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Richard Clegg

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Tipu Sultan [Jan. 5th, 2011|05:18 pm]
Richard Clegg


You know my very favourite moment in Dragons' Den was where Theo pulled the tail off Trunki the ride on suitcase. Here's a link if you've never seen this particular highlight of modern culture it, like everything else important that has ever happened this century is on youtube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CiFVdvU10L4

Essentially, the hapless entrepreneur is trying to out a plastic ride-on suitcase for children to a bunch of self-regarding and often half-witted rich people. As the entrepreneur is extolling the virtue of plastic ride-on suitcases for children a rich Greek person pulls part of the suitcase off and disaster ensues -- the entrepreneur leaves in shame with no investment. However, the story has a happy ending as, as you might imagine, it turns out that small children are not so strong as fully grown Greek men and Trunki is now widely available in shops. You may not immediately see the connection to late 18th century Indian politics or the works of Shelley. I'll come to it.

Of late the original Trunki (in cute colours) has mutated into animal Trunkis (Trunkii?). In particular there is Gruffalo Trunki but then, at the current rate of expansion, you will be able to buy any known product in the shape of a Gruffalo as soon as 2020 (in fact unless this ugly trend turns around it is likely that the first crewed Mars mission will be in a Gruffalo-shaped space module). Anyway, a relatively recent edition to the range is Tipu Trunki which is in the shape of a tiger (more strictly in the colours of a tiger as all Trunki are more or less the same shape only the colour varies). I presume that this is a reference to Tipu Sultan (the Tiger of Mysore) who ruled a large part of India up to 1799 (and also appears in a Sharpe novel). Tipu adopted the tiger as his symbol and, indeed, after the son of a British general was mauled to death by a tiger he commissioned a large automaton of a tiger mauling a redcoat which contained within it a pipe organ which could be played to apparently make the sounds of a tiger mauling a man to death. I say apparently because I've never heard the tiger played, although it's in the Victorian and Albert museum it's behind glass because visitors to the museum were continually annoyed by the mechanically reproduced sounds of a tiger mauling a man to death (which I can imagine becoming wearing after a time). Anyway, I digress (often) and am coming to the point. Still, it's hardly an image suitable for children is it?

A few years ago, I noticed that my heater for my shower unit was labelled Poseidon, presumably after the Greek god of the sea (rather than the disaster movie) and at the time I thought "that's a bit of a come down really for Poseidon". I mean one day, you're cock of the walk, god of the entire sea with sailors begging your help, the next you're heating up water for some bloke to scrub himself down (well presumably for lots of people, I'm assuming Poseidon manufactured more than one of these). To be fair he (Poseidon) also gives his name to a major manufacturer of scuba equipment and doubtless lots else. Still, it's a big come down from being a god.

It's a similar come down for Tipu Sultan: one day the scourge of Mysore, so important in global history that his wikipedia entry is almost as long as that for Mission Impossible the TV series. A little over two centuries later he's a novelty ride-on suitcase for children. This reminded me of course, of Shelley's famous poem but a diligent websearch found that far from "nothing beside remains", Ozymandias (Ramases II), in fact lives on as:
a) Ramases II battle tank (an egyptian modification to the T-54)
b) Ramases the bighorn ram (mascot of a team in some US sport or other)
c) Ramases consulting, "Specialists in damage management" (presumably with special responsibility to ancient damaged statues).
and doubtless many more I can't quite be bothered to type in. I'm sure this would be of some comfort to him. If he were alive today he could probably sue.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: steer
2011-01-06 09:25 am (UTC)
Heh... well I used to be suspicious of Seigfied Sassoon for similar reasons (seriously I did) because I thought "how good can he really be as a poet if he's more famous for hair dressing?" I think I was about 30 before the dilemma was resolved.
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