A verse on the 1908 London Marathon

Found- a rare and forgotten slim volume Verses by one Norman Grieve privately published in 1912.  A handwritten note loosely inserted in the book says that Norman William Grieve was director of the Anglo-Ceylon and General Estates Company Ltd. (12950 acres, half tea, 40% forest – the rest cocoa, coffee and cardamons.) He  had interests in Mauritius and also dealt in rubber. The poems are on a variety of subjects – Canada, Golf, Marconi and this topical poem about the Italian runner Dorando Pietri. Pietri finished first in the marathon at the 1908 Summer Olympics in London but was subsequently disqualified. He became something of a hero at the time and met the Queen…

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The Marathon Race

(Olympia Dorando in First but Disqualified)

“Only a Race,” you say, and yet conceive

The bitter pangs of that brave heart –

Foremost of all the runners, there in sight

The goal, then deathly weariness

And the overwhelming shout of all those watchers:

What anguish! the longed-for laurels

Almost in his grasp, and yet how distant.

O God, to my tired body give

Strength to run out the Course and gain the wreath

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The Yellow Perils – Yokohama F.C. (1909)

'The idea of Japs playing football ----in the English Cup too- struck them as being intensely amusing …'

So wrote the sports writer William Pollock of the fans and players before the match in his short story 'The Yellow Perils' which appeared in the  January 28th 1909 number of Pearson’s Weekly. It’s also unlikely that these same sceptics would have backed a Japanese rugby team to beat the South Africans in the 2015 World Cup in England.

'The Yellow Perils' is a fictional account of the exploits of a visiting soccer team, Yokohama F.C. in pursuit of The English Cup, where their extraordinary success in trouncing not only a few lowly London teams, such as Hammersmith Rovers and Shepherd’s Bush, but also such League One titans as Chelsea, Aston Villa, Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur, and Manchester City, astounded everyone who witnessed them play.

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Pickpockets

Found in the Haining collection - this article from 1936 on pickpockets. The author Louis Mansfield has much advice,most still relevant. The bit about a 'dip's' long, tapering fingers may be fanciful but certainly it is not a profession for one with fat fingers...

PEARSON'S WEEKLY, May 30, 1936

THIS IS DERBY WEEK, SO

WATCH YOUR POCKETS!

Pickpockets will be busy among the crowds. It is their best time of the year. Louis C. S. Mansfield, detective and crime investigator, lets you into secrets of the "dip's" profession – and they have some good ones. You have been warned!

TAKE HIS ADVICE–

  I have worked against pickpockets for years. Here's my advice to you if you want to return home with your notecase.
  Be careful when you see men carrying, and not wearing, their overcoats, or holding newspapers which are open–not folded.
  Grab your wallet quickly if a stranger starts brushing paint or dust off your coat.
  If somebody hits you on the back and says "Sorry," look for a touch in front–because you won't feel it.

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Robert Barlow – teacher and athlete

I can find nothing about Robert Barlow apart from this affectionate portrait by his friend and colleague L.R. Reeve* whose archive we acquired. He may have been born in 1897 but that's about it..His obscurity is particularly odd because Reeve rated him 'supreme ...above all' and he had met many famous men and women, some world famous.

ROBERT BARLOW

In my opinion Robert Barlow, born in Manchester, was the most outstanding Lancastrian of his era, and during the last hundred years Lancashire has been rightly proud of many great men. Moreover, although I spent most of my long life in London persistentIy visiting the House of Commons, colleges of the University of London, conferences, public meetings and lectures in search of and finding really great men and women, supreme above them all stands Robert Barlow.
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Harold P. Webber – bowls king

Found in the papers of L.R. Reeve (see A.J. Balfour and many others) a piece, from about 1970, about the life of a bowls champion Harold P.(Percy) Webber. One of Reeve's more minor characters and well beneath the Wikipedia radar but a sort of 'village Hampden' in the world of bowls and the author of a notable book on the subject, written with Dr John William Fisher: Bowls - How to Improve your Game (Pitman, London 1934.) Apart from his sporting skills ('his length bowling was uncanny') Webber was a fine orator…

H. P. WEBBER

Harold Webber's recent sudden death, left the members of his club in a state of bewilderment and shock, and had there been a Wailing Wall like the well-known meeting place in Jerusalem, his departure would have caused a record assembly among the mourners. At the time I was very impressed moreover not only by bowlers of other clubs, but by non-players who never went near a club. One acquaintance declared that he couldn't get the deceased celebrity out of his mind. At last his wife said, "It's no use dwelling on his death; it won't bring him back."
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Bear in a cave – a hunter’s tale

Found in an unpublished  typescript -a real life account of big game hunting in India- the author was almost certainly Lieutenant Colonel J. W. Wray. The manuscript was in an envelope with 3 other chapters addressed to him at 'The Croft, Guildford' and he is known to have written With Rifle and Spear : reminiscences of Lt.-Col. J.W. Wray. COPAC gives his dates as 1851-1924 and record this book as being published by The General Press, Ltd.,. They estimate the date as 1925. Certainly these accounts mention rifles and spears, Wray was a dedicated game hunter. The manuscripts came from a couple of very old soldiers - Basil and Russell Steele.

No copies of the book are available and it has not been digitised, apart from an earlier chapter at Jot. Web archives reveal he was in the 108th Foot Regiment and he was a member of the Northumberland and Northern Counties Club. Punch mentions him and his wife in 1916 - the victim of a Pooter like misprint: 'Mrs. Wray entertained the recruiting staff, numbering £21, to tea at Brett's Hall, Guildford, on Thursday.' They add 'Sterling fellows obviously'.

BEAR SHOT INSIDE HIS CAVE

    In one of my previous Chapters I have described the following up of a wounded bear into his cave and finding him dead in there. I knew before I went in that he could not possibly be alive, and I merely went in to make sure of this before allowing any of the beaters to go in and drag him out.
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Trespassers will be Prosecuted (1934)

Militant ramblers will be familiar with the title of this booklet and perhaps with the name of its author, Phil Barnes, even though it is a hard title to find nowadays, and as far as I know, hasn’t been reprinted since it first appeared in 1934. When he decided to publish at his own expense this polemic on the controversial subject of trespass, Barnes had been a self confessed ‘trespasser’ for many years. From his home in Sheffield he had tramped the wild moorland between here and Manchester but was always aware that in seeking out many of the natural beauties, he was legally limited to using only twelve public footpaths. Those, like him, who strayed from these were intimidated by the presence of signs put up by landlords claiming that prosecution would follow if warnings were ignored. Two years earlier he and fellow militant ramblers had taken part in the famous ‘mass trespass‘ of Kinder Scout in the High Peak. In this stand off between ramblers, gamekeepers and the police, physical confrontation was inevitable with the result that many demonstrators, who included the 28 year old Michael Tippett, now generally regarded as the greatest British composer of the twentieth century, were prosecuted and some landed up in jail or were fined.

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F. H. Shapland

From the Reeve collection.* This is a fascinating character (especially from a bowling point of view) and although manager for Team England (as it was not known then) for the 1958 Cardiff Commonwealth Games bowls team and a superb and noted player of the game he is unknown to Wikipedia and turns up online mostly in club lists. But all has changed, changed utterly, thanks to fellow Devonian L.R. Reeve's writings…

English Team, Commonwealth Games 1958

F. H. SHAPLAND

I have met a good many busy men in my long life, but cannot believe anyone could be more active than Harold Shapland. Yet he seems to thrive on his multitudinous commitments, and to the world he appears to be one of the happiest men alive, with his ready wit, ready smile and readiness to chat with any bowler who happens to be near him when watching a thrilling encounter.
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C. B. Fry—Renaissance man

There are many photos of C. B. Fry (1872 – 1956)---an athlete who also  represented England at football and cricket,  Classical scholar, teacher, politician., journalist and author --- on the Net, but you won’t find this one. It comes from a batch of press photographs dating from the forties and fifties. Fry is shown wearing his basic B.A.gown, gained many years earlier after a horrendous performance in his Finals at Oxford, where he was awarded a fourth class degree ( incidentally, I know of only one other famous man who gained such a terrible degree and that’s John Ruskin). The great man finished his teaching career way back in 1898, so perhaps he is revisiting Repton, where he was a pupil, or Charterhouse, where he once taught, in order to receive some sort of honour. I think the photo is rather good, conveying as it does that combination of fierce intelligence, physical toughness and commitment that made the man, in the words of John Arlott, 'the most variously gifted Englishman of any age'.

National Treasure Stephen Fry claims C.B. as a kinsman, but does he offer much or any evidence for this? Not having read any of his memoirs, I cannot judge, but there does seem to be something of the younger’s man’s nose in the great sportsman’s own, if this photo is any guide. Both C.B. and Stephen also have mental illness in common. The former’s disastrous showing in the examination room was put down to a derangement that followed his efforts to pay off huge debts--- and at various times during the rest of his life he became incapacitated by similar bouts of mental illness. Mental problems often run in families. Was this true in the case of Stephen’s own bipolar disorder?

Incidentally, C.B.’s party trick, which he claimed to perform up to his seventies, was to leap backwards from a standing start onto a mantle piece behind him. Now that’s something I’d like to see Stephen Fry perform. [RMH]

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Matthew Arnold letter – a football injury

Found tipped into the front of Poems of Matthew Arnold (London, 1853) an unpublished  handwritten signed letter from the poet to his French friend the writer and anglophile Edmond Schérer.

PAINS HILL COTTAGE, COBHAM, SURREY*. Oct 13th '76

My dear Mr. Scherer

My boy slipped down and was trodden upon at football last March, and was very ill afterwards from some injury to the back. He got well, however, but when I wrote to you we had been disturbed by a sudden return of his pain.  We have taken him to Prescott Hewitt** a great surgeon, who says that he must lie in bed till the pain has entirely gone,  this upsets the arrangements of a small cottage, as we have to give our invalid the one spare room we have, that he may have more air  and  space than in his own little room.  So we are unable to receive any guests in the house while he is ill, and therefore I was obliged, to my very great regret, to put you off.  I fear it will be still a week before we cease to be a  hospital but – do let me know what you are doing and how long you stay in England.  I cannot easily give up the hope of seeing you here. At any rate I shall meet you at the Athenaeum, I trust;  for next week I begin inspecting*** again and shall be in London every day. I have so much to say to you and to hear from you. Most sincerely yours Matthew Arnold.

* Printed at head of notepaper. This was in the beautiful private landscaped park Painshill Park and Arnold rented the cottage from 1873 to 1888.

** In Dickens's Dictionary of London, by Charles Dickens , Jr., (1879) under 'Doctors' Prescott G. Hewitt is noted as Consulting Surgeon at the  Evelina Hospital for Sick Children (Southwark Bridge Road.)

***Matthew Arnold  was appointed, in April 1851, one of Her Majesty's Inspector of Schools, a job which he worked at until 1886. He once described it as 'drudgery.'

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Fat Mary’s brother, a royal sex scandal and a precedent created

As a follow-up to a very recent Jot on Princess Mary of Teck, whose biography was called The People’s Princess, here is a short letter from her brother, found amongst a pile of old letters acquired a few years ago.

 Prince Francis of Teck seems to have followed the age-old career path of minor royalty—public school, Sandhurst, and action abroad -- only this particular royal seems to have been a philanderer and gambler. He had an affair with the beautiful Ellen Constance, wife of the 3rd Earl of Kilmorey, and this together with his ruinous gambling got him sent to India. In the letter, dated March 20th 1893, written when Francis was a lieutenant in the 1st Royal Dragoons, he thanks someone called Mowbray for sending him an ‘ excellent photograph’ but regrets that due to an ‘ exam’ that he is obliged to take on the 4th May, he cannot accept an invitation to visit him. This exam may have been for the rank of captain, and though he probably failed it on this occasion, he was promoted the following year. After India he served in Egypt, and later saw action in the Boer War, eventually retiring in 1901 with the rank of major.

In 1910 Francis died suddenly at Balmoral of pneumonia, aged 39.When his will was read it was discovered to his family’s horror that he had bequeathed to his mistress Ellen the famous Cambridge emeralds, which were part of the family jewels. It was then left to his sister, now Queen Mary, to have this will sealed, thus creating a legal precedent. Previously, royal wills could be publicly examined. The Queen also  negotiated to buy back the emeralds, reportedly paying £10,000 ( around £600,000 today ) for them. Mary then wore them at the coronation of her husband in 1911.

A few years ago actress Sarah Miles claimed that not long after this letter was written, Francis fathered an illegitimate son called Francis Remnant, who became her maternal grandfather. This makes the beautiful Sarah second cousin of the present Queen.

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Toad in the Hole – the progenitor of pinball?

It’s called Toad in the Hole and it was popular (and still is, to some extent) in some pubs, especially in South East England, and particularly around Lewes. According to one online source, competitors stood back from a sort of   table on top of which was a sloping board containing holes. The object was to aim thick coin-like ‘toads’ towards these holes. Those toads that fell through the holes scored points.

However, an interesting variant of the game can be found in an illustrated article by the folklorist L.N.Candlin that appeared in the magazine Courier for November 1949. In this version:

The board for the game is about the size of modern dinner wagon and has three shelves. The top one has a large toad sitting in the middle with its mouth wide open. Around it are a number of hazards. The rest of the apparatus includes a miniature paddle-wheel, two trap doors hinged in the middle and guarded by hoops, and a number of holes, two of which are screened by iron hoops.

In this version, which was being played at the Bull Inn, West Clandon, Surrey, on Candlin’s visit, the prime object was to propel the coin-like missile (Candlin does not mention that they were called toads) into the toad’s mouth, but failing this, into one of the holes and down a chute to lie in a tray against one of the numbers painted on the lower shelves. What makes this particular apparatus similar to a modern pinball machine are some additions to the basic version of the table----the paddle wheel which, when turned, may have  guided any toad that had failed to drop into a hole towards the trap door, and the hoops which were there to prevent toads from entering the holes. According to Candlin, Toad in the Hole was played in some form or other in the reign of Elizabeth the First.

A phone call to the Bull’s Head, as it is now called, revealed that the current owner was aware of the pub’s old Toad in the Hole machine, but had no idea of where it was now, nor whether the game was still played in pubs in the district. Perhaps it ended up in the private collection of a regular at the pub, simply fell to bits, or was discarded when a new owner decided to replace it with a jukebox.

I wonder what Pinball wizard Tommy would have felt about all this… [RR]

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Poet sees the Loch Ness Monster

Found -- this newspaper cutting on the Loch Ness Monster. It is a letter from the poet Herbert Palmer (cited in an earlier Jot when he was writing about C.S. Lewis and women.) The cutting is undated but is probably from the late 1940s. The press source is not noted,but it was found in in a 1937 edition  of Frazers' magisterial work The Golden Bough, part of a large collection of books from the writer on political philosophy Professor J-P Mayer, whose collection looks set to provide more jottable items...

THE LOCH NESS MONSTER

Herbert Palmer, St. Albans.

Sir,- The Loch Ness Monster, it seems, has been described as a huge creature with a long neck and a small head. I would suggest that it is the same creature which I saw in the upper waters of the Tay when I was fishing there in 1930, and described by me on pages 183-184 of my book, The Roving Angler, published in the spring of 1933. I saw something very clearly and definitely; but perhaps only the head and the neck, though I was under the impression that I had seen great part of the body. I have thus described what I saw: "Two hours afterwards a creature which looked exactly like a calf reared itself three-quarters out of the middle of the Tay, and then sank back with a light splash… It had the head, neck and shoulders of a calf".

It looked to me like that - a creature with a small long head and a rather long neck broadening to what appeared to be the shoulders. It bore no resemblance to an otter or seal, for the head was another shape. The colour was brown. What I saw may very well have been the head and neck of a gigantic lizard-like creature rather than the head and neck and part body of a calf. There may be a family of water monsters in the Highlands of Scotland. On the other hand, my perfectly true story may have given rise to an invention. One has only to see a strange thing once, talk or write about it, and a lot of other people imagine afterwards that they also have seen the same sort of thing, brooding on it until they grow quite confident about it'.

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36 hours in the water with a lion

When I read the caption stuck on the back of this press photo of a certain Otto Kemmerich I was a bit taken aback, to say the least. According to the reporter,’ the famous German swimmer, accompanied by his trained lion ”Leo” have swum for more than 36 hours in a tank at the Circus Busch at Hamburg’. It was also reported that Kemmerich was planning to swim 50 hours without a break, also with his ‘pet’ and hoped to swim the Channel with Leo.

A bit of internet investigation revealed that the feat took place in April 1928 and that Leo wasn’t a feline at all, but a sea-lion, which suggests that the incompetent journalist had never heard of a cat’s dislike of water and had obviously never been shown any action shots of Herr K together with his  pet. In fairness to ‘SSS’, the idiot in question, something may have been lost in translation from German to English, but surely any decent journalist must read back what he or she has written before releasing it to the world.

If the caption survived the sub-editor’s rigorous scrutiny there must have been red faces all around the press rooms of  the papers that carried the story. Personally, that image of a fully grown lion swimming for 1 ½ days in a tank with a very edible human alongside him will remain with me for a long time.

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The Rolls Royce of Bookplates

Found -- the bookplate of Charles Stewart Rolls  featuring early sporting motor-cars to foreground with illuminated lamps, the moon rising behind an imposing country pile, and balloons ascendant in the sky above; inscribed “Charles Stewart Rolls” below, and with the coat-of-arms of the Baron Llangattock surmounting top centre with family motto “Celeritas et Veritas” (Speed and Truth)measuring 12 x 9cm. About 1905. Rather valuable - a clean one made over a £100 at Bonhams in 2013. The artist was known as WPB  (Barrett) and he produced several hundred bookplates, mostly for the landed gentry, featuring the house, the library and the pastimes of customers who ordered them at bookshops like Bumpus.

Charles Rolls was of course the co-founder (with Henry Royce) of the Rolls Royce car firm. He stood 6 foot 5 inches and died  young -he was the first Briton to be killed in a flying accident, when the tail of his Wright Flyer broke off during a flying display in the Southbourne district of Bournemouth, England in 1912. He was 32. He came from money and with a loan of £6600 from his father (Baron Llangatock) he set up one of the first car dealerships in London.

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Hunting panthers in India (1920s)

Found in an unpublished  typescript -a real life account of big game hunting in India- the author was almost certainly Lieutenant Colonel J. W. Wray. The climax is worthy of Henty or Buchan, otherwise it is a good hunter's tale, completely of its time...The manuscript was in an envelope with 3 other chapters addressed to him at 'The Croft, Guildford' and he is known to have writtenWith rifle and spear : reminiscences of Lt.-Col. J.W. Wray. COPAC gives his dates as 1851-1924 and record this book as being published by The General Press, Ltd.,. They estimate the date as 1925. Certainly these accounts mention rifles and spears, Wray was a dedicated game hunter. The manuscripts came from a couple of very old soldiers - Basil and Russell Steele.

No copies of the book are available and it has not been digitised, apart from an earlier chapter at Jot. Web archives reveal he was in the 108th Foot Regiment and he was a member of the Northumberland and Northern Counties Club. Punch mentions him and his wife in 1916 - the victim of a Pooter like misprint: 'Mrs. Wray entertained the recruiting staff, numbering £21, to tea at Brett's Hall, Guildford, on Thursday.' They add 'Sterling fellows obviously'.

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Song of the Football Cup (Eton 1890)

Found- a rare pamphlet Song of the Football Cup (Ingalton Drake, Eton 1890) by R. Carr Bosanquet, with music composed by Joseph Barnby. The whole song goes thus:

Mustering under the old red wall, less than year ago
(The sky that day was sullen and gray the frost lay hard below,)
Each of us vow'd he would conquer or fall, facing the friendly foe;
Our hearts we steel'd as we took the field, and felt our pulses glow.

Mustering under the old red wall, less than year ago etc.,

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French bicycle poster – Durex ‘en vente ici’

Found! Actually the gift of an American colleague and dealer in ephemera- this hanging wall card for cycle parts from the French company Durex. Probably from the early 1950s, the company appears to be now defunct.... This poster may amuse some Brits as Durex is the pre-eminent maker of condoms in Britain. Durex is practically synonymous with condoms there in the way Hoover is with vacuum cleaners.

In the USA it is Trojans which, although not unknown in Britain, is also the name of several different companies on the sceptered isle including an electronics company, an arms dealer ( Trojan Group) and a timber crating company.

The arms dealer Trojan sells assault rifles  with this quote from Voltaire: 'God is not on the side of the big battalions but  on the side of those who shoot best.' Exactement.

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How to be Happy on the Riviera 3

The penultimate part of Robert Elson's 1927 book dealing with indoor and outdoor amusements and of course gaming. There is a good description of a Gala dinner which has the authentic 1920s tone:

 "A gala dinner may be ...a more elaborate entertainment indistinguishable from a fête, the room being decorated for the occasion–sometimes in a really artistic manner–and a good programme of show-turns provided. There are sure to be surprises–toys to make noises with, balloons, etc. The peculiarity of surprises is that they are always the same. Occasionally really attractive gifts are distributed, or prizes given in connection with dancing or a tombola (raffle). If you are in an appropriately happy-go-lucky mood, a gala is usually quite enjoyable. It is good to play the fool sometimes, pelting and being pelted by the occupants of neighboring tables with little coloured balls, and trying to hit people at a distance with harmless projectiles. Also, you never know what may come of it. A happily-married lady of my acquaintance first made her existence known to her husband by hitting him on the ear with a flying sausage; he asked her to dance, and the thing was as good as done."

Such goings on would have been vieux jeu by the 1940s. Interestingly many fetes described have gone - The Venetian Fete at Cannes has been replaced by a film festival, car shows and uphill car racing at Monte Carlo has become the Rally, but the Burning of the Boat still goes on and the Battle of Flowers - so all is not lost.

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How to be Happy on the Riviera 2

The second part of a posting of a complete book How to be Happy on the Riviera by Robert Elson W. (Arrowsmith Ltd., 11 Quay Street, Bristol, 1927). There is plenty on food and restaurants (including menus and tips on coffee, ice cream and liqueurs) and some good descriptions of gamblers in Monte Carlo - 

"Little old women in Victorian black silk dresses and bonnets; others attired in the fashions of twenty or thirty years ago; exotic-looking young women, wearing extravagant parodies of the fashions of to-day – some exactly like cinema vamps; women like men, and girls like boys. A duke who is a frequent visitor summed it up neatly: 'There are always a lot of queer wild-fowl about'...you may see incredibly ancient men; wild-looking men with immense manes of hair; gaunt men with sunken cheeks and bony hands who might have come out of a novel by Mrs. Radclyffe, unnatural-looking young men who might have been created by Mr. Michael Arlen; people who impress you as half crazy, others who look as if they had been dead a long time, only they don't know it.'

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