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Numbers 295/84: A Quiet Coffee .... Bermuda ...and grandsons tired from school!

Quiet Coffee. Exactly as it should be but there was excitement as Jules had got 'his' car cleaner coming and it was agreed my own blue car would benefit greatly. That not before I'd picked up leaves across the front gate from enthusiastic gardening at Mortimers # 33 opposite! Laura gave me back my keys and told of black rimmed eyes from overworked scholars back at Wellingborough but it's Friday today so a rest ahead unless there's football for Henry of course. I spent most of the day crafting the Scottish Battlefields Trust Minutes with May 12th as its next horizon date. Much tougher call crafting the Briefing for Monday's ZOOM with East Lothian Council's Heads of Development and of Communities. The outstanding Agenda for Monica Patterson ELC's CEO has been passed along and around so much that it's no easy task to keep track .. but it's an old not forgotten skill! However we have primulas and daffodils to enjoy now as well as the shining Maserati.

. and so to Bermuda; and Yes, we've been there as tourists! It may have been first depicted on a map by Spanish navigator Fernandez de Oviedo who sailed close to the islands in 1515 but he attributed their discovery to his countryman Juan Bermandez possibly as early as 1503; but March 12th is the day in 1609 that it became a British Colony. Some 700 miles off the coast of North America it's had an extraordinary history and won world recognition with its Bermuda grass and shorts - the latter the key element in a 'Bermuda rig'. I first wore a mini version in Western Australia and longtime in Queensland which we called Walk Shorts. The full formal men's business Bermuda kit is a blazer, shorts and knee socks.
Why 1609? Some 150 English travellers aboard the Virginia Company ship Sea Venture en route to the colony of Jamestown, Virginia were blown off course by a hurricane and shipwrecked at unoccupied Bermuda. They named it Somers Isles for their leader Sir George Somers. News of those events even inspired Shakespeare's The Tempest with Ariel referring to the 'still vex'd Bermoothes'. Most of those voyagers reached Jamestown the following year on two new ships built locally but that shipwreck marked the beginning of permanent settlement. 60 English settlers were sent to colonize the islands joining three who had remained from the Sea Venture party. An estimated 300 ships have wrecked near Bermuda caused by coral reefs spanning across 200 square miles off the coast. About 1617 an Indian and a person of African descent were transported to Bermuda probably as pearl divers, although none were found. Until 1684 the colony was managed by the Virginia Company and its successor the Company of the Plantation of the Somers Islands. During that period the colony received many immigrants as indentured servants and increasing numbers of enslaved people including passengers from shipwrecks and the crews of captured enemy vessels. Irish and Scottish political prisoners were also sold into servitude and transported to Bermuda by Cromwell. From 1684 the colony was administered by the Crown with its colonial capital eventually in Hamilton. Slavery was outlawed in Bermuda and the rest of the British Empire in 1833. During the American Civil War Bermuda was a staging area for blockade runners to Southern ports and rum was smuggled into the United States from the island during the Prohibition period 1919-1933. In the 20th century the colony developed thriving industries in tourism and international finance and remains a British Overseas Territory with virtual independence. Political tensions increased in 1973 when Governor Sir Richard Sharples was assassinated by a Black Power leader. In the early 21st century, independence from Great Britain was still an issue with 50% of the population black but the idea of cutting ties continued to lack wide support among citizens who since 2002 have full British citizenship.
Bermuda shorts? The invention of Bermuda shorts is attributed to native Bermudian and tea shop owner Nathaniel Coxon who in 1914 hemmed the uniform pants of his employees allowing for more comfort in the heat. The British Army, stationed in Bermuda during World War I adopted the shorts for wear in tropical and desert climates. Bermuda shorts became a popular sportswear item in the 1920s and 1930s for their association with leisure and tropical vacations. Their name was likely codified in the United States by The Bermuda Shop, a New York City sportswear retailer. According to Jack Lightbourn both the General Managers of Bank of Bermuda and Bank Butterfield were concerned that their male employees would not have suitable clothing to wear due to clothing shortages related to World War II. They arranged for a local tailor to make two pairs of shorts modelled on the British military. The shorts were made from an itchy grey flannel material and each employee was supplied with two pairs of heavy grey wool long socks to wear with the shorts - and such was the beginning of Bermuda shorts as business attire and the pairing of long socks with them. In the post-war period local merchants improved the design using bright colours as they became more popular.

...and the grass? It's actually cynodon dactylon that is known as Bermuda grass; and many more names such as dhoob, ethana grass, dubo, dog's tooth grass, devil's grass, couch grass, Indian doab, arugampul, grama, wiregrass and scutch grass. It's native to most of the eastern hemisphere and although not native to Bermuda is abundant and invasive there. In Bermuda it has been known as crab grass or digitaria sanguinalis. Its true benefit is that it grows back well and is therefore suitable for sports facilities.
Last and certainly least what of the Bermuda Triangle? Triangle writers have used a number of supernatural concepts to explain the events. One explanation pins the blame on leftover technology from the mythical lost continent of Atlantis which they connect to the submerged rock formation known as the Bimini Road off the island of Bimini in the Bahamas which is one corner of the Triangle. Followers of the psychic Edgar Cayce believe the formation is a road or wall despite evidence that it is of natural origin.

Published Date: March 12th 2021

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