Monday, February 27, 2012

'Old Father Thames' the deity.

'Old Father Thames' atop the Port of London Authority building at Tower Hill.
Every river and stream I'm sure has a life of it's own, it's spirit and deity of which will be known locally, forgotten or never before known. A mighty few will be revered by many, and have monuments of their personifications built.
One such river is the Thames.The personification of the Thames is Old Father Thames , he looks suspiciously like Neptune, so much so that the grand statue of him atop the Port of London Authorities former HQ at Tower Hill  is sometimes mistaken for Neptune, the sea anchor and Trident he has probably help that. This is one of many images of him along the Thames, and my favorite. The building mentioned is by Trinity Square where the Merchant Navy war memorial is. He stands proud in his near nudity pointing out to the river and docks by Tower Bridge. His doppelganger seems to be Father Rhine also similar in statues to Neptune, in Dusseldorf you can see him with his daughters, representing the great rivers many tributaries.... Father Rhine Fountain
I think Father Thames would have a problem there, part of his span is named after informally Isis, a far more important Goddess, it all causes ongoing debate about the origin of his name, see here... River Thames Etymology money is on the Isis name being a contraction of the old (probably Celtic) name of Tamesis.

When Gracie Fields sang the song Old Father Thames in 1938 she sang something I ought to have listened to when I was a London dispatch rider, like a lot of other Londoners I couldn't get anywhere fast enough, I couldn't do anything fast enough and people depending on me didn't want me to think so.
Portrayed as a carefree soul in the song (he won't always forgive a fool) sometimes he's the man to carry your troubles away if you want him to help you help yourself, and you don't have to jump of a Bridge for him to do that.
Sometimes I go down to the Tower Bridge, the final crossing in London before he flows on to the estuary and sea a day or so after the full moon, at a time when the tide has peeked and staring it's journey back out too, and toss all my troubles written on a piece of paper off the bridge for the forces of tide, river and newly waning moon to carry away and it works, I feel better for a few days at least, come what may everything that can be right again will be at some point.
I'm glad we are treating tolerant Father Thames now with more respect than we used to...Victorian Thames cartoons  ..even Salmon and the occasional seal come upstream now.
In June the world will be treated to a new carving of Old Father Thames painted in glittering Gold flake, he will adorn the prow of the Queens Diamond jubilee barge Royal Barge Figurehead I am looking forward to this!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for that George. I really enjoyed that. Love A zxzz