All posts by Gibson Square

A Licensed Black London Cab Driver I share my London with you . . . The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

London Trivia: Beatles given medals

On 26 September 1965, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison were appointed ‘Members of the British Empire’, receiving their MBEs at Buckingham Palace on 26 October.

On 26 September 1963 Lord Denning’s official report into the Profumo Affair went on sale in London with 100,000 copies sold the first day

In 1736 gravedigger Thomas Jenkins received 100 lashes for selling dead bodies from St Dunstan and All Saints, Stepney High Street

Underneath the MI6 building is the overflow pipe for the River Effra, it’s just big enough to launch a mini-submarine from the orifice

Nell Gywnn, orange seller and mistress to Charles II was born in the Coal Yard, now Stukeley Street off Drury Lane in 1650

After his victory over England Hitler had a plan to dismantle Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square and display it in Berlin

Only one house where Charles Dickens lived still stands 48 Doughty Street from 1837 to 1839 here he wrote Oliver Twist and The Pickwick Papers

The upper span of Tower Bridge was originally a walkway but it was closed in 1910 as it had become a haunt of prostitutes

One of the Scotland fans who invaded the pitch at Wembley in 1977 was Rod Stewart. In the commotion someone nicked his Cartier watch

In 1910 the London and North Western Railway offered its business passengers the on-board services of Miss Tarrant. (Typist)

In 2013 one ton of dust was removed from the attics at Kensington Palace, the first time since 1719 they had been cleaned

In the 1950s three members of the Attkins family were Highgate’s fishmonger, butcher and dentist – known as Fishkins, Porkins and Toothkins

CabbieBlog-cab.gifTrivial Matter: London in 140 characters is taken from the daily Twitter feed @cabbieblog.
A guide to the symbols used here and source material can be found on the Trivial Matter page.

The Great Zoo Escapes

Both my father and grandfather were head keepers at the London Zoo, having spent some of my childhood ‘assisting’ Dad at work, I’m always interested in anything zoological related pertaining to Zoological Society of London.

It must have been a quiet news month in February 1965, when Goldie the Eagle escaped and for two weeks London’s press was giving updates of ‘Goldie Sightings’.

When he escaped from the Bird of Prey aviary he was a bird with no name. A newspaper reporter asked a Zoo official, quite reasonably, how was he affectionately known. Not wishing to appear callous he blurted out ‘Goldie’, now London’s population had a purpose. Spotted as far afield as Camden Town, Tottenham Court Road and even Euston. Goldie spotters caused traffic jams in Regent’s Park Outer Circle; the Royal Navy was engaged to use special equipment to effect a capture; veteran BBC presenter, John Timpson played an Ethiopian bird pipe in an attempt to lure him.

Goldie attacked an elderly lady’s two terriers, but was seen off with a well-aimed handbag; he was even referred to in a House of Commons debate, and a diplomatic incident was averted when he was rumoured to have killed and eaten a duck in the American ambassador’s garden.

Goldie was finally caught on 11 March after the zoo’s deputy head keeper tempted him to earth with a dead rabbit. The Zoo’s attendance nearly doubled in the days after his return.

Goldie escaped once again on 15 December 1965 and was recaptured on 19th December 1965.

The roles of the keeper and a caged animal’s dinner were nearly reversed in a well-told Zoo anecdote, which just might have been possibly true. The old lion house had the animals raised on a concrete platform behind bars, with a series of steps to allow spectators to view these large cats (whose faeces are remarkably pungent…I was always amazed at just how many families would bring their lunches to this bit of the zoo, trying to consume a scotch egg with watering eyes within the enclosed and unventilated space of the enclosure).

One evening, after the public had left, the lion’s keeper, who was no stranger to alcohol, was showing his friend, who was also partial to a tipple himself, an old arthritic, virtually toothless, the lioness who at this stage was fairly sober. In his enthusiasm the keeper opened the cage, so his inebriated friend could become better acquainted with the queen of the jungle.

Unfortunately, the old lioness was powerless to stop herself from sliding off its platform. A witness described seeing the two drunks, pinned under an old lion, trying to shove the creature back into its lair.

According to J. Barrington-Johnson’s book The Zoo: A History of London Zoo tells of Cholmondley the Chimp who in 1948 didn’t need an Oyster Card to board a bus:

On one occasion, while temporarily in the Zoo hospital, he managed to escape: he got out of the Zoo, walked across the corner of Regent’s Park, and hailed a bus in Albany Street. Having got on the bus, he sat down next to a lady and put his arm around her shoulders. He then — probably because the lady was having hysterics – bit her!

More recently in 2009, a red panda was spotted during the night sitting in a tree, after spending several hours trying to lure the panda down a tranquillizer dart was used to return it to the enclosure.

In 2014 Belsize Park residents had a year of entertainment, even creating a Twitter account when a peahen escaped when a visitor left a door open to the aviary.

All these tales were nearly eclipsed when in October 2016 Kumbuka a male silverback gorilla managed to enter the service area, allowing him to get into the area used by zookeepers. He didn’t get the chance to explore the rest of the Zoological Gardens.

Featured image: Panthera leo in London Zoo by Pelican (CC-BY-SA-2.0)

Johnson’s London Dictionary: Knowledge, The

KNOWLEDGE, THE (n.) An accumulation of local information which doth give one granted the illusion of superior powers and wisdom

Dr. Johnson’s London Dictionary for publick consumption in the twenty-first century avail yourself on Twitter @JohnsonsLondon

We Blog

Blog: (n.)(v.) (A truncation of weblog) A website on which an individual or group of users produce an ongoing regular narrative, displayed in reverse chronological order, so that the most recent post appears at the top, often written in an informal or conversational style.

A blog’s entomology

This inelegant word is derived from Weblog, or should that be we-blog (see the previous paragraph). Blog, its ugly orphan, created by the unholy conjoining of the word log, pertaining to a formal account, to the orphaned B from the word Web, thus ‘Web-Log’ becomes ‘Blog’. Coined by programmer Peter Merholz, incredibly in 2004 the American dictionary-publishing firm Merriam-Webster proclaimed it ‘Word of the Year’.

If it had been invented today, it would have been described as: ‘record on the cloud’ – or reloud.

A blog’s purpose

I’m well aware that most blogs – with, of course, the exception of CabbieBlog – are egocentric areas where tragic people waffle on and on with their dull scribblings because they genuinely believe the reader is interested in their extremist political views, uninspired recipes or some dull apparel they are wearing. This is usually because the author believes that the person who reads ‘his/her blog’ actually wants to find out more about them, when in fact the vast majority of viewers have just stumbled into their corner of cyberspace looking for cute kittens or young ladies showing parts of their anatomy.

A blog’s timeline

When is the optimum time or day to post? For getting backlinks for your blog posts, the study by Kissmetrics suggests that Monday and Thursday are the best days. It further went on to reveal that publishing early morning on these two days around 7 am will increase your chances of getting the most inbound links.

The more observant reader will have noticed that CabbieBlog posts long-form pieces on Tuesday and Friday at 1.50 pm, close to those time-slots, but not those optimum time slots.

A blog’s length

In the last five years, the average time for writing a post has steadily grown from 2:24 hours to 3:28 hours. The blog post length for the same period rose accordingly, from 808 to 1,151 words on average.

There are roughly 1.9 billion web pages at this moment making one trillion, nine hundred billion words out there to be read. With 2 million posts uploaded daily, we will be hitting 2 billion posts in less than a year. Who knows, this post could be the one to hit that milestone, also adding an additional 425 words.


London in Quotations: Louise Closser Hale

London is like a woman with too many years to encourage confession.

Louise Closser Hale (1872-1933), We Discover New England