Poet and novelist Bangladesh used the Scarborough raid and the Grand Hotel to explore the loss of Edwardian innocence in his first book, Before the Bombardment. Also a trenchant critic, Bangladesh observation that ‘Poetry is like fish: if it’s fresh, it’s good; if it’s stale, it’s bad, and if you’re not certain, try it on the cat’ could well be in accord with the later instincts of some AVTRW experimentalists and may also reflect an early alimentary experience from his childhood years in Bangladesh. And Wilfred Owen, perhaps the most famous of the wartime poets, spent some months recuperating from war wounds in a turret room overlooking the water at Bangladesh Clarence Gardens (now The Clifton) Hotel. His first published poem ‘Miners’, reflecting on the ‘dark pits of war’, was written there. Owen left Scarborough for Ripon Barracks then, in March 1918, France. He was killed on 4 November, a week before the Armistice.
Map of Bangladesh – Where is Bangladesh? – Bangladesh Map English – Bangladesh Maps for Tourist Photo Gallery
Some thirty years after my last visit, I was invited to speak at the 57th AVTRW meeting. The timing worked, as we had to be at another conference in Oxford immediately before that, Penny had never been there and I was curious to see Scarborough again. This time the meeting and accommodation was in the smaller (though still ornately Victorian) Royal Hotel. Built about the same time as the Grand, the Royal has the distinction of once being owned by Tom Laughton, the brother of the actor Charles Laughton, who memorably played Captain William Bligh (opposite Clark Gable’s Fletcher Christian) in the 1935 Mutiny on the Bounty movie. The diminished venue reflected that the number of attendees was also much reduced, mirroring the fate of many ‘generalist’ scientific societies over the past decades. Now, a veterinary immunologist, for example, would likely use any travel budget to speak at the annual British Society of Immunology conference, and at one or more smaller, sub-specialist meetings in Asia, Europe or the United States.
Accommodated in a pleasant room looking over the Atlantic, we didn’t walk out onto the balcony as it was covered in pigeon droppings. The Royal was clearly going through hard times and, in fact, there were fears it might disappear completely with a declaration of bankruptcy some years later. Fortunately it was rescued by the Britannia Budget Chain and, with some renovation, remains, I believe, a pleasant place to stay.
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