John Osborne observed in 1959

Reading Which of Us Two? The Story of a Love Affair (Viking, London 1990).It is the record of a 'youthful, illicit and intense' relationship between John Tasker (1933 – 1988) the theatre director and Colin Spencer (born 1933) artist and writer. Spencer uses a  collection of letters the lovers wrote to each other (his were returned after John Tasker's death) and considers the relationship and why he 'murdered its future'. Spencer makes acute and amusing comments on literary figures including John Osborne (whose library we bought last year). This entry was starred by Osborne in his copy:

17.iii. 59. Yesterday I began drawing the great Mr Osborne, tall, thin, spectral: in black skin-tight trousers that showed a cute bottom and a huge lunch. And camp, my dear – not 'arf.  And the musical, my dear, cor that's a queer dish too, everybody changes their sex halfway through and deliciously lovely Adrienne Corri grows hair on her chest. Most peculiar: he was moving about so much, it's only the second week of rehearsals...though I did some lightning things with a brush, it just won't do so I'm going back after Easter and try some more. He has a curiously camp voice and he appears to stare at one with his teeth...

Colin Spencer says of this letter:

The John Osborne musical was of course The World of Paul Slickey, soon to become the only commercial failure of his early years. [We]admired Look Back in Anger, our generation felt that Osborne encapsulated the rage we all felt over the limitations of the British theatre.Yet like so much of the later Osborne the play now seems an hysterical diatribe, the characters thin and invalid,the plot was brilliant journalism.. masquerading as theatre.

Barbarossa’s Pike

On this day 5th of October 1162 the Emperor Barbarossa threw a tagged baby pike into a pond. Weighing 350 pounds, the same pike was caught and eaten in 1397, having lived for 235 years.

Source: The Gourmet's Companion by Ross Leckie (Edinburgh 1993) Actually Leckie gives the dates decades after Barbarossa's death so have adjusted the dates (from 1262 to 1162). Possibly file under myths and legends -

or fisherman's tales...

The Politesse of Valdré

An interesting an uplifting anecdote of true impulsiveness found in John Julius Norwich's 1990 Christmas Cracker. Viscount Norwich was a jotter before jotting was invented - an Ur jotter. Respect. His Cracker booklets are sent to a few thousand of his closest friends and consist of information and wisdom culled from his library and also presumably sent to him by loyal correspondents.

Vincenzo Valdrati or Valdré (1742-1814) was an Italian painter-architect who came to England in the 1770s and designed, inter alia, several of the state rooms at Stowe before settling in Ireland where he became Architect to the Board of Works. From Howard Colvin's superb Biographical Dictionary of British Architects I learn that "while at Stowe he attended a wedding and when the bridegroom failed to appear, he was so moved at the bride’s distress that he chivalrously offered himself as a substitute – and was accepted."