Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Money, Money, Money .. keeps the world going round – Women, Women, Women usually do too ...

The Queen appears on all our bank coinage and notes and is there on the basis of birthright, so whatever we think of her hard work, she’s not there on the basis of her achievements.
The concept for the new Jane Austen note

The recent decision to replace Elizabeth Fry on the £5 note with Winston Churchill has caused a public furore ... demanding a rethink of the male dominated faces on bank notes ...

To soften the blow and ensure female representation the Bank of England’s new (Canadian) Governor, Mark Carney, has confirmed Jane Austen will be the face of the new £10 note in 2016/7, replacing Charles Darwin. 

The illustration by Hugh Thomson
representing Mr Collins protesting
that he never reads novels
(Pride and Prejudice - Wikipedia)

Florence Nightingale was featured twenty years ago on the £10 note ... so at least in the future... Sense and Sensibility will prevail ... with Austen becoming the new female face ...

... while Miss Bingley’s words from Pride and Prejudice ... “I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!” will appear on the note ... these will always ring true with us bloggers-authors.

There is a rolling programme of changing notes and I suspect in future we’ll have good representation of our deserving women ... Mary Wollstonecraft, the 18thC writer, Mary Seacole, the Jamaican-born nurse from the Crimean War, Emmeline Pankhurst, the suffragette, Ada Lovelace, the world’s first computer programmer ... and seventy plus others ...

Perhaps some of those won’t fit the four criteria, below, for selection:

  • being uncontroversial;
  • a pictorial representation must exist to base the ‘face’ on;
  • they must have made a universally recognised contribution with enduring benefits;
  • while their name must be broadly recognised.

"A" bank note!
The average bank note lasts just two years, our £5 ones even less – perhaps only nine months ... we have a predilection for destroying money (and for spending it!) ...

De La Rue, currently the printer of choice for the Bank of England is charged with ensuring that the supply of paper cash is constantly maintained and refreshed.

Paper currency was first developed in the Tang Dynasty China during the 7th century, although true paper money did not appear until the 11th century, during the Song Dynasty.

The usage of paper currency later spread through the Mongol Empire, with European explorers like Marco Polo introducing the concept to Europe during the 13th century.

25% cotton rich paper
Now-a-days we have state of the art security systems keeping a watchful eye on the factory floor.

The process takes at least sixteen weeks of starting on a design to the first notes being rolled off the presses, while the printing production can take three weeks to complete.

The notes are printed on cotton-rich paper that is made in De La Rue’s own mill and trucked north to the printing works.  All the raw materials are counted in and all the banknotes are counted out, some by hand, others by a machine, to ensure nothing goes missing along the way.

Art work by JuliaTrigg.co.uk
nothing to do with bank notes,
I just liked it!
The factory is climate controlled at 21 deg C, with the humidity at a constant 56%, and with more security than an airport, the factory site’s scale is almost incomprehensible.

The ink department blends 14 basic colours sourced from a Swiss supplier, plus some chemicals that help dry the gloopy ink (the black vat resembles a barrel of crude oil) to a recipe that’s suggested by the design team. 

Each batch is checked and rechecked – as the cost of the ink runs to thousands of pounds per kilogram – before it can be mixed in huge vats in 200 kg batches.

The concept for a new bank note is an ink-jet low-resolution print ... a world away from the 10,000 dots per inch (dpi) that will comprise the final product.

Some of the details in this post came from the recent Sunday Times magazine article, which is printed at a resolution of 304 dpi.

See the size of the machinery at
one of the de la Rue plants

The design of each bank note encompasses three elements – the aesthetic side, the security component features, and the durability of the bank note.

The artists are accomplished and recognised in their own right with works displayed in the National Gallery, but for the bank notes the essential element is that the eventual design is functional.

There are about 500 different security features that can be called on for use within each bank note, but a typical bank note holds about ten security features (though where a high incidence of counterfeiting occurs more security features can be built in).

Security features designed for use on banknotes are the thin type process called intaglio, hologram patch, holographic spread and hologram stripe ... while there are three levels of security on each bank note ... as examples:

  • The Queen’s head becomes visible on a UK banknote when held up to the light is classed as a level 1 public recognition feature, the kind we can spot ourselves;
  • Others are level 2 features, which may require ultraviolet light, typically used by shopkeepers to check for validity;
  • Level 3 are covert features: only that particular country’s central bankers know what they are.

Modern engraved reproduction of
Rembrandt's 1639 self-portrait
(see Wiki - engraving)
The paper runs through lithographic printing presses during which the different colours and images are applied to build up the base image seen on the banknote.

The second printing process, intaglio, where thin lines are applied with a tolerance of error of just five microns, or five-thousandths of a millimetre.  There, rollers apply 85 tons of pressure to adhere the ink to the paper, and allow it to flow through the crevices before being wiped off.  And that’s just one side of the banknote.

Artists who we would recognise and who used the intaglio process are Durer, Goya, Whistler, Picasso and Rembrandt ... after approval of the design the artists can get to work engraving the templates – the first of which will be for the Churchill £5 note.

Micro-topography on a French postage stamp
(detail) showing the thickness of ink obtained
by intaglio  (see Wiki)
I shall look at bank notes in a new light .. and as Chris Stokel-Walker in the Sunday Times article notes ... I’ll think about the whole process: the designers, printers, deal-makers; the ink blenders, plate makers, packers and shippers; the truck drivers, quantitative analysts and security men keeping it under lock and key ...

.. one of those notes with the eleven simple words “I promise to pay the bearer on demand the sum of ...” will be exchanged for a book, some groceries ... or even some baby memorabilia, but not by me!

Here it is confirmed that money comes from a factory – it doesn’t grow on trees!

With thanks to the Sunday Times article ... and who had insight into De La Rue’s factories and offices ...  you can seethe start of the article and some of De La Rue’s images ... more available if you subscribe, I do not I just happened to buy the paper that week.

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Royal Baby's ABCDEF and it's G for George ...

Here’s my take on the last few days ... 

When George V11 rules the waves ... possibly
into the 2070s to 2080s
The Announcement of the royal birth was made in edition number 60576 of The London Gazette Extraordinary ... the official (weekday) Government newspaper of record ... that traditionally announces royal births and deaths.

A new mix of ancestors has joined the royal band: coal miners and labourers, amongst others ...

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby commented: the 1940s to Prince George will be as far away as the Crimean War (1853 – 56) and the Charge of the Light Brigade is today to us ...

The London Eye
It’s a boy born at 4.24 pm on Monday 22nd July 2013

The world turned blue: Tower Bridge, Niagara Falls, Trafalgar Square fountains, London Eye became red, white and blue ...

Bucklebury village church
Bells would peal: Westminster Abbey for three hours on the Tuesday; St Michael’s Church, Helston, Cornwall pealed and the Middleton village of Bucklebury’s church bells pealed on Wednesday evening ...

Changing of the Guard – the Guardsmen played “Congratulations” as a break with tradition and for the crowds in front of Buckingham Palace ...

Christmas card message has been solved: “We Three Kings ... “; with a cartoon quip ...  of Prince Charles mentioning to his son, Prince William, “I hope he’s not a queue jumper ....!”

George V1, the Queen Mother with
Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret
with their dogs ... at home (1930s)
and relaxed before the
abdication issue
Dynasty – assured with this heir ... three future Kings ...

Destiny – the young prince has destiny on his shoulders ...

Expectation of inheritance: we forget the Queen’s father, George VI, never expected to be King ... thank goodness in hindsight that Edward VIII abdicated ...

Feelgood Factor around the world is ascribed to the Duchess of Cambridge and we might include her husband!

Fees for a suite at the Lindo wing of St Mary’s Hospital are £6,000 per night, without all the extras ... doctors etc etc etc

George 1
Gun Salute – two of these took place: the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery fired a 41 gun salute with six First World War 13-pounders in Green Park; while at the Tower of London the Honourable Artillery Company, the City of London’s Army Reserve Regiment, fired a 62 gun-salute.

George 1 (1714 – 1727) was the 51st in line to the throne, but was the first heir eligible to succeed as he was a Protestant, as Catholics may not succeed.

This Heir is the 3rd in line to the throne, the 2nd to be born in hospital, his father being the first.

Ladders for height -
Baby time is the bottom clock,
the upper one is NBC news time
International interest – around the world – the South African camera crews had been camped outside another hospital waiting for a much less happy occasion: the death of Nelson Mandela, but were sent to cover the royal birth.

Russians, Chinese, Japanese, American, Australian, Canadian – you name them the journalists were there ... encamped in the blazing sun patiently waiting 24 hours a day ... who would be a journalist?!
Journalists surprisingly missed the telling signs – the whole was choreographed to perfection ... there were no leaks ...

Jubilation in the crowd and around the world on hearing the news ..

The Kingdom will continue .. United Kingdom all three future Kings ... 

Ladders – journalists teetering ... good pond pudding ladders, I’d say .... I wonder if Lee would concur ...?

Lee's toes up said ladder
Lee's Pond Pudding link

Lungs and Legs and the thing I don’t discuss hair!  According to his father he has a good set of lungs, and has legs like his mother ... harking back to men in tights?, but more hair than his father! 

His great grandmother, the Queen, commented on Monday evening he is “an enormous child” – before she eventually met the third heir to the throne on Wednesday.

Management of details kept old fashioned and private (very efficient)  ... no social media updates – Facebook or Twitter - on his birth ...  yet: see "W" ...
The new baby's playground
Monarchy: by embodying history, monarchy is implicitly conservative; by investing in generations to come it is implicitly progressive.

Names: a huge array to choose from ... Middleton names such as Ron, Steve, Tom, Gary and Fred, or from the Bucklebury village school a popular child’s name “Ethan” ... then there’s the grandparents: Charles and Michael; or more likely a royal name ... Albert, Louis, John ... yet consider the initials ... we wouldn’t want William Arthur George – “wag” ...

What’s in a Name?  Well the wait is over “George Alexander Louis” for Prince George of Cambridge.

Nanny – for the time being they will manage without any extra help ..

Horses called Derek first!
Order of Notice: Prince William first rang the Queen, then his father, his brother and together, he and Kate, rang the Middletons ...

Old Boot Inn, near the Middleton’s home, held an impromptu gathering .. popping champagne corks, previously they’d placed bunting over a horse called Derek, whose owners had earlier led it into the bar for a slops tray of Guinness!

Not a bad local pub when on
paternity leave
Paternity Leave – the Prince has two weeks before he returns to work ..

Protocol: the Bulletin is typed up at the hospital, signed by the four doctors giving the basic details of HRH’s arrival, placed in a red leather folder – which is driven to Buckingham Palace for public display.

Pageantry: no-one does it quite like the British ... gun salutes, full peal of bells from Westminster Abbey, including a popular song ‘Congratulations’ into the Changing of the Guard ceremony ...

1937 Memorabilia - the retail floodgates
have opened
The Prince of Wales, as described by the former royal correspondent, Jenny Bond, “is quite an emotional, sentimental old stick really”.  Well the ‘old stick’ looked very delighted at the arrival of his first grandchild.

The Queen returned from Windsor Castle to Buckingham Palace mid afternoon before the young man made his entrance into the world ...

Royal event = retail event!  Royal memorabilia – both lovely and naff ... tons of the stuff!!

Before the storm - Hildebrand
In the Stars  ... HRH emerged into the world at 4.24pm, close to the Cancer-Leo cusp at 4.57pm; the borderline between the two signs is an extremely royal moment to be born.

 As a Cancer, the importance of family life is paramount.  He will be ruled by the Sun and Moon: the king and queen of the heavens.

Thunderstorm on his first night on this earth.

The Town Crier proclaiming the news
The Town-Crier appeared on the steps of the Lindo Wing to formally congratulate the royal couple.

Twitter – there is a spoof twitter account, called @TheRoyalBaby___ ... the biography description reads “It’s jolly dark in here ...”  The account already had 11,500 followers and counting – and there are regular tweets.

Untoward ... nothing!  Nothing untoward happened ... the whole arrival was choreographed with consummate royal professionalism ... even the journalists were caught out ....

Victoria, for Queen Victoria – was originally known as Drina ... she had been christened Alexandrina Victoria ...

The quiet, peaceful wait in the British countryside

Weight of heirs:  George weighed in at 8lbs 6oz, William weighed in at 7lbs 1.5oz, while Charles weighed in at 7lbs 6oz

Wait Prince George of Cambridge could wait 60 years before he steps up to the throne and he was tardy arriving ... ; Prince Charles is the longest waiting heir to the throne in history – 61 years, so far ... and counting ... 

The long rail into the future -
what will life hold ....
Wikipedia Page – HRH pre-birth has already made history by becoming the first person to get a Wikipedia page before he was born; it has since been updated with his full names ... and he is only 2-3 days old!

X  the Duke of Edinburgh apparently kept well away at Charles’ birth .. he went off for a game of squash!  William was present for his son’s birth ...

The rolling English landscape
The Years 2011, 2012 and 2013 ... Marriage, Celebration of the Queen’s Jubilee (60 years on the throne) and for the first time in more than 120 years that three direct heirs to the throne will share some time with their beloved matriarch, the Queen, of the Windsor or Mountbatten-Windsor line.

Zara – Princess Anne was so kind to call her daughter ‘Zara’ – Mrs Michael Tindall is expecting a new royal baby early in 2014.

That’s my ABC take on this week’s royal birth ... 

Long Live the Queen, then the King, then the King and now the next King ...

My P for Pond Pudding, part of the A-Z Challenge 2013 ... 

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Monday, 22 July 2013

Puppy Dogs’ Tails or Sugar and Spice ... then Downland Beauties ...

Which will you, HRH, be?  This is a brief interim post before a slightly more interesting one, once the new baby has arrived later today or tomorrow ...  also it gives me a few extra hours or days to get my ducks in order!

Beachy Head, East Sussex
just west of Eastbourne

What Are Little Boys Made of?” is a popular nursery rhyme dating from the early 19th century, with a Roud Folk Song Index: number 821, and I’m sure most of you will have heard of it:

What are little boys made of?
What are little boys made of?
Slugs and Snails
And puppy-dogs’ tails

That’s what little boys are made of.

What are little girls made of?
What are little girls made of?
Sugar and Spice
And everything nice,

That’s what little girls are made of.

c/o Books.JacksonFish.com
The Roud Folk Song Index is a database of nearly 200,000 references to nearly 25,000 songs that have been collected from oral tradition in the English language from all over the world.

It is compiled by Steve Roud, a former librarian in the London Borough of Croydon.  Roud’s Index is a combination of the Broadside Index (printed sources before 1900) and a “field-recording index” compiled by Roud.

Wild flowers at Beachy Head
taken by me last year

The primary function of the Roud Folk Song Index is to act as a research aid which correlates versions of traditional folk song lyrics that have been independently documented over past centuries by many different collectors across both the UK and North America.

Number 821 sometimes appears as part of a larger work called “What Folks Are Made of” (or "What All the World is Made of”); other stanzas describe what babies, young men, young women, sailors, soldiers, nurses, fathers, mothers, old men, old women and all folks are made of.

Bouquet type roses with
summer flowers - July 2012
According to Iona and Peter Opie, this first appears in a manuscript by the English poet Robert Southey, (1774 – 1843), who added the other stanzas.

The Opies were a husband and wife team of folklorists, who applied modern techniques to children’s literature, summarized in their studies, The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes (1951) and the Lore and Language of Schoolchildren (1959).  They are also noted anthologists and assembled large collections of children’s literature, toys and games.

Rapunzel - illustration
by Johnny Gruelle
The Opies’ collection of children’s books and ephemera covers the 16th to 20th century and is the richest library of children’s literature.  It was begun in 1944, amounting in the end to 20,000 pieces.

Their large collection of historic toys and games is still owned by Iona Opie, but the books and other printed material were donated to the Bodleian Library, Oxford.

Now to the Downland beauties ... last week I met up with Patsy Collins and we graced Beachy Head with our presence – one of us presentable, one without her hat for her receding hairline .. not so!

Downland beauties - Patsy and I
Sad – I hope the new little one will not have the sort of hairline I have – Patsy’s auburn-red locks are much stronger and sturdier ... and could be used for being rescued from the tower ... similar to Rapunzel’s rescue.  On the other hand my thin fine hair with all the squash I played – it made life easier with a rinse or wash and go style ...

However we had a great time ... Patsy’s husband joined us ... and we agreed to meet again sometime when we can natter about the blog, internet and author life ... and not bore the pants off Gary! 

Patsy's Rapunzel
type hair - it's stunning
Gary is into ships and all things Maritime .. so when a ferry he needs to photograph returns from repair in Dieppe ... they’ll return to Newhaven and we can meet again.

So what will this little one be made of ... a puppy dog tail or of all things nice like sugar and spice?

The new image!
The press cannot be having a field day I’d guess .. it is incredibly hot! 


The announcement gets put out at Buckingham Palace and I think they have a gun salute too ... but soon we will find out, in the meantime I wish both parents well ...

Wikipedia entry re the nursery rhyme
Wiki page on the Opies 

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Friday, 19 July 2013

Stately Homes of England ... and Aristocratic Succession ...

Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun ...  Noel Coward who penned those words, also wrote a parody on ‘The Homes of England’ ...

The Italianate Gardens, Bowood House, Wiltshire
The poem by Felicia Hemans and was published in Blackwood’s Magazine in 1827 – a publication specialising in a mixture of satire, reviews and criticism both barbed and insightful – appropriate to both Hemans’ contribution to English literature and to Coward’s penmanship ...

The stately Homes of England,
How beautiful they stand,
Amidst their tall ancestral trees,
O’er all the pleasant land!

Coward ‘gently’ changed the lyrics to:

The stately homes of England,
How beautiful they stand,
To prove the upper classes
Have still the upper hand.

Wentworth Woodhouse,
south Yorkshire
Then in the Las Vegas phase of his career, Coward revised his lyrics to:

The stately homes of England,
We proudly represent,
We only keep them up
For Americans to rent ...

The journalists/cameramen sweltering on their pitches outside the hospital are awaiting news of a little soul’s arrival ...

Felicia Hemans
... the Queen is waiting to go on holiday and you’re holding her up little one ... and why are we waiting as the Christmas Carol parody goes ... your time is up ... surely it’s time to blossom?!

The Succession to the Crown Act has been hurried through Parliament so that you, HRH, can inherit the throne regardless of your gender ...

... yet some of your ennobled subjects are excluded from inheriting their stately piles because they are first-born females ...

... the Re-ordering of the Aristocracy (as Channel 4 News described it) is one of the last pieces of gender discrimination enshrined in common law.


Titles have zig-zagged outrageously across family trees in pursuit of male heirs, or simply died out, because women are, by statute, considered unsuitable inheritors.

Julian Fellowes, the English actor, novelist, film director and screenwriter, as well as a member of the House of Lords due to his recent elevation to the peerage, has done most to bring this issue to the public’s attention ...

... making it the central plot device of his Bafta-winning blockbuster Downton Abbey.  (Having not, yet, seen this series, you probably know more than I do ...).

As Fellowes’ states “The point is not whether or not you approve of hereditary titles, but given the fact they do exist, the exclusion of women from them under English Law is absolutely bizarre”.

The clock tower, Belton House
It has taken a while for women generally to get equal rights, and while this is one of those things that doesn’t directly affect every woman, it just sets a culture, that this is acceptable ... that women are second-rate: and the aristocracy should not accede to this tone ...

I hope the rules of succession get changed ... yes it will be complicated ... but I’d like to achieve Equality for Women in the Peerage, keep history and tradition, but with titles dying out, as there is no male heir to inherit, (even using the zig-zag format), the way forward is to allow women to inherit.
Wynnstay, near Wrexham,
north Wales

These ancient titles are a symbol of longevity – some can be traced back over 1,000 years –and as we lose them we are decimating history – our roots.

So from these English shores under the mid-day sun we await a new Royal and we shall see whether Parliament will have the courage to address one of the last bastions of discrimination in our country ...

The Independent article - about the rules of accession for the landed gentry
The lyrics to Noel Coward's "The Stately Homes of England"

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories