Saturday, 25 March 2017

The Glory that is Rome. Triumphal Roman Entry into Rickmansworth.

Rickmansworth Young Ladies College Remembers

The Glory that is Rome.

The Triumphal Roman Entry into Rickmansworth.

It was time for lights-out in Boadicea dormitory at the Rickmansworth Young Ladies College formally known as Denham Hall when Rhonda informed us it was a Roman Centurion named Atticus Romulus who named the tiny hamlet on the road to Londinium Rickmansworth in the year… something or other A.D. Phaedra asked how she can be sure it was not already known as Rickmansworth before the Roman Army arrived. 

Good question, however there is certainly no record of a Rickmansworth ever existing prior to the Roman invasion of Britain, so it is quite possible the Romans could well have the named it Rickmansworth, the name everyone recognizes today.

I suspected Tamzin was in for the long haul when she asked Rhonda if Atticus had any brothers or sisters. It was the ideal moment to bail out. Turning over I whispered “Rhonda I am going to sleep, goodnight” followed by a further ‘goodnight’ from Patience. Rhonda had suddenly lost her audience.

It was Mr Crisis our Science teacher who on a fly-by of Earth from an unnamed universe whose people have been traversing the Galaxies and Universes as bolts of pure energy for the last 100,000 million years was attracted to our primitive planet and decided to stay a while, but I explained all this in another article.

It was also Mr Crisis that using powers we do not understand returned home the Ghosts of the Roman Soldiers that nightly wandered the corridors of Denham Hall that Rhonda and I had seen walking through the Concert Hall wall across the corridor and through the Science room wall. 

Tamzin said quote “Imagine being marooned for ever and an eternity in Rickmansworth it doesn’t bear thinking about”. I will not dwell on these events it is very sad.

Mr Crisis had not made himself popular with Miss. Pringle or Miss Sefton the Head Mistress when he accidently took Rhonda off to Epsilon Bootis by mistake using a machine he had knocked up in the science lab but he has now been re-employed and is back on staff. Rhonda’s mother was hopping mad and really tore a strip off Mr. Crisis over that debacle; you could tell she was not amused.

Today Miss. Pringle was to take the sixth form girls to Ruthin Castle near Plaxtol Mill for a history lesson. Colonel Carter–Brown said he would provide afternoon refreshments at no extra charge. I should explain Ruthin Castle was originally a Roman Fort and when the Romans left it had been gifted for services rendered by Cerdric King of Wessex to one of his Generals something like 1500 years ago.

Many years later it was restored and acquired by an early ancestor of the Carter-Brown family a man named Hagar the Bold which completely contradicts Rhonda’s version which she said was gifted to a Freeman by the name of ‘Ethelbert the Unready’. 

Hagar the Bold being the apothecary to King Henry 8th was the first to experiment using drugs to help alleviate King Henry’s painful Gout. Miss. Pringle glared crossly at Tamzin when she overheard her querulously announce “I didn’t realise Henry was on drugs"

The assembled girls boarded the school bus for the short ride to Ruthin Castle. Arriving at the Castle they were met by the man himself Colonel Carter-Brown in full country outfit wearing riding breeches and carrying a whip, or is that a Crop? The Colonel’s secretary led the girls into an Ante Room and gave them a potted history of the castle and a free souvenir brochure then led them into the huge library.

Tamzin’s first impressions of the ornate library were thinly disguised when she whispered “do you think we will get lemonade and cakes while we are here?” She had better pay attention or she would not be able to regale us with one of her famous lectures after lights out.

The tour culminated with a guide through the enormous picture gallery. There the Colonel introduced paintings of his ancestors. In pride of place hung a very large portrait of Hagar the Bold looking very grand and holding a bottle with something in it.

We were all suitably impressed. To Tamzin’s delight there was lemonade and cakes for the girls for afternoon tea. Miss. Pringle said we can roam the Picture Gallery for the next quarter of an hour before returning to College.

Phaedra, Rhonda and I went back to the table specially set up in the library to see if there was any cake left but there wasn’t. A couple of minutes later Tamzin rushed in. She said excitedly "Quick! Quick come and see what I have found in the Picture Gallery” We followed Tamzin back to the now empty Picture Gallery. “See the painting of Hagar the Bold and his dog, well I tapped on the wall to see if it was made of plywood or whatever and look what happened. I will do it again, look, watch”

She knocked twice on the mahogany wood panelling and about a foot below the painting a small disguised drawer appeared as if by magic. “OOER look” cried Phaedra.

In the small drawer there  was a small heavily illuminated manuscript. Phaedra withdrew it and turned the pages. There was a gasp from the girls; it was the long lost ‘Rickmansworth Codex’. It was the official Roman manuscript of the naming of the town by Atticus Romulus a Roman general in the invading Army.

It showed when the Roman divisions left England it was decided if there was to be a name change the choice was to be between retaining the Anglo Saxon name of Iolanthus or a name change to the Roman name Rickmansworth. The manuscript showed beyond doubt the name Rickmansworth was officially recognized in the year 400 AD.

Tamzin said “ How did the Codex end up here"

I surmised "maybe in our parlance  it was souvenired"

Tamzin said excitedly "Shall we tell Colonel Carter-Brown or Miss Pringle?” We told Miss Pringle, it was she who informed the Colonel.

Phaedra pointed out that the Rickmansworth council might even declare another public holiday and we might get an extra day off.

Denham Hall Concert Hall was agog with excitement, packed with the students, teachers, parents, and council luminaries. Tamzin, Rhonda, Phaedra and I stood on the stage. There were lovely things said about us and Miss Pringle actually smiled at us.

The town mayor confirmed there will be a special Day each year reserved to commemorate the finding of the lost Rickmansworth Codex. There was a reporter from the Sun Newspaper and the finding of the Codex even made it on the BBC National news. Being the heroine Tamsin was surrounded by reporters. Her parents had motored up from Cornwall to witness this very historic event.

If it was not for Tamzin the illuminated manuscript The ‘Rickmansworth Codex’ would have remained hidden for ever or an eternity, whichever is the longer. I don’t think we will be listening much to Rhonda for the next few days but rather to Tamzin and the story of her exciting find at Ruthin Castle. The college was given the keys to Ruthin Castle by Colonel Carter-Brown, whatever that means in appreciation for the huge free publicity but later he was forced to take on another two staff and a gardener to cope with the huge numbers of Japanese tourists. The history books will have to be rewritten. 

Rickmansworth had come of age.

Photo supplied by Alamy

Friday, 10 March 2017

A layman’s view on Quantum Physics

A layman’s view on Quantum Physics.

Or Possibilities, Probabilities and Uncertainties, oh and Super Position.

Here is a conundrum;

''In principle, it should make no difference whether the correlation between twin particles occurs when they are separated by a few meters or by the entire universe,'' If we are made up of atoms it follows then there is another wife and I  somewhere else in the Cosmos.

To the layperson there appears to be some dodgy maths behind Quantum Physics. We cannot actually ‘see’ any of these likelihoods above as they all part of the family of uncertainties even entanglements but they are all there and using maths we end up with an answer that might not actually hold true “because of them”. We use an example of Schrödinger’s Pussy theory to prove a point which adds another possibility which I would like to include if I may, called ‘impossibility’ but Quantum theory proves me otherwise …I think.

I will post the following word for word as it is so bizarre I don’t want to be held responsible for admitting it was my theory. “In 1936, physicist Erwin Schrödinger proposed a now-famous “thought” experiment meant to highlight the bizarre implications of quantum mechanics. In his formulation, a cat is trapped in a box with a radioactive atom. Because, according to the dominant interpretation of quantum mechanics, particles can exist in multiple states until they are measured, logic dictated that the cat would be both alive and dead at the same time until the radioactive atom was measured. If that atom decays, the cat will be poisoned and die, but if the atom has not decayed, the cat lives”.

I am not absolutely sure how in practice he intended to isolate a single radioactive sub atomic particle as I was taught that an atom is the smallest particle of matter that can exist, well that was before the discovery of Quantum Physics. You must understand not being a confidante of Einstein or Schrödinger I can only ask the questions.

The hard questions started when I inquired of our religious instructor at school where heaven might be located. I should not overly worry about the health of Schrödinger’s cat or my question did he/she survive? as his cat was only a “thought” experiment.

As most people understand the purpose of the Hadron Collider they would have also heard about the famous double-slit experiment. What I like about the “Possibilities, Probabilities, Uncertainties and Entanglements” of Quantum Physics is the Double-Slit experiment which touches on the question of what is reality? I do not particularly like the reality I live in and the slim possibility there might be another really intrigues me. 

Like Schrödinger’s cat I am prepared to go along with “Possibilities Probabilities and Uncertainties” if there was the slightest chance this reality I live in is not real but has been discovered because of Quantum Physics. With all these said uncertainties and probabilities etc. it is not surprising to understand most quantum computing concepts involve a lot of redundancy.

It gets better Heinz Pagels, like many other theorists, believed that quantum physics is a kind of code that interconnects everything in the universe, including the physical basis of life itself. If all things consist of atoms the theory is we can also exist somewhere else in the universe. They found in the realm of the very small, things could be in two places at once. That their fates are dictated by chance and that reality itself defies all common senses and that everything we thought we knew about the world might turn out to be completely wrong. It is fair to say everything in Physics is a wave. Its sounds like a contradiction but the electron obeys a wave equation although it’s a particle. (Plank)

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Rickmansworth Young Ladies College or The Ghosts of Denham Hall..

Rickmansworth Young Ladies College or Ghosts of Denham Hall.

My name is Bridgette Campbell, I attend a very expensive and private Anglican Girl’s College presently known as Rickmansworth Young Ladies College, formally known as Denham Hall. It was originally the ancestral home of the Second Sea Lord of the Admiralty and 3rd Duke of Sussex, Lord Horatio Grantham he might have made First Sea Lord if it was not due to a careless, impetuous indiscretion with little or no heed to the resulting consequences with the daughter of the First Sea Lord, young Esmeralda. 

His exploits at the Battle of Trafalgar are thankfully better remembered rather than his nocturnal dalliances with this young lady.  Well that is the story the senior girls used to tell the new students.

I will make a single exception here and refer to the Rickmansworth Young Ladies College as Denham Hall in deference to its rich history. Denham Hall was built in the 17th century. Adjacent to the Hall was a small chapel and cemetery. Denham Hall was an imposing stately mansion built in the Gothic style, rich in history and rich in ghost stories put about by successive first formers new to the school. It is now a private boarding school for young ladies whose parents are the captains of industry, leaders of men a few who had managed in the most part to avoid the courts. 

The college is so private that I was the only girl there. Sorry that was a poor attempt at humor.

I digress, I remember the man saying we are not watching a hologram he said we are living in it. Is our perception of reality just a Grand Illusion? I hope so. I was blessed with a vivid imagination although mother disagrees and says it is more disturbing than vivid so I would like to crank this illusion up a bit. For example with the threat of oncoming winter I would like to leave each year with the Swallows and head for the sunshine, does that make any sense?

This was one of a number of random thoughts among many I had as I waited outside Miss. Sefton’s office for Tamzin.

You see Tamzin had been reported to the college principal by an alert villager who witnessed her riding on the cross bar of the grocer boy’s delivery bike. Thankfully our moral well-being was well taken care of. Tamzin told me later that the principle Miss. Sefton reminded her that the moral and spiritual well-being of the girls had been placed in the care and trust of the college and that fraternization with the opposite dare I say it SEX or was it species, was strictly forbidden and was completely counter-productive to our studies.

Rhonda is currently my second best friend and I would like to state categorically here and now it has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the fact her mother sends her regular food parcels. I remember thinking perhaps this generosity was atonement by her parents who mistakenly thought they had accidentally booked their daughter into a Russian gulag, who knows?

It’s not that the food was bad at Denham Hall it is just they never gave us junk food rich in salt, sugar and fat, and lolly’s in all the primary colors, supplemented by commercial grade pap. As far as I was concerned it was the only failing the school had, which I suppose did not detract from the school achievements, academically speaking.

I headed with a hurried step to the science room to inform Rhonda hoping she would treat the news of the arrival of the parcel with utmost urgency.

We had a village tuck-shop and girls suffering from sugar withdrawals could take advantage of the school crocodile walks which took us into the village and past the little sweet shop where a girl fleet of foot could dash in and purchase a Sherbet Fizz or a bottle of Tizer without being observed by the rostered teacher.

Sunday’s were very special days. The whole school would march down to the village to St Mary’s Anglican Church when the weather was fine for the morning service dressed in our best school uniforms; blue pleated skirts carefully tailored two inches below the knee, white blouses and blue blazers, wearing our white panama hats and white gloves. Rhonda once remarked that the performance reminded her of a dressage event at her local pony club.

We were by comparison to other private colleges a wealthy place of learning. Patience always referred to our college as Denham Hall, Pty. Ltd. It was Elspeth that pointed out that the school was so wealthy it was “lithted on the thtock exchanthe”. We were continually reminded we were genteel young English ladies, born of well to do privileged families whose allegiance was to England, its way of life, customs, history, flag, the King and the Empire; well when we used to have an empire, that is.

Parents open day was a sight to behold. In the car park prestige cars were parked cheek by jowl the combined value would have fed a small child in Africa for hundreds of years, maybe thousands, who knows?

Denham Hall had gained something of a reputation at sports too. I remember quite clearly the swimming competition against Pixie Hill Camp, a government school. We had what is referred to as a ‘ring in’. What the Pixie Hill School coach was not aware was that Rebecca Tate also held the southern counties junior freestyle record for 100 meters, and was no slouch when it came to Breastroke either. Our coach Miss Frenzi thought it was pity to alert them.

She was a great believer in the old adage, what they don’t know won’t hurt them. She reminded us it’s a dog eat dog world out there and only the strong survive.

Miss. Pringle was my favorite teacher. She was the English teacher and Deputy Head. Her eyes used to light up, or perhaps glaze over whenever I approached. My friend Tamzin thought it was terror, be that as it may.

In the quadrangle during the lunchtime break I put forward the hypothesis to Miss. Pringle that archeologist may have got it all wrong. They wrongly assume that because the height of the doors of our ancestor’s houses was much smaller than they are today they must have been only about 4 foot tall. Not so I suggested; as our front door is almost seven foot tall, one day in the future the archaeologist will again assume wrongly the people’s height averaged 6 foot 6 tall. So I postulated that’s a good word by the way that by the same reasoning our ancestors might not have been five foot tall…at all, but only one foot tall. I should add here that Miss. Pringle was only 5 foot 5 inches tall.

It was at this point the conversation was cut short when Miss Pringle suggested I go to the playground and play with the other girls which were a pity as I wanted to discuss if Squirrels dream, or why dogs chase their tails but Badgers don’t.

Miss Sefton was our headmistress. She always smelt of moth balls. I put her in her late sixties; Patience currently my very best friend put her in the early hundreds. She always wore dresses that would not be out of place in a Barbara Cartland novel, that’s Miss. Sefton not Patience. Her glasses were held captive by a gold chain. I was mesmerized by the huge cameo brooch she wore, visions of the Queen Victoria and the Empire sprang to mind.

In the dorm we discussed at length if Miss Sefton ever had a male friend and if so were commitments of a permanent or personal nature ever discussed or rings exchanged, was she ever given a Christian name and did she have a childhood.

I would like to mention Mr. Crisis the Science teacher but when I mention his previous employment to non-residents of Denham Hall that he came from Proxima Centauri and at present he is on a sabbatical at Denham Hall I am accused of story-telling. He got into a lot of trouble recently when he accidentally took Rhonda off to his home planet by mistake.

Mr. Crisis was a total pain he was always showing off. One day in the science class he hypnotized Brittany into believing she was a Cocker Spaniel. I don’t think she ever came out of it.

A horrible rumor circulated that later was found to be untrue that she forsook her family and struck up a strange relationship with the gardener’s dog. On open day I overheard her parents discussing whether or not they should get her micro-chipped. Actually to be honest I am not sure if they were referring to Brittany or their family dog.

Mother on hearing of Brittany’s tragedy and being somewhat of a fatalist shrugged her shoulders raised her eyes to the ceiling and said to father at the dinner table “Ah well, nothing is certain in this life” Who could argue with that rationale?

Elspeth also wanted to join our gang; trouble was we had trouble understanding her. She told us her parents had made an appointment for her to see a Thpeeth Therapithed; she said his name was Doctor Perthy Thpenther. Using what I understood was speech therapy I had tried to get her to repeat words like disassociation and obsession.

So I conclude with the question who was the ghost that Phaedra said she saw in the Chapel, was it the ghost of Horatio still searching for his beloved Esmeralda?