Saturday, July 20, 2013

SMALL TALK~ Polly Prattle and Literature Legacy

Glancing down Wikipedia's list of comings/goings and events relevant to today, 20 July, I noticed mention that the day (other sources quote 23 July and the reason for this is explained by Wiki) is Christian Feast Day in honour of St. Apollinaris of Ravenna. While I'm neither Roman Catholic nor into any organised religion, the name did flick a switch in my memory banks: I was a young 20-year old hotel receptionist again, in a rather Victorian styled hotel in Penrith, Cumberland in England's Lake District. Around once a week an elderly gentleman of military bearing and appearance would wander through the hall, prop his elbows on the office counter, wink and say, in wonderfully swirly fruity upper-clarse accent: Get me a Scotch an' polly would you m'dear? On first encounter I was confused, had to hustle around to find some more experienced member of staff to ask what the heck the gentleman meant by "polly". He meant Apollinaris, a German naturally sparkling mineral water, which those in the know would take with their Scotch whisky.

The spring from which the water is reputed to come was discovered by chance in 1852 in Georg Kreuzberg’s vineyard, in Bad Neuenahr, Germany. He named it after St Apollinaris of Ravenna, a patron saint of wine. The red triangle symbol and the slogan "The Queen of Table Waters" were adopted as trademarks in 1895. By 1913 the company was producing 40 million bottles a year, 90% of which were exported worldwide. Since 2006 the firm has been owned by Coca-Cola, acquired from Cadbury-Schweppes.
Other tidbits at Wiki include:
In the UK and Ireland, Apollinaris was sold in small bottles, which were marketed as "The Baby 'Polly". The poem "Sun and Fun" by Sir John Betjeman, published in 1954, includes the stanza:

I pulled aside the thick magenta curtains
– So Regency, so Regency, my dear –
And a host of little spiders
Ran a race across the ciders
To a box of baby 'pollies by the beer.

As for the Saint whose name this fabled water bears:
According to tradition, St. Peter sent Apollinaris to Ravenna, Italy, as its first bishop. His preaching of the Good News was so successful that the pagans there beat him and drove him from the city. He returned, however, and was exiled a second time. After preaching in the area surrounding Ravenna, he entered the city again. After being cruelly tortured, he was put on a ship heading to Greece. Pagans there caused him to be expelled to Italy, where he went to Ravenna for a fourth time. He died from wounds received during a savage beating at Classis, a suburb of Ravenna. A beautiful basilica honoring him was built in the 6th century.

Searching for a quote on another topic I stumbled upon this, from the late, still much lamented Carl Sagan:
“What an astonishing thing a book is. It's a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you're inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.”
Will humans really lose this particular type of magic, the paper and print kind? Will these books disappear from their lives, in favour of the dreaded Kindle and suchlike; or in future years will even newer technology supersede current contraptions? Books would be a huge, huge loss. We must hope that there will never come any great book-burning, there must always remain a residue of magic for those willing to seek it out.


mike said...

Interesting story of Apollinaris water. I've always been fascinated with spring water, as have many others. I should learn may come in handy in the future.

Fiji Water was originally touted as bottled water for the elite. It was by virtue of the price, but it was also a bane on the Fiji Island, where the majority of inhabitants didn't have access to clean water. The aquifer has a limited volume and is being depleted by commercial bottlers. There have been other problems with the Fiji Water corporation...advertising, taxes, public relations.

I sure hope that the printed word survives. While I love the quick access and abundance of information available on the internet, I tire easily, if the article is too lengthy. I will not read a digital book...I read books for pleasure and I don't find digital reading very pleasurable. But, I may be showing my age...younger ones seems to be right at home with the digital tomes or anything digital, for that matter.

Have you kept-up with Project Hindsight? It's an effort to revive and interpret the ancient astrology tomes.

Lynn Hayes has some comments and concedes that it would have to reside online to succeed.

I thoroughly enjoy browsing (my now limited) astrology and other reference books when I search for particulars. As much as I dislike Google, I do appreciate the company's efforts to offer their selection of scanned books.

I believe the digital age has ruined the unforgiving method of spelling words correctly. bty, I find myself struggling sometimes to decipher the meaning of an obviously misspelled word or, worse yet, the pervasive acronyms that taking-over actual wtf! LOL!

Twilight said...

mike ~~ I've seen Fiji water in nice square bottles on the supermarket shelves, yes! Dang! But that's not right, is it - to drain resources needed by inhabitants! Isn't that just typical of money-making 2013 style though?

I prefer print and paper - often pencil and paper too, to really be able to get my head around something.

I can't read many full pages on the desktop screen, certainly not on our laptop, so a book online would be out of the question for me.....neck-ache and eye strain.

I haven't kept up with Project Hindsight, no. I did read about it some years ago though. I've pulled back on most heavy astrology reading, other than regarding individual people or incidents.

I'll check the Lynn Hayes link - thanks, mike.

Acronyms - I have a lot of trouble with those darn things online. IMHO they are simply lazy and crappy (lol!) Twitter is the main culprit, 'cos it allows only 140 characters per "tweet".

As for spelling, I sigh at some misses, but try not to get too bent out of shape about it all. Mixed up words too can be annoying - for example effect and affect - it's surprising how often one of these is used in the wrong place....I see an example almost every day, and not just from commenters around the net - from journalists!
But in the grand scheme of things, these thing bring on just a shrug and a subdued grump.

James Higham said...

Christian Feast Day in honour of St. Apollinaris of Ravenna

Er ... um ... wasn't aware of that.

Twilight said...

James Higham ~ Perhaps because you're not Roman Catholic?