Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Park & Ride but don't walk.

I found myself in the Sturry Road today, wishing to return to the centre of Canterbury. 'I'll take the Park & Ride bus,' thought I, since I can use my bus pass and they run every seven minutes. All I have to do is to walk to the park.

Easier said than done. The pavement that I was following just ran into the road. I could cross the road if I wished, but I did not wish, because the Park & Ride is on this side of the road.

Do they really expect me to believe that there is not sufficient room to run a pavement between the road, indicated by the black arrow, and the shops? Just look at the acres of decorative scrub, which, by the way, is a haven for rats.

I realised that I needed to be on the pavement by the shops, but how was I to get there?

I eschewed the soggy track which many similarly frustrated pedestrians had already carved through Ratland and I retraced my steps to the Park & Ride car access road (forbidden for pedestrians). I then walked through the commercial centre on a lovely pavement which led me straight into the Drive-Through Macdonald's where I was presented with a brick wall and a ten foot drop onto the road. Still no pavement.

Ten minutes later I was back at my starting point waiting for a town bus. Three Park & Ride buses went past during my wait. 

You can drive to the Park & Ride; you can take the bus to the Park & Ride. But you can't walk to it. That's not exactly promoting healthy living is it?

Saturday, 14 February 2015

British Passport Centenary

Well, no, despite all that you may have read in the press, it is not really the centenary of the British passport but it is one hundred years this month that the UK introduced its first passport which had been specifically designed to carry a photograph.

British passport issued 1846 and signed by the Foreign
Secretary, Lord Palmerston. It is written in French
and the only description of the bearer is
'Gentilhomme Anglais'.

Throughout the 19c the British passport was a single sheet of paper, issued by the Foreign Office in London. 

It was a pre-printed form and the text was in French until 1851 when it was changed to English (with no French translation!). Every passport was signed by the Foreign Secretary until 1857 when the increased demand for documents made it necessary to print the signature in facsimile.

Astonishingly, Great Britain was the only country to not provide a description of  the holder on its passports. Whilst in 1800 the lowliest French farm worker wanting to walk ten kilometres down the road needed a passport that described him down to the colour of his eyebrows and the shape of his chin, a century later, a British national could still travel abroad with a passport which described him simply as 'a British subject.' 

In 1835 Belgium tried to make Great Britain add a 'proper' description of the holder to its passports in line with all the other countries of the world but the British Foreign Secretary who was in charge of passport issue, Lord Palmerston, declared that the idea of passports was wholly repugnant to the British and whilst he was Foreign Secretary no British passport would carry a description.

This British passport was issued in 1914 but in
order to travel, the holder was obliged to send
it back to the Passport Office the following year
 to have his description officially added.

All this changed with the outbreak of the Great War in 1914. When we started to unmask German spies using misappropriated passports, it was hurriedly decided to add a full description of the holder to British passports and a large rubber stamp was employed to endorse the necessary grid.

Photograph attached to a British
passport, January 1915.

And for the first time, a photograph was required. 

The passport then in use had not been designed to carry a photograph and so space had to be found somewhere on the margin.

And no rules were made about how the photograph should be posed. The photograph below is from the passport illustrated right. It was originally a family snapshot. You can clearly see the left arm of a person who has been cut off.

This ad hoc arrangement was not intended to last forever and on 1st. February 1915, Britain introduced its first passport designed to carry a photograph.

It was a large sheet of pink printed paper which folded into blue cardboard covers. It now had a proper 'description' page, and space for renewals and visa endorsements.

It lasted six years before it was replaced in 1921 by the first  British booklet passport.

The first British passport designed to carry a photograph was introduced in February 1915.
One hundred years ago.
Click here to read
the first chapter
If you find the subject of passports fascinating, I can recommend these two books:

The Passport, 
The History of Man's Most Travelled Document. 

Neither Civil nor Servant, 
Twenty four years in the Immigration Service.

I wrote both of them!

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

BBC Radio Kent misses a trick.

I contributed a great deal of text and illustrations to a recent article on the BBC Magazine website (click on the How have passport photos changed in 100 years? in the right column) and as a result I was contacted by The Sunday Post in Scotland and by Newstalk Radio in Dublin. For the latter I arranged to attend the remote studio at BBC Radio Kent in Tunbridge Wells, from which I would do a live broadcast to Dublin. 

 Not wishing to miss an opportunity, I e-mailed Radio Kent and pointed out that I would be in their studio, did they also want an interview? 
I received no reply.

Dominic King, BBC Radio Kent presenter,
 failing to interview Martin Lloyd
on Tuesday afternoon.

Do you not think it ironic that the national BBC, a Scottish Sunday newspaper and an Irish radio station can all see the relevance and interest in the works of an author living in Kent but the local radio station, BBC Radio Kent, based in the county in which he lives, is unable to?

BBC Radio Kent?

More like BBC Radio Can't.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

An icicle hedge.

The weather has turned a bit nippy lately. But if you can get out and about, there are sights to see. 

Such as this icicle hedge. 

Every time a vehicle drove through that puddle it splashed water onto the hedge where it froze.

And then the sun came out and it all sparkled.