BOB'S BITS

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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 28 Dec 2019, 13:10

"Every now and then, it helps to be a little deaf." Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Burnita Shelton Matthews (born on December 28, 1894) was one of those suffragettes to whom no one should ever have said “no.” It probably began with her father, a crusty old Mississippi cotton planter and chancery court judge who believed his daughter should find a way to make her own living. On the other hand, he didn’t think she should be a lawyer. She was, after all, a woman. So after training at the Cincinnati Conservatory (in piano) she moved to Washington D. C., where she began a career in the civil service. This was interrupted by a spell in a suffragette picket line outside the White House, during which she began to study the law anyway, whatever her dad said, and discovered a way to picket while avoiding arrest (picket silently). Thus encouraged, she got a law degree, married a lawyer (Percy Matthews), and found that (other than Percy) D.C. lawyers did not like, and actively opposed, the idea of a woman at the bar. So besides founding the National Association of Women Lawyers Burnita formed her own firm (all female), practiced privately, and prospered. One of her clients was the National Women’s Party, on behalf of which Burnita successfully sued the US government for $300,000 (about $5 million today), for its unjust condemnation of the party’s national HQ. Matthews’ successes in civil law made her reputation, and in 1949 President Truman thought her a good candidate to break another barrier, and so he nominated Burnita Shelton Matthews to be the first-ever female judge to serve on a United States District Court. The Senate, wisely, did not say no. There she served until her death in 1988, but there she proved that one liberation (a woman’s) does not necessarily lead to another (an African-American’s). Judge Matthews it was who, in 1955, upheld the State Department’s confiscation (on political and perhaps also racial grounds) of Paul Robeson’s passport. Her decision was overturned in two other cases, 1958 and 1964, by the Supreme Court, but then one can’t get it right in all cases, every time. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 29 Dec 2019, 13:50

"I have had to learn again and again the terrible truth . . . that no life is really private, or isolated, or self-sufficient." Brittain, Testament of Youth, 1933.

In his “Scholarly Reminiscences” (1988) my graduate mentor, David Lovejoy, recalled that it was his war experience that ‘settled his hash’ and moved him from his first to his abiding intellectual interest, from literature to history. “Instead of teaching me something about history, World War II taught me how little I knew about it.” Come the peace, David returned to a history Ph.D. and a lifetime of critical scholarship. WWI had a similar impact on Vera Brittain, who in 1913 began in literature at Somerville, Oxford. Her studies interrupted by the Great War and service as a military nurse, she returned to Somerville to read history, “to understand how the whole calamity had happened.” Why had she lost four friends (including her fiancé and her brother), why had a generation been sacrificed, and for what grand cause? Vera Brittain, born on December 29, 1893, survived her war and learned from it, and from her history degree, to become a leading essayist, public intellectual, and pacifist. Brittain had been brought up to privilege, and the carnage she saw, the losses she suffered, her deep anger, produced one of the most famous of feminist memoirs, Testament of Youth. It took her nearly forever, and by the time she’d finished it (1933), she’d not only produced several other works (including fiction and poetry) but entered an unusual marriage, produced two children, and watched the world slide into a depression and, she feared, towards another bloodbath. Brittain went on to work her way through WWII, to write a great deal more, and to inspire (or challenge) her daughter to a life of public service, but Vera Brittain remains for most the author of a feminist classic. Testament of Youth passionately insists that while the political is, indeed, personal, it must be rigorously studied and clearly understood. Its radicalism was perfectly understood by the Germans, who did Brittain the honor of including her in their notorious “black-book” shortlist of people to be arrested after their invasion of the British isles. That never happened, but it is a dangerous book, republished by Virago in 1976 (six years after Brittain’s death), and then reimagined as a BBC-TV series (1979), as the core source of a 15-part BBC radio series (1998), and finally (so far) as a feature film in 2014. It’s still in print, now a Penguin Classic. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Tripps » 29 Dec 2019, 15:02

Stanley wrote:
29 Dec 2019, 13:50
ncluding her in their notorious “black-book” shortlist of people to be arrested after their invasion of the British isles. That never happened,
- and even had they invaded it was unlikely. I think she would have joined her children (including the now Baroness Shirley Williams) who spent three years of the war safely 'evacuated' to Minnesota. :smile:
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 30 Dec 2019, 13:05

"We are to look after the Earth, not as we please, but as God wants it looked after." John Houghton, in The Christian Challenge of Caring for the Earth, 2006.

Were it not for One Thing, Sir John Houghton (born December 30, 1931) would probably be best known today for his view that religious faith and science are not only compatible but mutually reinforcing. His scientific career has taken him to (or very near) the top. He has been, in chronological order, lead scientific consultant for NASA (the American space agency), professor of atmospheric physics at Oxford, director of Britain’s Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC), CEO of the UK’s Meteorological Office, and, latterly, chair or co-chair of a bevy of international research projects. And throughout that long journey, Houghton has kept faith with the evangelical community (of the Welsh Presbyterian variety) into which he was baptized. Now retired, at least from paid work, he lives on the Welsh coast where he is an elder in his local Presbyterian congregation. That linkage between faith and science was the principal reason Houghton was interviewed by Bill Moyers for PBS in 2006. But then there is that One Thing: John Houghton is (also) broadly responsible for our current concern over global warming. In a sense, he is its inventor, in a paper he presented in 1967, at a national science conference in the UK. Since then Houghton has been at, or near, the center of the international scientific consensus that the earth’s climate is changing, that it is changing in a potentially disastrous direction, and that the principal cause of the change is human activity, notably our apparently insatiable consumption of fossil fuels. It is a scientific consensus that we in the USA—per capita, easily the world’s leading producer of greenhouse gases—have chosen to ignore, currently (apparently) on the advice of a property developer and casino operator. Clearly, John Houghton’s judgment on our choice would be ‘God help us all.’ ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Tizer » 30 Dec 2019, 17:04

That makes me think of Professor James Lovelock. They're about the same age group, Lovelock was a consultant to NASA and invented the electron capture detector which allowed us to measure the chemicals which are at very low concentration in the atmosphere but have very important effects on the earth's systems and especially on the future of human civilisation. As far as I know, Lovelock is not religious but he put forward the Gaia theory, that Earth is a self-controlling system operated by feedback mechanisms. He was one of the first to warn us that we were pushing the Earth out of safe boundaries.

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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Tripps » 30 Dec 2019, 17:24

Stanley wrote:
30 Dec 2019, 13:05
"We are to look after the Earth, not as we please, but as God wants it looked after." John Houghton, in The Christian Challenge of Caring for the Earth, 2006.
Oh boy - what a quote. Just think about it for a while. :smile:
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 31 Dec 2019, 13:48

"When you take sorrow and turn it into music, you transform it." Odetta.

Names sometimes tell a tale, for instance “Zadock.” I first ran across it in Robertson Davies’s Cornish Trilogy, and found that the name came from the Hebrew, and means “righteous” (which made it a perfect fit for Davies’s invented character, Zadock Hoyle). Now I find that it belonged also to a Birmingham, Alabama steelworker named Zadock Felious. The name fit him, too. He was, his elder stepdaughter later remembered, the man “closest to an angel” she ever knew. So that stepdaughter was happy to take his name, and she became Odetta Holmes Felious, born another man’s daughter (Mr. Holmes’s) on December 31, 1930. This Zadock contracted a lung disease from his steelwork, and moved his new family to Los Angeles, a safer job as a custodian, and a drier climate. The origin meaning of Odetta is “wealth,” which would eventually fit that little girl as well as Zadock fit her stepfather, but first she had to develop her voice, a deep, distinctive contralto, aiming at opera. Or at least her mother and stepfather hoped so, but their daughter, a rather big girl, didn’t think opera was ready for her, and instead went in the direction of pop, musicals specifically, before falling in with a bunch of folk singers, in San Francisco, in the early 1950s. She developed her talent, and in about 1953 was a headliner at the Tin Angel, a folk club, whose owner thought “Odetta Felious” not felicitous, and suggested that she just be “Odetta.” As a performing name, it was perfect, certainly unusual, even exotic, possibly a bit foreign. When I first heard Odetta (she was on TV) I was sure she must be South African, perhaps because she said something about apartheid, of which she did not approve. But as an Alabamian she thought American segregation quite bad enough. Odetta’s appearance was always dramatic, her vocal range amazingly broad, her songs ranging from playful to angry to tragic. She was an artist. After the folk craze quieted, so did she, but only a bit. On her last tour, in 2008, she sang from a wheelchair. She’d lived long enough to hope that she might sing at Barack Obama’s inauguration, but she died in December 2008 and so never made her last concert. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Tripps » 31 Dec 2019, 14:47

You're pushing my buttons lately. :smile: I've been a fan for a long time, and I've dug this LP out. Even I was surprised when looking at the shop stamp in the back, I seem to have bought it 55 years ago. It's a miracle that it has survived.

Odetta2.jpg
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 01 Jan 2020, 13:17

"The angel at the other end of the line."

No one needed to tell Mona Lee Brock that farming was a tough business. She’d been born (as Mona Lee Bruster) on January 1, 1932, on an Oklahoma wheat and bean farm, right in the middle of the Dust Bowl and right at the depth of the Great Depression. Not yet 16, she married a farmer, too, and to make ends meet (after she’d seen her sons into school) she went back to school, getting her B.Ed and MA and then taking a day job as a school counselor, then school principal. That education, and her life experience as a farm daughter and then farm wife, proved good training when the farm crisis of the Reagan years hit home. As costs soared and commodity prices tanked, the Brocks lost their farm, but then so did a lot of their neighbors. In the worst years of that decade, across the country, 2000 family farms failed each week, and some farmers—convinced the failure was theirs—died of the strain. Mona Lee’s husband died of a heart attack. Others took their own lives. Mona got angry, but it was her training as a counselor that took hold of her life. First came her friends and neighbors. 20 years as a school counselor and principal gave her connection with them and insight, too. She invited them in groups to take tea and talk. Then people began to call her, in desperate straits, first from around Lincoln County and then from around the state. By word of mouth and by degrees, Mona Lee Brock became, in Willie Nelson’s words, “the angel at the other end of the line.” She couldn’t get to all 77 counties, but she could network. She’d hold people on her phone while her sons, daughters, and in-laws called others to drive to the distressed farm, taking with them advice and comfort. “It’s not your fault. It’s the system. We can help.” Then, with Nelson’s help, and with Farm Aid and the Oklahoma Conference of Churches, Mrs. Brock moved to Oklahoma City, the moving spirit of a countervailing system, a statewide network of friends and neighbors—and lawyers, too—that saved quite a few farms and even more lives. For Mona Lee Brock, that was the main aim: “to make sure the family survived, even if the farm didn’t.” She died last spring, aged 87 and back at home in Lincoln County, widely mourned and widely enough known that her obituary featured in the New York Times. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 02 Jan 2020, 13:09

"As a youngster in Missouri I watched the . . . herons flying south, their wings graceful against the sky. I wanted to fly like the heron and I then thought of the dance." Sally Rand.

A new vocabulary word today, at least for me, is “vedette.” It refers to the female lead in a cabaret act or performance, and it came up in the on-line Britannica’s treatment of Helen Gould Beck, born in the straggling village of Elkton, in west-central Missouri, on January 2, 1904. She had a very long performing life, but it had quieted down a bit by 1957, when she appeared (as Helen Beck) on the TV quiz show “To Tell the Truth.” All four panel members quickly twigged to the “truth,” which was that Helen Beck had been performing since the 1920s as Sally Rand, mainly (but not entirely) in burlesque, where she was most famed for her ‘fan dance.’ Before that, starting in 1915, she performed in Kansas City, and then in the early 20s with the Ringling Bros. circus, as ‘Billie Beck,’ but the name Sally Rand was proposed to her by Cecil B. Demille (she’d appeared as a chorine, not as a vedette, in a couple of his silents). When Sally adopted (not invented) the fan dance is unclear, but probably at a Chicago supper club in the late 1920s. She made it famous by performing it at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1933, now as a vedette. Certainly the Chicago police thought so, and arrested her for indecency at least four times, which made the fair’s Midway much more popular than it might otherwise have been. Popularity breeds envy, too, and Sally was sued, in 1939, for a lot of money ($375K!!), by Faith Bacon, who claimed to have invented the dance in the 1920s. Nay, said Sally: “the fan idea is as old as Cleopatra.” Whether Sally was, behind her fans, really nude is a good question, to which the answer is sometimes yes, sometimes no. Either way, a San Francisco judge found Sally Rand innocent of indecency. “Anyone who could find something lewd about the dance as she puts it on has to have a perverted idea of morals.” That was in 1946, well after Ms. Bacon had lost her suit (pun intended). As for Sally Rand, she continued to perform, though eventually she fell on harder times. Her final medical bills were paid, in large part, by Sammy Davis, Jr. She died in 1979. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 03 Jan 2020, 12:45

"The mouth that has been kissed does not lose its good fortune: rather, it renews itself just as the moon does." Inscription (in the original Italian) on the back of Rossetti's Bocca Bocacia (1859)

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood’s artistic style has gone in and out of fashion since the first 7 of the ‘Brotherhood’ signed themselves up in 1848. They were then young rebels in favor of a pre-Raphaelite (specifically, 15th-century) unity of purpose incorporating flesh and spirit in a new-old aesthetic. One of them was Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882), whose stylized way of portraying women was, some say, increasingly erotic; but childlike and innocent too, perhaps reflecting some inner battle. Chief among the women whose beauties, ethereal and physical, served as his muses, models, mistresses, and wife were Elizabeth Siddal and Fanny Cornforth. Siddal was one of Rossetti’s group, artist and poet in her own right, and of a rather ethereal beauty. They did marry (in 1860) just before her untimely death. But Rossetti was already in a relationship with Fanny Cornforth, a fleshier woman, whom he accidentally (or on purpose) bumped into one day in 1856. She was born Sarah Cox, on January 3, 1835, and she thought Rossetti was taken (at first) by her hair (which like several of his models was copious, curled, and of a pronounced reddish tint). Inspired, he took her home and drew her, and soon they were a pair, perhaps right through his relationship with Siddal. Indeed Fanny, as she called herself, was his muse, model, and mistress longer than anyone else. Whatever Rossetti’s views of her (clearly, he valued her beauty), his friends thought her coarse and common, and (after his death) sought to minimize her importance as they built a Rossetti legend that was decidedly on the spiritual side. Fanny herself kept the relationship alive, gradually selling off art and memorabilia he’d given her, until she died in poverty (in a poorhouse) in 1909, and was buried in a common grave. Late 20th-century biographers and critics have rediscovered her, and about time, too. She was, in more ways than one, Rossetti’s model for Bocca Bacatia (1859), “the mouth that has been kissed,” a painting which is now said to be the pivot of his artistic development. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 04 Jan 2020, 13:05

"The patience and forbearance of the poor are among the strongest bulwarks of the rich." C. L. R. James, in The Black Jacobins, 1938.

The island of Trinidad has produced more than its fair share of fine writers, and cricketers, too. One who did a lot of both, and should be better known in the USA (if not for his cricketing, for his fine essays on American culture), was Cyril Lionel Robert James, aka “C.L.R.” James, born January 4, 1901. James’s father was a schoolmaster (later headmaster) of surpassing ambition for his children, envisaging careers in business or the professions, but James took more after his mother and her absorption in literature. In this he was probably helped, too, by his school chum and cousin Malcolm Nurse (1902-1959), now better known by his pen-name, George Padmore. It was cricket that brought James to England and to literary notice. The great West Indian cricketer Learie Constantine, then playing in the Lancashire League, brought James to the solidly working class town of Nelson, where James ghost-wrote Constantine’s autobiography and came into contact with white, working class socialism. James’s cricket writing brought him to the attention of the Manchester Guardian (he was for many years cricketing correspondent). His left-wing politics brought him back to lodge, in London, with George Padmore and inspired his turn to political writing, both (or perhaps alternately) polemical and scholarly. His history of the Haitian revolution, The Black Jacobins (1938) made him famous and presaged the black nationalism that brought national independence to African and West Indian colonies. Among James’s proteges were Kwame Nkrumah (Ghana) and Eric Williams (Trinidad & Tobago), although he later became disenchanted with Nkrumah’s authoritarianism and with Williams’s compromises with US imperialism. James also spent a good deal of time in the USA, whether as visiting professor or intellectual gadfly. His American Civilization, begun in 1950 when James was imprisoned by US authorities and published posthumously (1993), is more than worthwhile. I was introduced to James by another wild colonial boy, Ralph Gibson, via James’s semi-autobiographical Beyond a Boundary (1963). Ralph thought the book a genius mix of cricket, criticism, and politics, and Ralph was, as almost always, right. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 05 Jan 2020, 13:01

"Our demands are simple, normal, and therefore they are difficult to satisfy. All we ask is that an actor on the stage live in accordance with natural laws." Konstantin Stanislavsky.

Good acting on stage or screen is, by definition, a shared treasure, and so the ways in which people become good actors are important subjects. One way, not quite essential, is to have a good script or screenplay, but beyond that it’s the interplay between the actor, the script, the director, and the audience. That interplay is particularly intimate in live theatre. One of the great pioneers of modern acting intimacy, Konstantin Stanislavsky, was born in Moscow on January 5, 1863 (O.S.) as Konstantin Sergeyevitch Alekseyev. He began in theatre as an amateur, acting on a domestic stage provided by his manufacturer father and his actress mother, but soon he took ‘Stanislavsky’ as a professional moniker, and added directing (indeed the whole business of production) to his acting talents. Late Tsarist Russia, struggling to modernize, was a-bubble with radical notions, and some have suggested a connection between Stanislavsky and his ‘method’, on the one hand, and Ivan Pavlov and his dogs, on the other. Certainly there was behavioral and psychological conditioning in Stanislavky’s approach to acting, beginning with a seminar approach as director and cast meet to discuss the drama and each actor-character’s developing relationship with it, a relationship involving the actor in mind, body, and spirit. This did not spring full blown out of Stanislavsky’s mind but moved to maturity as his career developed, with an especially notable production of Chekhov’s The Seagull, a Moscow triumph in 1898 despite its 1896 flop in St. Petersburg. He went on to further successes, not only in theatre but also in opera and cinema. His family wealth helped in his early career, and then after the October Revolution his ‘method’ pleased the Soviets as conforming to, even furthering, the general tenets of socialist realism. An American tour in the early 20s brought Stanislavsy a crop of American enthusiasts, and after his death in 1935 his influence has persisted, e.g. through the directing careers of Lee Strasberg and Elia Kazan. To watch a Stanislavsky actor in performance, try Marlon Brando’s 1951 performance in A Streetcar Named Desire. If you like lighter fare, watch Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate. Better yet, do both. You’ll be glad you did. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 06 Jan 2020, 12:52

"The word used wrongly distorts the world." C. D. Wright.

C. D. Wright might still be with us if she’d followed the well-meant advice to get up and circulate when on a long flight. Who knows? At any rate, she died (in her sleep, four years ago) of a sneaky blood clot after flying home (Barrington, Rhode Island) from a poetry reading in Chile. But Rhode Island wasn’t home, not really. Early on she was sometimes categorized (by those who yearn for typologies) as a poet of place, and her place was the Arkansas Ozarks, Mountain Home to be exact, where she was born on January 6, 1949, the daughter of a chancery judge and his court reporter (they were married). It was a household where words mattered and baby Carolyn spoke soon (obscenities apparently; it became a family joke) to commence her love affair with language. There was a slight detour, a degree in French from a college just across the Mississippi, then some effort at becoming a lawyer, but her fascination with words and their odd but truthful use won out, and by degrees she became a poet, with her first collection (Room Rented by a Single Woman) coming along in 1977. In 1983, two years after her Translation of the Gospel Back into Tongues she married another poet, Forrest Gander. They moved to Rhode Island where they set up the Lost Roads Press (she must have named it), parented a son named Brecht, and she took up a chair, poetry to be sure, at Brown. Much verse followed, and awards, too: a Guggenheim in 1987 and a MacArthur in 2004, in between which she was for five years poet laureate of Rhode Island. Wright was much loved by other poets, and writers, and critics, and her sudden death caused them to rush into print as obituarists, where they all struggled to explain just what kind of poet she was. Emily Dickinson sprang to several minds, and was by no means a bad idea, but in the end there was a clear agreement, so consensual as to make one think of a hatched plot. Carolyn Wright was not a member of any club. Her category was that she was uncategorizable. She belonged, one said, “to a school of exactly one.” The secret anarchist of Amherst would have approved. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 07 Jan 2020, 13:11

"My music is my portrait." Francis Poulenc.

Francis Jean Marcel Poulenc was born in very comfortable circumstances, in Paris, on January 7, 1899. He was an only son of a rich industrialist, and his father wanted the boy to continue in that vein. So young Francis had (at first, by his father’s edict) no formal musical training. Temperamentally rebellious, he learned piano from his mother and socialized (at a book shop) with a group of young poets. Soon he began to set their avant-garde work to music. In 1917, Igor Stravinsky noticed one of his pieces (for clarinet, I believe) and in 1918 his first public performance (a piano sonata set to an Apollinaire poem) took place, and Poulenc began to work with other young composers (a group that christened itself as ‘les Six’ including Erik Satie and Jean Cocteau). Poulenc then decided that he might, after all, profit from some formal training, and he began studying composition. Later in the 20s and early 30s he formed a lifelong music partnership with the baritone Pierre Bernac, a sexual companionship with the painter Richard Chainlaire, and in 1936 underwent a religious conversion. All three factored into his music and today he is probably best known as a composer of sacred organ music. If you want to hear a Poulenc composition, a good bet on a Sunday is to attend a good church with a good organist. What is less well known, perhaps, is that Poulenc associated with the resistance movement during the German occupation. He hadn’t much to lose; as a homosexual he was already at risk, and he worsened his chances by including patriotic themes in his wartime performances and compositions. Some of his subversive music got out of the country, and the RAF dropped thousands of copies of his tone poem Liberté over occupied France. The same—now attributed as a Poulenc composition—was broadcast live by the BBC’s France Service after the Liberation. Francis Poulenc was, a friend said, “a lover of life, mischievous, un bon enfant, tender and impertinent, melancholy and serenely mystical, half monk and half delinquent.” And courageous, he might have added. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 08 Jan 2020, 13:21

"Trade follows the book." Business motto of Una Dillon.

Sometimes I need a book right now, sometimes I just browse, and in Oxford and London there were two shops where you could do either: Blackwell’s immense cavern, concealed in and beneath a row of old buildings wedged between the Bodleian and Balliol, and then in London, mainly above ground, was Foyle’s, about midway up Charing Cross. But there was also Dillon’s, located precariously near Foyle’s and cheekily competitive. So of course, when in London, I went in. I found the Edwardian splendor of its shell matched by its stock and its quick service. Little did I know it was also a monument to the business acumen and the bibliophilic spirit of a woman, Una Dillon, still then CEO, and still cycling (“a Valkyrie in tweeds”) between her Kensington mansion flat and her “shop.” She’d begun life on January 8, 1903 as Agnes Joseph Madeline Dillon, not quite the youngest of a passel of six overachieving siblings. Known as “Una”, she wanted to follow her sister Tess into the sciences (Tess got a First in Physics and was on her way to chair her department) but found that if science was to be Una’s it would be by the skin of her teeth, and Una wanted more wiggle room. She took to charity work, selling books at bazaars often enough, and found she liked the things, what you could find in them, what pleasure the best book in the right hands could bring, and with £800 in loans from her father and a friend, she bought a hole-in-the-wall bookery in Bloomsbury. Quickly it became a center for those who wanted to browse or buy, and a well-known haunt for influential members of the chattering classes. Una refused to move during the Blitz, gaining customer loyalty that way, too. After the war she was ready to expand, and that she did, in partnership with London University, to the point where, for a visiting American scholar in 1969, it was almost as much fun to be in Dillon’s as in Blackwell’s, and almost as expensive, too. Una’s main rival across the road was also a woman’s work, for from about 1945 Foyle’s was owned and managed by Christina Foyle. Miss Foyle slightly outlived Miss Dillon, but their hugely successful businesses have been swallowed up into larger entities, and the Dillon name no longer survives in the corporate book trade. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 09 Jan 2020, 13:16

"Permission to speak!?" Corporal Jones's (Clive Dunn's) tag line in the BBC sitcom, Dad's Army, 1968-1977.

Jimmy Perry’s idea of making comedy out of Britain’s wartime Home Guard came from his own experience. In 1940 he’d joined up, a lad of 17 whose mum feared he might catch cold if he were out on patrol late at night. So he would be Private Pike in Dad’s Army, one of the BBC’s longest-running sitcoms (1968-77). Several other “characters” in the Walmington-on-Sea unit were drawn from among Perry’s real-life comrades of 1940, including the corporal, an old buffer who’d fought against the “Fuzzy-Wuzzies” under Lord Kitchener. And in Dad’s Army he would become ‘Corporal Jones.’ It was a role played, to perfection, by Clive Dunn. Born on January 9, 1920, Dunn was quite a young man to play an ancient dodderer, but then Dunn himself, at age 19 and just before the real war, had already played such a role. The war intervened. Dunn was captured in Crete, spent 4 years as a POW, and then after the war he resumed the acting career into which he’d been born (his parents were both actors). He found comedy his métier and doddering old men his trademark. So he was a perfect Corporal Jack Jones, in civvies a butcher, but whenever duty called the epitome of duty, honor, country—except that his mind wandered some, his timing on drill was atrocious (a heartbeat behind his comrades on the march or standing to attention), and he was prone to panic in even the lightest of situations. In the series, he was fiercely loyal to Captain Mainwaring (Arthur Lowe), riding easily (or unawares) over Mainwaring’s pomposities. In real life, though, they often clashed: Jones-Dunn a lifelong socialist, Mainwaring-Lowe a pillar of conservative politics. Dunn went on to a very long acting career and finally retired to Spain, to potter, perhaps to dodder—and to paint—until his death in 2012. Dunn was, according to one of his fellow players (Frank Williams, the Walmington-on-Sea vicar) “a wonderful person to work with, a great sense of humor, always fun, a great joy.” Indeed. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Tizer » 09 Jan 2020, 15:47

I wonder if Bob has seen `We're Doomed! The Dad's Army Story', BBC 2 LINK
`60-minute scripted comedy drama about how the legendary creators of Dad's Army - Jimmy Perry and David Croft - overcame BBC management scepticism, focus groups and cast constipation to get the much-loved legend onto air.
Running from Perry's initial idea in 1967 until the transmission of the first episode in 1968, this affectionate and witty film shows the beginnings of Perry and Croft's writing partnership and the casting woes, personal clashes and production difficulties that put the show's very existence in jeopardy. It reveals to fans and newcomers alike what went on behind the scenes in the making of the classic sitcom Dad's Army and is a true love letter to British creativity.'

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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 10 Jan 2020, 12:56

"I do not want to make a stone horse that is trying to and cannot smell the air." Barbara Hepworth, 1934.

Historians learn by bitter experience never, or I should say rarely, to use absolutes or superlatives, but it may be safe to say that Barbara Hepworth was (so far?) the only major sculptor to give birth to triplets, Simon, Rachel, and Sarah. This was in 1934. Their father was Hepworth’s second husband, the painter Ben Nicholson. The birthplace was London, for home was not yet ‘Trewyn,’ that “perfect” place she established in 1949-50 as her home and studio (and college of sorts) in St. Ives, Cornwall. She would expand it, including the Palais de Danse, opposite, into a jumble of ’art’ places, one for wood, one for stone, another for bronze, a print studio, and space for living of course, including a lovely garden. Just before Hepworth died in 1975 she’d taken delivery of 15 tons of Carrera marble, “waiting [outside] like a flock of patient sheep” (she wrote at the time) to be turned—carved—into art. Her style had become so distinctive that one can almost (alas!) picture the results. Barbara Hepworth, a shaper of modern sculpture in many ways and several materials, was born in Wakefield, Yorkshire, on January 10, 1903. She said that she decided to become a sculptor at age 15. She attended art school in Leeds, where she met (and befriended) Henry Moore, another shaper; and then moved with Moore and others to the Royal College of Art, London. She learned to carve marble in Italy, in 1924-25, where she’d moved with her first husband, and began to abstract real shapes. Her style(s) continued to develop throughout her life, becoming more abstract and yet more real. Her work can be seen in many places (Evanston, IL, and Milwaukee, WI, for instance). But the best place is the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden, at Trewyn. We visited there while on a Cornwall camping holiday when it was still taking shape, but she’d begun work on it, you might say, in 1949. It’s a long way off the conventional tourist route, but once you’re there you won’t think of it as a detour. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 11 Jan 2020, 13:05

"The earth seemed to love her, // And heaven smiled above her," 'Arethusa', by Percy Bysshe Shelley, 1820.

One of the pleasanter Greek myths is that of Arethusa, who to protect her virtue fled from the river god, Alpheus. Helped by Artemis, the goddess of wild things, Arethusa transmuted into a freshwater spring, on a lovely Aegean island, where to this day she replenishes life. In 1820 Percy Bysshe Shelley made a rather nice poem about her, but even before that she’d appeared again in a Suffolk market town, Bury St. Edmunds, as Susannah Arethusa Cullum, known throughout her days as Arethusa, born into a vicar’s family on January 11, 1814. The vicar and his wife were pretty well off (he was a baronet, the ‘Reverend Sir’ for sure), and though they must have been of a romantic turn of mind (why else call your daughter Arethusa?) it’s not certain that they bargained for the Arethusa they got. Arethusa, headstrong and smart, married the Tory MP Thomas Milner Gibson in 1832, and seems to have made a radical out of him, a free-trader and an ally of Richard Cobden. On her money and/or his, they led quite a life, he a government minister and privy counselor (from time to time, when he was not on his yacht), she—a bit in the mode of that freshwater spring—bore their eight children. And in between births Arethusa Gibson was a leader of London’s intellectual and literary life, her salon attended by all that was best and brightest in the metropolis, and by a few radical refugees from the failed European revolutions of 1848. Like Margaret Fuller (they must have met when Fuller came to Europe to cover the revolutions) Arethusa Gibson was a particular enthusiast of the Italian Revolution, from 1844 a sponsor in London society of Giuseppe Mazzini. Indeed, she’d spent a good deal of her childhood in Italy, and much of her middle age, too, when she was a conspirator with radicals. In London, Arethusa was Charles Dickens’ favorite hostess (and his favorite guest, too). She was especially drawn to literary types (probably preferring Disraeli the novelist to Disraeli the politician), and even befriended Louis Napoléon in his pre-emperor days. Having buried most of her children, and her husband, Arethusa Gibson fled to her Paris residence at 11, avenue du Bois de Boulogne, where she lived in some comfort until early 1885. She lies now in the churchyard at Bury St. Edmonds, where, every spring, she replenishes life. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by plaques » 11 Jan 2020, 13:54

Richard Cobden .. Manchester Liberalism in opposition to the Corn Laws and free trade. c 1840. Started by Richard Cobden who was born in Sabden and John Bright born in Rochdale. ...

Quoted in 'Read Any Good Books Lately' 3 Jan 2020. As Tripps would say,, "Spooky".

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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 13 Jan 2020, 05:16

We try to keep abreast P! Bo0 Bob's Bit today. I have fired off a message to Bob!
[PS. not in junk folder, I have checked.]
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 13 Jan 2020, 12:33

Double dose for the addicts today....

FW: "The people who pay greater respect to a wealthy villain than to an honest, upright man in poverty, almost deserve to be enslaved." John Hancock.

In early modern times it was not unusual for a family with children to ‘lend’ a son or, less often, a daughter, to a childless couple. The childless pair would often be richer kinfolk, and if things worked out really well they would adopt. Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park turns on just such a lend-lease, and after a bit of travail turns out pretty happily too. Another successful transfer occurred in colonial Massachusetts in 1744, when the recently widowed Mary Thaxter Hancock sent her 7-year old son to live with his uncle and aunt, Thomas and Lydia Hancock, in Boston. The boy was John Hancock, born on January 12, 1737, in Braintree, and he would grow up to put his ‘John Hancock’ on the Continental Congress’s Declaration of Independence and then to be elected, and re-elected many times, governor of revolutionary Massachusetts. John owed much to the fact that his uncle Thomas was rich, and became richer before he died (in 1764), so that just as the revolutionary crisis came upon him John Hancock was, so to speak, his own man. Having no head for business, he left that to his secretary, Ezekiel Price, who turned out to be honest and efficient—at least towards John—and left the boss to play politics. John Hancock did more than dabble, using his fortune to become the leader of the popular party, the Whigs, and the villain that the British loved to hate (especially the customs officers, for Ezekiel Price was a master smuggler). Hancock concocted—and may have led—the Boston Tea Party, played crucial roles in bringing about the Revolution in Massachusetts, and in the new nation too. He was unusually affable, approachable by all sorts, and genuinely popular. He was a generous benefactor to his church, but a free-thinker in religion, in some ways an odd bird. He was also a man of great courage, considerable presence, and an unquenchable optimism. Thanks to Ezekiel, in 1793 Hancock left a fortune at least equal to his own inheritance, much of it in public bequests, but the bulk to his family, including Beacon Hill’s first mansion (and £12,000) to Dolly. The house, alas, fell into disrepair. But of course John Hancock left us all his signature. ©

"Boston . . . land of the beanpot and the cod, where the Lowells speak only to the Cabots, and the Cabots speak only to God." Popular saying, circa 1900.

When Lydia (‘Lilla’) Cabot Perry (born January 13, 1848) grew up, married an eminent Harvard professor, and birthed three daughters, she became a fixture in Boston (and Cambridge) society, her salon a favorite gathering place of all that was best and brightest, e.g. the Jameses and the Nortons, and their recruits, too, like William Dean Howells. This might have happened anyway. She was after all a Cabot, and she’d been well trained to it, too, in languages, literature, arts, and music. But as with Amy March in Little Women, she’d been bitten by the art bug. Unlike Amy, however, Lilla’s horizons weren’t constrained by genteel poverty. Her father provided her with the best training money could buy, in Boston and in Europe, first by gift and then by inheritance. And then, on what must have been her umpteenth trip to Paris, she fell in seriously with the impressionists, notably Camille Pissarro and Claude Monet. Between then (1889) and 1910, the Perrys spent ten long summers in residence at Giverny, she painting en plein aire, nurturing her talents under Monet’s guidance, and determining to bring something of this new, revolutionary style back to Boston. She would also exhibit in some of the best Paris galleries, and in the new century—her own and her husband’s inheritances exhausted—she would begin, successfully, to paint for money. So perhaps it was not Amy but Jo March that was Lilla Perry’s model, not so much art as it was ambition. I was drawn to the Little Women idea because of Greta Gerwig’s wonderful film rendition of Louisa May Alcott’s novel, which we just saw, then found that it was even more appropriate. After all, Lilla’s first successes in art, commercially at least, were portraits of her three daughters, Margaret, Edith, and Alice. And among Perry’s fondest memories of her own youth were of playing children’s games with Louisa May herself. And some others indulged little Lydia’s pleasures in child’s games, not least the sage of Concord, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and the poet James Russell Lowell. It’s pleasant to think about that, even of Lydia Cabot’s attending the innovative Alcott school in Concord. And why not? After all, Greta Gerwig took some liberties, too. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 14 Jan 2020, 13:12

"Never in the history of fashion has so little material been raised so high to reveal so much that needs to be covered so badly." Cecil Beaton.

Cecil Beaton was knighted (for services to photography and to the House of Windsor) in 1972, and he’s buried in the churchyard at Broad Chalke, Wiltshire, where in 1947 he’d established his home base. Beaton’s ‘Reddish House’ was Georgian, and his cemetery marker is a copy of early modern gravestones. But his successes were transatlantic—and modern—and they were in several fields, including (latterly) costume design for stage and screen. Cecil Beaton was born on January 14, 1904 in Hampstead, then (and still) a well-off and arty enclave. His father was a timber merchant and his mother the daughter of a Cumbrian blacksmith, and they brought up their son to follow in the timber trade. So he went to all the right schools (at one of them, he was bullied by Evelyn Waugh) and then Cambridge. But mom and dad had artistic sides, too (they met when playing the leads in an amateur dramatic production), and young Cecil was taught how to take pictures—and develop and print them—by his nanny. Wherever it arose, his artistic side was the one Beaton developed, first on weekend retreats from the timber trade, then striking out on his own, and then working on commission for Vanity Fair and then Vogue. Despite his early nanny-training in photography’s technical aspects (albeit with a Brownie), he was never known for his technical prowess, or indeed his actual skill at framing a photo. Beaton set scenes, sometimes outrageous ones, sometimes merely stylish, and then snapped away, hoping to get the air of the thing just right. He might better be called a chic photographer than an art photographer. Either way he was a huge success, and his fame in fashion assured, the best and the brightest began queueing up for portraits, at which he proved also to have a knack. Along the way he became a designer, winning awards for (among other triumphs) the costumery for My Fair Lady. Beaton lived an expensive life at Reddish House and elsewhere and, as he aged, he worried about a sustainable income. That was taken care of by a strategic selling off of his photo library, and by book publications including a multivolume diary from which some of his unkindest cuts had been, so to speak, cut. ©.
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 15 Jan 2020, 12:57

"What a glorious standing Comedy of fools! at which every man is heartily merry, and thinks himself an unconcern’d spectator, and which neither my Lord Chamberlain, nor the Queen her self can ever shut up, or silence." Alexander Pope to Henry Cromwell...

One of London’s odder friendships, just at the dawn of the Augustan Age, was that between Alexander Pope and Henry Cromwell. Cromwell, born on January 15, 1659, was more than double Pope’s age when they first met (ca. 1708). Moreover, Cromwell was tall, a lanky fellow much enamored of his good looks and his foppish style. Pope, well short of 5 feet tall, was old and bent at 20, a consequence of childhood TB and perhaps of his genes. But friends they were, for a few years, and together walked the fashionable streets of London, appeared at the same gatherings at pubs, coffee houses, and salons, attended the same plays, even though Cromwell was satirized for coming late to the theatre and leaving early, and sometimes paid court to the same ladies in the same stews—or in the salons. In their correspondence our hindsight reveals the young Pope sharpening his weapons, playing with words, preparing for his literary mastership, the elder Cromwell fussing at Pope’s grammar, perhaps trying to keep up with his wit, and maybe offering some encouragement. Meanwhile their Mutt and Jeff appearance provided members of their circle (e.g. William Wycherly, John Dryden, John Gay) some amusement. Cromwell probably introduced John Gay into this crowd, and perhaps acted as mature sponsor for the young genius, Pope. Evidence suggests that Pope and Cromwell fell out. The latter makes unflattering appearances in a couple of Pope satires, including The Dunciad, the first version of which appeared the year of Cromwell’s death (1728). Or perhaps Cromwell just left, after about 1717 spending more time at his Lincolnshire estate (or at the Epsom races) than in London. Cromwell did leave many of Pope’s letters with a lady friend, Elizabeth Thomas. She, needing the money, published them in 1726 and thus earned a violent attack (literary, of course) from Pope. Before his death, Cromwell apologized to Pope, but his appearance in The Dunciad suggests that his profuse and artful regrets were too little, or too late, or both. Henry’s elder cousin Oliver, we can guess, would not have approved of any of it. ©
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