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Thursday, 28 June 2012

Down the Elephant and Castle for a lark

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2012
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)

28 June

Well, I probably have many reasons to be grateful to
Wikipedia®, some of which cannot be wisely publicized, but I am very pleased by this:

A common misconception is that the term "elephant and castle" is a corruption of "la Infanta de Castilla"

Not the sort of misconception that you would have because you dreamt it up, in the way that someone did a few well-touted (pseudo)statistics (such as inspiration v. perspiration and how much is in the words), but only because some factotum droned on, prefacing the whiffle by Of course as if it were all self evident, and wanted to get you to believe it. On some basis, there would be those who did, and who might then have passed it on to chums, family and colleagues with It's not really, you know.

The entry is an entertainining little piece, with even a Shakespearean reference, and tells you about such delights as Hannibal House (someone with a sense of humour in the planning department for Southwark? - no, I didn't mean that Hannibal!).

But forget what they tell you about the origins, and think giant chess (not necessarily in the spirit of Ron Weasley): the game was very popular in the outdoor form that we know from the seaside and the like, and this far before The Blitz, and a showman amazed onlookers with his chess-playing elephant.

Curse though I am for spoiling the story, but the elephant was just very good at following its human companion's instructions (for he was the real brains behind the outfit), and he would communicate moves to it, for execution with its trunk. The castle part came from the elephant's apparent fondness for employing the piece to get to check-mate (either that or from the sign used to advertise the attraction).

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