Oh, to be in England again!

While digging out the photos I used the other day in connection with my thoughts on the telephone, I ran across this picture.

The Bell

The Bell

The original portion of the Bell pub building was erected approximately thirty-two years before Columbus sailed the ocean blue. We Americans find such things totally fascinating. Many of us Americans also find it disgusting how developers thoughtlessly continue to tear down perfectly good buildings to make way for something newer.

As a taxpayer, I find it particularly appalling that a thirty year old sports stadium can be torn down decades before it’s even paid for. But that’s subject matter for another post at another time.

The picture of me standing in front of that pub was taken in 1997. My bride-to-be and I ate lunch in this fine establishment although we had to continuously remind ourselves that the structure had stood for five hundred and thirty-seven years; it was highly unlikely that it would decide to collapse while we were enjoying a hearty lunch.

The picture clearly shows that the structure was built a piece at a time. The inside was very similar. There were many variations in the height of the ceiling, and many walls, doorways, and ceilings were definitely crooked. Perhaps a crooked little man once lived there!

I’d been in London for over two months working on a project for IBM. Lu came and joined me for a week after the project was completed. We stayed with my good friend, Mike Newman.

Most of my work was done under the supervision of a lady named Vera Belling. Vera was born and raised in England and had many interesting stories to tell. However, one story in particular sticks in my mind.

It seems that Vera’s family name had once been Bellingham. That all changed when one of her ancestors did something that the King found upsetting. Fortunately for the ancestor, the King did not say, “Off with his head!” Instead, he said, “Off with his ham!”

A bit of research tells me that the ‘ham’ suffix to a surname means ‘town’. This would indicate that Mr. Bellingham was from the town of Belling. Would this indicate that the King was prohibiting the man from returning to his home?

More likely, the Bellingham family had risen to a state of nobility and lopping off the man’s ham reduced him back to the ranks of the unwashed.

Whatever the true story is, it was one more reminder that England is, indeed, a foreign country. And they think we’re strange!


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