I might get into trouble a bit this week, as we start with a quote from the works of the Roman poet Juvenal.
But, go on, in for a penny in for a pound, and remember that Juvenal was said to have uttered these words, not me.
“A good woman is a rare bird, as rare on earth as a black swan”.
Black swans are quite commonly found in Australia but, of course, Australia was unknown to Juvenal so that’s his excuse, or does it make his words even more politically incorrect in these modern days?
Fortunately for me, our story this week concerns white swans so we can conveniently leave behind any references to Cygnus Atratus.
References to swans crop up very regularly when considering the town of Ellesmere.
The town is considered to be the centre of the Shropshire Lake District and, as the name suggests, has a mere.
Ellesmere mere, if we can describe it that way is the biggest of nine meres in the area and attracts large numbers of visitors every year. The former Saxon name of the town was Aelsmere which means great lake.
If we look at the emblem of Ellesmere Rangers FC, we see a very good representation of a white swan with the incorporated wording telling us exactly what the organisation using the emblem does.
Where we see a device dominating the town, we might expect to see it used by other sporting and cultural organisations within the town. This seems not to be the case with, for example, the local cricket club, but the white swan does feature on the logo of Visit Ellesmere.
One of the great joys of the public house debate is the debunking of urban myths. In this context, urban myths can be defined as stories which are generally recognised as true but have no basis in fact.
One such is that all white swans belong to the queen. There is a bit of history which does indicate that white swans in open water in England were the property of the Crown but this is no longer strictly the case.
As a small aside here, we can also debunk the oft quoted idea in football that each substitution leads to 30 seconds of added time. There is nothing in the rule book to confirm this and, of course, the referee is the sole arbiter of time.
But going back to Ellesmere, we could suggest that a decent place for instigating a debate concerning urban myths would be The Swan on Cross Street in the town – a listed building which serves a very fine pint of Tetley Bitter, so I’m told.
References to swans are apparent everywhere you look in Ellesmere. To mention just a few others we have:-
Swan Hill – one of the recommended walks in the area is a walk up Swan Hill and back via the Mere and the Town. “You may encounter cattle, horses and geese on this route” is the warning in the description of the walk but, sadly, no mention of swans.
Swanmere Park – a residential area just off Swan Hill.
Swan Lake – a ballet based on the collected poems published as A Shropshire Lad by A.E. Houseman – a local lad. (No it isn’t! – see urban myth above).
Regrettably, or maybe not, no reference is readily available linking a popular song of 1970 by T.Rex with Ellesmere or the immediate area – unless, of course, you know different!