web analytics

When in doubt, go with the willy joke

I bet you thought Canterbury was all cathedrals and Chaucer and dignified shit like that. Well, it turns out all the naughty seaside postcards confiscated by the police in Kent ended up in the University Library. They’re on display in Canterbury at the moment.

I’ve written about the tradition of naughty postcards before. For a brief period in the Fifties, Britain got a huge case of the vapors (or ‘vapours’ I suppose) about it and confiscated the ones they considered over the line. Donald McGill, the most famous maker-of-rude-postcards, even got hauled into court and had to swear on a bzillion Bibles that he didn’t get the joke and certainly didn’t intend any rude double meanings in his illustrations.

Poor old Canterbury (changing the subject). It’s just inside our traveling distance for a day trip, but I find it a sad place to visit.

Hitler bombed it flat, quite on purpose, along with any other historic towns he could reach. They’re called the Baedecker raids, because it’s believed der Führer picked up a Baedecker guidebook to Britain and ordered explosives dropped on every place with a three star rating.

This probably makes me a horrible person, but thinking about that makes me feel sicker than all the WWII carnage and human misery we see endlessly on the History Channel.

Anyway, he somehow missed the honking huge cathedral in the middle of the town. And the Roman wall. The rest of it, pretty much blowed up or burned out. It’s kind of like a big shopping mall now. Every once in a while, you’ll turn a corner and see a 15th Century pub between the greeting card shops and book stores and get a glimpse of what the place must have looked like seventy years ago.


Comment from Nina
Time: March 5, 2013, 12:01 am

We tore up a lot of cool German stuff, too. But they started it!

Comment from Mrs Compton
Time: March 5, 2013, 1:11 am

I guess we got lucky when we were there, I didn’t notice anything newish. But then our guide kinda dropped us off right at the cathedral and it was to freaking hot to wander anywhere else.

and um, yeah…. Dresden comes to mind. But they did start it!

Comment from Redd
Time: March 5, 2013, 2:08 am

So, you dressed up like a nun and uncle B like a monk and you made a pilgrimage to Canterbury telling dirty stories along the way? Cool!

I’d like to visit Ewelme.

(And they DID start it!)

Comment from Christopher Taylor
Time: March 5, 2013, 2:51 am

When England won the Battle of Britain it drove Hitler berserk, because it damaged Germany’s sense of inevitability and all powerful aura. He wanted the nation to pay, and pay horribly for its resistance to the Reich.

Comment from SCOTTtheBADGER
Time: March 5, 2013, 6:14 am

Alas, here in the States, the History Channel no longer reports history, they show us Pawn Stars, Ice Road Truckers, Axemen, and that ilk. I have given up on TV.

Comment from MIke C.
Time: March 5, 2013, 8:12 am

Hanover, Germany is like that. There are a few bits and bobs here and there, but everything else is post-war construction.

Comment from SCOTTtheBADGER
Time: March 5, 2013, 10:03 am

Here’s a pretty good read I found today:

Comment from stina
Time: March 5, 2013, 4:01 pm

Frankfurt am Main as well. The city center is full of those mirrored-glass skyscrapers; it looks like downtown Houston.

Würzburg (in southern Germany) was bombed flat by the RAF on 16 March 1945, but when the city was rebuilding after the war, they hunted up all the original plans they could find and re-constructed almost every building the way it had been.

Most tourists don’t realize that those gorgeous medieval-looking houses and shops were built in the 1950s and 60s, but if you look carefully most structures have a small plaque on the front that shows the floor plan of the original and the date the “fake” was completed.

(I used to live in Würzburg; it took me about a year to realize why everything in the “old” city center looked so new and well-constructed).


Wonder why they didn’t do that in Coventry or Canterbury…

Comment from David Gillies
Time: March 5, 2013, 6:39 pm

We used to play King’s Canterbury at cricket when I was in the 2nd XI at school (no doubt still do.) The cloisters are pretty amazing. The rest of it is basically just a medium-sized Kentish town like any other. A friend of mine here in CR is from Canterbury and has a fascinating map from the British Bombing Survey showing every bomb that fell there durung WW2. The Baedeker raids were not considered to be strategically important, causing ‘minimal’ damage and really offending British amour propre more than anything. The German raiders suffered heavy losses and pressure on men and materiel from the Eastern Front meant the campaign petered out. Having said that, it’s interesting to see how attitudes have changed as to what constitutes minimal damage: 3,400 killed and wounded, and 50,000 houses destroyed.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: March 5, 2013, 7:01 pm

That was good, Scott. Scary but good.

Stina, I don’t know how to tell you how utterly hungry and broke and ruined Britain was after WWII. We collectively smashed Germany and Japan, and then the US rebuilt them in its image (which is how they ended up the second and third leading world economies). But our allies were left to pick up the pieces on their own. It took Britain years to patch things up even to a pretty crappy standard and I think it was just in the last few years they actually finished paying off what they borrowed from Uncle Sam during the war.

There is still a hell of a lot of “make do and mend” burned into the British psyche.

Comment from Deborah
Time: March 5, 2013, 10:04 pm

Drudge Report says Hugo Chavez is dead.

Comment from kilroy182
Time: March 5, 2013, 10:12 pm

Yay, three cheers, Piggy Chavez buys the farm.

Comment from AltBBrown
Time: March 5, 2013, 10:18 pm

The WSJ agrees…
As soon as she-who-must-be-obeyed gets home, that scotch is goin’ down.

Comment from Scubafreak
Time: March 5, 2013, 10:51 pm

Yeah, Venesuela finally admits that Chavez is Muerto… Sean Penn hardest hit

Comment from David Gillies
Time: March 5, 2013, 11:07 pm

Yep, Hugo is no-go. People will be happy here in Costa Rica. Everyone hates him.

Comment from Chicken Farmer
Time: March 5, 2013, 11:13 pm

So, they’ve finally admitted that Red Chavez has snuffed it!
2313 hrs 5 Feb 2013.

Comment from Nina
Time: March 5, 2013, 11:52 pm

He would die between dead pools.

Comment from Steve Skubinna
Time: March 6, 2013, 1:29 am

There’s a pub in San Diego called Shakespeare’s. It’s the major hangout for Limey ex-pats, of which there are a few in SD.

Anyway the men’s room there is papered in those naughty cards.

Incidentally, they have an attached shop stocking comfort food for the expats. You could get dick there. I could probably phrase that into a joke, but no way am I going to even try it.

Comment from scottthebadger
Time: March 6, 2013, 1:50 am

Shakespeare’s was known to have Neptunus Lex drink there. Thursday marks the one year anniversary of his loss.

Comment from Stark Dickflüssig
Time: March 6, 2013, 2:23 am

Everybody likes postcards.


Comment from Oh Hell
Time: March 6, 2013, 3:08 am

Let’s all raise a Guinness to Lex on Thursday. (In my case it will probably be an iced herbal tea, because I can’t drink and walk….)

Comment from Rich Rostrom
Time: March 6, 2013, 5:31 am

We collectively smashed Germany and Japan, and then the US rebuilt them in its image (which is how they ended up the second and third leading world economies). But our allies were left to pick up the pieces on their own.

Not actually true. The U.S. gave out $13.3B in Marshall Plan aid, of which $3.3B went to Britain, and only $1.4B to Germany.

$1.2B went to Italy, $2.3B to France, $1.1B to the Netherlands, $0.8B to Belgium. $0.9B to Ireland(?), Portugal, Sweden(?), Switzerland(!?), and Turkey.

Of course none of this showed up until 1948-1949, while the very abrupt cut-off of Lend-Lease in 1945 is bitterly remembered.

I think it was just in the last few years they actually finished paying off what they borrowed from Uncle Sam during the war.

I’m pretty sure that all the Lend-Lease exchanges were written down to zero at the end of the war. However, ISTR reading a few years ago about Britain making the final payments on some debts incurred during World War I.

Speaking of the Great War, the next few years will be in some ways traumatic, as the centennial of that calamity passes. It won’t be a big deal for Americans, I think, but for Europeans from the countries that fought, it will revive a lot of bad memories and feelings.

I have some idea of the feeling in Britain, but I wonder how it will be taken in France, and in Germany (both of which suffered worse than Britain).

Comment from Rich Rostrom
Time: March 6, 2013, 5:37 am

This probably makes me a horrible person, but thinking about that makes me feel sicker than all the WWII carnage and human misery we see endlessly on the History Channel.

I know what you mean. There is something gut-clenching and tragic about the wanton destruction of irreplaceable antiquities – beautiful things that have survived for centuries. (The Baedeker Raids were pure vandalism, with no military value.)

Comment from Little Black Sambo
Time: March 6, 2013, 1:07 pm

About a quarter of old Canterbury was flattened, leaving the rest virtually untouched. A great deal of further damage was done by the City Fathers in the 60s. The saddest feature of Canterbury today is that admission to a quarter of the area inside the walls is now by ticket, instead of, as it used to be, freely open to all.

Comment from mojo
Time: March 6, 2013, 4:53 pm

Canterbury: recommended reading, humorous:

Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog), 1889, Jerome K. Jerome

To Say Nothing of the Dog (How We Found the Bishop’s Birdstump At Last), 1997, Connie Willis

Comment from Steve Skubinna
Time: March 7, 2013, 8:57 am

Okay, it’s already Thursday where I am, so I dedicate my Asahi Super Dry to Neptunus Lex.

Hey, I’m in Saipan. Try finding Guinness here.

Comment from BJM
Time: March 8, 2013, 12:40 am

*raising a pint* Here’s to Neptunus Lex…RIP.

The blog skies have been mighty empty without my two favorite aviation reads, but Capt Dave and Flight Level 390 is back online.(FL390 archives are here)

Write a comment

(as if I cared)

(yeah. I'm going to write)

(oooo! you have a website?)

Beware: more than one link in a comment is apt to earn you a trip to the spam filter, where you will remain -- cold, frightened and alone -- until I remember to clean the trap. But, hey, without Akismet, we'd be up to our asses in...well, ass porn, mostly.

<< carry me back to ol' virginny