Ben Haines

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Oct 17th, 2003, 04:18 AM
  #1
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Ben Haines

Am I the only regular browser on this forum who is curious as to the identity of Ben Haines?

Having established himself over the years as this forum's favourite expert on London, he seems to be just too good to be true. No question is too obscure for him: no request too onerous. He even champions the attractions of our more obscure suburbs and,if memory serves me correctly, of Sheffield or was it Doncaster (which even as a Yorkshirewomen I find hard to take seriously!).

How can anyone spend so much time logged onto the internet?

Over the years, I have acquired a mental picture of him bedecked in deerstalker, astride an ancient bicycle travelling through the suburbs of south- east London. In fact, he appears to a figure straight out of central casting.

Being more cynical,I think he must be employed by the London Tourist Board to perpetuate the myth of the quintessential Englishman.

Does anyone agree?
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Oct 17th, 2003, 04:34 AM
  #2
Maira
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Do I detect jealousy on your cynical tone? Why are you keeping score of Mr. Haines's time spent on this forum? Maybe you have too much time in your hands....

Don't you have a place to go that may trigger a travel question?

Haines's Groupie :->
 
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Oct 17th, 2003, 04:46 AM
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ChatNoir
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maira, I think you are right. This "regular browser" has only made one post. Funny, how they love the word "obscure."

Ben, we love you!

 
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Oct 17th, 2003, 04:50 AM
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I am afraid I do not agree. A deerstalker would be hot, the bicycle is old-style but built three years ago, I am unpaid (though early on I had offers which I refused on the grounds of the American Frontier and Christian concept of care for one s neighbour, and as a socialist), and much of my correspondence is done by night, as I no longer sleep through the night. Thank you, but I have plenty of time, to go to lectures (http://victorianresearch.org/lectures.html) and films (http://www.bfi.org.uk/showing/nft/index.html), and to help our vicar with bits of admin of our local church and neighbourhood centre. An element in this is that I have (hooray) no television set and have (alas) read few books per year.

When you say a figure straight out of central casting you have a point. Have you retired yet ? I enjoyed my work, but at retirement I was a free man. I knew what I liked, and what my culture was, and I dressed and acted in accord with that. You can say I cast myself. I grant that my boater in summer is theatrical: the only one in south London. But it gives pleasure all round. There is more at stake. In London we rejoice in the number of cultures, languages, skin colours, and so on that have joined us, and we encourage them to be themselves. Dreadlocks for rastas, headscarves for Moslem women, and beautiful billowing gowns for Nigerian men are all marks of our free society. In my style I like to say that I, too, am allowed to add to colour here. This point is something like that of the women s liberationists. If women are free to be like men, then men are freed to be like women, to push baby-buggies, to weep at weepies. Not that I do either, of course, but London says if that is what you like, do it.

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Oct 17th, 2003, 05:17 AM
  #5
AllyPally
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Ben, do you know how to type?
 
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Oct 17th, 2003, 05:52 AM
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Another Ben groupie chimes in:

Mr Haines,
As always, said like a gentleman with grace and humour. Posters like you, People like you are few and far between and I, for one, am happy that you are here, there, everywhere~
With friendship,
Scarlett
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Oct 17th, 2003, 05:54 AM
  #7
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Maira/Chat/Noir,

I am a great fan of Ben Haines (apologies if that did not come out in the post) and a browser on the forum for the past four years (albeit one of the silent majority).

Alas as the working mother of two toddlers I neither have too much time on my hands nor the opportunity to travel as much as I used to.

Ben, glad to know that you do exist.I shall have to look out for the boater in future.

I used to live near King's Cross for some years so am aware of the cultural diversity of our great city.On a serious note it is as well to stress this as sometimes the posts on this board tend to perpetuate a rather "Dixon of Dock Green" vision of London.
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Oct 17th, 2003, 06:03 AM
  #8
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waterloo, sorry for jumping to the wrong conclusion. Guess we were a bit protective of our forum treasure.

In the spirit of wanting to learn: What exactly is a "Dixon of Dock Green" version?
 
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Oct 17th, 2003, 06:06 AM
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"Being more cynical,I think he must be employed by the London Tourist Board to perpetuate the myth of the quintessential Englishman.

Does anyone agree?"

No, waterloo, I don't agree. I think we occasionally lose sight of the fact that there are people out there who actually enjoy helping others to see their home city/town the way they do, or who enjoy sharing their knowledge.

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Oct 17th, 2003, 06:29 AM
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I too have enjoyed Mr. Haines posts over the years. He has also been so kind to e-mail info and answer my questions on occasion. As others have said, he is a great asset to this forum.

I may be the only one reading this who doesn't know - but what is a boater?
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Oct 17th, 2003, 06:36 AM
  #11
ira
 
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Hi JJ,

A boater, or skimmer, is a flat- topped, wide-brimmed straw hat.
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Oct 17th, 2003, 06:42 AM
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Thanks, Ira - I'll be on the lookout for one the next time I'm in London!
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Oct 17th, 2003, 06:52 AM
  #13
Sylvia
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Dixon was a character in a TV series in the 50s. It presented a very cosy image of London and London policemen
You can see a clip from Dixon of Dock Green at
Http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/ilove/tv/titles/clip5.shtml

And read more about him at:

Http://www.televisionheaven.co.uk/dixon.htm

Jack Warner (real name John Waters), first played Dixon in the 1949 Rank movie, The Blue Lamp, in which he was gunned down by armed robber Dirk Bogarde.
The TV series was a spin-off. Warner carried on in the part into his 80s and looked a very old copper towards the end. You had to suspend your unbelief.
 
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Oct 17th, 2003, 07:08 AM
  #14
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Sylvia, thank your for the in-depth run-down on the term.

I formed my first impressions of London by reading the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. I just loved the vivid images that those intense stories projected (don't laugh) and was keenly disappointed to not encounter any fog on my first visit to London. I know that must seem silly to folks that actually live in London. Sometimes we just don't want to let go of a romantic, but often false version of things.
 
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Oct 17th, 2003, 08:33 AM
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Even though I have only been checking the posts on this forum for about 4 months, I have come to really appreciate Mr. Haines and to rely upon his advice (most of which has actually been for others, but applied to me too). But, I have to admit I was glad to read this because for some reason, I thought he was a clergyman! I am not sure where I got this idea, but am glad to more about him (because I am pretty nosy!) Thanks to Mr. Haines, and may you well enjoy your retirement!
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Oct 17th, 2003, 08:34 AM
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Sorry, that should read "glad to KNOW more about him."
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Oct 17th, 2003, 08:59 AM
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I too appreciate the time and knowledge that Ben Haines shares with all of us. He has also emailed me direct with information and I consider it an honor to be a Fodor's friend.
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Oct 17th, 2003, 09:10 AM
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Three cheers to Ben Haines. Another devoted admirer here. He was kind enough to help me work out train schedules from Prague to Vienna to Budapest in spring, as well as other information about the three cities. Never failed to answer my questions by e-mail, and his help shortened my work in planning our trip.

Even if I hadn't had personal experience, I would still admire his many helpful posts, answering quetions for others. Can't say enough good about him!
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Oct 17th, 2003, 01:50 PM
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Another fan here who knows that Ben is who he says he is.
You met your waterloo, so now you are watered down.
There are several posters who are so knowledgeable, and helpful here who also have some posters cast doubts. Stick around and you will see. Ben doesn't post to see his name in print, or to joke, but to inform and that is what this forum is about. Lately personal insults have been out of hand, what starts out as an innocent thread grows into some very bad comments.
There are alot of wonderful people here, don't be a browser but a poster with the love of travel and sharing information. When we have a fun thread it is always fine til some idiot comes on and changes it into an insulting one. Life is too short to be mean.
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Oct 17th, 2003, 07:28 PM
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Count me as another Ben Haines groupie. He always responds to questions with politeness and grace, not matter how many times the question may have been asked before. A true gentleman.
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