Thursday, December 30, 2010

The rebirth of Sherlock Holmes

The greatest detective of all-time rises up once again from the ashes in the series Sherlock that was broadcast last summer on BBC One. Co-created by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, this 3 episodes long series relates the story of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson’s adventures in 21st century London. Even if the context is not the same, the iconic elements of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novels remain: The names, the address (221b Baker Street), Holmes’ twisted mind, the brilliant deductions and the dreadful crimes. Not only is the plot well put together, but the actors also give an incredible presence to their character: Benedict Cumberbatch (the Other Boleyn Girl) stars as the new Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman (Love Actually) as his loyal friend, Doctor John Watson. “Cumberbatch", says The Guardian, "has a reputation for playing odd, brilliant men very well, and his Holmes is cold, techie, slightly Aspergerish”. What the public thought to be a potential disaster turned out to get excellent reviews from many respected analysts.

The first episode, a Study in Pink, is inspired by Conan Doyle’s novel a Study in Scarlet and lasts 90 minutes. In this episode, Dr. John Watson returns in London after being invalidated out of the army and moves in a flat with the most eccentric private detective, Sherlock Holmes. Watson soon discovers that, whenever the police’s investigations seem to reach a dead end, Holmes is always the person they turn to. In a Study in Pink case, Holmes and the detective inspector Lestrade investigate the deaths of four people, who all seem to have committed suicide. However, further analyses show that there is more than meets the eye. Holmes supports this deduction, especially after examining the recent victim, a lady dressed in pink, who scratched the word “Rache” on the floor. As Conan Doyle says in The Return of Sherlock Holmes: "Come, Watson, come. The game is afoot. Not a word! Into your clothes and come!"

At this very moment, I think Conan Doyle must be spinning in his grave with delight. I am a Sherlock Holmes fan for years now and, in my opinion, this series is so far the best adaptation of Conan Doyle’s novels I have ever seen. People tend to see Holmes as a noble, elegant genius, but they also tend to forget the unusual parts of his personality, like his arrogance, his rudeness and his creepy thirst for excitement. In the series, those parts are pointed out in a funny and natural manner. For instance, when Holmes learns that there is a 4th victim, he says quite happily: “Four serial suicides and now a note! Ah, it’s Christmas!”. British humour is not the only thing that made me thrilled about this series, there was also a terrific Victorian music that made me say “Wow, SO British!”. It is clear that Sherlock is very different from series like the Experts or some crime series; it is in fact even better. When the Experts deals with crime and focus on how to find the murderer, Sherlock plunges its audience into a thick mist of mystery in a Londonian atmosphere that makes you actually wants to see more.

Concerning the realization, Moffat and Gattis (who actually plays a character in the series) did their job properly. In the movie adaptation “Sherlock Holmes” that came out this year, Holmes’ train of thought is said aloud so that we can keep up with his analysis. In the series Sherlock, the camera looks at the clues as if we were Holmes himself and a text appears to indicate what this discovery means. Throughout the whole episode, the camera always gets the right angle at the right time; the shooting is incredibly well thought and catches the action with intensity.

Though the series remains one of the best I have ever watched, there are a few things that bothered me. Even if Watson is finally a full-bodied character (in opposition to the books), he remains quite dull and acts quite unrealistically in view of certain situations. I also find strange that Watson, whose leg was injured at war, was able to run like a rabbit during many sequences, even though he complains many times about it at the beginning of the episode.

Anyhow, this series is really mind-blowing and is worth watching. If you do not believe me, take a glimpse at the trailer: you will be convinced right away.

by Mélinda Mottint

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The bagpipe is the emblematic and national musical instrument of Scotland. The very first trace of bagpipe may bring us back to 1000 BC in Asia Minor. This instrument is one of the oldest in the mankind and was widely spread through Asia and Europe. The real history of the bagpipe is hard to trace back because there are a lot of different theories and legends about it. But the two more plausible hypotheses are that it was imported to Scotland either by the Roman Empire or by the Irish.

Belonging to the wind instruments, a bagpipe is made of a bag, a chanter and one or more drones. The bag, which is most of the time made of leather, receives the airflow. The chanter is the melody pipe as such and the drone is a cylindrical tube from which the airflow escapes. Playing the bagpipe needs some physical qualities, namely power of the lungs and development of the muscles around the mouth.

Two phenomena can explain the expansion of bagpipes in Scotland: the division in clans and the introduction of Scottish pipers in the army. On the one hand, each Scottish clan had its own official piper (bagpipes player) during the medieval period. And on the other hand, British Army recruited pipers in the Scottish troops under the reign of Queen Victoria. They were then the only professional bagpipes players in the world and reached a high level of skill. The number of pipers increased as well.

Established in 1843 by Queen Elizabeth, the Piper to the Sovereign’s duty is to play bagpipes at 9am under the Sovereign’s window for fifteen minutes. The current one is PM (Pipe Major) Derek Potter, from the Royal Scots Dragoons Guards.

The most famous bagpipes tunes are Amazing Grace, Flowers of Scotland and Scotland The Brave.

Through the world, the Great Highland Bagpipe is the best known Scottish bagpipe and the most played. This instrument is a very important symbol of Scotland as well as of Celtic international music.

By Julien Leclercq and Elisa Venturi

Louis Armstrong

Born in 1901 in New Orleans, the place of birth of jazz, Louis Armstrong was an inventive cornet player, trumpeter and a high-skilled scat singer as well. He came from an impoverished family in Louisiana, the place where he had his first band experiences. In 1922, like many other musicians, he moved to Chicago at the time when the town was the center of jazz universe. From that moment, he never stopped playing. Louis was a hard-worker. He gave an average of 300 performances a year and played in more than 30 films. Armstrong’s nickname was Satchmo (short from Satchelmouth) referring to the way he was blowing in his trumpet. At one moment his mouth was so injured by his own technique that he had to change his way of playing.

Armstrong’s major achievement is that he really helped jazz music to become popular. What was in the beginning a community music played by and for black men, soon became very popular in the whole United States. However, his influence extends well beyond jazz. He was the first to improvise and elaborate on a given melody. His technique has since been copied many times but no one ever reached his virtuosity. He introduced a notion of freedom to music that still has an impact on popular music nowadays.

Even though his involvement in music was very important, he had to face numerous controversies. He was for instance wrongly criticized by civil rights activists in a time of racial segregation because he played as well for whites as for blacks. However, what his critics didn’t know was that he was one of the main financial supports to Martin Luther King. It wasn’t his only way to fight against racism and segregation. However, he always thought music was not to be mixed with political opinions, which explains that he wouldn’t praise his own good actions.

He was indeed a very secret and humble man.

This devotion to the cause of black people and his openness to a white public as well made him a striking symbol of unity in a divided land. His very theatrical character (he was well known for his expressive face and gestures) also played a part in his huge success among the whole population of the United States.

After a long and prosperous career, Louis Armstrong died from a heart attack on July 1971, a month before his 70th birthday. He now lies in Flushing Cemetery in New York City, which still attracts many of his nostalgic fans.

Rosa Parks

At the end of the 19th century, after the American Civil War, racial segregation was imposed in the United States. Black people were then illegally mistreated. Just by a simple act of sitting down in a bus Rosa Parks has changed the world!

Rosa Parks was born Rosa Louise McCauley on February 4, 1913 in Tuskegee, Alabama. Her father, James McCauley, was a carpenter, and her mother, Leona Edwards, a teacher. She was of African-American origin. At the age of 11 she entered the Montgomery Industrial School for Girls which was founded and led by white liberal-minded women for black children. The school's philosophy of self-worth was encouraged by her mother who used to tell Rosa to “take advantage of the opportunities, no matter how few they were”.

On December 1, 1955 Rosa Parks who was then a volunteer secretary of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People), refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger and was arrested. This is considered by most historians as the beginning of the modern civil rights movement in the United States. At that time, in Montgomery, the first four rows of seats on a bus were reserved for white people. Buses had “coloured” sections for black people, generally in the rear of the bus. Rosa Parks was on one of those reserved seats but because there were not any seats left for white people, the bus driver, James F. Blake, asked four coloured passengers to give them their seats.

Her action was at the origin of the bus boycott in Montgomery. The black community decided to organise this boycott as a protest against segregated seating on public transport in the city. The black community then elected the well-known Martin Luther King as leader of this movement. This boycott was extraordinarily successful. Blacks hitch-hiked, formed car pools or simply walked instead of taking public transport. They achieved victory on 20 December 1956 when segregated transportation was recognized as unconstitutional.

Some years earlier, a certain Claudette Colvin, a 15-year-old girl, had been arrested for the same reason. But because she was pregnant, she was considered unsuitable to be the symbol of the Civil Rights Movement.

Late in life, Rosa Parks was rewarded for her acts and amongst others received the Martin Luther King Jr. Award. Her highest one was the Spingarn Medal from the NAACP. In 1999, the US Senate described her as “ a living icon for freedom in America.” At her death, on October 24, 2005 (at the age of 92), her casket was transported to Washington D.C. on a similar bus to the one in which she made her protest. There she lay in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. She was thus the first woman ever to receive this honour.

Thanks to her, the current living conditions of the black people in America have greatly improved.

Mary Whitehouse : it’s all about sex !

Mary Whitehouse (1910-2001) was a British moral crusader fighting for Christian family values and against the depravity of society. She became famous—or perhaps ‘notorious’ would be more appropriate in this case—for her campaign against ‘blasphemy, bad language, violence and indecency’.

Ironically, Mary Whitehouse was born in Nuneaton, Warwickshire better-known as George Eliot’s place of birth. Eliot was indeed not really a standard-bearer of irreproachable conduct according to Victorian moral values.

As a young arts teacher, Whitehouse joined the Moral Re-Armament mouvement where she met her husband, Ernest Whitehouse. She then became a housewife and mother of 5 but after having raised her children she returned to teaching. Whitehouse taught sex education. That is where it all started. We are in the early 1960s. The liberal mood at that time was that sex was pleasurable ; the invention of the pill allowed sexual liberation and freedom, especially for women. In this permissive context, Mary Whitehouse became particularly concerned about the « declining moral standards » in the British media, especially on the BBC. Hugh Greene, the BBC’s Director General, became her whipping boy.

The lower-middle-class housewife from Nuneaton started her Clean Up TV campaign in 1964. The first meeting was a huge success and led to the creation of the National Viewers’ and Listeners’ Association. Mary Whitehouse led a 30-plus-year-long crusade against the ‘poison being poured into millions of homes through television’. She was not alone in this. The association prided itself in having more than 400,000 supporters from all levels of society. Coachloads of followers attended the meetings and over 500,000 signatures were collected in favour of the « Clean Up TV » campaign.

Mary Whitehouse’s range of criticism was very broad : from the Benny Hill dancers over Monty Python’s Flying Circus to the satirical comedy Till Death Us Do Part. She also felt offended by the use of the word bloody and was even more concerned about the violence in Tom and Jerry cartoons.

The Wolverhampton schoolteacher who harassed Downing Street, Buckingham Palace as well as the BBC became a target of criticism herself. One publisher of pornographic magazines even named a magazine Whitehouse. For years she had to endure abuse, stink bombs and pies in the face.

Mary Whitehouse was a zealot, a fanatic. She passed away 10 years ago but her association still exists and has been re-named Mediawatch-uk. It recently tried to prevent the release of the Wii game MadWorld. If only she knew how mad the world has become !

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Pogues

Everything begins in 1977 when Shane MacGowan and Spider Stacy meet in the toilets of a Ramones gig at the Roundhouse. They immediately become friends and when The Nips -the group leaded by MacGowan- split up, they decide to found a group called Millwall Chainsaws. Many changes and the arrival of new members give birth to The Pogues. The original name was Pogue Mahone, an Anglicization of the Irish póg mo thóin which means “kiss my arse”. Under BBC censorship due to complaints from Gaelic speakers they shortened their name in favour of The Pogues.

Their first album Red Roses For Me (1984) is a real success and allow them to open for The Clash, which will draw the attention of the media and make them famous.

The second one is recorded in New York. Rum Sodomy And The Lash (1985) including the single Dirty OldTown reveals the Celtic tones to Europe and to America.

In 1987 The Pogues reach their climax and they even perform in Straight to Hell the spaghetti Western film of Alex Cox in which they play the role of a band of drinkers with other famous singers as The Clash, Joe Strummer and Courtney Love.

The song Fairy Tale Of New York from their third album If I Should Fall From Grace With God (1988) is very controversial. On one hand the public appreciates this Christmas song and it is also part of the film Ps I love you (2007). On the other hand it was censored by the BBC because it was considered as an offence towards homosexuals.

They adopt a more commercial style to the detriment of their original melodies in the next two albums. The quality of these is deeply influenced by the alcohol and drugs dependence of Shane Mac Gowan who is thus replaced by Spider Stacy in 1991.

Despite two new albums recorded with Spider Stacy as singer their success is declining and their group seems to come to an end since the departure of Shane MacGowan, the true soul of The Pogues. They eventually break up in 1996.

The Pogues are together again since 2001 with MacGowan as leader and they will soon be on stage for the “Farewell Christmas Tour 2010.

Current members:

-Shane MacGowan: vocals, guitar

-Spider Stacy: vocals, tin whistle

-Philip Chevron: guitar

-James Fearnley: accordion, mandolin, piano, guitar

-Terry Woods: mandolin, cittern, concertina, guitar

-Jem Finer: banjo, saxophone, hurdy-gurdy, guitar

-Andrew Ranken: drums, percussion, harmonica

-Daryl Hunt: bass guitar


Broadway – the broad way – was originally called Breedeweg by Dutch settlers who founded New Amsterdam in 1625. The British captured the Dutch city in 1664 and renamed it New York City. ‘Breedeweg’ was subsequently anglicised in 1668 to its current form. Known as the longest road in the world, the entire street actually goes from Sleepy Hollow to the southern tip of Manhattan, i.e. roughly 23 miles (or 37 km).

However, the most famous section – less than twenty miles – only passes through Manhattan by its most famous borough, Times Square, and by its financial district, the ‘Canyon of Heroes’. Broadway is also the name given to the theatre district of New York City with 39 professional theatres of 500 seats or more. Shows on Broadway are very popular attractions; they are considered as the most successfull productions of the theatre world with more than 12 million people and about $1 billion worth of tickets every season. This popularity makes it possible to hire top American dramatists and actors for whom being part of a Broadway play remains one of their ultimate goals. The impact of Broadway plays is significant on American television, music, dance, literature and most notably cinema. Many Hollywood films were based on Broadway plays and actors such as Gene Kelly (and his famous "I'm singing in the rain"), Katharine Hepburn and the multi-talented Barbara Streisand began their career in the theatre district of New York City.

“I got started dancing because I knew it was one way to meet girls.”
Gene Kelly

Katharine Hepburn (on the left) was "ranked by the American Film Institute as the greatest female star in the history of American cinema". However, like all stars, she also had her own caprices.

There are two types of Broadway plays: the escapist musical, in which singing and dancing support the stories, and the “straight play” only including dialogues. The musicals, known for their productions and budgets of a “high calibre”, are the most lucrative and famous. "Cats" is one of the most famous musicals and the second longuest-running show in Broadway history. The first longuest-running Broadway show is "The Phanthom of the Opera" which started in 1988 !

In the Canyon of Heroes, Broadway has seen several people being honoured by receiving ticker-tape parades. It consists in throwing lots of shredded paper from buildings into the procession. The first parade was spontaneously organized for the dedication of the Statue of Liberty in 1886. However, people have also received ticker-tape parade such as Albert Einstein, the only scientist to have ever received one; the Apollo crew was paid tribute to in 1969; and the most recent parade was held in 2009 to celebrate the New York Yankees championship win in the Major League Baseball. To sump up, Broadway has become the city’s main business street and the cradle of theatres’ expansion; in other words, it is the heart of the city that never sleeps.

By Vivian Collard and Martin Gerard

General Post Office of Dublin

Located in the centre of O'Connell Street, Dublin's General Post Office (GPO) is one of the world's oldest postal headquarters. It is the administrative centre of the Irish postal service (An Post) and one of the most famous Irish builldings. It was officially opened on 6 January 1818.

It was built in 1814 by Lord Whitworth and designed by Francis Johnston in a classical style. The buillding is famous for its beautiful architecture and is open to visitors. It has typical Greek features such as six Ionic columns, three symbolic statues of Hibernia, Fidelity and Mercury above a pediment, a central portico and a balustrade.

Moreover it is a symbol of Irish nationalism. Indeed it was the headquarters of the revolutionary leaders during the Easter Rising (1916). The Easter Rising refers to the insurection of 1916 during which republicans claimed the end of the British rule and the establishment of the Irish Republic. The members of the Citizen Army chose the GPO, the centre of Dublin, as the building to claim the Irish independence. Because of the British attacks the buillding was damaged and it was later rebuilt in its original location, after the independence of Ireland was proclaimed. It was officially reopened in 1929, with the architecture we know today. Nowadays, the GPO building is still remembered as a symbol of Irish nationalism. Inside the building we can see the statue of the Irish warrior Cuchulainn, in remembrance of the Irish people who died during the insurection. There is also an original copy of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic on desplay inside.

In short, the General Post Office of Dublin is mainly known for two reasons: its architecture, and its historical significance which made it a symbol of Irland. It is definitely one of the highlights of Dublin.


When three friends in Seattle decided to open the first Starbucks in 1971, they probably did not realize it was the beginning of a new American success story. In 40 years time, the company with the twin-tailed mermaid logo has grown to become the biggest coffee retailer with 17,000 Starbucks stores worldwide, employing more than 142,000 people. The core business company sells a wide range of cups of coffee, but the multinational has also increased its sales opportunities : in each Starbucks coffeehouse, you can find tea, cookies, salads, sandwiches and pastries and also many unedible tie-in products, such as mugs or espresso machines. Now the company is competing with McDonald’s for selling coffee, but Starbucks, with its costumers' sixteen times a month visit, stays the most popular.

Starbucks’ success to secure customer loyalty has mainly relied on its personalized relationship with the former. For example, everyone can contribute to the development of new products by expressing his or her opinions and feelings on ‘’. In this way people do not just drink a cup of coffee at Starbucks, they also experience a new way of consuming by entertainment. In all its coffeehouses, the company provides its customers with free wifi-network and access to newspapers. Furthermore, an exclusive selection of music, films and books is available in the stores. Thus Starbucks has set up its Bookish Reading Club, where you can pre-read for free a selection of books, before possibly purchasing them in the coffeehouse. That is why the store is more than just a place selling beverages. In fact, the coffeehouse is designed to be a «third place», namely one between home and work. Starbucks’ philosophy can therefore be summarized in its motto: “We’re not in the coffee business serving people…We’re in the people business serving coffee.”

The company has nevertheless changed habits, leading to a «Starbuckization» of the American society. Its customers are ready to pay much more than before for a cup of coffee. Starbucks has also revised the coffee tastes by raising the quality standards and influenced the urban streetscapes, opening coffeehouses on many American corners. Through the special arrangement of the stores, Starbucks has an impact on how people meet and how they consume.

However, the multinational was the target in various ethical and environmental scandals, even if since a few years, the company has changed its practices. The firm really wants to show progress in this field in deciding to recycle all its cups by 2015 and so becomes the biggest retailer of fair-trade coffee in North America. As a result, the Ethisphere Magazine has appointed Starbucks as one of the ‘2010 Most Ethical Companies’.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Koalas: an Australian icon

Volunteer firefighter Dave Tree has been regarded as the man who put a little bit of hope and life back into Australia by helping a koala, nicknamed Sam, to survive violent bushfires in 2009. Although koalas are most of the time afraid of human beings, this injured female was so weak and thirsty that she couldn’t run away. “Things do survive the bushfire. There's a koala here. You alright buddy?” said Dave approaching Sam to give her some water in a forest near Melbourne. This video immediately attracted hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube. Unfortunately, she was euthanized last year because she was suffering from a disease typical to koalas. Sam was to become a new symbol of hope for Australians rebuilding their towns, houses and lives.

The koala is a marsupial and most of them are found in Australia. They live together in places where different tree species such as eucalypts are growing on suitable soils. Koalas are lazy animals and spend about three hours to eat 500 g eucalyptus each day.
Koalas are the icon of the Australian fauna but may also become that of climate change. Actually, the rise in concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that lowers the quality of eucalyptus is harmful for their health since they are dependent on this food. This is why it is important for them to be protected.
In 1988, the Premier of New South Wales declared at the Koala Summit “If the Panda is the international symbol for the conservation of endangered species, than the Koala is our diplomat for Australia’s unique fauna, as well as for the Australian bush”. Thousands of koalas have recently disappeared especially because of the deforestation, the violent bushfires and the dog attacks. Nowadays there is no federal specific legislation for the preservation of koalas. In fact, each state has its own legislation. Internationally, the koala is listed as ‘potentially vulnerable’.

Members of the Australian Koala Foundation (AKF) have urged the Environment Minister to create national laws for koalas.
Founded in 1986, this non-governmental organization’s aim is to protect koalas from many injuries and threats. The loss of their habitats is due to deforestation and is the cause championed by AKF’s campaign ‘No Tree, No Me’. AKF has also different ongoing projects designed to (re)create suitable habitats for them.
There also are places where koalas are kept as in the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary located in Brisbane. This is the largest and oldest koala sanctuary in the world. The sanctuary has not only been designed for koalas but also for other typical Australian animals. 30 koalas are kept in the ‘Koala Forest’ where people can even hold them for a few minutes.

Finally, the AKF also proposes several ideas to help protecting them: you can, for example, buy koala gifts or simply donate. However, the most incredible thing YOU can do for the conservation of wild koalas is to adopt a koala! You simply adopt one and pay a monthly adoption donation. You then receive a sort of ‘identity card’ of your koala and pictures of it. You also have the opportunity to go and see your koala in Australia!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Morris Dancing

Morris Dancing is an English folk dance based on rhythmic stepping and the execution of choreographed figures. The dancers wear different clothes depending on the part of the country they come from, but most of them are dressed in white with coloured belts across their chests. There are usually six or eight dancers arranged in two lines or in a circle facing each other. The dancers may carry white handkerchiefs that they shake, or short sticks that they bang against each other while dancing. Some dancers have bells tied at their knees, which make a loud and cheerful rhythm as they dance. Morris Dancing was originally accompanied by a pipe and tabor or a fiddle; nowadays accordions, concertinas and melodeons are also used. The musicians often introduce the dance with a song. The song varies from region to region, but is often bawdy and vulgar and focuses on rural life.

The origins of the dance are unclear but there are two main popular theories. On the one hand, it may have been a pre-Christian fertility rite to scare away the malicious spirits. On the other hand, the dance may have been introduced by the Moors, prisoners of war, in the court of Henry VII during the 15th century. Morris Dancing was popular in Tudor times; however it was actively discouraged under the Puritans but was restored under the reign of Charles II. Morris Dancing was popular up to the Industrial Revolution but new forms of entertainment, rapid social change and its association with an older unfashionable culture contributed to its decline.

The Morris revival started on Boxing Day 1899, when Cecil Sharp was charmed by the music and started collecting different tunes all over the country. Later on, he started to collect dances too. He was assisted by May Neal, who was searching for dances to be performed by girls. As a result women were the first to bring Morris Dancing back to life. In 1934 the Morris Ring was founded and after that many more followed, especially in the 1960s. The Morris Federation and the Open Morris were formed because women and mixed teams were not given full membership. Now, the have the same status as all male teams. Morris Dancing is now an art performed worldwide at large folk festivals and annual feast and enjoyed by both men and women.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Savile Row

Savile Row, also called ‘The Row’, is a famous tailor street located in London (Westminster), parallel to Regent Street and New Bond Street. It is well known thanks to the large number of bespoke tailor shops. The term ‘bespoke’ has its origins in the phrase ‘be spoken for’, which means ‘created with the exact size of its owner'.

The name ‘Savile’ comes from Lady Dorothy Savile, who built an empire between 1731 and 1735. At the beginning, the street was occupied by officers and their wives and from the nineteenth century onwards, a lot of famous tailors came and settled.there. Unfortunately, there aren’t any left nowadays. The number of tailor shops significantly diminished because of competition. It is worth noting that an association, named Savile Row Bespoke Association, was founded in 2005 in order to perpetuate traditions of that savoir-faire, which helped the shops to remain prosperous.
One of the oldest tailor shops is ‘Gieves & Hawkes’. It was founded by two businessmen of the same name. In comparison with today, they used to design ready-to-wear uniforms to supply the British Army and the Royal Navy, which is not the case anymore. “Henry Poole & co.”, another very famous firm established in 1806, has been located in Savile Row since 1982. It offers customers a large choice of luxury cashmere suiting together with all kinds of accessories. Henry Poole is also known for being the first tailor to enter the Japanese market. ‘Stowers Bespoke’, a third famous tailor, is where Lady Diana, Michael Jackson and General Pinochet are said to have bought bespoke suits. The well-known place ‘Beatles’ Apple Corps’ is located in 3, Savile Row. It was The Beatles’s, Mary Hopkin‘s and Badfinger’s basement. The band also gave a performance on the roof of that place.
The place ‘Saville Row’ (spelt with two 'l') in the Monopoly is a mis-spelling of ‘Savile Row’, which refers directly to ‘The Row’.
Generally, we can find a lot of references in popular culture, e.g. songs (‘American Boy’, Kanye West ft. Estelle).

Savile Row has thus become a real symbol of luxury and is the best place to go, when one can afford to buy a suit there. For years, it has been proved to be an important place for bespoke tailors and this is certainly not about to end.

Thistle: a symbol of ‘Scottishness’

If people think about thistles, they have purple flowers with sharp needles in mind; for the Scots, the thistle has actually a greater signification, being their national emblem. Why did the Scots choose this plant to represent their nation? Even though thistles are part of the Scottish landscape, the origin of this choice is to be found in a legend: In the thirteenth century, Danes tried to invade Scotland by night. While Scottish warriors were sleeping, Vikings invaders sneaked up on them bare-footed to soften the sound of their approach. Fortunately for the Scots, one of the Danes trod on a thistle and screamed in pain. The Scottish warriors thus alerted, defeated the invaders. This is obviously no historical evidence but it is deeply rooted in Scottish belief. From that time onwards, the plant was adopted as the symbol of Scotland and has become more and more important in the culture. Its first historically proven use dates back to 1470; it was then engraved on silver coins. Later it was incorporated into the Royal Arms of Scotland. Having gained an increasing popularity in the culture, the thistle was chosen to name an ancient order: The Order of the Thistle. The latter represents the highest honour in Scotland and seems to have been created in 1687 by James VII to reward Scottish peers supporting the King's political and religious ideas. The order still exists today and has Queen Elizabeth II as its head.

What about the present uses of the thistle as an icon? Nowadays, the thistle is mainly used to promote 'Scottishness': Scots are proud of their nationality and culture and they use the thistle to give credit to their products. That is why it appears in many Scottish logos, symbols and even on the UK currency. Hotels, inns, firms, books, sports clubs are but a few examples where the thistle appears. The most notable use remains in the song 'Flower of Scotland'. Written in 1967 by Roy Williamson, it was and still is sung before sport events and especially before every rugby match played by the Scottish team, the emblem of which being obviously the Thistle.

One motto we should keep in mind while thinking about Scotland is “No-one provokes me with impunity”. This motto is engraved on the Order of the Thistle’s badge, surrounding a thistle. The combination of both those symbol on the badge of such a noble order perfectly embodies the Scottish mentality.