Monday, July 30, 2012

The King Of Corsica And A Kettle Of Fish


The King Of Corsica came back today. And Alexander came back yesterday. Alexander (The Lad) returned safely from his two months in Africa. Most of the time he, and his three friends, were working at a hospital in the middle of nowhere but for the last few weeks they have been on holiday : in the Masai Mara and on the island of Zanzibar. They had a fascinating, enjoyable, and occasionally challenging time, and we are just pleased they are back safe and sound. 

The King of Corsica is a slightly different kettle of fish. The King of Corsica was the name of a pub on Berwick Street in Soho, London. Many years ago some twit without any feeling for history or tradition decided to rename it The Endurance (presumably to mark the fact that a name that had existed for several hundred years would endure no longer!) The original name commemorated the German, Theodor von Neuhoff, who became involved in the struggle for Corsican independence from Genoa in the eighteenth century. For a brief period he was crowned King of Corsica but then had to flee the island and he made his way to London where he fell into debt and lived in poverty in Soho. Despite his poverty and exile he had important friends and Horace Walpole, the Earl of Oxford, paid for his funeral and his gravestone when he died in 1756. They also named the local pub after him : that is, until some idiot came along and decided it needed a re-launch.

That will have been during the last forty years because I have just discovered a photograph I must have taken back in the 1970s which features the pub with its original name (but, alas, with a dreadful modern frontage). As my pride and joy, my brand new scanner that can scan my medium format negatives, slowly  picked its way through the 40 year old negative, the King of Corsica came back to life, if only as a memory. Welcome home to both the King and to Prince Alexander.

14 comments:

  1. The Endurance, as you probably know, was the name of Ernest Shackleton's ship, which got stuck in the ice en route to the South Pole. Perhaps the new owners are Shackleton fans. That doesn't forgive them (although I am a big Shackleton fan myself), it only offers one possible explanation. It's a great photo. Your new scanner offers some very nice quality printing.

    Welcome Home to the King and the Prince.

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  2. I was wondering how to reach the entrance to The King, until I noticed the man behind the cart. Perhaps the vendors left room after all.

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  3. Black and white is so the way to look at old pictures.

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  4. It's a shame pub names can't be protected like old buildings.

    (PS I've sorted out my sound files).

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  5. Great story! It makes one wonder about stuff and how it was that this guy was prominent and then lost it all.

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  6. It's already been two months?! I'm glad to hear that Alexander returned safely. What and adventure that must have been. Are you calling him Alexander,King of Zanzibar? It has a nice ring to it.

    The pub renaming reminds me of developers who tear down all the trees for a housing development and then name it after whatever they destroyed: Cedar Heights etc.
    Sigh.

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  7. Thanks for such an interesting pub story, this renaming of pubs is awful. On Sunday my heart sank, as over the past year or so I'd been watching a Prince Albert stand unoccupied, then be done up (and I thought thank heavens they're not demolishing it) only to be renamed 'China Lodge'.

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  8. Well it least it wasn't one of those wretched 'Slug and Lettuce' pubs that have sprung up all over the place. An interesting photograph and very good quality. I bet you're both glad to have Alexander home safe and well.

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  9. Glad to hear that the lad returned from his travels, safe and sound. You know what? As soon as I saw your photograph, I missed the pub because I was drawn to the character at the far left. Now, I wonder who and what he was?

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  10. Such a pity to change these grand old names to modern ones. Although at least it's not something terrible like the Slug and Lettuce or whatever those pubs are called.

    There used to be two in Camden called the Old Mother Red Cap and the Mother Black Cap. Both were real old women who lived in the area and each had something unusual about them, I forget what. They now have banal names.

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  11. Wonderful photo and story. King of Corsica sounds Napoleonic but the real history is so much better.

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  12. I am glad you lad is home safely..are you going to tell us some of his adventures? :)

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  13. It is a relief when they arrive home safely and very sad when they leave for good. It must be fun to be able to reproduce your old negatives. Interesting picture.

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  14. Hi Alan ... wow, that is fantastic that your new scanner lets you do that. Your photos are wonderful, the top post and this one too.

    That two months flew by!

    Kathy M.

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