Thursday, October 11, 2007

I name this Ship...

Final guest post from Ian (shades of) Grey

It seems to be part of the human condition that we want to leave a lasting memory, preferably a positive one. (There is a well known joke about a Welshman with the punchline "I sh*g ONE sheep...")

One Country where this was particularly obvious was Canada, a great place that I spent a couple of long stints working/training in during the mid eighties. There was a tendency to name things after people there- Toronto Airport was Lester B Pearson Airport, Belleville in Ontario (where I spent most of my time) was named after a Lady Arabella Gore and the town even had a multi-purpose venue called the Ben Bleecker Auditorium. Now naming airports and the like after elder statesmen is fairly common (JFK, Charles De Gaulle, et al) but I was rather bemused to see a multi-story car park in Kingston, Ontario named after someone. (I can't tell which one it is now, as there are several of them with the word memorial in, one of which is actually next to somewhere called memorial park). So, who was Ben Bleecker? Lester B Pearson? Lady Arabella Gore? Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn. If I lived there I might show some interest, but just naming something after someone isn't always a big enough hook to be interesting.

I must admit that if I died and went to heaven, I wouldn't quite know what to make of it if Peter at the Pearly Gates said "In your favour- you have a car park named after you in Morley. Now about all those spiders you pulled the legs off..."

Sometimes things get named after people or businesses due to patronage. The Leeds Grand Theatre Auditorium is now known as The Yorkshire Bank Auditorium but to me that sounds a little crass. What if it had been called The Betty's Tea Rooms Auditorium? The Bargain Madness Auditorium? The Milletts Auditorium? (Millets are a UK chain that sell outdoor clothes & camping gear, not renowned for fashion).

Some names are posthumous and well deserved, such as the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough. For his own reasons, Tom Paine from The Last Ditch named his various second life transportation after Blogpower Lady Bloggers. From memory, there is a speedboat Ruthie, an Airship Liz and a huge Zeppelin known as the Air Liner Limoncello, currently in use as a floating Art Gallery. He still has a Mercedes without a name (I suggest Betsy) and he has a huge spaceship as well, complete with Holodeck. I don't know what he calls that but no doubt someone will tell me.

(Tom, if you buy yourself a Blimp, I wouldn't be flattered if you called it Shades!)

Normal programming will be resumed tomorrow, we apologise for any inconvienience...


jmb said...

You know I never thought of that being a Canadian thing, well in other places too I guess.
When I first came to Vancouver and worked at the University it drove me crazy on Campus when people said Oh that's the Buchanan Building or whatever. Just tell me it's the Arts Building or the Pharmacy Building, not the George C. Cunningham building where I worked. Who the heck is he? Still going on at UBC too as people give stacks of money to get buildings named after themselves.
Now corporations give money to have things renamed after them, so we have the Ford Theatre, courtesy of the Ford Motor Corporation.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Thanks for this post, Shades. I didn't know carparks were named after people! Do you know why Cape Kennedy reverted to the name of Canaverel?

Shades said...

The locals didn't like it, I gather.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Thanks, Shades. I always wondered about that!

Jason said...

From 1963 to 1973 it was called Cape Kennedy. President John F. Kennedy was an enthusiastic backer of the space program, and after his assassination in 1963, his widow Jacqueline Kennedy suggested to President Lyndon Johnson that renaming the Cape Canaveral facility would be an appropriate memorial. However, Johnson recommended the renaming not just of the facility, but of the entire cape. Accordingly, Cape Canaveral was renamed Cape Kennedy.

Although the name change was approved by the United States Board on Geographic Names of the Interior Department in 1964, it was not popular in Florida, especially in the city of Cape Canaveral, Florida. In 1973 the state passed a law restoring the former 400-year-old name, and the Board went along. The Kennedy family issued a letter stating they "understood the decision"; Jacqueline Kennedy also stated if she had known that the Canaveral name had existed for 400 years, she never would have supported changing the name of the Cape. The Space Center itself retains the "Kennedy" name.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Jason, thank you very much for that information. I have always wondered about why and how the decisions were made.


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