Current Essays

036 Go-Lum-Bus

From 6th November 1985
A couple of weeks ago I talked to you about the ancient celebration of Rochester's founders on Column Bust Day and, in the way that coincidence has of playing little jokes on us, not long afterwards there was an interesting development at the Swillburg excavation site at Clinton and Goodman involving a minor character from Rochester's history with a similar sounding name Christopher Go-lum-bus.
Actually I should digress for a momnent because many people don't know of this attempt to delve into Rochester's early history, largely because City Hall didn’t want to excite the populus too much and so put about the absurd notion that the excavations were something to do with sewers. I know that the audience of this programme is mature, unflappable and used to shock so I am breaking the news and relying on your discretion.
There have of late been many theories advanced about the origins of Christopher Go-lum-bus and why he should have been so keen on going west. It has been suggested that he was Jewish or Spanish or even Italian. The Clinton Goodman dig has at last revealed his secret! And you mature unflappable people will be the first to hear the…[FADE IN MUSIC TO END]

True Story of Christopher Go-lum-bus!!

Christopher Go-lum-bus was an Iroquois dwelling in Rochester during the latter part of the 15th century. Having gained some notoriety by composing the song 'The Old Grey Mayor She Aint What She Used To Be', which was used against incumbent Mayor Oldbold the Grey in the elections of 1490, Christopher thought it expedient to go on one of the many package tours to Europe that were such a feature of upper class Rochester life in the late Middle Ages. Poor Christopher! He didn't check on the political leanings of his captain (as a wiser man might well have done) and when they arrived at their first port of call (Shannon in Ireland) Christopher Go-lum-bus somehow, accidentally, got left behind. 1490 was not one of his good years, for another bit of bad luck was that this was the hottest summer in nigh on 50 years
Go-lum-bus wandered for a desolate 18 months, the lost man of Europe until, lured by the most important event of the year 1492 (the conquest of Granada, dum-dumb), he went to Spain and happened upon the court of Isabella. There his luck started to change.
It is amazing how small things change history. Isabella, who was remarkably short-sighted for such a far-sighted monarch, had broken her glasses the day before Christopher’s audience, and that made all the difference.
Imagine the scene.
The Royal Court of Spain, its gaudy dignitaries and grandees; with Isobella squinting down from her high throne at the lonely figure before them. There he stood: Christopher Go-lum-bus, in his last good pair of moccasins, his tomahawk tucked in the belt of his well-fringed buckskins and his feather head-dress held high as he pleaded his case.

Had she been able to see him at all clearly in that get up the out-come might well have been different, but - he got his ships. Now his luck changed yet again. Because (as I mentioned) the weather had been so hot on the journey from Rochester, Go-lum-bus made the fatal mistake of trying to get back by a route that was far too southerly. As a result he never did discover North America or his Rochester home and he retired to Europe a broken and disappointed man.
Cheerio for now
from Richard Howland-Bolton.

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