Wednesday, June 15, 2005

A Slice Of Life

The town of Sandwich in the County of Kent, England is one of the best preserved medieval towns in the UK. With a street plan that predates the Norman Conquest and defensive walls built to fend off Danish and French raiders, the visitor is immersed in over a thousand years of European history. The town of Sandwich, Massachusetts is also a historic jewel. It was founded in 1639 and is the oldest town on Cape Cod. The first Quaker Meeting held in the New World occurred there in 1672. The visitor here is only immersed in about 400 years of history but that’s almost all the European history there is in Massachusetts, or anywhere else in America. With a shared name and shared heritage, it would seem obvious that Sandwich, England and Sandwich, Massachusetts might also share warm relations. They probably would if it were not for John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich (1718-1792).

Montagu deserves a place in history. He served as Postmaster General, First Lord of the Admiralty, and he sponsored Captain Cook’s voyages of discovery. The original name of the Hawaiian Islands, the Sandwich Islands, was chosen in his honour. He also earned another distinction. Whether because he was a busy man or, as some say, because he didn’t want to be interrupted by a meal whilst gambling, he ordered a quick snack composed of a bit of meat between two slices of bread. The ‘sandwich’ was discovered! Several centuries after the last shot in the Revolutionary War was fired, his famous order, ‘roast beef on whole wheat, hold the butter, extra mayo’, is once again a call to arms on both sides of the Atlantic.

Mr Brian Clifford, owner of the Earl of Sandwich Motel on Cape Cod, purchased the internet domain name ‘’ a while back. Meanwhile, Orlando Montagu, heir to the 11th Earl of Sandwich has been busily expanding the family business back in the old country. In case you have not figured it out, the family business is sandwiches. (Luckily for Orlando, the 1st Earl picked Sandwich as his title instead of the alternate offer, Earl of Portsmouth. A ham and cheese portsmouth on pumpernickel with mustard doesn’t have much of a ring to it.) The English Earl of Sandwich has offered to buy the domain name from the Massachusetts Earl of Sandwich but Mr Clifford understands the sandwich business: first come, first served. He argues that Sandwich, Mass was on the map 27 years before King Charles II gave the Montagu family the Sandwich title. Orlando says that he merely wants to protect the family name although apparently no one has threatened to start selling a peanut butter and jelly montagu on toast with a side of cole slaw. Both sides are preparing for the conflict. No Minutemen have been rallied, nor have any Hessians been hired. Instead, both sides have gone immediately to weapons of mass destruction: they have hired lawyers. Given the fact that there are 4 centuries of history to fight over, international law to dispute, and new cyber legislation to invent, the legal teams at Shyster & Tort (USA) and Meetem, Greetem & Cheatem (UK) should make enough $’s and £’s to eat club sandwiches, club portsmouths and club montagus for the next 50 years.

Meanwhile, as Royalists and Puritans prepare to fight a trans-Atlantic rematch of the English Civil War, Jewish delicatessens around the world are secure in the knowledge that that the sandwich was actually invented by some guy named Reuben.


Blogger Matt Gregg said...

I stumbled upon your blog today, although stumbling does not seem to be quite the right word. In any case, I have certainly enjoyed finding a blog with intelligent comments and making full use of the English language. I look forward to spending more time reading your earlier posts. Please keep up the excellent writing.

10:05 PM  
Blogger Abby Taylor said...

I was going to post a comment, but then I read Gregg's reference to your blog's having intelligent comments and I thought better of what I was about to say.

2:58 AM  
Blogger planetmoron said...

Your post put me in the mind to go make a fluffernutter.

But then maybe that's making a bit too much use of the English language.

11:20 AM  
Blogger birdwoman said...

Just remember

don't fire until you see the seeds of their ryes.


4:36 PM  

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