Saturday, 14 May 2011

Les neiges d'antan

When lecturing on codicology, or digitisation, or both, I have occasionally pointed out that the new Domesday survey done by schools in 1986, the nine-hundredth anniversary of the original, was unreadable within a decade or two, while the original manuscripts sit safely in the Public Record Office (OK, the National Archives), just as legible as ever. But they did a big project to get the 1986 data off the BBC microcomputer disks it was stored on, and now it's available online, searchable by place. There's a little BBC video about it here -- I don't know how to embed it. This one is less serious and has people from Tomorrow's World on it.

And it looks like the 1980s were actually as grey and brown as I remember them. This description of the village where I grew up says:
The main land cover is houses but some of it is small undeveloped grassy areas where children play after school.
That's exactly what it was like -- we all hung around playing in the bits of ground no one else had yet found a use for. Also, I remember this underpass! And this supermarket carpark too! (There was some reason why it was special to go to Carrefour, I forget what.) And Telegraph Wood Hill Fort, which now "only looks like an ordinary hill". We moved away when I was eleven so I feel very nostalgic about the place.

But I'm sorry to say that for the big 900-years since Domesday celebrations at my primary school we looked up the derivation of the name North Baddesley, found out that it meant North Bede's Lea, and decided this was insufficiently interesting. Instead we pretended it was called after someone known as Bad Desley, and we made him into a cowboy, and did an assembly about him, all in mime to the theme from Dynasty. I was one of the people who came on at the end and shot dead the few survivors from the raging gun fight which Bad Desley had provoked. I had a sheriff's badge.

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