Friday, 15 April 2011

The Sound of Silence

"No seat reservations on board this service, due to a fault." So say the electronic displays all the way along the carriage of the train I am currently on on my way back to Manchester. There are no passengers standing, so this is not a particular problem from that point of view, but the lack of reservations means that the designation of a "Quiet Zone" becomes little more than a token gesture. The baby who has been making noises since she got on does not particularly bother me - that is, after all, what babies do and she is not to know any better - but the two guys who, by chance, have between them what are in my opinion the two ugliest accents in the British isles are starting to get on my nerves. Far be it for me to slander any particular accent, but as we pull out of Lemington Spa I am sure that one of them will be leaving soon, while the other is probably on his way to Manchester so that he can then travel a further 30 miles or so West.

The facard of a particular building on St George's street in Winchester caught my eye this week. In an historic city such as this it is an occupational hazard when excavating that you should unearth some ancient treasure and this seems to have happened here, as a plaque on the wall explains: "When repairs were being made to this building in 1959 the carved stones displayed in this wall were found. One stone above the plaque is Saxon work of the 9th century, the others are Norman. They probaly came from the Church of St. Ruel, the site of which lies to the south of here. The church was in existence by 1172. Some bricks from a Roman building which lay beneath the church are also built into the wall."
I have tried to capture some of this, with the 9th century Saxon work on the right and the Norman stone on the left. Below is a view of the whole wall. I wonder if, in centuries to come, an excavation across the road from this site will honour the discovery of the Golden Arches from Ronald's Temple of the Church of American Consumerism.

Another interesting building is the Guildhall, across the road from the bus station. These days this building is a hotel and restaurants, including a Pitcher and Piano on the ground floor of the section shown in the picture. In the windows above this are a number of shields. Being the Guildhall, I would guess that these are the shields of the tradesmen's guilds of the city, or perhaps they are the coats of arms of various nobles, from the time when Winchester was the capital of England. I would be interested to find out - answers on a postcard.

Most of the photographs so far have been of various parts of Winchester. By way of variety, then, here are a couple from the IBM site at Hursley.
First is a picture of the main building, Hursley House where important people and customers who need to be impressed are taken. Sadly, the lab I am working in is located elsewhere but I did have a meeting in the auditaurium, in the right wing of the building at the back, when it took a room full of engineers fifteen minutes to work out how to bring down the blinds and turn on the projector. The other is taken with my back to the hall and shows the cricket ground - not exactly what you expect to find on a company's development campus.
I have made contact with the person in charge of our group's cricket team but it is likely that I will be back in Manchester before they play any games.

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