Reminiscences: Week 31

Saturday 4 August 2012, 4.35pm HKT


A FRIEND said I should start doing this PDQ before my memory evaporates.

I’ve be writing them down on index cards (BrE: record cards) for quite some time. Then it struck me early on that it’s going to too hard and too confusing to organise, and too wordy to explain even to myself.

So I’ll just throw the whole lot into the wind whenever the crap comes on and see what sticks.

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In no particular order of occurrence during Week 31:—

PDQ

PDQ (‘pretty damn quick’) — a TLA hardly ever heard nowadays and mostly replaced by the colourless initialism ‘ASAP.’ Shame that.

Incidentally, PDQ was also an American TV game show that aired in the late 1960s. Two celebrities made up the ‘Home Team’ and one celebrity paired with a non-celeb civilian were ‘The Challengers.’

Also incidentally, PDQ (Predictive Dynamic Quoting) is an printing cost-estimation software developed by Haybrooke Associates Limited. Never used it.

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HUNTINGDONSHIRE

Huntingdonshire, England

Since 1974, this county in the East of England region was (and still is) run as a non-metropolitan district by the non-metropolitan county of Cambridgeshire. The county’s abbreviation was ‘Hunts’ and it’s no longer used anywhere.

Huntingdonshire is most famously associated with two people:—

  • Oliver Cromwell (1599–1658), Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland (1653-58: “all King but name”)
  • Samuel Pepys (1633–1703), the 17th-century diarist and politician

Huntingdonshire is unfortunately also associated with John Major (born 1943), the former British prime minister (1990-97) who sent Chris Patten (now Lord Patten) to Hong Kong as its last governor.

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An Orwellian republic run in the Crown’s name

To cut a long story short, the administrative geography of the UK has been a mess ever since 1974.

ENGLAND has been structured into Greater London and 9 Regions. Those Regions are altogether divided into 83 counties (6 metropolitan and 77 non-metropolitan). There are also 55 unitary authorities (UAs, a kind of single-tier local government) that cover whole or part of those 77 non-metropolitan counties. Elections are held regularly for all these authorities, and winners act as ‘shadow authorities’ (a particularly English phraseology) until the handover date.

Alternatively, all of England (including London) is divided into 48 ceremonial counties with a Lieutenant (‘lef-tenant’) or Lord-Lieutenant to represent the Queen. All such lieutenancies throughout the whole UK are unpaid.

With me so far?

Wikipedia has a list of English regions, counties and districts — scroll down midway.

WALES now has its own government and ‘parliament’ (the National Assembly for Wales’). That nation is divided into 22 Principal Areas. For ceremonial purposes, the Queen appoints a Lord Lieutenant to each of the eight ‘preserved counties’ of Wales that roughly match the traditional Welsh counties. Still with me?

SCOTLAND also now has its own government. It used be structured into 9 Regions and 3 Island Areas when I was there. Today, Scotland has been reorganised into 32 Council Areas (unitary authorities). More’s the pity, I’d say. The Queen appoints a Lord-Lieutenant to each ceremonial lieutenancy area. Aaaarrr yeeoooou steeel weeeth mee?

NORTHERN IRELAND is part of the UK (which our American cousins often need reminding, I’m afraid). The traditional six counties there are now reorganised into 26 Districts with a council for each. Unlike English, Welsh or Scottish councils, North Ireland (not Northern Irish) councils don’t carry out any public administration. The whole of Northern Ireland is run by various unitary agencies such as the Northern Ireland Library Authority, the Education and Skills Authority, or the Land and Property Services agency. For ceremonial purposes, each of the traditional six counties have a Lord-Lieutenant. Confewzed yet?

Royal Mail (the national postal service) used to divide the whole of UK into 48 postal counties when I was there. Since 1996, Royal Mail has abandoned that system in favour of just using postcodes, thankfully.

Incidentally, there are currently 99 lord-lieutenants in the UK, some of them women. All lord-lieutenants are addressed as ‘My Lord-Lieutenant’ (men and women alike), never as ‘My Lord’ and certainly not ‘My Lady.’ When you’re the high sovereign’s feudal rep, your title and form of address must sound like they come with an iron fist.

Now you know why “Nineteen Eight-Four” could only have been written by an Englishman like George Orwell.

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RENFREWSHIRE

Renfrewshire, Scotland

This former shire about two-thirds the size of Hong Kong existed as a local-government county until 1975. It used to belong to the former Strathclyde region until Scotland reorganised its geographical administration into 32 stupid council areas. It’s now split up between Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire council areas.

The centre of local government is not in the county town of Renfrew but in the nearby town of Paisley. Renfrewshire gave birth to the Paisley pattern and remains a symbol of the area and its weaving past to this day.

Interestingly, about half of Scotland’s entire Jewish population lives in East Renfrewshire.

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SWORDSTICK UMBRELLA

Swordstick umbrella

Back in the 1980s when I was still in the UK, I bought a swordstick umbrella for £6.99 (US$11) from a certain C.A. Anderson based somewhere in Scotland.

I’ve no idea what on earth possibly took hold of me to buy such an incredibly dangerous weapon.

Mine was a working gent’s umbrella with a burnished handle of walnut wood, around 3 feet (1 metre) long. It housed a very, very sharp blade that meant the meanest of business.

I’ve never used it (not even for rain). And then it got stolen when I moved house.

You’d never thought I’d be a person who’d buy such a thing, did you?

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X-RAY SPEX

X-ray glasses (USA)

That image took me a helluva long time to find. That’s exactly the one I remember. Only the vendor’s name and address are different in that image, so these guys clearly were recycling the same ad among themselves.

Gosh, L.A. and those foggy, groggy, faggoty, faggotising X-ray ‘spex.’

A few of us kids bought them for the right royal sum of 75¢ each.

And much fun was had by all in realising we’ve been shafted big time. We couldn’t see our bloody fingers, let alone see through walls and girls’ knickers.

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CANDY THE CAT PUPPET

Candy the Cat
If you had something like this, your childhood was awesome

I love this. Lost mine yonks ago. This push-button puppet was made by Kohner in Hong Kong, ca. 1960s, 3 inches (76mm) in height.

Kohner Toys reshaped the modern toy industry. Frank Kohner (died 0n 6 February 2011 at the age of 100) and his brothers Paul and Michael were pioneers in toy branding development and using TV for advertising toys. The Kohners are to toys what the Rothschilds are to banking.

Read the full story about Kohner in Global Toy News: [CLICK HERE]

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PAN AM

Pan American World Airways advertisement, 1969

This is the Pan Am ad that really stuck in my mind.

My folks never flew to the USA on anything but Pan Am (“The world’s most experienced airline”), just as we never flew on anything but BOAC to the United Kingdom.

Pan Am was one helluva nice airline.

I only remember my Pacific Ocean flights to the USA. We always stopped over in Guam and Hawaii. Every single instance of landing in Guam, it was at night and raining there.

On every flight, I remember seeing a couple of soldiers in their dark green dress tunics with lots of specialist patches, either on their way to or from Vietnam, carrying their olive-green airflight bags with orange interiors.

I also remembered on one Pan Am flight the flight attendants were scamming passengers for money to pay for free inflight meals — but that was the only one time.

I remember all of the the Pan Am stewardesses were blonde with that oh-so-American angular facial features that are just no longer seen in any American person nowadays.

I hated and detested the U.S. government for not lifting a finger to help its flag carrier and letting it slide into oblivion.

I mean, do the people in Washington DC actually realise how many American soldiers flew on Pan Am on their way to Vietnam and never took the return trip?

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© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2012.

Images: In Case of Cultural Discomfort via Douglas Yeo | Huntingdonshire map via Wikipedia (German version) | Renfrewshire map via Wikipedia | Swordstick umbrella (handle) in author’s collection | Swordstick umbrella (full) via Imosh | X-ray Glasses via Tom Heroes | Candy the Cat via byemylife.com | Pan Am Tokyo Flight advertisement via Vintage Ad Browser.

3 Responses to “Reminiscences: Week 31”

  1. Ed Hurst said

    Pan Am didn’t have the right political connections by the time it was dying. While I cannot remember why, I am under the impression it was run into the ground intentionally.

    Like

    • Oh yeah, that much was clear just from reading the newspapers. My mum was still living at the time and she held some Pan Am shares so she was following news about it. I remembered mum saying Pan Am “finally managed” to hire some idiot from another airline to be chairman, and did some really stupid things like going into a failed bidding war for another U.S. airline (Continental?) and switching its headquarters from NY to Miami (“What’s the point?” mum said, since Pan Am owned its own airhub and buildings in NY anyway).

      Like

  2. Pan Am was the largest airline in the world and BOAC was roughly in a tie with it in number of routes and planes. With those two airlines, anyone could get a flight anywhere anytime for any price.

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