Fellow blogger Biff has done another Whatnot Wednesday and invites other bloggers to respond by likewise posting a bit of misc trivia. Here’s my contribution. (To further reinforce my caution in this morning’s post about name-calling.)
A Belisha beacon, consists of a lamp with an amber globe sitting atop a tall black and white pole, marked pedestrian crossings in the United Kingdom and other countries historically influenced by Britain. The flashing light warns motorists to watch for pedestrians crossing.
It was named after Leslie Hore-Belisha, the Minister of Transport who in 1934 added beacons to pedestrian crossings. The first one became operational on July 4, 1935. These crossings were later painted in black and white stripes, and have become known as “zebra crossings.” Since then, Belisha beacons have been replaced by WALK signals for pedestrians.
Not long after Belisha beacons were set up in London the King and his Queen were enjoying a pleasant drive through the city in the royal limousine. They passed an intersection where one of these lights had been installed.
“Pull over,” King Edward instructed their chauffeur. “I want to test one of these crossings and see how well they actually work,” he told the Queen.
The chauffeur parked the car a short way down the street and the King got out. He walked back up the street to the crossing and about five minutes later he returned. As he climbed back into the car he was chuckling.
The Queen looked at him curiously and asked, “What’s so amusing?”
He grinned at her. “One of my loyal subjects just called me a doddering old fool.”
OFF WITH HIS HEAD! the red queen flexes her guillotine toady or kneel
“Another one asked about the gates, sir. Some old lady from Canada this time.”
“Well, what can they know about history and culture? Living in igloos, running about on dogsleds half the year. EH?”
“Piddly little, I suppose. Gets tiresome, though.”
“True, but they’re paying £25 each to see the place. Our bread and butter, if you will. Stiff upper lip, Witherham. Fall is coming.”
“I’ll do my best, sir. But if I hear one more, ‘Why don’t you paint the other one?’ I may go off my nut. Say, could I perhaps trade with Franks? I’ve always wanted a crack at being the manor ghost.”
“Then you’ll hear a steady stream of ‘Who’s under that sheet?’ and ‘I don’t believe in ghosts.’ Tourists are impossible to satisfy! Franks has threatened to throttle the next skeptic. He’s doing the turret tour now; we’re getting a robot for the ghost.”
I read a short verse this morning that flipped my mind back to our days in Montréal and how many times we rode the métro across the city. My nostalgic journey has inspired me to write the following verses as a tribute:
a swift whistle to the chaos
middle subway car
the first one on wakes up
at the end of the line
to the Jean-Talon Market
squashed on the ride home
all trains stop — riders whisper
another sad exit?