A Party for Tony and Marcelle Quinton

Quinton and Marcelle party list 001Found among papers at Jot HQ ( heaven knows where it came from ) is this printed list of the good and great ( some not so good) who were invited by a friend or friends to attend a party for the philosopher (Lord) AnthonyQuinton and his American-born wife Marcelle ( nee Weiger), a sculptor.

 

We don’t know who drew up the list or when the event took place, although it must have been in or before 2003, the year in which one of the invited died. Nor do we know where it happened, although one must assume that since most of the invited were Americans, the venue was in the US, most probably in the home of the host and hostess. This could have been in New York City, where the Quintons had one of their  homes. This philosopher had four homes around the world! Diogenes made do with a barrel, Wittgenstein with a bedsit furnished mainly with deck chairs.

 

Quinton taught philosophy at Oxford and is credited with having a rigorous intellect, but he was hardly a Wittgenstein or even an A. J. Ayer. The fact that he was a Tory and the intellectual force behind the political movement that propelled Margaret Thatcher to Downing Street, couldn’t have recommended him to the young who were reading PPE or PPP at his University in the 1980s. In the tributes that followed his death in 2010 friends and colleagues praised his bonhomie. Much of his clubbable personality came across when he presented the popular and long-running radio series ‘ Round Britain Quiz ‘, a truly challenging quiz show in which a  panel of high powered intellects ( as opposed to some of the nitwits that perform on ‘Celebrity Mastermind’ ) try to make connections between seemingly unrelated people, concepts and texts. Luckily, despite the general ‘dumbing down’ of broadcasting, the show has survived and, thank goodness, remains as challenging as ever it was. Continue reading

Literary drinkers

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The actual book being discussed is entitled ‘More Literary Drinkers’, but as we at Jot 101 haven’t read Pete Bunten’s ‘Literary Drinkers’, we will start with this sequel.

Bunten assembles the usual suspects in alphabetical order rather than in their degrees of bibulousness, which in some cases is not why they are in his book. They are: the Brontes, Roy Campbell (left), J.P.Donleavy, Ian Fleming, John Fothergill, Oliver Goldsmith, W.W.Jacobs, Jerome K Jerome, D.H.Lawrence, C.S.Lewis and J.R.R.Tolkein,Norman McCaig, Julian Maclaren Ross, Thomas Nashe, Eugene O’Neill, Dorothy Parker, Joseph Roth, Shakespeare, R.S.Surtees, Graham Swift , and Evelyn Waugh.

The book is well written, as it should be, considering that Bunten, who is ( or was ) a schoolteacher, is a graduate in  English from Cambridge. And there are some amusing pen portraits. One of the best concerns the belligerent South African poet Roy Campbell, who comes across as a near-alcoholic, quite capable of downing 4 ½ litres of wine a day. Bunten is right to see him as a victim of his own determination to project himself as macho through reckless physical activity and alcohol. His fiancee’s father warned her against marrying a ‘dipsomaniac‘, but she ignored his advice and paid the price. The discovery of her affair with Vita Sackville West sent Campbell off on a lengthy bender, which seems to us the sign of an emotionally weak person, rather than a manly one. And is it manly, one asks, to physically attack an unarmed Stephen Spender and Geoffrey Grigson, who Bunten calls ‘ timid ‘,with a knobkerrie ?  To evade such a drunken assault, as Grigson did, after having learnt that Spender had already been hit by Campbell, is hardly the action of a timid person. Later, Anthony West commented on the encounter   with the gruff ‘ You should have kicked him in the balls ‘.In his brilliant Recollections (1984) Grigson recalls being  a witness to another example of  Campbell’s boorish behaviour.

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‘Every woman with stockings is a whore’ and other scurrilous entries in an early nineteenth century common place book

Here is a dual purpose thick octavo notebook bound in calf with a clasp. Nineteenth century diary & common place book 001The front part is a short record of travels in Germany and Belgium in which the anonymous male diarist, who is accompanying his mother, at one point tells us that he was born in 1802, is very scathing about the appearance of most of his travelling companions. In one instance he remarks that the young son of the parson in the party ‘seemed to be as ugly as his father and as vulgar as his cousin’. He is singularly unimpressed by most of the foreigners he encounters along the way. For instance, he notes that his fellow diners at the Table d’Hote, were ‘12 disgusting looking Germans who luckily eat enormously & spoke little ‘. The following evening diners at the same table were’ rather more disgusting in their appearance & manner of eating than the day before ‘. Predictably, he is also critical of the meals he is obliged to eat and the inns that serve and accommodate him. In one inn he accuses the landlord of serving him a dish of greyhound puppy.  Our diarist certainly places himself above the common lot. He seems knowledgeable about art and is a little snooty regarding the collections he views, suspecting that most of the paintings were copies from the masters. More positively, he is often ecstatic about the scenery and buildings he encounters and he particularly praises cathedrals and castles. We yearn for more, but unfortunately, the diary stops abruptly after thirty pages.

 

The back pages of the volume is devoted to anecdotes, jokes of dubious taste in English and French and snatches of Arabic —in ink and pencil and in different hands. The passages in Arabic may also be indecent, of course.

Here is a selection of the more publishable remarks from this section of the volume:

Gold and Paper

At a fashionable whist party, a lady having won a rubber of 20 guineas, the gentleman who was her opponent pulled out his pocket book and tendered £21 in bank notes. The fair gamester observed with a disdainful toss of her head.“ In the great houseswhich I frequent, Sir , we always use gold “. That may be so, replied the gentleman, but in the little houseswhich I frequent we always use paper.”

Appropriate text.

Mr Sterne (possibly the author of Tristram Shandy), the day after his marriage took for his text: “ We have toiled all night and caught nothing”

Royal Favour.

A low frenchman boasted in very hyperbolic terms that the king had spoken to him; & being asked what his Majesty had said, replied” He bade me stand out of the way “. Continue reading

Brocard Sewell on the Trial of Stephen Ward

The West End success of the play Stephen Ward recalls the scandalous mistrial in 1963 of the trendy osteopath that prompted Ward’s suicide. Luckily, to remind us of the gross injustice meted out by the Judge, Alfred Denning, we have a review in the Aylesford Review by the maverick Carmelite monk Brocard Sewell, of Ludovic’s Kennedy’s revelatory Trial of Stephen Ward (1964).

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Denning was a clever man with a first class degree in mathematics, but it is generally acknowledged that many of his judgements and pronouncements in court and outside, lacked a degree of humanity and empathy, qualities that seem to have diminished still further with age. He may, of course, have suffered from Asperger’s Syndrome at a time when this condition was little understood. He was 65 at the time of the Ward trial and he continued as a senior judge until asked to stand down because of his great age. Nor did the prosecution and police ( quelle surprise) come out of the matter with any plausibility. In fact, according to Father Sewell, ‘few of the people concerned in the trial emerge with credit ‘.

To Sewell, Denning proved himself to be anything but the impartial weigher of evidence and sifter of facts that his profession demanded of him. Instead of allowing the prosecution to ask the necessary questions of the police witnesses he intervened by asking the same witnesses exactly the same questions himself, thus telling the jury obliquely that ‘in the judge’s view Herbert and Burrows were men whose word was to be trusted’. Continue reading

Being engaged to be married, 1954 style

Engaged book 1954 cover 001In view of the coming Royal Wedding here’s a glimpse of the conventions regarding engagements that prevailed sixty three years ago. So You’re Engaged, a collection of essays by a motley crew of contributors, containing some ‘big‘ names of the time, such as the cartoonist Marc, Gilbert Harding, Godfrey Winn, John Betjeman, Constance Spry, Peter Ustinov, Elizabeth Arden, Andre Simon and Googie Withers, is undoubtably a period piece, just as today’s guides to healthy living and spiritual wellbeing will be regarded as ‘of their time’ in the future.

The first contributor was ‘What’s My Line’ radio celebrity and confirmed bachelor Gilbert Harding, who injects some clear-headed common sense into the ‘delovely and delicious ‘aspects of being engaged. It’s all very well the groom drinking in all the beauty of his future bride, Harding warns, but this is the time to notice some of her irritating habits. ‘Does she get lipstick on her teeth, comb her hair in public, let her stockings get twisted, let her nail varnish flake?’ Moreover, does the handsome fiancé ‘ talk with his pipe in his mouth, does he use a clothes brush, does he keep his shoes clean and can you bear his friends ?’

There are some wise words too from Gilbert on how to keep the marriage on an even keel. Harding cites five ‘really happy marriages ‘he has known in which the couples have alighted on a winning formula. They behave, Harding suggests, as if they are ‘still engaged’. Continue reading

I once met…Olive Cook

Olive Cook photoI had first met the writer and wife of the brilliant architectural photographer Edwin Smith, in 1984 at Saffron Walden Museum, where I was a museum assistant. I was helping her with an exhibition of her late husband’s photographs. I recall that she called everyone ‘ darling ‘, which I saw as suggesting that she had once been in the theatre. I don’t remember anything more about her.

Fast forward to the late 1990’s and I was actually sitting with her in the kitchen of ‘The Orchards ‘, the famous home outside Saffron Walden that she and Edwin had once shared. Having visited various artists’ homes over the past two decades, including that of John and Myfanwy Piper at Fawley Bottom, I should have been prepared for what greeted me there, but I wasn’t. In the sitting room I seem to remember bright modern pictures and sculpture and art books covering every surface, with a lot of wickerwork and hand knitted rugs and potted plants. Rather Bloomsburyish, I thought, but in a nice way. The kitchen was more practically furnished, but in the same rather genteel-arty style. It also had a typically smell about it, an odour of old money artist that I’d noticed about the Pipers’ kitchen. Perhaps it was the drains. But I liked this comforting smell. Continue reading

A pre-Coronation Communist Party pamphlet of 1937

Communist Party leaflet 001Aimed specifically at workers looking forward to the glamorous Coronation of King George VI on May 12th 1937 is this glossy brochure published by the Communist Party of Great Britain. It argues that it is scandalous that a total of £20,000,000 will be spent by the Government in staging the event and by those attending it (new outfits and hotel bills) when that sum might be better spent on new homes, nursery schools and underfed children.

Naturally, the Party denies that it against those with money spending it on whatever they like. What it does argue is that it is divisive for members of the moneyed class to flaunt their wealth before working people. It is also hypocritical for them to spend it on ‘fripperies’ when the ruling class has acknowledged that the Coronation is an occasion for the rich and poor to come together and celebrate the pageantry of this memorable event like ‘ one happy family’.

‘The idea is that you, Bill Smith, miner, fitter, shop assistant, belong to the same happy British family as Lord Nuffield, Mr Selfridge and your own employer—all the King’s loyal subjects together.’

Of course, the pamphlet argues, this is an example of government duplicity. Those in power see the millions as money well spent if the pageantry invokes sufficient feelings of patriotism among the working class to encourage workers to fall in with their ‘ war plans ‘. However, the pamphlet argues that it is up to workers to ensure that the ruling class do not achieve this cosy arrangement.

‘First, make them pay more. If you have to work on Coronation Day, demand holiday rates of pay. Some employers are trying to show how patriotic and generous they are by giving a holiday with pay on Coronation day. If your employer is one of these, demand a proper holiday of at least a week with pay this year and every year—like the French workers get. When they urge you to brighten up your street with flags and streamers, demand that the landlord brightens up your home as well. If they provide a free tea for the children on Coronation day, accept it and see that your children have a good feed and a good time. But demand also, that your children and happy and properly fed during the rest of the year…’   Continue reading

Dining with the famous in the early 1960s (2)

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The high-flying Oxford graduate Robert Fearnley-Whittingstall visited Burley Manor in the New Forest a few months before he married gardening writer Jane in 1962. Three years later, celebrity chef Hugh, of River Cottage fame, was born. According to those who approved the hotel, the owners used their own ‘vegetables, cream, poultry and pigs ‘. So doubtless, the merits of locally sourced produce were passed onto the River Cottage presenter. However, it is unlikely that Hugh’s cooking skills were inherited from his Dad, because, according to Jane, the only dish her husband could cook for the young ladies he entertained as a bachelor was devilled kidneys!John Arlott pic

John ‘the Voice of Cricket’ Arlott, who started his career as a policeman in Basingstoke before being discovered by poet and BBC producer Geoffrey Grigson, was a oenophile and gastronome who enjoyed great hospitality at the White Horse Inn, Droxford, which just happens to be a few miles from the ‘Bat and Ball ‘pub in Hambledon, where cricket began in the eighteenth century.

In the early sixties ‘motels ‘ were becoming popular, although one doesn’t expect to find many in the Good Food Guide. However, there are at least two, one of which, ‘The Royal Oak Motel’ at Newington, near Hythe, offered, according to the approvers a delicious, though expensive selection of continental and English dishes, including escalope in Marsala ( 14/-) and frog’s legs ( 10s 6d). It is not known whether one of the approvers, Geoffrey Finsberg, a Tory councillor at just 24, who became a senior government minister in the seventies, dined here on expenses. Continue reading

Dining with the famous in the early 1960s

Norman Painting diningA copy of Raymond Postgate’s pioneering Good Food Guide for 1961 – 62 is a real eye-opener for the 21st century foodie. Forget steak, mushrooms and chips followed by Black Forest Gateau at the nearest Berni Inn—- here were restaurants where high quality and innovative dishes were served. Postgate asked those who were members of the Good Food Club to fill in the report page at the end of each guide, ‘approving’ a particular restaurant. If he liked the comments the names of the ‘approvers’ were added to the end of the restaurant entry. Most of these approvers were just ordinary people who liked good food, but a number turned out to be amongst the great and the good of the time, including writers, academics and showbiz types. It is likely that Postgate recognised these names and deliberately selected them out as a way of attracting diners who also recognised these ‘ celebs’. Here are some examples.

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Eternal bachelor Norman Painting, who played the patriarch of long-running radio series’ The Archers’ for a record number of years after leaving an academic career at Oxford, where he fell out with his B.Litt tutor, the lazy and apathetic Lord David Cecil, was an enthusiastic diner at Bertorelli’s in Shepherds Bush, just round the corner from the BBC. He also enjoyed the food at several other good restaurants scattered over the country. A serious gastronome, it seems.

Antiquarian book legend Anthony Rota, a great diner-out, appears to have enjoyed Mediterranean cuisine at the Tavana restaurant in Heddon Court Parade, Cockfosters. He also approved the cheap ’n’ cheerful Romano Santi bistro in Greek Street, Soho, and the more traditional Foxley Hotel in Bishop’s Stortford. Continue reading

Google Blaster – the name game

A young jotwatcher, one Simione, from the Silicon Fen area has sent in famous_fantastic_mysteries_195306this amusing game that can be played using an iPhone or laptop. One player picks 3 people of seemingly equal fame and then all the players have to say (in order) who has the highest google rating i.e. number of hits. It is best when searching to put the full name in inverted commas – e.g. “Kevin Bacon.” Players score 1 point for naming the person with the most hits and an extra 2 points for naming all 3 in correct order. First to ten , at that point you can play again but one session is usually enough. Try Marcel Proust, Jorge Luis Borges and Vladimir Nabokov. The leader is Borges at 7.88 million, Proust at 4.68 and Nabokov at 3.3 million.

In the realm of popular youth culture who is the biggest – Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift or Lady Gaga? Bieber wins at 168 million, Lady Gaga 137M and Taylor trails with a mere 127 million. Results can change day by day and rather randomly. People currently in the news do well, as do those associated with technology. Best to avoid common name like James Brown or John Taylor.

You can mix cultures to make it more challenging – say Kafka, Ayn Rand and Samuel Beckett— predictably Kafka comes in at number one with 7.74M, objectivist Ayn Rand at 5.7M and Beckett with only 3.97 million hits.  [See our illustration which brings Rand and Kafka together.]
Names of rock bands can be fun – try Kraftwerk, Radiohead, Metallica (it’s Metallica by a country mile.)

With Elvis, Bob Dylan and Albert Einstein, the scientist leads, followed by Bob and trailed quite closely by ‘The King”. (Allegedly Dylan once chucked  Phil Ochs out of a limo for suggesting he would never be as big as Elvis – turns out Ochs was wrong!) Super heroes throw up some surprises- at 100 million Super Mario has more hits than the Hobbit and Darth Vader combined. Theoretically you could try Oranges, Apples and Lemons or Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle but celebrities are the most fun. The name of the game, according to Simione was suggested by the cocktail in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster*. Simione also suggests it could be a drinking game with the loser having to buy a round or the winner drinking a shot. More sober players could play for money, say a  $1000 a point.

He (or she) suggests you try William Shakespeare, J.K. Rowling and John Lennon or Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath and Bjork. Such fun!

*Beeblebrox advised that you should “never drink more than two Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters unless you are a thirty ton mega elephant with bronchial pneumonia.”

 

Stuntmen- a ‘respected heavy’

IMG_1966Found in Spotlight’s Register of Stunt Performers and Stunt Arrangers: 1991-93 this entry on the ‘respected heavy’ Michael Crane. A fascinating book, mostly men, some listing the equipment that they can provide (Abseiling equipment, Air Bags, Fire Suits etc.,) Michel Crane, a formidable figure, also worked as a bodyguard in those inevitable resting periods in the life of a stuntman…minding Heads of State, Royalty, Pop Stars- the usual crew. His entry reads:

Michael Crane.

Height: 6ft 7in

Weight: 25st

Chest: 55in

Credits: 

Stunt Arranger: Henry Rawlinson’s End.

Stunt Performer: Brannigan, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Legend, Defrosting the Fridge.

Capabilities: Driving Stunts, small arms expert, boxing and all general stunt work.

Acting Experience: twenty-five years experience playing small parts, heavies, giants, monsters, pirates, Scotsmen, Blacksmith etc.

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The 1971 Bookbang—a damp squib?

The_Sacred_Mushroom_and_the_Cross_coverHalfway through its run Guardian journalist Alex Hamilton visited the much vaunted Book Bang (see earlier jot)  in Bedford Square and discovered many disappointed people . One of these ( presumably a writer ) had scrawled on a litter-bin: ‘ Publishers are rich, writers poor, people poorer’. A bookshop owner called Eddie Pond complained about paying good money to be bombarded with promotional shows. There was much else to complain about, according to Hamilton:

‘You can’t see work from the private presses, because their shows start elsewhere on Monday. You can’t be drawn by Felix Topolski for £3 because he has now gone back to his studio under the arches. You can’t see underground gigs because the Bedford Settled Estate would not permit a concrete base to be sunk in their turf…You can’t smoke in the tents. You can’t drink till six, because the square businessmen objected to the echoes of saturnalia they caught on the breeze…You can’t see many heads of the publishing industry, because they have bigger fish to fry, and didn’t all want the Bookbang in the first place…’

In fact, so lukewarm were the bigger publishers that two of them underwrote the Bookbang to a derisory extent—Penguin and Weidenfeld both donated a measly £250. Nor did the book industry help much with staffing. Those few staffers who did arrive were grossly overworked. A frustrated Bookbang supreme Martyn Goff was quite willing to admit to Hamilton that ‘of all the publishers who promised me help, only one turned up’. Continue reading

Maundy Gregory – a St John’s Wood Gatsby

IMG_1829Found in a 1955 Punch – a review by the novelist Anthony Powell of Honours for Sale. The Strange Story of Maundy Gregory. (Gerald Macmillan, London: Richards Press 1954). Maundy Gregory had in the 1920s what amounted to a licence to print money. He sold honours, a profession that made a comeback in the Blair years. For £10,000 (about $1 million now) he could get you an earldom; knighthoods were a bit cheaper. You could, in fact, sign a cheque to him in your expected new name–only cashable when you assumed the title. He liked rare books, especially the works of the fantastical Frederick Rolfe (Baron Corvo.) In some cases (according to AJA Symons in Quest for Corvo) he would pay his agents to track down supposedly unfindable books, money no object. He had a mansion in St John’s Wood which later became the world famous Beatle’s recording studio.

Powell calls him an ‘honours tout’, a ‘real life Gatsby’ and ‘a mad aspect of the 1920s incarnate’. He suggests that anyone  ‘who enjoys a good laugh’ should read the list of  guests at his Derby Eve Dinner at his own club ‘The Ambassador’s.’ Something of a ‘sausage fest’ (i.e. no women) but, as Powell says, Gregory certainly knew how to ‘bring them in.’  The author of the book, Gerald Macmillan, may  be exaggerating when he says it was the most distinguished gathering ever held…

List of guests at Ambassador Derby Eve Dinner, held on June 2, 1931.

Major-General J. E. B. Seely (in the Chair), Sir Austen Chamberlain, Mr. Winston Churchill, the Duke of Marlborough, Mr. J. H. Thomas, the Duke of Sutherland, Viscount Craigavon, the Marquess of Reading, Major-General the Earl of Scarborough, Sir John Simon, Lord Southborough, Viscount Elibank, Mr. J. Maundy Gregory, Lord Jessel, Mr. Ralph E. Harwood, Earl Winterton, Lord Queenborough, Lord Bayford, Mr. W. Dudley Ward, Lord Plender, Marquis del Moral, Lieutenant-Commander Sir Warden Chilcott. Continue reading

Sabrina—Britain’s answer to Marilyn Monroe

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Sabrina on the set of ‘Blue Murder at St Trinians’ being sketched by Ronald Searle

Found in the Peter Haining Archive a small file on the now forgotten fifties British glamour model Sabrina, who in 1936 was born in Stockport as Norma Sykes. The nature of some of the contents of the file, which includes three large glossy prints of the scantily clad model in various provocative poses, suggests that Haining was one of the thousands of young ( and not so young) men who had fantasised about the bosomy blonde in her heyday, when she was compared to Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield. His curiosity may have prompted either by research for a possible book on Arthur Askey, in whose TV shows she had appeared, or by another clipping in the Archive—-a double-page spread in The Mail on Sunday for September 1st 2002.

In this article Sabrina, who following her unsuccessful bid for Hollywood stardom had settled for a life of leisure as the wife of a wealthy LA gynaecologist, only to lose most of it following her divorce, was tracked down by reporters to a seedy corner of Beverley Hills :  Continue reading

Odd photos bought online 2

anne1Bought at eBay for the price of a latte (and muffin) -these 3 photos purporting to be of a British royal – Anne, Princess Royal. The left and right photos are indubitably her, the middle photo (printed on Fujifilm Crystal
Archive paper -as is the other colour shot) may not be. It shows a well dressed and striking young woman emerging from a Ford Thunderbird sometime in the (late?) 1960s in what looks like a field or orchard with other mostly pretty fancy American cars parked there. It has the feel of a Cindy Sherman performance  art photograph and if authentic must have been taken on a tour of America by Anne or while she was on holiday there.

 

The mouth (and nose) and assured demeanour certainly look like Anne. The provenance is good but such web purchases always have an element of doubt- certainly if it is Anne she is looking uncharacteristically  ‘cool’ and it is one of the ‘groovier’ moments of her young life. An online search revealed nothing conclusive especially when coupled with the words ‘Thunderbird.’
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A bookseller meets T.E. Lawrence

IMG_0006Found among  the books in the working library of the actor Peter O’Toole (1932 – 2013)  his copy of Letters of T.E. Lawrence (Readers Union, 1941.) O’Toole had surprisingly few books on or by Lawrence considering that this  was probably his greatest role and the film that made him an international star. In the Reader’s Union edition was loosely inserted  a one page wartime broadsheet keeping members of the book club informed about new publications. It was from an address at Wray Common, Reigate. This broadsheet / flier was dated February 1941and  has a good piece (“T.E.”) on Lawrence by his friend and bookseller  K.W. Marshall.

I have more reason to feel grateful to T.E. Lawrence than most booksellers. When I was unemployed years ago, he loaned me Clouds Hill his Dorset cottage, where I stayed for just over three months. Later, my wife and I spent a honeymoon holiday there. On my first  visit I was in “possession” of the cottage, and Lawrence would ask permission to stay the night on the infrequent occasions that he managed to pay a visit. He was very proud of the cottage and spent some considerable effort and time in gradually planning a comfortable retreat for his retirement. Unfortunately, when he died he had not enjoyed Clouds Hill for as long a period as I had; and during his short term of possession he was harassed by news reporters. Continue reading

Gillian Hills–Beat Girl

For someone brought up with the Beatles, it’s difficult to understand the attraction for teenagers of what came immediately before the Fab Four transformed pop music for ever. Here, for instance, is the back page Film Review promo for Beat Girlbeatgirl_poster a movie released in 1960 that purported to show ‘ squares ‘ what their ‘beatnik’ teenage sons and daughters were getting up to behind their backs. Starring the pop singer Adam Faith ( his film debut at the age of 18 ), horror star Christopher Lee, a young Oliver Reed and the fifteen year old bilingual starlet Gillian Hills, it was also the debut of John Barry, who went on to forge a glittering career in film music.

In 1960, most pop music fans were more interested in how teen idol Faith would cut it as an actor, than they were seeing ‘ the second Bardot ‘, as Roger Vadim hyped the fifteen year Hills, but looking back, it is odd that latter’s acting career never took off. Here was an actress, whose striking blonde beauty and obvious acting talent should have propelled her to greater things. In ‘Beat Girl’ Hills plays the ‘ bad girl ‘ Jennifer, the sulky-looking beatnik, who rejects the values of her respectable parents and lives for the kicks she gets out of dancing in night clubs and hanging out in milk bars. In the opening scenes of the film she is a pouting, free-spirited presence as she descends the stairs to the basement dance floor, where, seemingly oblivious to everything and everyone around her, she begins a freestyle dance routine. On her website ( which is worth a visit ) Hills describes the dance thus: ‘ my brain flipped, my feet followed and I was off’. As for her role as Jennifer, she saw it as a protest at her treatment by her Lycee in Paris, who expelled her for taking on a debut role in Vadim’s Les Liaisons Dangereux ‘.

 

‘I could vent my frustration, my disgust, the helplessness and despair, and the anger at what had happened to my life in the recent months.’

‘Beat Girl’ proved popular in Britain, but was banned in France. However, this did not prevent Hills from taking roles in a number of French films in the early sixties and from recording pop songs in French, including the annoyingly catchy ‘ Zou Bisou Bisou’ (1961), which was later used in ‘Mad Men’. But in Britain the film roles were small. She was a brunette in the cultish ‘Blow Up ‘(1966) and in ‘A Clockwork Orange’ she had a cameo. She also appeared occasionally on British TV.Gillian Hills pic

In 1975 Hills decided to stop making films and left for New York City to try her luck as a book and magazine illustrator. Judging from the artwork on her website, she appears to have genuine artistic talent too! At 72, Hills now lives in England with her husband Stewart Young, manager of AC/DC and Cyndi Lauper, among other artistes. [R.M.Healey]

 

 

Books we must not read. Part One

In issue number 11 ( January 1951) of the book miscellany Colophon someone called W. Mason- Owen describes some of the literary material that remains locked away in two departments of the British Library ( or British Museum Library as it was then known). Incidentally, didn’t unfashionable novelist Angus Wilson work in the Manuscript department of the BM around this time? I bet he had a peek at these banned items.

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Henry Campbell-Bannerman ( James Guthrie)

In 1951 the first and most important of these departments was the Copyright Department, in which ‘ neatly packed away in brown paper parcels ‘ could be found ‘ politician’s diaries , books, letters and documents of scientists, inventors, poets and literary men, Court gossipers and King’s Messengers’. According to Mason-Owen, many of these writings wouldn’t be available to read for another fifty years---some perhaps would never be read. Owen then describes a few examples of the material locked away:-

  • Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman’s private papers. Apparently, according to Mason-Owen, Campbell-Bannerman was Prime Minister in the early part of ‘ the nineteenth century’ , which should of course read ‘ the twentieth century ‘. Never mind. The reason they’re hidden away was because this particular politician was ‘famed for his caustic outbursts ‘against his more intransigent opponents. It’s hard to imagine that many of these MPs would have been alive forty or fifty years on, but there you are. I suppose war hero Winston Churchill might have been one of them.
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William Loring, academic, soldier and first Warden of Goldsmiths

Found among  the papers of the long defunct literary agency Michael Hayes of Cromwell Road S.W.5  - parts of a manuscript memoir by one L.R. Reeve of Newton Abbot, South Devon. Mr Reeve was attempting to get the book (Among those Present: Very Exceptional People) published, but on the evidence of the unused stamp Hayes never replied and  L. R. Reeve published the book himself through the esteemed vanity publisher Stockwell two years later in 1974.

L R Reeve had in a long life met or observed a remarkable selection of famous persons. He  presents 'vignettes' of 110 persons from all grades of society (many minor or even unknown) they include Winston Churchill, Dorothy Sayers,  H H Asquith, John Buchan, the cricketer Jack Hobbs, J.B. Priestley, H.G. Wells, Marconi, E.M. Forster, Duchess of Atholl, Marie Stopes, Oliver Lodge and Cecil Sharp -- 'it is unnecessary to explain that  many I have known have not known me. All of them I have seen, most of them I have heard, and some of them have sought information, even advice from me."

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Rock and Roll Cookery

Found – an uncommon cook book called Cool Cooking. Recipes of your Favorite Rock Stars by Roberta Ashley ( Scholastic Book Service USA 1972). As it was published 40 years some of the stars are now dead (John Lennon, George Harrison, Eddie Kendricks, Wilson Pickett, Joe Cocker) or sadly forgotten (The Honey Cones, The Grass Roots, The Bells, Andy Kim, Odetta, The Delfonics, Rose Colored Glass, Mandrill) and Paul McCartney was still eating meat. He provides a pizza recipe with sausage and anchovies etc.,

Some recipes are long and complicated and some short to the point of minimalist. From Elton John (‘who doesn’t cook at all’) is a multi ingredient Shrimp Currry. Kris Kristofferson’s Tacos looks slightly difficult but he advises (unlike Nigella) ‘prepackaged taco shells’. George Harrison’ s Banana Sandwich requires bread and a banana with peanut butter optional -‘Slice  a ripe banana lengthwise and lay on a piece of bread. If you like, you can spread the bread with peanut butter.’ That’s it.

Another banana themed recipe comes from Carly (‘You’re so vain’) Simon. Carly ‘likes strange food combinations she creates spontaneously’. This concoction, she says, tastes great with yoghurt and mandarin oranges.

Carly’s Concoction
Chopped Walnuts
1 container cottage cheese
1 banana
honey ( as much as you like)
Mix the walnuts into the cottage cheese and sliced the banana over the top of this mixture. Pour honey over the whole concoction and serve.

Lastly John Fogerty ( Creedence Clearwater Revival) has a good egg recipe for a rock and roll breakfast.

Fogerty Scrambled Eggs
4 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
salt and pepper
1/2 stick butter

 Beat  the eggs well and stir in the sour cream ; add salt and pepper and blend. Melt the butter in a skillet and pour in the eggs. Fry over a medium heat, stirring frequently, until the eggs are  solid. Serves 2.