Friday, 26 December 2014

Benches in Benenden

I recently drove to  Benenden Hospital in Kent. Those of you who have visited it will know that access from any direction is via a wilderness of country lanes. 

On my approach route I was surprised to see a bench positioned on a corner. Why would anybody want to sit there? Who would be walking, miles from anywhere, just to sit and watch the traffic go by?

It was only from inside the hospital that I learned the reason.

Benenden Hospital was built from 1905-7 on three smallholdings which had been purchased by the Post Office Sanatorium Society. The purpose of the hospital was to treat the postmen who were disproportionately represented in the statistics of tuberculosis sufferers. Why were postmen catching TB?

Benenden Hospital, opened 1907.
Research discovered that when the mail trains were unloaded at London stations, the bags were dragged along the platforms upon which the travelling public had expectorated and a proportion of these people suffered from TB. The spores were absorbed by the bags and when they were upended at the sorting office, the postal workers breathed them in. So Benenden hospital was built, and NO SPITTING signs appeared on railway stations.

I met a lady who was treated at the hospital for TB when a girl. Some patients stayed for two years and part of the cure was considered to be fresh air -- thus the reason for siting the hospital in the middle of the countryside. She recounted how their beds were pushed out onto the verandah during the daytime and one day in winter she lay there watching the snow falling onto her bed.  And this brings us back to the bench. As the patients improved they were encouraged to take the two-mile circular walk around the lanes but of course, they could only walk in short bursts and so benches were placed on the verges, a short distance apart, all the way around the circuit.

And this must have been one of those benches.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Cycle lanes are for lorries.

In my latest book, Neither Civil nor Servant, I make a passing observation that East Kent has become one big lorry park. The port of Dover and the Channel Tunnel act as a funnel for all the TIR lorries of Europe and they have little regard for this green and pleasant land.

Park your truck here -- it's only
a cycle lane and footpath.
As a cyclist I am doubly dealt by lorry drivers. When they are not trying to kill me they park on my cycle lanes. These cycle lanes are installed so that cyclists have less chance of being run over by lorries.

The road is not mine and it is not theirs. It is ours. If you park in 'my' cycle lane you must expect me to be in the carriageway which you consider to be 'yours'.

And if the grass verge or even road signs get in your way, just drive over them, they won't hurt your lorry. 

Rather like cyclists.

In case you were wondering that the purpose of the road sign was, it was telling you that this is a cycle lane, sorry, lorry park.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Canterbury Monopoly a big disappointment.

It is many years since I have played the board game Monopoly. When we did play it we always availed ourselves of the 'short game' rules whereby you did not have to auction or purchase every property the moment that it was alighted upon. This made the game more fun for us children.

The 'Canterbury' version of the board
game Monopoly on sale at last.
I am not a great fan of board games (or any games for that matter) but when it was announced that there was to be a Canterbury version of Monopoly my interest was awakened. It would be fun buying and selling the local streets and even more amusing would be to learn what was considered to be the local equivalent to the cheapest Old Kent Road or the dearest Mayfair.

Well, the game has been released and it is a great disappointment to me. I suspect that the manufacturer auctioned the squares on the board to the local businesses since no streets appear, only enterprises. Mayfair is Canterbury Cathedral. What sense does that make? I was going to ask, 'how can you put a hotel on the cathedral?' but of course, they have already done it in real life.

Why is Rochester Castle illustrated in the middle of the
Canterbury board version of Monopoly?

But what must be a rather embarrassing aspect of this undisguised and rather callous marketing exercise is the artwork itself. What is Rochester Castle doing in the middle of the board? Rochester is a town on the River Medway, forty miles from Canterbury.

Oh dear!

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

The Rude People of Canterbury

As I wandered down Palace Street in Canterbury with my camera hanging around my neck a kindly local resident mistook me for one of the thousands of tourists who daily throng the city and so offered to show me a good vantage point from which to photograph the cathedral. I was a little bemused by her proposal, considering that I was patently standing with my back to the cathedral and taking a photograph of something else. 

I demurred politely, saying, 'Thank you very much but I am more interested in those two rude ladies showing their breasts.' 

Her eyes followed my glance. 
'Good Heavens,' she gasped, 'I've never noticed those before.'
And she tottered off to get herself a stiff drink.

I continued around to the Christchurch Gate of the cathedral and studied its decorated stone archway.

Through the centuries hundreds of thousands of people must have passed under this arch, no doubt with their heads bowed in reflection or prayer. How many of them, I wonder, ever raised their eyes?

Had they done so at the propitious moment then they would have seen an equally rude man flaunting his genitalia.

Whatever next?

Saturday, 6 December 2014

The first frost.

We have had the first frost of the winter but it only touched one corner of my garden.

Let's hope that it kills all the slugs that creep into my kitchen at night and crawl up the outside of my fridge.