Wednesday 3 July 2013

BCS President's Report June 2013

28th June 2013 
This month’s review of anniversaries starts with probably one of the most well-known photographs of the 1960s. On 5th June 1963, John Profumo, the Secretary of State for War resigned over his affair with Christine Keeler and a few days later on 8th June, Stephen Ward was charged with living on immoral earnings. 
Not really a map related story, I will admit, but the rationale behind choosing the story is that it shares its 50th birthday with the BCS. It also shows how times have changed, as I suspect that a similar story now would barely make the headlines, let alone lead to a minister resigning. Having said that Silvio Berlusconi has just been sentenced to 7 years for goings on at his ‘bunga bunga’ parties, so perhaps things haven’t changed that much after all!

In what is altogether a more pleasant story, on 19th June 1963, Valentina Tereshkova the first woman in space, returned safely to Earth. Her call sign for this flight was Chaika (Seagull), later commemorated as the name of an asteroid. So in this respect she shares an honour with Michael Palin as we learnt in April that he too has had an asteroid named after him. Little known fact of the month: In order to join the Cosmonaut Corps, Tereshkova was only inducted into the Soviet Air Force in an honorary capacity and thus she also became the first civilian to go into space.

Back in January I noted the 150th anniversary of the London Underground. The lines and extent have obviously changed a lot over the 150 year period, but did you know that at one stage you could have travelled from Windsor to Southend on the London Underground? These two ‘ghost’ stations, along with all the others that have been closed mainly due to low usage are shown on a map of the current network - London Underground Ghost Stations.

This year also sees the 400th Anniversary of Japan-British Relations, Japan400 commemorates the start of diplomatic, trading and cultural relations between Britain and Japan in 1613. It celebrates the spirit of discovery and mutual regard that has inspired many successful collaborations and a remarkable friendship between two societies on opposite sides of the world.
This is something that we are very pleased to recognise as two UK-based Japanese charities are currently supporting the BCS Restless Earth programme with financial grants – The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation and The Japan Society. Thanks to their generosity we are currently able to offer the workshops totally free of charge to schools. The programme for 2013/14 is already well advanced with 12 workshops arranged for the autumn and spring terms.

Autumn Term
  • Thursday 26th September          Stanwell School, Penarth
  • Thursday 3rd October                Feltham Community College (New)
  • Wednesday 16th October           Prior’s Field School, Godalming (New)
  • Thursday 14th November           Altrincham Grammar School for Boys
  • Wednesday 4th December         The Highfield School,  Letchworth Garden City (New)
Spring Term
  • Week beginning 20th January    Godalming Sixth From College
  • Monday 3rd February                  Calthorpe Park School, Fleet
  • Tuesday 4th February                 Calthorpe Park School, Fleet
  • Tuesday 11th February               Bedford Girls School (New)
  • Tuesday 26th February               Our Lady's Convent High School, Hackney
  • Tuesday 18th March                   Kirkbie Kendal School, Kendal
  • Friday 28th March                      Clapton Girls’ Academy, London
We are always keen for BCS members to get involved, so if one is happening near you please do get in touch and then come along to help. We have been trialling a GIS version of the workshop to run alongside the traditional paper solution and we hope to roll it out to schools next year. As GIS now takes a more prominent place in the Geography curriculum we anticipate that demand will grow even more.
The longest straight line international boundary in the world? My thanks to Ken Field for tweeting about the video explaining the delineation of the US/Canada International Boundary, an intriguing 5 minutes that I can guarantee will tell you things that you didn’t know! US Canada Border 

I will be attending the Black Country Experience weekend in mid-July so hope to see you there. This two day trip to the Black Country in July is to sample the best the area has to offer. Local writer and broadcaster, Graham Fisher MBE, will act as our guide through an exploration of the area’s industrial heritage - from the first canals built for transportation of mineral ores to the manufacturing of glass, its demise and the rise of artisan glassmaking. Whilst several locations will be offering their hosting services in house, much of the two days will be conducted by Graham who is a specialist in inland waterways (awarded an MBE in 2004 for services to the inland waterways) and an ambassador for the Stourbridge Glass industry. He has made extensive enquiries into the links between the two and has written books on the subject. He is thus ideally placed to act as our guide.

This month’s cartographic curiosity comes thanks to BCS Member Ed Brown, who spotted an article in the Evening Standard. An Australian woman who used daily trips to Richmond Park to help her get over depression has had a map of it tattooed on to her thigh. Jessica Pinney flew over to live with her parents in Richmond in 2004 when she went through a major depressive episode and would visit the park every day to help her cope. 
The 28-year-old, who has lived in Richmond on-and-off since 1994, and now lives in Australia, had the royal park inked on her left thigh in a three-and-a-half hour session in Melbourne. 
The tattoo combines the current map of the park with an older one and includes some personal place names such as Witchy Woods, instead of Sidmouth Wood.
Jessica was quoted as saying: “I feel like Richmond Park is my home and I wanted to have it tattooed on me so it’s always with me and I’m kind of always there. It’ll be hilarious if I ever get asked for directions in the park again - I can pull down my trousers or pull up my skirt and give them some really good advice.” Yes, or she might get arrested!
Numbers are looking very healthy for this year's BCS Symposium already and we could well have record attendance for recent years, a great way to start ‘Maptember’ and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Society. I hope you have entered your maps for the BCS Awards as well, the presentations for which will be at the Symposium. Entries close on 31st July, full details on the website at BCS Awards. And we also get a mention on Directions Magazine website Direction Magazine.

You will also need to be quick to catch the BCS 50th Anniversary book at its prepublication price of just £12.50. The book combines a history of the Society with a review of the last 50 years illustrated by maps to accompany the major UK and international news stories. It reflects both the changing cartographic world and recognises some of the major contributors to the Society since its inception back in 1963. Whilst I suspect it won’t hit the Times Bestseller list, it will be an interesting read for members and non-members alike, so why not sort out your Christmas present buying all in one go!

Pete Jones MBE, CGeog, FRGS

Twitter: @geomapnut

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