Tag Archives: India

Off the map study by Newcastle University professor highlights secret places

In a city whose story goes back to the Roman occupation there will be many little-known nooks and crannies left behind by history.

From the vampire rabbit opposite St Nicholas Cathedral in Newcastle to the “plaguey burial ground” at Byker, there would seem to be no spot left undiscovered.

But Alastair Bonnett, professor of social geography at Newcastle University, has laid claim to one.

He came across the city’s “lost island” on his journey to work from his home in Heaton.

The discovery led him to clamber over the barriers on the Central Motorway East – at a quiet time, it has to be said – to investigate.

His destination was a wooded, triangular piece of land left marooned by the building of the motorway and its slip roads in 1975.

Since then, the island has remained unregarded and unnoticed by the thousands who drive past it each day.

“These places are easily ignored, but once you start noticing any particular one it can start to exert a queasy fascination,” says Prof Bonnett.

It’s as if you are seeing a landscape that is invisible to everyone else.

Could I claim this island, become a 30-minute Crusoe amid the din?

Having reached his island, Prof Bonnett found a mix of maple and alder trees and self-seeded shrubbery.

His excursion was part of his interest in an age when Google Earth would suggest that every discovery has been made and every adventure had.

Not so, says Prof Bonnett, who provides the evidence in his new book Off the Map, from Aurum Press at £16.99.

In the book he explores 47 places across the world – and the island on his doorstep – which qualify as being off the map.

It will all be included in his talk on maps and the imagination at the Edinburgh International Book Fair on August 19.

Part of Prof Bonnett’s argument is that places matter to people – where they come from and where they live.

We are, he says, a place-making, place-loving species.

What makes your place special – its diversity and character – is important.

But paradoxically, says Prof Bonnett, was as well as the attraction to place there is also the human need to explore, to discover the new.

That manifests itself from the great voyages of discovery over the centuries to the carrot of exotic destinations dangled by the travel industry.

Our fascination with the hidden, the lost, the secret and mystery is evidenced by the obligatory use of the words in the titles of a certain type of TV programme.

We can develop intense relationships with places,” says Prof Bonnett.

But I have been increasingly concerned about how our sense of exploration and relationship to place has withered away as more places become similar and every high street has the same shops.”

One of the main components of character and specialness is evidence of heritage and history.

When you get rid of the past, it’s like a form of ideological cleansing, where only one vision survives,” says Prof Bonnett.

He is originally from Essex and moved to Newcastle in 1993.

He says: “ I saw that in Newcastle a very distinctive identity and culture had survived, and it was one of the inspirations for the book. The North East has been through the same process as everywhere else, but nevertheless it has retained something special.

“It’s a good place to write a book about the importance of a sense of place.”

Prof Bonnett’s list of Off the Map places includes:

The island of New Moore, which emerged in the Bay of Bengal as a cyclone washed material down rivers into the sea.

It was claimed by both India and Bangladesh. India stationed troops on it in 1981 and erected a flag pole.

But before the arguments could start the island sank beneath the waves.

Zheleznogorsk, 2,200 miles east of Moscow, was established in 1950 to make nuclear weapons. It did not appear on maps and was referred to by a PO box number.

It was only in 1992 that its existence was officially confirmed and entry is still highly restricted.

Derinkuyu, Turkey. A chamber was revealed when a wall gave way.

It led to the discovery of underground rooms large enough to house 30,000 people, wine and oil presses, stables, food halls, a church and staircases, all built it is believed by early Christians living in what was a lawless area.

North cemetery in Manila and the City of the Dead in Cairo. Both are home to thousands who have moved in among the tombs.

North Sentinel Island, 800 miles to the east of India, which has no natural harbour and is surrounded by reefs and rough seas.

The five-mile wide island is home to a tribe of around 100 who fire arrows at anyone who attempts to come close.

Wittenoom in Western Australia, whose only industry was a blue asbestos mine.

The town of 20,000 officially ceased to exist in 2007 because of the levels of contamination.

Kjong-dong in North Korea – a fake place where lights go on and off in tower bocks with no glass in the windows.

There are no residents or visitors. The blocks were built to suggest North Korea’s progress and modernity and to lure defectors from South Korea.

Source – Newcastle Journal,  13 Aug 2014

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Almanac – November 25

Historically a day of storms… which gives me an excuse (as if i need one) to play this Northern Soul classic.

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1703 – The Great Storm of 1703, the greatest windstorm ever recorded in the southern part of Great Britain, reached its peak intensity which it maintained through November 27. Winds gusted up to 120 mph, and 9,000 people died. Observers at the time recorded barometric readings as low as 973 millibars (measured by William Derham in South Essex), but it has been suggested that the storm may have deepened to 950 millibars over the Midlands.

 The storm, unprecedented in ferocity and duration, was generally reckoned by witnesses to represent the anger of God—in recognition of the “crying sins of this nation”, the government declared 19 January 1704 a day of fasting, saying it “loudly calls for the deepest and most solemn humiliation of our people”. It remained a frequent topic of moralizing in sermons well into the nineteenth century.

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1839 – A cyclone hit India with high winds and a 40 foot storm surge, destroying the port city of Coringa (which has never been completely rebuilt). The storm wave swept inland, taking with it 20,000 ships and thousands of people. An estimated 300,000 deaths resulted from the disaster.

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1950 – The Great Appalachian Storm of November 1950, otherwise known at the time as the “Storm of the Century”, struck  New England with hurricane force winds resulting in massive forest blow-downs and storm surge damage along the Northeast coast including New York City. This storm also brought blizzard conditions to the Appalachian Mountains and Ohio Valley, becoming one of the worst storms of all time. 353 people died in the event.

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1974 – Nick Drake died.  English singer-songwriter and musician, known for his gentle guitar-based songs. He failed to find a wide audience during his lifetime but his work has gradually achieved wider notice and recognition. Died from an overdose of amitriptyline, a prescribed antidepressant; he was 26 years old. Whether his death was an accident or suicide has never been resolved.

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1987 – Typhoon Nina hit  the Philippines with category 5 winds of 165 mph and a surge that destroyed entire villages. At least 1,036 deaths are attributed to the storm.

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2008 – Cyclone Nisha struck northern Sri Lanka, killing 15 people and displacing 90,000 others while dealing the region the highest rainfall in 9 decades.

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2009 – Devastating floods, known as the 2009 Saudi Arabian Floods, following freak rains swamped the city of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia during an ongoing Hajj pilgrimage. 3,000 cars are swept away and 122 people perished in the torrents, with 350 others missing.

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Almanac – November 09

1623 – William Camden died. English antiquarian, historian, topographer, and officer of arms. He wrote the first chorographical survey of the islands of Great Britain and Ireland and the first detailed historical account of the reign of Elizabeth I of England.

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1877 – Allama Muhammad Iqbal born.  Philosopher, poet and politician  in British India who is widely regarded as having inspired the Pakistan Movement. He is considered one of the most important figures in Urdu literature,  with literary work in both the Urdu and Persian languages.

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1888 –  Mary Jane Kelly murdered, generally considered the last known victim of Jack the Ripper.

Or was she ? Although the victim was found in Kelly’s room, the body was badly mutilated,  there were supposed sightings of her after she was dead, leading to the theory that someone else was using her room for purposes of prostitution and got unlucky. If Kelly did survive, she vanished from history at that point.

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1918 – Guillaume Apollinaire died. French poet, playwright, short story writer, novelist, and art critic born in Italy to a Polish mother.
Among the foremost poets of the early 20th century, he is credited with coining the word Surrealism and writing one of the earliest works described as surrealist, the play The Breasts of Tiresias (1917) . Two years after being wounded in World War I, he died in the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 at age 38.

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1953 – Dylan Thomas died.  Welsh poet and writer.  A post mortem gave the primary cause of death as pneumonia, with pressure on the brain and a fatty liver as contributing factors.

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1967 – First issue of Rolling Stone Magazine  published.

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Almanac – October 02

OLD MAN’S DAY

Braughing, near Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire.Reign of Elizabeth I.

As the coffin of one Matthew Wall, a local farmer, apparently deceased, was being carried to the church, a bearer slipped on some dead leaves and it was dropped.
To the suprise (and probably terror) of mourners, the corpse was revived by the jolt and subsequently made a full recovery, living on to a ripe old age.
In gratitude he instituted a dole to be distributed on this day.

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1869 – Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi born. Commonly known as Mahatma Gandhi, was the preeminent leader of Indian nationalism in British-ruled India. Employing non-violent civil disobedience, Gandhi led India to independence and inspired movements for non-violence, civil rights and freedom across the world.

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1890 – Groucho Marx born.  American comedian and film and television star,  known as a master of quick wit and widely considered one of the best comedians of the modern era. His rapid-fire, often impromptu delivery of innuendo-laden patter earned him many admirers and imitators. He made 13 feature films with his siblings the Marx Brothers, of whom he was the third-born, and  also had a successful solo career, most notably as the host of the radio and television game show You Bet Your Life. His distinctive appearance was  carried over from his days in vaudeville and  included quirks such as an exaggerated stooped posture, glasses, cigar, and a thick greasepaint mustache and eyebrows.

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1968 – Marcel Duchamp died.  French artist whose work is most often associated with the Dadaist and Surrealist movements. Considered by some to be one of the most important artists of the 20th century, Duchamp’s output influenced the development of post-World War I Western art.

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1959 –  The Twilight Zone premieres on CBS television in the USA.

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Almanac – July 22

St. Mary Magdalen’s Day
Patron [matron ?] saint of pharmacists, hairdressers, repentant sinners and prostitutes.
Historically, her name would probably have been Mariam, rather than Mary, and she may well have been the wife of the historical Yeoshua [Jesus].  Gnostic writings describe tensions and jealousy between her  and other disciples, so perhaps the Yoko Ono figure in the group dynamic.

1284 – A musician dressed in a patched, multi-colourd coat – thus known as ther Pied Piper – appeared in the town of Hamel, Brunswick, struck his pest-control deal, and exacted his famous revenge when the burghers reneged.

1889 – James Whale born  –  English film director, responsible for such classics as  Frankenstein (1931), The Old Dark House (1932), The Invisible Man (1933) and Bride of Frankenstein (1935).

1918 –   Death of Indra Lal Roy, Indian  WWI flying ace –  born in Calcutta, he flew with the Royal Flying Corps over France, he claimed 11 victories before being killed in action over Carvin  while flying in formation with two other S.E.5a in a dog fight against Fokker D.VIIs of Jagdstaffel 29. Roy was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) in September 1918 for his actions during the period of 6–19 July 1918. He is buried at Estevelles Communal Cemetery.

1934 – Death of Public Enemy #1 -gangster John Dillinger, shot dead by US federal agents outside the Biograph Cinema, Chicago. He was struck three (or four, according to some historians) times, with two bullets entering the chest, one of them nicking his heart, and the fatal shot – which entered  through the back of his neck, severed his spinal cord and tore through his brain before exiting out the front of his head just under his right eye.

There were reports of people dipping their handkerchiefs and skirts into the blood pool that had formed as Dillinger lay in the alley in order to secure keepsakes of the entire affair, and his gravestone, in Crown Hill Cemetery, Indianapolis, has had to be replaced several times because of people chipping off pieces as souvenirs.

1942 – The systematic deportation of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto begins.

1946 –   The Irgun,  a Zionist terrorist organisation,  bombed the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, site of the civil administration and military headquarters for Mandate Palestine, resulting in 91 deaths,   most of them being staff of the hotel or Secretariat:

21 were first-rank government officials; 49 were second-rank clerks, typists and messengers, junior members of the Secretariat, employees of the hotel and canteen workers; 13 were soldiers; 3 policemen; and 5 were members of the public. By nationality, there were 41 Arabs, 28 British citizens, 17 Palestinian Jews, 2 Armenians, 1 Russian, 1 Greek and 1 Egyptian. 46 people were injured. Some of the deaths and injuries occurred in the road outside the hotel and in adjacent buildings. No identifiable traces were found of thirteen of those killed.

The Irgun was a political predecessor to Israel’s right-wing Herut (or “Freedom”) party, which led to today’s Likud party. Likud has led or been part of most Israeli governments since 1977. Which may explain a lot about contemporary Middle Eastern politics…

Mr. Frankenstein

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Almanac- June 20th

1649 – Death of Richard Brandon, official executioner for the City of London and generally supposed to be the man who decapitated Charles I.

1756 – The infamous Black Hole Of Calcutta incident took place, in which an unconfirmed number of British prisoners died [some sources say 123].

1763 –  Wolfe Tone  [ Theobald Wolfe Tone] born.  A leading Irish revolutionary figure and one of the founding members of the United Irishmen and is regarded as the father of Irish Republicanism. He also lent his name to a band…

 

1923 – Death of Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa.

 

Mr. Frankenstein

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