Friday, 26 November 2010

Moreton-in-the-Marsh Time

Friday 31 May 1998. The last day of our holiday. Fran and I left the hotel in Bourton-on-the-Water and headed northwards, passing through Stow-on-the-Wold and Tramp-on-the-Road (I made-that-one-up), stopping for a while in Moreton-on-the-Marsh, where I took a few photographs.

This quiet and picturesque village was a centre for the preparation for the invasion of Normandy on D-Day in the Second World War and a display in a shop window had photographs of the main street, full of rows of U.S. tanks.

Where the cars are parked in this photograph, the tanks were lined up side by side. It was a miracle that the Luftwaffe did not catch a glimpse of the preparations and warn the German High Command.

"Vas ist das?!? Panzer-in-der-Street!!! Achtung! Raus der Fliegers-in-der-Stukas!!!"

The building seen in the first photograph had a splendid sundial carved into the face of the stone. The weather at the time was such that it was seen to its best advantage. Sundials were in use long before governments decided to fiddle with time and have Summer Time for "saving light" and in fact as pubs weren't subject to opening hours back then farmers could work until it went dark then go for a firkin - whoops no, scratch that, looking at how it reads - then go for a pint no matter how early it was. Though there were one or two places where they could go for a - no!!!!! Keep it clean!

Anyway, where was I? Ah yes. In the days when sundials told the time and villagers were left standing outside the shop on cloudy days waiting for the owner to turn up, there was no such thing as Geenwich Mean Time.

Anyone mentioning GMT in the pub would have probably got a gin and tonic from a slightly deaf barman. Every town decided its time on factors such as when the sun came up. It wasn't until the railways arrived that people came round to the idea that for train timetables to make sense it had to be ten o'clock in Bristol at the same time it was ten o'clock in London.

You can imagine the chaos and confusion it caused when they moved from one system to another. There is a sign under the clock tower in Ramsgate that says:

"Ramsgate Mean Time is 5 mins 41 secs faster than this clock"

A bit like decimal coinage being brought in during the late 1960s. People had to stop saying "tuppence" and start saying "two pence" in order for others to understand which system they were using. How you do that when answering the question "What time is it?" I'm not sure, unless that marked the demise of "It's ten after three" for "ten past three"...

I do like to stimulate a touch of cerebral action in this blog. As Miss Franny's DS game says: it does you good to give the old pre-frontal cortex a workout!

And that pretty much brings this series about our 1998 holiday to an end.

We stopped briefly in Stratford upon Avon on our way home, to have a look at Shakespeare's birthplace and admire the formal brick patterned paving outside that he must have known and loved.

He lived there throughout his young life until his mother told him he was bard...

Large versions of the photos: all the photographs from this holiday can be viewed as a set at Flickr.

Addendum
I received a message from the lovely Mags, who says "'Moreton In Marsh' John.... I always thought it was 'In The...' until last year. Lovely place. x"

A lovely place indeed - and all the better for my erroneous "the"... Apologies to Moreton-in-Marsh residents and afficionadoes everywhere. However surely in the suggests something more substantial than a mere in...?

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