Oddities of London

Jot 101 Oddities of London Golden Boy picAbstracted from The Good Time Guide to London(1951)


The statue of George IV in Trafalgar Square shows the king, without boots or spurs, riding a horse without saddle or stirrups.


True. Incidentally,  Sir Francis Chantrey’s bronze of 1829 was originally made for Marble Arch.


On the floor of the entrance hall of the National Gallery is a mosaic of Great Garbo.


True .The Bloomsbury set mosaic artist Boris Anrep was commissioned to provide a number of art works for the Gallery based on specific themes and featuring a number of contemporary figures. On the half-way landing the actress Great Garbo appears as Melpomeme in ‘ The Awakening of the Muses ‘. 


On October 23rd, 1843, a few days before the statue of Nelson was erected, 14 persons ate a rump steak dinner on the top of Nelson’s column


True .Doubtless Punch ( founded 1841) would have had something witty to say about this matter. Continue reading

Critics get it wrong (again)

Some of the following pronouncements taken from Ronald Duncan’s Critics gaffes Duncan pic 001hilarious and sometimes shocking anthology, Critics’ Gaffes (1983), come from critics who supposedly know what they’re talking about. Others are the judgements of those who haven’t a clue.  Perhaps Geoffrey Grigson nailed it when he described the romantic novelist and radio presenter Melvyn Bragg as ‘a media mediocrity who couldn’t tell good literature from old gym shoes.’ Mind you, like the stopped clock which tells the right time twice a day, a few of the following verdicts have the ring of truth.

Theatre critic Robert Morley on Samuel Beckett’s masterpiece.

‘…it is my considered opinion that the success of Waiting for Godot’ is the end of the theatre as we know it’.


Essayist and critic William Hazlitt on Lord Byron

‘He makes virtue serve as a foil to vices…the noble lord is almost the only writer who has prostituted his talents in this way.’

George Henry Lewis on Charles Dickens

‘Thought is strangely absent from his works. I do not suppose a single thoughtful remark on life or character could be found throughout the twenty volumes.’   (1872)

Aldous Huxley on Dickens Continue reading

Ostrich Fallacies

Found in The Encyclopaedia of Fads and Fallacies by Thomas Jay (Elliott Rightway Books, Kingswood Surrey 1958) a small section on ostrich fallacies. The reference to a Bergen Evans
book is probably his Natural History of Nonsense.

The Diet of the Ostrich

There is a foolish notion that the ostrich can digest iron. Many zoos and menageries have quite a lot of trouble because the public will feed ostriches with nails or bits of metal. As Bergen Evans points out in one of his books, it rarely occurs to people that the purposes of the bars, moats, and walls at zoos is to protect the animals from us. 


An ostrich does not bury its head in the sand thinking that it is hiding itself. But what some politicians will do without the metaphor I don't know. If alarmed, or suspicious, the ostrich will lie flat on the ground with its head stretched out flat in front so that it can size up the situation. And it can do that very well from that position.