady "Who of"

This is just an old remnant that I like to see, and had not noticed before. The reward is five shillings about 25 pence. It's not a big reward for having your neighbour imprisoned.

Back in the good old days it seems they had many similar problems that are still around today and there was something that I spotted which I found comforting in some ways.

Above you have steps being damaged by barrows, today it would probably be skateboards, and below you have a very long and steep wrought iron handrail from the higher town, down to the lower town, with spaced projections built in. The obvious age of this ancient handrail confirms to me the equally ancient problem with schoolboys and their desire to slide down handrails, risking death injury and mayhem.

This was a first too. I have never seen this line of rainbow coloured boats before, is it an accident or an art installation? With a colour palette like that you just never know these days.

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