NAVIGATION SITUATION

LFPR

AN ENGLISH ROSE IN GEORGIA –

By Lesley Francis

NAVIGATION SITUATION

Like most people, I have my strengths and weaknesses.  Regrettably, a good sense of direction is not something I am blessed with.  I was reminded of this the other day when my voice activated GPS refused to understand my English accent, so I had to park the car and enter the address I wanted manually.   I could write an entire column on my own personal challenges with standardized American Voice Recognition Technology here in the US.  I have actually had to resort to handing the phone to my husband or another nearby American accent to get an automated telephone operator to understand what I want!  Now that I think about it, sometimes I have a similar situation at say a fast food drive up window where a human Georgian is having similar troubles understanding me.

Anyway, back to my poor sense of direction. As I was born in the late 1960s, I am very much of the generation that was taught and then relied heavily on map reading as a skill. I remember in the early days of my career asking for directions to be faxed to me so I could carefully follow them when heading to a meeting or conference.  In fact, I had a glove box stuffed full of these faxes as handy reference material on how to get to my client’s offices.  I also had a substantial size collection of maps, especially the famous ‘London A to Z’ (pronounced ‘zed’ not ‘zee’) which showed every one of the thousands of tiny streets and alleys across London, my then- home city of almost 10 million people! 

Of course, the invention and utilization of the Global Positioning System (GPS) has changed the world completely.  Did you know that the Global Positioning System was invented by the U.S. Department of Defense (D.O.D) and the brilliant physicist and electronics engineer Ivan Getting?  Getting was the NYC-born son of Slovak immigrant parents who showed a real talent for science and engineering at an early age.  While serving as the vice president of research and engineering at the Raytheon Corporation during the 1950s, he advanced the concept of using an advanced system of satellites to allow the calculation of exquisitely precise positioning data for rapidly moving vehicles, ranging from cars to missiles. 

Originally called Navstar, today the GPS is a satellite-based system owned by the United States government and operated by the United States Space Force. It provides geolocation and time information to GPS receivers anywhere on Earth provided that the receiver has an unobstructed line of sight to at least four of its satellites. The GPS does not require the receiving device to transmit any data, and it operates independently of the internet. 

Although the United States government maintains and controls the system, it is currently freely available to anyone with a GPS receiver.  However, the US government has at times only provided what they call “selective availability”, such as during a war when they have denied access to one or the other sides.  This has led to other countries developing their own similar technologies, and today Russian has their Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS), China has it’s BeiDou Navigation Satellite System, India has NavIC, Japan has QZSS, and the European Union has Galileo.

Back in the UK and Europe, we usually refer in general terms to our Galileo system as ‘satellite navigation’ or simply ‘SAT-NAV’.  This system is under civilian control, and since Brexit the UK’s participation in the program has become far too complicated to cover in this modest column.

So today every smart phone and modern car comes equipped with the amazing function of a voice directing you to your destination of choice.  But is our reliance on this technology (and others) contributing to the dumbing down of society? Have we been lulled into a false sense of security by the reassuring voice of our GPS telling us when to turn right or left, without enough consideration of what is actually around us?  An online search shows funny and tragic real life examples of how people depended so thoroughly on this technology that observation and common sense get thrown out of the window.  A funny one example involves a busload of schoolkids in the UK who wanted to visit Buckingham Palace for the day, but satnav was asked to take them to Buckingham Place, which was a tiny apartment building in a bad neighborhood! The more tragic tales generally involve drivers paying more attention to their GPS than the real road conditions around them and driving into other traffic, or off the end of closed bridges, and the like.  Rangers at Death Valley National Park in California see problems resulting from a lack of awareness of real-world conditions so often that they have a name for it: “Death by GPS”. 

There is a lot more information from the Smithsonian Institute at www.timeandnavigation.si.edu and also at www.bbc.co.uk

I say goodbye this week with a quote from Swedish author Fredrik Backman, which for some reason amuses my husband!  “Your grandma always had a terrible sense of direction. She could get lost on an escalator.”

God Bless America!

– ENDS –

Lesley grew up in London, England and made Georgia her home in 2009.  She can be contacted at lesley@lesleyfrancispr.com  or via her PR and marketing agency at www.lesleyfrancispr.com

I’VE BEEN WAITING SO LONG…. FOR FOREIGNER!

LFPR

AN ENGLISH ROSE IN GEORGIA –

By Lesley Francis

I’VE BEEN WAITING SO LONG…. FOR FOREIGNER!

Slowly we seem to be getting back to a type of normality – even though it involves booster vaccines, masks, and lots of public debate about both.  However, more excitingly, I have rock-and-roll news.  A lot of big-name bands are currently avoiding international tours and huge venues for understandable reasons, so that perhaps makes cities like Savannah more attractive to concert promoters right now than before the pandemic.  So last week, my husband and I decided to dance our way to the Johnny Mercer Civic Center to see Foreigner on the Savannah leg of their US tour. 

It was thrilling to be back at a live concert again! We were rocking out to Cold As Ice and Juke Box Hero and mellowing out to Waiting For A Girl Like You and I Want To Know What Love is.  I adore 1980s music, especially classic rock, and I admit to being fairly obsessed by this narrow genre of music. Uncharacteristically, I will dance and sing along, knowing almost all the lyrics to the top ten hits of this era. I love this small slice of musical history, and my family know not to challenge me on facts and trivia about 1980s classic rock bands and hits. This is provided of course that the band was big in the UK which some huge American bands weren’t.

Foreigner definitely rings my rock-and-roll bell as they dominated the UK and US charts from the late seventies to the mid-eighties.  Foreigner is, in my humble opinion, a great example of the best of British and American talent combined. They were formed in New York City and London in 1976 by six veteran musicians from Spooky Tooth, King Crimson, and Flash, among others.  English musicians Mick Jones, Dennis Elliot and Ian McDonald joined up with American vocalist Lou Gramm and musicians Al Greenwood and Ed Gagliardi.  They originally called themselves “Trigger” but on discovering that this name was already taken, Jones came up with the name of “Foreigner” because no matter whether they were in the US or the UK, three of them would always be foreigners. 

Their first album ‘Foreigner’ was released in 1977, followed by ‘Double Vision’ (1978), ‘Head Games’ (1979), and ‘Foreigner 4’ (1981).  All four of these achieved “5X Platinum” status, and the band went on to sell over 80 million records worldwide, with nine top ten hits and sixteen top thirty hits in the USA – the same as Fleetwood Mac and more than Journey.  ‘Foreigner 4’ was their most successful and is widely regarded as one of rock’s all-time greatest.

Despite the thirty or so songs that almost everyone of my generation knows by heart on both sides of the Atlantic, “I Want To Know What Love Is” was Foreigner’s only number one smash hit on the Billboard charts in January 1985. From the band’s fifth album “Agent Provocateur”, the song is a classic melody with wonderful guitar and keyboard playing, and also on the soundtrack of the movie “Mr. Wrong”.

After a string of massive hits, the band started to drift apart in 1985, a few months after the release of ‘Agent Provocateur’.  Mick Jones reformed the band in 1990, and they released a new album.  Soon after, Lou Gramm came back and rejoined the group on lead vocals. Despite some ups and downs and some health issues, the band stayed together until 2002 when it broke up once again.

In 2005, the tenacious Mick Jones put it back together yet again and is currently, at the age of 76, the only original member.  This occasionally leads to accusations by some that Foreigner today is more like a tribute band than the “real thing”.  However, I can personally report that Kelly Hansen who has been lead vocalist since 2005, was in fine voice last week. Anyone at the Civic Center would have been hard pressed to tell any difference to the original line up.

There is a lot more information at the band’s official website  www.foreigneronline.com

I say goodbye this week with a quote from Mick Jones himself, who in my book is THE Juke Box Hero – “My initial musical vision for Foreigner was to combine Blues and R&B with British Rock and make it sound soulful and authentic. I’d grown up in England and had the English influence but I was also inspired by many elements of American music, from Mississippi Blues to Country and Western. Foreigner was the vehicle to get that musical blend across.” Well done, Mick…. you did it!

God Bless America, and 1980s classic rock!

– ENDS –

Lesley grew up in London, England and made Georgia her home in 2009.  She can be contacted at lesley@lesleyfrancispr.com  or via her PR and marketing agency at www.lesleyfrancispr.com

REMEMBER THE FIFTH OF NOVEMBER

LFPR

AN ENGLISH ROSE IN GEORGIA –

By Lesley Francis

REMEMBER THE FIFTH OF NOVEMBER

The Halloween pumpkins, scary costumes and candies are all being put away for another year here in Coastal Georgia, but back in the land of my birth, children are excited for their own, very English celebration tomorrow night as they shoot fireworks, huddle around bonfires, drink hot chocolate and chant “Remember, remember the fifth of November, Gunpowder, treason and plot”!

Guy Fawkes Day always falls on November 5th, and it is often referred to as “Bonfire Night” in England.  It is a commemoration of the foiled Gunpowder Plot of 1605 by disgruntled Catholics to blow up Parliament along with the Protestant King James I, and then replace him with a Catholic monarchy.  Originally called Gunpowder Treason Day, children growing up in England just accept as normal the rather macabre tradition of making scarecrow-like straw effigies of the traitor Fawkes then burning his lifelike figure on top of a roaring bonfire on the night of November 5.

All this goes back in history to a story that every English child learns in school. It all began the night before a general parliamentary session scheduled for November 5, 1605, with the King planning to attend.  An anonymous letter sent to authorities warned of a plot to kill the King and blow up the Parliament Building.  The building was searched, and a Justice of the Peace discovered Guy Fawkes hiding in the cellar of the Parliament building guarding a whopping two tons of gunpowder.  Under torture, Guy Fawkes revealed that he was a participant in an English Catholic conspiracy organized by Robert Catesby, leader of the rebelling Catholics, to annihilate England’s entire Protestant government, including King James I.

His fellow conspirators were also caught, and, after a brief trial, they were all sentenced to be publicly hanged, drawn, and quartered in London – the penalty for high treason in these barbaric days.  A prisoner who was sentenced to be drawn and quartered was subject to one of the most disgusting and cruel methods of execution ever devised. It involved a person being hanged, cut down before dying and then disemboweled, castrated, beheaded, and cut into pieces. This punishment was also thought to put the person’s ascension into heaven in jeopardy even after confession, since it was widely believed that bodies had to be kept whole at death so they could rise at the second coming. On January 30, 1606, the gruesome public executions began in London, and on the next day Fawkes himself was called to meet his fate. While climbing to the hanging platform, however, he jumped from the ladder and broke his own neck, dying instantly, sparing himself from his sentence of an even more brutal death.

Anyway, back to contemporary celebrations of bonfire night.  For weeks in advance of November 5, young people build both huge piles of wood for bonfires and their effigies of Guy Fawkes.  In years past, children would go door to door asking for ‘a penny for the Guy’.  The money raised usually went towards buying fireworks and sparklers or occasionally for charity.  The mood is happy and celebratory.  My childhood memory is that it was usually freezing cold and often wet by early November in England, so we would bundle up in coats, hats and mittens as we lit the fires at sunset and watched them burn for hours.  We usually drank hot cocoa to keep warm and ate hot baked potatoes cooked in the fire’s embers.  If we were lucky, we would also have some hot English sausages called ‘bangers’.  The firework displays were a real highlight, with the fireworks symbolizing the gunpowder that would have been used to blow up Parliament and would have changed English history forever.

In the early days of the United States, the Guy Fawkes night holiday came over with the English colonists and continued to be celebrated in New York and Boston into the 19th century.  However, it was eventually eclipsed by Halloween, an originally Irish tradition which of course is also macabre in its own way with ghosts, ghouls and goblins.  Today back in the UK, thanks to globalization and the internet, Halloween is now becoming more popular there as well. The fact that Guy Fawkes Night takes place less than a week after Halloween means that it is not uncommon to find parties in Britain in late October or early November that celebrate both events.

 

There is more information at www.history.com

I say goodbye this week with the full 17th century English traditional rhyme, which I learned at a young age with all my British classmates:

“Remember, remember the fifth of November

Gunpowder, treason and plot

I see no reason why gunpowder treason

Should ever be forgot

 

Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, ’twas his intent

To blow up the King and the Parliament

Three score barrels of powder below

Poor old England to overthrow

By God’s providence he was catched

With a dark lantern and burning match

Holloa boys, holloa boys

God save the King!

Hip hip hooray!

Hip hip hooray!”

 

God Bless America and the United Kingdom!

– ENDS –

Lesley grew up in London, England and made Georgia her home in 2009.  She can be contacted at lesley@lesleyfrancispr.com  or via her PR and marketing agency at www.lesleyfrancispr.com

WEDDING ATTIRE

LFPR

AN ENGLISH ROSE IN GEORGIA –

By Lesley Francis

WEDDING ATTIRE

I have already enjoyed attending several great in-person events in October as the world slowly emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic.  I loved going to the Great Ogeechee Seafood Festival last weekend, being at the annual gala of The Historic Savannah Foundation, and attending a wonderful October wedding.   

I am blessed to have a tight knit and supportive team of people working with me at my marketing agency.  We work hard, occasionally play hard, and often celebrate together.  My husband and I were delighted to be invited to the wedding of one of our team at LFPR.   She was a beautiful bride, it was a fantastic ceremony, and the whole event was perfect.  I love dressing up for big events, and weddings are the best!  This beautiful wedding set in the South Carolina Low Country on a sunny autumn afternoon did make me think about the differences and similarities between British and American weddings, and not just the weather!  Instead, I reflected on the traditions, the attire, and the history behind them.

Of course, I must start with THE dress.  In ancient Greece, brides not only wore white but often painted their bodies white too. A few centuries ago, in Europe, a bride would simply wear her best dress, usually in dark colors – but avoiding what they considered to be the unlucky shades of yellow or green.  Later, blue became the popular choice because it represented purity and piety with a connection to religion and the Virgin Mary. And though wedding gowns made in white can be traced to the early 1400s, it was not popularized until 1840 during the wedding of Queen Victoria, when she wore an elaborate white dress – symbolizing goodness and purity. Today, most brides in Western Christian culture wear white, ivory, eggshell or ecru. 

In the UK, weddings are traditionally held earlier in the day than in the USA (noon is popular), usually followed with a seated luncheon, known strangely as a “wedding breakfast”.  This contrasts with the traditional late afternoon or early evening American wedding, which is often followed by a dinner party.  This means that the style of dressing for guests is often different.  At American weddings, women tend to wear glamorous evening gowns or cocktail dresses, and men generally wear smart suits or tuxedos. British guest wedding attire, on the other hand, is generally more formal (dare I say “stuffy”?) with men wearing “morning suits” of long grey jackets and waistcoats with striped, gray trousers (pants); women guests generally wear formal day dresses, often with long matching coats and hats. 

Headgear is another big difference, and this is where the traditional British love of wearing hats and “fascinators” to weddings comes in.  Up until the middle of the 20th century, respectable British women would always wear a hat, and the tradition of elaborate hats for weddings remains popular today– especially among royalty and the upper classes.  Fascinators are tiny hats featuring feathers, lace, ribbons, or sequins.  Often these are less like hats and more like elaborate little concoctions clipped onto the hair. The history of fascinators began in the 17th century with women wearing scarves or veils wrapped around their head to add mystery to their appearance. 100 years later, women in royal European courts began adorning their hair with jewels, flowers and even small waxen figures. The trend developed throughout the 20th century and remains popular today – especially at royal weddings. For more information, visit www.history.com

Overall, wedding wear is big business on both sides of the Atlantic, and this is driven mostly by the wedding dress itself.  The global wedding wear market is around $60 billion, and market research organization Statista believes that wedding dresses alone will account for about $41 billion this year.  Most of the rest is ladies’ gowns. In contrast, the men’s black tuxedo market is believed to be less than $2 billion.

I will say goodbye with a quote from famous American wedding dress designer, Vera Wang. “I want people to see the dress but focus on the woman.” 

God Bless America!

– ENDS –

Lesley grew up in London, England and made Georgia her home in 2009.  She can be contacted at lesley@lesleyfrancispr.com  or via her PR and marketing agency at www.lesleyfrancispr.com

DREAMING OF ENGLAND AND DOWNTON

LFPR

AN ENGLISH ROSE IN GEORGIA –

By Lesley Francis

DREAMING OF ENGLAND AND DOWNTON

It has been nearly two years since I last returned to the land of my birth, thanks to Covid restrictions on both sides of the pond.  This is the longest period I have stayed stateside since relocating here over 12 years ago and while Georgia is definitely my home, I cannot help missing England.

I was lucky enough to get a taste of Britain last week when this newspaper sent me on a media tour of the new ‘DOWNTON ABBEY:THE EXHIBITION’ which has just opened at Perimeter Pointe in Sandy Springs, north of Atlanta.  This coincided with the opportunity to visit dear friends who live nearby and enjoy a weekend in the big city.  

As almost everyone with a TV knows, the Downton Abbey series has taken both the UK and the USA by storm.  A co-produced British and American program, this award-winning lavish period drama features the lives of an aristocratic British family (complete with an American Countess whose wealth saved the family’s fortunes) and their servants from 1912 with the sinking of the Titanic through the First World War and into the 1920s.  The TV show has already been followed by one movie, and another is due to launch in the spring of 2022.  To quote NBC Universal International Studios, who have been staging the Downton Abbey exhibition around the USA since 2017, the exhibition “connects fans to their favorite characters, costumes, locations and artifacts as it transports visitors on an incredible journey through the grand home of Downton Abbey. Fans get the chance to walk through some of the series and movie’s most recognizable and beloved sets, from Mrs Patmore’s hectic kitchen and Carson’s office, to the family’s glamorous dining room.”

Did I enjoy it? Very much and not only because I had the chance to enjoy an exclusive media tour, thanks to the Bryan County News, but also because it did show visitors a lot about British society, culture and fashion at this critical time in history.  Having said that if you are not familiar with the show (is there anybody left who is NOT??!!), you might not love the exhibition as much as I did.

So, what were my highlights?

  • The exhibition’s use of technology including holograms to recreate the characters and scenes from the show was fantastic. I received a greeting and etiquette instructions from Carson the butler, as well as a few sharp and witty comments from the Dowager Countess.
  • The recreation of sets including the sumptuous dining room, the kitchen, servants’ hall and Lady Mary’s bedroom – the scene of much drama in the show – gave me the feeling of being right in the middle of it all.
  • I enjoyed a fun interactive survey in which all visitors were ‘interviewed’ for a position at Downton. Apparently, I am suited for the position of cook, which makes sense since I do love to cook for family and friends.  Maybe that gave me a little encouragement to treat myself to some of Mrs Patmore’s kitchen ware in the gift shop on the way out.
  • The gorgeous fashions were very impressive. There were over 50 official costumes displayed.  My favorites included Lady Mary’s evening wear and the wedding dresses of the show.

If you are a lover of Downton Abbey like I am, I suggest you visit this touring exhibition while it is in Georgia. For more information, visit www.downtonexhibition.com

I will say “toodle-oo” (old fashioned British slang for farewell), this week with an amusing dialogue from the show which reflects the differences between the wealthy of both nations at this time in history.  The Dowager Countess, played by the amazing Maggie Smith, states,  “You Americans never understand the importance of tradition” and Cora’s American mother, played by Martha Levinson, retorts, “Yes we do. We just don’t give it power over us… history and tradition took Europe into a world war. Maybe you should think about letting go of its hand.”  Ouch!

God Bless both America and England!

– ENDS –

Lesley grew up in London, England and made Georgia her home in 2009.  She can be contacted at lesley@lesleyfrancispr.com  or via her PR and marketing agency at www.lesleyfrancispr.com

FOCUSING ON THE GOOD NEWS

LFPR

AN ENGLISH ROSE IN GEORGIA –

By Lesley Francis

FOCUSING ON THE GOOD NEWS

Life is stressful and we all seem to be reeling from the constant bad news about health, politics, crime and more.  I would like to step away from all the negativity we are facing these days and focus on some amazingly positive macro trends in the world for a change. Firstly, do you know how lucky we are to still have a local newspaper in print and online?  Jeff Whitten has been my editor at The Bryan County News for a number of years, and I am very appreciative of him.  I can tell you that he has one goal – to inform and entertain readers about happenings in this great community.  He does this as accurately as possible without trying to push a particular point of view.  When the newspaper does put forward their own views or those of a columnist – such as mine – it is clearly labeled as such.

Let’s focus on some other positives today.  National news and especially social media rarely places the emphasis on positives.  Divisive and pessimistic stories get more attention and, more click throughs online so because of this, there are a number of really fantastic, positive things that have been happening in the world over the past few decades that, in my view, simply do not get enough attention.  So, this week’s column is my very modest attempt to move the needle a little bit in the other, more positive, direction.

What macro trend shall we look at first?  How about worldwide poverty?  The UN defines “extreme poverty” as living on under $1.90 per day, a level unimaginable to Americans.  According to studies by The World Bank, a whopping 92% of Americans believe that extreme poverty is getting worse in the world.  However, nothing could be further from the truth.  In 1990, 29% of the world’s population lived at this extreme poverty level, but just 25 years later The World Bank reported that this number had dropped to 10%. (Visit www.data.worldbank.org for more information). The UN has a stated goal to end extreme poverty completely by 2030

Here is another great one.  Fewer pregnant women are dying.  A century ago, women had about a 1% chance of dying every time they gave birth.  UNICEF reports that globally in 1990 deaths caused by or exacerbated by childbirth had dropped to about 0.4%, and by 2017 this number had halved again to about 0.2%.  This is attributed to better sanitation, availability of antiseptic products, blood transfusions and antibiotics.  On a related note, the World Bank says that newborn deaths in 2018 were down 52% from just 28 years earlier.  This massive improvement comes mostly from very low income countries which now have better healthcare, more midwives and nurses, and much improved immunization programs.

How about deaths from famine?  Scientific publication “Our World in Data” reports that out of every 1 million people in the world, 5,470 died from famine in the 1960s.  In the 2000s, this dropped to 460, and from 2010-2016, it dropped again to just 40.  How can this be?  Reduced poverty, better agricultural yields, and improved access to healthcare.  Also, since war and oppressive governments are big reasons for famine in the modern world, global improvements in democracy and stability have helped a lot.

Let’s talk about the other C-word apart from COVID-19 – cancer.  According to the American Cancer Society “the death rate from cancer in the United States has continued to decline. From 1991 to 2018, the cancer death rate fell 31%”. This includes a 2.4% decline in 2018 alone – a record for the largest one-year drop in cancer deaths.  The Cancer Research Network says that current cancer research trials in the US have given patients an extra 3.3 million years of life.  And one more great data point on this subject from the land of my birth: a couple of years ago, The Queen Mary University in London announced a new test for cervical cancer.  In their trials, pap smear tests were only 25% accurate in detecting invasive cervical cancers.  The new test is 100% accurate – wonderful news.

The 20th century saw the average American live dramatically longer after retirement.  In 1900, research firm Statista says most people died 29 years BEFORE they even got to the prevailing retirement age.  By 2010, this was up to 15 years AFTER retirement.

Women’s voting rights?  In 1930, only 18% of the countries in the world allowed women to vote.  Today?  99%.  The only country in the world that doesn’t allow women the vote today is the Vatican City.  Let’s hope it stays this way in Afghanistan.

I could go on and on and fill this newspaper with wonderful “big picture” achievements that have happened in recent years.  So, while we all have to acknowledge these tough times and difficult things we must deal with, as well putting up with the divisions sometimes created and magnified by social media, let’s not forget a core truth – the past few decades have seen some truly historic improvements in the human condition. 

Accordingly, I say goodbye this week with a quote from bright, bubbly, and ever-optimistic Mouseketeer and Beach Party fun girl from the 1960s and 70s, Annette Funicello.  “Life does not have to be perfect to be wonderful!”

God Bless America, and let’s stay positive!

– ENDS –

Lesley grew up in London, England and made Georgia her home in 2009.  She can be contacted at lesley@lesleyfrancispr.com  or via her PR and marketing agency at www.lesleyfrancispr.com

TRAVELS TO NANTUCKET

LFPR

AN ENGLISH ROSE IN GEORGIA –

By Lesley Francis

TRAVELS TO NANTUCKET

I adore history and actually majored in this subject at university.  I have long wanted to visit the Cape Cod peninsula in New England and explore the history of the area, especially where the Mayflower ship landed in Massachusetts 401 years ago.  The pilgrims named the area where they landed Plymouth, after the British town from which they had sailed 66 days earlier.  I found it thrilling to learn about my British ancestors who had preceded my own emigration to the USA by settling a new land four centuries ago, most of them were in search of religious freedom.

I was able to persuade my husband to visit New England in August mainly because he knew that the high temperatures would be in the seventies!  In addition to the historical aspect, I was keen to see Cape Cod and some of the natural beauty of the Eastern seaboard.  I have also enjoyed many novels by an author who lives on and sets her books on Nantucket so was determined to make the journey by ferry from Hyannis – just like in her books – and discover more.

Nantucket is an island about 14 miles long and 3.5 miles wide.  It is 30 miles off the coast of Cape Cod, to the south east of its bigger and more high-profile neighbor, the island of Martha’s Vineyard. My husband pointed out while we were on Nantucket that I was as close as I have been to the land of my birth since before the COVID-19 pandemic.  Nothing eastwards but the Atlantic Ocean until you hit Europe. 

Nantucket was discovered by European settlers to America early in the seventeenth century, but was not settled until 1659 by the Quakers.  Its heyday was in the 19th century when ships based there were sent around the world to hunt whales for their oil and blubber.

Nantucket has a year-round population of approximately 12,000 but a summer population of around 50,000 – I think they were all getting off the ferry with us when we arrived!  There are three lighthouses on Nantucket, which were much needed as over 700 shipwrecks in the area caused the surrounding waters to be called “the graveyard of the Atlantic”

The gory business of whaling created a great deal of wealth for the island in the 18th century.  Whaling captains would leave their wives at home on Nantucket for years at a time to travel as far as the Pacific Ocean to hunt the mighty whale. Meanwhile their wives enjoyed the luxurious homes built with whaling money and ran their husband’s business affairs.  As someone whose modern-day husband used to travel a lot on business, I cannot imagine saying, “Be careful dear, see you in 5-7 years!”

Herman Melville’s famous novel of 1851, Moby Dick, was based on whaling ships whose home harbor was Nantucket, but the author didn’t actually visit the island until 1852!  After oil – the fossil fuel variety – was discovered in Pennsylvania in 1859, the demand for whale oil decreased dramatically and within a decade the Nantucket whaling industry was all but dead.  The population of the island quickly declined by nearly 70% and the expensive houses built by the whalers were mostly bought as summer homes by wealthy people in Boston and New York.  Tourism began during the later years of the 19th century and by the middle of the 20th century was booming

The Kennedy family, known as Cape Cod royalty in decades past, summered on the Cape and owned property on the mainland.  Although they sailed the Nantucket Sound, they did not spend any significant time on the island

Most of the buildings on Nantucket are a “weathered gray” color, mainly because of very strict building regulations and the wooden gray siding widely used which can stand up to the winter fogs, rain, sleet, storms, and freezing temperatures.  The cost of a modest 3 bedroom and 2 bathroom house on Nantucket ranges from $1.5 – $12 million, depending on location and condition of the property. According to the Massachusetts Department of Consumer Affairs, the cost of living on the island is 21% higher than in the rest of the state, although to us tourists it seemed even more.  There is more information at www.history.com

We enjoyed our time in Cape Cod, where we did some seal watching, toured the Mayflower II, a replica of the original, and I had my first lobster roll and some good fish and chips.  Not quite like back in England, but New England is a great place and there is a lot there to remind me of the land of my birth.

I say goodbye this week with a quote from Melville’s Moby Dick. “Nantucket in a nutshell: a pile of sand, a glacial afterthought, but also a corner of the world, connected and connecting the small with the vast, an insignificant nothing that is part of the main.”

God Bless America and Nantucket!

– ENDS –

Lesley grew up in London, England and made Georgia her home in 2009.  She can be contacted at lesley@lesleyfrancispr.com  or via her PR and marketing agency at www.lesleyfrancispr.com

MAKING UP IS HARD TO DO – THE HISTORY OF COMESTICS

LFPR

AN ENGLISH ROSE IN GEORGIA –

By Lesley Francis

MAKING UP IS HARD TO DO – THE HISTORY OF COMESTICS

I like the summer heat, much preferring to be a bit too hot but avoiding the freezing winters. However, this summer our beautiful Coastal Georgia is hot, rainy, and humid, like a sauna on the planet Venus! One of the things that I hadn’t considered when we moved to this great part of the world was the melting effect on my makeup on these steamy summer days.

I have become quite the expert at repairing melting makeup during the course of my working day in between meetings.  I often remember my old fashioned school ‘head-mistress’ (principal) back in England in the 1970s and 80s, who always told us girls that “horses sweat, men perspire and ladies glow”. She had clearly never visited Coastal Georgia in August!

So, what is the history of makeup or to paraphrase my husband – ‘why do you always bother to do this, and why does it take so long’?  The short answer is that I like to feel and look my best before facing the world. History shows that this is true of people through the ages, with women sometimes risking their health and wellbeing to enhance their looks by the standards of their time. 

The use of cosmetics dates back to the ancient world around 10,000 BC with Egyptians using scents and creams made from natural herbs and oils to protect their skin against the hot sun and to mask body odor.  There is evidence that the use of some perfumes were also related to religious rituals.  Six thousand years later, Egyptian women were applying pastes to their faces and black powders around their eyes – think of Queen Cleopatra’s image. Meanwhile, ancient Chinese and Japanese people were whitening their complexions with rice powder, and more dangerously the ancient Greeks were using lead to achieve the same result.  There is also evidence that ancient Indian and North African cultures started the use of henna, a tropical shrub used for color dying, to decorate their hands and feet for weddings and other special occasions.

During the Renaissance, from the fourteenth to the seventeenth century, aristocratic European women – including famously Queen Elizabeth The First of England, lightened their complexions with dangerous white lead and copper paint, and sometimes even arsenic powder! Meanwhile, France became a center of perfume making.  By the 1800s, zinc oxide replaced more dangerous ingredients in facial powder, but during Queen Victoria’s long reign from 1837-1901, she declared the use of make up “vulgar” and only acceptable for use by actors on the stage.

Over here, Americans of the upper classes wore makeup during the 18th century but after the American Revolution, the use of what was commonly called “paint” became socially unacceptable and associated with ladies of the night.  For most of the nineteenth century, women relied on home-made recipes to lighten and improve their complexions and appear naturally pretty. By the end of the nineteenth century entrepreneurs began to produce lines of “natural” looking cosmetics and this is when a New York based called “The California Perfume Company”, began an agent system for distribution, targeting housewives as their sales agents.  This turned into the company Avon Products, now a $6 billion business, which allowed women to combine socializing and making their own money.  As more women entered the workplace, especially during the First World War, there was a rising demand for cosmetics.

By the time the roaring 1920s came along, flapper fashion featuring dark eyes, red lipstick, and nail polish along with the suntan became popular; think Coco Chanel.  Makeup became socially acceptable and aspirational. Spending on cosmetics increased dramatically when millions more women entered the workforce during the Second World War, gaining greater social and financial independence.  Makeup was used to reassert femininity, and when nylon stockings became unavailable because of war-time shortages, women turned to leg make-up—paint-on hosiery! Cosmetics, especially lipstick, had become such an essential part of American femininity that the federal government retracted its wartime materials-rationing restrictions on cosmetics manufacturers in order to allow and even encourage the use of makeup. As Kathy Peiss writes in her book “Hope in a Jar,” the use of makeup had become “an assertion of American national identity.”

After the war, most women wore lipstick, and companies like Avon and Revlon capitalized on this fashion trend. By the 1950s and 1960s, teenage girls were commonly wearing makeup, and by the late 1960s, using makeup became politicized. Counter-cultural movements celebrated ideals of natural beauty, including a rejection of make-up altogether. Cosmetics companies returned to advertisements that claimed that their products provided a “natural” look. Then, by the 1980s when I started to experiment with makeup, things seem to have gone full circle as my teenage friends and I started wearing heavy layers and bright colors – just like Madonna and Cyndi Lauper in their heydays.

There is more information at www.cosmeticsinfo.org , an information site sponsored by the trade group Personal Care Products Council.

I say goodbye this week with a quote attributed to the beautiful Marilyn Monroe. “A smile is the best makeup any girl can wear.”

God Bless America and stay cool out there!

– ENDS –

Lesley grew up in London, England and made Georgia her home in 2009.  She can be contacted at lesley@lesleyfrancispr.com  or via her PR and marketing agency at www.lesleyfrancispr.com

HEY THERE GEORGIE GIRL

LFPR

AN ENGLISH ROSE IN GEORGIA –

By Lesley Francis

HEY THERE GEORGIE GIRL

‘Déjà vu’ is the feeling that one has lived through the present situation before and when literally translated from the French language, it means “already seen”.  I am sure that I am not alone in feeling a sense of Déjà vu at the moment as we watch the news about the rates of COVID-19 and hospitalization numbers rising as the delta variant rages through the country.  It seems we are not yet out of the woods on this pandemic and there are no doubt some more stressful days to come.

So, while thinking about these trying times recently, I got some welcome light relief when our Flat-Coat Retriever, Georgie Girl, happily greeted me with her usual ‘gift’ of a toy in her mouth.  Part of me is envious of dogs’ ability to live in the moment and not worry about the past or future.  Did you know that dogs do not have what the scientists call “episodic memory”? Put simply, although most animals and birds can build knowledge of how to do something (training a dog to ‘go potty’ outside, for example), only humans (except babies) remember the actual experience of learning new information.  Ever wonder why dogs treat the dog in the mirror as another dog and not as themselves? Blame episodic memory. 

Anyway, lets go back to Georgie Girl the Flat-Coat Retriever.  As anyone who knows me and regular readers of this column will realize, I am a dog lover. I have written about Coco, our crazy Australian Labradoodle, and Dexter, our West Highland Terrier before, so today let me tell you about Georgie Girl, the third member of our little pack.

When we came to the USA twelve years ago, we brought our English dogs (two Labradors and a Bearded Collie) with us.  As my husband always says, we are “a three dog family”.  A year later, I was volunteering at the Savannah Book Festival and I met a lovely lady who became a friend and who was at the time the Executive Director of this fine organization.  I needed to meet with her, so she invited me to her home. Within moments of arriving, all thoughts of books and the reason for our meeting were temporarily forgotten as I saw her stunningly beautiful dog with a long nose and a smooth black coat – the first Flat-Coat Retriever (or Flat-Coat) I had ever seen.

Flat-Coats were first bred in the mid-1800s, and were once Britain’s most popular retriever before being overtaken by Labradors and Golden Retrievers.  Flat-Coats used to be called the “Gamekeeper’s Dog” because they were very popular on the country estates of the English gentry.  However, I had never met one back in the land of my birth and I fell in love with this breed on the spot.   Flat-Coats are one of six pedigree retriever breeds which were all bred as hunting dogs: the others are Labrador, Golden,  Chesapeake Bay, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling and Curly-Coated.   The soft mouths, energy, affinity for water and trainability of retrievers meant that they would swim or run to where the hunted duck fell, gently grip it, and return it to their owner intact in return for praise or a treat.  There is more information at www.akc.org

Flat-Coats were originally bred from the St. John’s Dog (an early version of the Lab) and various setter breeds.  One of the most beautiful things about Georgie Girl is her smooth, silky black coat which is highly functional: it protects from harsh weather, icy water, and punishing hunting terrain – none of which is very useful in either our home or in beautiful Coastal Georgia of course!

So how did I persuade my husband to switch from his beloved Labrador breed to a Flat-Coat?  Our two Labradors were pretty ancient by then and we had already acquired Dexter, the little white Westie.  I was pretty determined and was introduced by my friend to one of the few breeders of Flat-Coats in the Southeastern USA.  She put us on her list, once we had completed an extensive questionnaire and interview to prove we are responsible and loving dog people – and paid a deposit to prove we were serious.

Finally, in 2012, we brought our puppy home and named her Georgie Girl not only because she is a sweet girl who lives in Georgia, but I have also always liked the old Seekers song of this name.  I am biased but she is a beautiful example of the Flat-Coat breed.  She has a sleek, thick black coat (her breed also comes in a ‘liver’ brown), with lovely and loving brown eyes, a long “lassie” type nose with feathered legs and tail which wags a lot.  She is also smart and thinks she is a lap dog even though she weighs nearly 70 pounds.  The one aspect which surprised us is that she does not enjoy swimming but will sit on the pool steps to cool off as she watches our labradoodle and terrier swim around her!

To say that she is affectionate and motivated by food would both be understatements.  Of course, this made her easier to train except that the desire to eat and chew was sometimes stronger than her desire to be good when she was a puppy and occasionally to this day.  Although she has mellowed with age, she is always up for a meal or snack and will “help out” the other dogs if they are not quick enough to eat theirs.  She has also been known to eat some strange and inconvenient things.  During her first year with us she ate my passport, my husband’s cell phone, a tube of skin cream and a selection of disgusting items from the woods. I will spare you the details.  She taught herself to open doors with handles (as opposed to doorknobs), so we had to change the door hardware in our home to stop her room-to-room roaming.  We also had to put deadbolts on our outer doors to keep her from going outside without our knowledge. My husband calls her “The Schnoz´ as her nose is so long and horse-like, and she is constantly gently pushing it into our hands or laps to demand affection.  She is a cheerful and loving dog and has learned to smile when she is happy or embarrassed or feeling guilty.  Seriously, she mimics us by raising her upper lip and baring her teeth!  The retrieving gene is very strong in her and the sight of her coming towards me with one of her toys in her mouth is incredibly sweet and raises my spirits every time.  I am very glad we discovered Flat-Coats and she fits into our little pack perfectly! 

As this column is the last about our three dogs, I will leave you with a quote generally attributed to author and inspirational speaker Paul Dunn: “My goal in life is to be as good as a person as my dog already thinks I am.”

God Bless America and all the dogs we love!

– ENDS –

Lesley grew up in London, England and made Georgia her home in 2009.  She can be contacted at lesley@lesleyfrancispr.com  or via her PR and marketing agency at www.lesleyfrancispr.com

THE OLYMPICS – BETTER LATE THAN NEVER

LFPR

AN ENGLISH ROSE IN GEORGIA –

By Lesley Francis

THE OLYMPICS – BETTER LATE THAN NEVER

The COVID-19 pandemic has in many ways been like enduring a type of war.  One casualty of this war was the 2020 Olympics which have been delayed until this year, and which are currently taking place in Japan from July 23 to August 8.  The modern Olympics have only been postponed or cancelled four times due to the First World War in 1916, the Second World War in 1940 and 1944 and now the pandemic in 2020.

There have been a number of challenges the organizers have had to deal with during these games, along with a lot of debate about the wisdom of proceeding with the delayed Olympics at all while the threat of COVID-19 remains.  In fact, infection, and the threat of contracting the coronavirus has affected some athletes who have had to withdraw from the games, and has also resulted in the strict limiting of audience sizes or even complete closure of some venues across Japan.  I am not going to enter into that heated debate here, other than to say I do support and respect the commitment to and core values of the Olympics: Excellence, Friendship and Respect.

The history of the Olympic games date back thousands of years to ancient Greece when in 776 BC thousands of people gathered at Olympia, a sacred location in southern Greece.  The ancient Olympics were held every four years between August 6 and September 19 during a religious festival honoring Zeus – the god of sky and thunder.   The ancient Greeks believed in a community of gods who looked down on and interfered in the human world from their home on Mount Olympus, and Zeus was the king of these gods.  In these original ancient Olympic games, women were not allowed to compete, the winners were given a crown of olive leaves, oxen were sacrificed to honor Zeus and feed the spectators, and the male athletes all competed in the nude!  During the first fifty years or so of the ancient Olympics the only event was a running race but slowly the games expanded to include wrestling and boxing, sometimes to the death.  For the wealthy, chariot racing was added.

The ancient Olympic tradition lasted over a thousand years, but came to an end in AD 393 when Christian Roman Emperor, Theodosius I, banned all pagan festivals.  Theodosius The Great, as he was known, aggressively suppressed all forms of paganism, and he considered these games to be just that.  Ancient Greece had become part of the vast Roman Empire by this time so had to adhere to the dictates of its conquering nation.

1,500 years later, a French aristocrat and educator was inspired by the idea of creating a modern Olympic Games after visiting the ancient Olympic site in Greece.  Born in Paris in 1863, Baron Pierre de Coubertin was dedicated to the benefits of physical education and was an active and vocal proponent of building it into the curriculum of French schools.  At a November 1892 meeting of the Union des Sports Athlétiques in Paris, Coubertin proposed the idea of reviving the Olympics as an international athletic competition held every four years. Two years later, he got the approval he needed to establish the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which would become the governing body of the modern Olympic Games.   The games were revived in 1896 in Athens, Greece, and have been celebrated every four years since. In 1924, the Winter Olympics were added to showcase cold weather sports such as cross-country skiing, speed skating, and ice hockey. This is how Baron Pierre de Coubertin, who died in 1937, became known as the founder of the modern Olympic Games.  There is a lot more information at www.history.com

I am not a sporty person, but I do admire both the Olympian ideals and the dedication of the athletes who train so hard for the honor of the gold, silver, and bronze medals.  From a personal perspective, two particular Olympic games resonate with me.  The first is the 1996 Atlanta Olympic games, when I was living in London and just began dating the man who became my American husband a few years later.  Little did I know that I would end up living in beautiful Coastal Georgia near where some of the boating competitions that I watched on British TV took place.  The second is the 2012 Olympic Games in London, three years after I had emigrated to the USA.  I did feel a sense of national pride for ‘Team Great Britain’ and felt a bit homesick for not being there in person to witness the land of my birth hosting the traditions of the Olympic games.

I say goodbye this week with a quote from Pierre de Coubertin himself:  “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well.”

God Bless America and our Olympic champions!

– ENDS –

Lesley grew up in London, England and made Georgia her home in 2009.  She can be contacted at lesley@lesleyfrancispr.com  or via her PR and marketing agency at www.lesleyfrancispr.com