Thursday, September 29, 2005

The Church Of The Sub-Genius?

Norbert Saxton: A Pioneer In The Field Of Sitting On One's Arse Bitching About Grockles

High dudgeon in the English lowlands: Norfolk officials are reacting angrily to the omission of that fine county (indeed, almost all of East Anglia) from a map issued by VisitBritain celebrating the inventiveness and resourcefulness of the English. The "England's Genius Map" is intended to highlight English contributions the world of arts and science and to draw people to less visited areas of the country (although the concentration of "geniuses" around Cambridge won't do much to win the VisitBritain folks friends in that overcrowded city). My homeland of Norfolk and birthplace Suffolk however don't draw one mention, and this has pissed off the local rag.

From the Eastern Daily Press:
Genius may be hard to define, but according to Britain's tourist authority, Norfolk has not had any at all, and tourism chiefs in the region argue that Visit Britain is "missing a trick".

A new map, charting places to find out more about the country's most celebrated minds, makes no reference to some of the county's biggest names. Military genius Admiral Nelson is not on the list, and Charles Dickens' strong links with Yarmouth go without mention. The situation is no better in Suffolk, where Lowestoft-born composer Benjamin Britten is ignored, along with hovercraft inventor Sir Christopher Cockerell, who carried out extensive tests at Somerleyton.

Michael Nutt, destination development director for Visit Norwich, said he wanted to find out why the region had been left out. "I would have to say that I think they are missing a trick," he said. "If, on the map, East Anglia is a void, then I would like to find out why we got left out, and if it has missed us out, then it has not delivered, especially when you think that this means they have left out Admiral Nelson," added Mr Nutt.

Other Norfolk-born figures, such as vacuum cleaner inventor James Dyson and author Anna Sewell do not appear either.

The map was launched as part of World Tourism Day and includes thinkers, artists and inventors from William Shakespeare and Charles Darwin to Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Isaac Newton. Asa Morrisson, tourism development and marketing officer at Waveney District Council, said there were plenty of genius figures that could justify Visit Britain's attention.

"I think not including Admiral Nelson, especially in the bi-centenary year, is a mistake," he said "And we've got our fair share of people around here. I think they're missing a trick, really," he added.

Scott Dolling, tourism marketing manager for the East of England Tourist Authority said landscape artist John Constable would be an "automatic choice" for an English genius. "And if you ignore the eastern counties, it beggars belief," he added.

Kirsten Freeman, a spokeswoman for Visit Britain, said the firm planned to add more names and places to the map in the future. "We would have loved to put everything on there but we have not been able to," she said. "We plan to add more as we go along."

Many fine minds were born in Norfolk or have links with the county.

Perhaps the most famous is naval genius Admiral Lord Nelson, whose fleet defeated the French and Spanish navies at Trafalgar in 1805. He was born in Burnham Thorpe in 1758. Another of Norfolk's sons helped bring about an independent America. Philosopher Thomas Paine was born in Thetford in 1737 and championed old age pensions and maternity benefits. Charles Dickens, author of David Copperfield and Great Expectations, lived in Yarmouth during the 1840s. Science fiction author HG Wells, who wrote War of the Worlds and The Invisible Man, stayed in Hunstanton in the 1920s. Captain George Vancouver, who gave his name to the Canadian city of the same name, was born at King's Lynn in 1757. Howard Carter, grew up in Swaffham, and is famous for opening the tomb of Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun in 1922. Inventor James Dyson, born in Norfolk in 1947, changed the world of housework when he produced the Dyson vacuum cleaner. Poet WH Auden went to Gresham School, near Holt, from 1920-1925. Anna Sewell, author of Black Beauty, was born in 1820 at Yarmouth and later lived in Old Catton, Norwich. Her story, the autobiography of a horse, is among the 10 best selling books in the English language. Finally, Arthur Ransome, author of the Swallows and Amazons books, visited Norfolk in the 1930s and was inspired by the Broads.

Do you think Norfolk people both idolize Horatio Nelson and love the phrase "missing a trick"?

Some of the names are a bit of a stretch- H.G. Wells? The man who made Woking in Surrey famous? Come on- he had a summer home in Norfolk. By that standard, half of the geniuses from North London could make the list. I am impressed to find out that James Dyson was born in Norfolk- too bad he outsourced his vacuum cleaner factory from Britain to Asia. I would argue for the inclusion of Quaker prison reformer Elizabeth Fry but really- aside from the embarrassment of not having any names being glaringly obvious on the map due to our unique and eye-catching geographical location, East Anglians should throttle back before a list of famous Norfolk/Suffolk idiots starts doing the rounds.

We should rather revel in the fact that Norwich City FC has done the impossible and has signed elephant man Joseph Merrick to play up front with Darren Huckerby:


weasel's little brother said...

Thanks for the link to the Genius map. I now know that Lutterworth in my adopted home county has the world's largest collection of Frank Whittle memorabilia.

Mondale said...

But I don't want people visiting 'the fuck' looking for genius things. In exactly the same way you hate New Yorkers in Maine I hate everyone in Norfolk.

"Build a wall, keep 'em out" Mr Harvey, Wymondham High School PE Teacher 1952-1989.
"Cockneys and highways, they're killing Norfolk" Slumper, Hadley & Ottaway driver 1984-1994.

Two quotes from real Norfolk geniuses that have inspired me.

weasel said...

Bruva, don't tell dad- he will move in with you.

Bowlesy- I think we should make our own underground genius map for our own personal use (and restricted circulation within the NLA) that we can pass on generation to generation. My first nominee is that Wulitzer bloke up at Thurston.

weasel's little bruva said...

There was also that old boy who sat on a bench in Hemsby and asked everyone how much they weighed. He would then be heard shouting back their correct weight everytime they walked past. He should be included for his powers of recall alone.

A trick I have often seen attempted but never repeated.

weasel said...

Addendum to Mr. B: "In exactly the same way you hate New Yorkers in Maine": I say, don't put words into my mouth old chap- don't want to needlessly offend anybody, my goodness! I like New Yorkers in Maine, its idiots anywhere I can't stand. I don't mind visitors in either Norfolk or Maine- its when they decide to stay and drive property prices up out of my reach that I get tetchy. I dare say as an immigrant yourself you have a full understanding of why its a good idea to keep different people from other places out, n'est pas.

WLB- I enjoy a good 'guesser'; I know of the one you speak of and remember him fondly.

weasel said...

And I just want to point out that like Anna Sewell my mother, aunt, uncles, and grandparents all lived in Old Catton, and my mother, father, brother and myself all lived in New Catton, and you don't see anyone protesting our exclusion from any genius list.