Sunday, November 3, 2013

Go Google yourself

Kaartman recently wrote a brief bit for BotSoc’s ‘Veld & Flora’ (to be published in the December issue). I was sent the proofs by the estimable editor, Caroline Voget, and found that the article was headed by a photo of my dogs. And myself. On Muizenberg Beach.
Mike Dexter’s pic
Hmm, I thought. A brilliant photographer by name of Mike Dexter took that pic – it’s his copyright. I better find him before there’s a bloop here.
So I googled myself, trying to track down Dexter. Well, my ‘Images’, anyway.
There’s a thing about googling yourself which you need to know. If your name is ‘Kaartman’ you’ll be able to find yourself quite quickly, because there are only a handful of Kaartmanne in the whole wide world. If your name is John Smith you’ve got problems. Try googling ‘Dexter’ and you get 28 million entries about an American sitcom. Finding Mike was gonna be tough.
There’s not too many of me, though, and the ‘Images’ only had three or four portraits that I recognised. There were hundreds of bits of maps of course – they help us to weed out all those sneaky people who have pinched our maps for their websites, without permission.
But I digress. The other funny thing about googling yourself (but not if you are John Smith) is discovering that around the world there are several imposters pretending to be you.
Peter Slingsby checking
the Queensland sewers
For example, I found that in Queensland, Australia, there’s a Peter Slingsby who got an award for developing a CCTV camera that can be used to inspect sewers. Peter is quoted in a thing called ‘Trenchless Australasia’: “You can go through a pipe and find something wrong. You can monitor it and say ‘okay, matey, let’s monitor and see how it deteriorates’. But really the best thing to do, Bruce, is if you see something wrong or you see something going wrong, fix it now. Because if you leave it, the more it deteriorates, the harder it is to fix.”
Perceptive guy, hey. He’s no relation of mine.
Then I found a very sad pic of Peter R Slingsby, aged 8, with his parents. The pic was taken in 1864; poor Pete died fifty years later with a pickled liver. Not surprising the poor fella liked his pots, with a fearsome-looking poppa like that! He’s no relation of mine, either.
There was a Peter Slingsby Hubbard who died in Mexico some years ago. Seems to have been a Zorba-the-Greek type of guy; he’s no relation whatsoever.
Tom Slingsby, Ozzie Yottie
There were others who share my surname, but they are all imposters. There was Minor H. Slingsby of Seattle (Minor? Yeah, that’s what it says). There is Tom Slingsby, an Ozzie Yottie who does great things in small boats, but he’s not as good looking as my son Thomas. 

The other Tom Slingsby I found was the schoolmaster in ‘Bracebridge Hall’ by Washington Irving. Mr Irving describes him thus: ‘Among the worthies of the village ... is one who has struck my fancy so much that I have thought him worthy of a separate notice. It is Slingsby, the
schoolmaster, a thin, elderly man, rather threadbare and slovenly, somewhat indolent in manner, and with an easy, good-humoured look, not often met with in his craft.’
No relation, either.
Zane Slingsby is a disgraced former police officer from Darwin Australia who imposed himself in unsuitable ways upon a female prisoner or two. He’s absolutely definitely never ever any relation ever. Never.
So who were the real Slingsbys? Well, in historical order, there was Knight Slingsby, 1250; his mouldering bones lie in a church somewhere.
Sir Henry wondering
what it’s going to be
like to be an angel
Later some of my lot distinguished themselves at another level. Sir Henry Slingsby’s pic pops up in my ‘Images’; he was an enthusiastic fan of King Charles I, but, like so many in his time, found that he was supporting the losing team, and lost his head in the Tower of London. His daughter Barbara also makes the Images cut; she looks just like my Great Aunt Agnes.
Sir Henry’s son Sir Robert kept his head, and became Comptroller of the Navy; he was a colonel and even rated a mention by Samuel Pepys in his famous diary: ‘25 Sept 1660: To the office, where Sir W. Batten, Collonell Slingsby and I sat a while .... and afterwards did send for a cupp of tee (a China drink) of which I never had drank before ...’
These rather more toffee Slingsbys had in earlier times linked up with some upper class twits known as Scrivens, and this resulted in the establishment of a dorpie called Slingsby. Baine’s 1823 Directory of the County of York says: 
SLINGSBY, a parish in the wapentake of Rydale; 6 miles WNW. of Malton; is situated on an extensive beautiful plain, and on an ancient Roman road, formerly a Roman station ... the castle was partly re-built by Sir C. Cavendish, in 1603, but not finished.’
My friend Amida Johns expressed scepticism about the existence of such a place; I rest my case with these two pics, one of a grotty old barn that is currently for sale in Slingsby, and the other is a puppet of Peter Rabbit at the Slingsby Primary School.

Which set me in mind to google Amida. Good heavens! She has over 1 million Google entries to my potty little 260 thousand ... amongst her ‘images’ was this early ancestor of hers, but more importantly I found these wonderful paintings by Amida – she really is a very accomplished botanical artist!

There are a couple of other claims to fame. Fred Slingsby founded Slingsby Sailplanes, in Kirbymoorside, Yorkshire, manufacturers of some of the most famous gliders in the world; but the Slingsbys I really like most are the last two.
First of these is William Cecil Slingsby. Bill was a notable climber of Norwegian peaks, he even has a glacier named after him (Slingsbybreen). He’s the guy who introduced skiing to Switzerland (’strue!); ‘Mountain environment’ writes of him: ‘... he visited the country (Norway) over twenty times in the period 1872 to 1921. His first visit was at the age of 23. At a time when few mountains had been climbed, he proved to be a mountaineering pioneer and opened new passages through the mountains and made many first ascents. Slingsby’s first ascent of Store Skagatølstind or Storen in 1876 is probably his finest achievement. Today the route, which Slingsby, Mohn and Knut Lykken made from Vetti Gard, is very challenging because of its length and glacial approach to Mohns Skar as the glacier “Slingsbybreen” has receded from the upper reaches of the skar (col). The final section is an exposed final grade 2 scramble to the summit of Norway's third highest summit - a section which Slingsby made alone.’
Above, looking west through Rauddalen with the snow covered summits of Mjølkedalstinden (left) and Rauddalstind (right). Slingsby made the first ascent of Mjølkedalstinden in 1881.
Second is Arthur Morris Slingsby, who sadly lost his life in WWI. The Yorkshire Rambler’s Club writes:
‘In 1909 he ... explored the unknown maze of the Eastern Karakoram. They crossed the main range in June by the Saltoro Pass (18 200 ft), and discovered the immense Siachen Glacier, 48 miles long, and to their astonishment piercing the main range, and a feeder of the Indus basin. The problem of escape from the Saltoro valleys was solved by Slingsby, who discovered the Chulung La (18 300 ft). Longstaff (his companion) writes –  “... The glacier soon degenerated into a maze of crevasses concealed by a deceptive covering of new snow, through which the heavily laden coolies were constantly breaking. I quite expected we should have to spend the night on the Korisa Glacier, but just as it got dark Slingsby found a way off through difficult séracs.”
In 1911 Slingsby set off to conquer Gahrwal (25 400 feet: 7742m).  He lead his party up 1 500 ft of especial difficulty during 11½ hours. For five hours he, unaided, hacked coal-scuttle steps in hard ice, hauling up heavily laden coolies, and all this herculean work was done in the thin air of 20 000 ft above sea level. Thanks to Mr. C. F. Meade, the col (21 000 ft) up which he dragged his men will always be known as the “Slingsby Pass”.’
So there you are, Amida. Not only a village and a castle, but a glacier and a 21 000ft high pass, too!
And I found Mike Dexter’s startlingly beautiful website. You should visit it, too.

Kaartman, 3 November 2013

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