Saturday, October 23, 2021

The Joy of Six 1030

"What happened on that Friday and in the days after, when police rounded up even more kids, would expose an ugly and unsettling culture in Rutherford County, one spanning decades. In the wake of these mass arrests, lawyers would see inside a secretive legal system that’s supposed to protect kids, but in this county did the opposite. Officials flouted the law by wrongfully arresting and jailing children." Meribah Knight and Ken Armstrong report a horrifying case from the US.

Jonathan Jones on the government's reliance on secondary legislation to drive Brexit and efforts to curb the Covid pandemic. He calls for a rethink on how such important laws on created.

Hadley Hall Meares detects his mother's influence in Prince Harry's exit from the royal spotlight.

"On the one hand, the old footage and the raw tapes were the closest we ever got to watching the Beatles work in the studio, meaning they’ve been pored over with Talmudic precision; on the other hand, so much of it is sloppy and half-assed, and it’s so tightly wound up in the group’s demise, it’s been hard to find much pleasure in listening or watching." Alan Light reviews Peter Jackson's Beatles documentary Get Back.

"I keep being drawn back to Derby. It’s a city where, for all the boarded-up retail premises and the shocking waste of the moribund Civic Centre, manufacture is at centre stage and new ideas take root – as they have done for centuries." Gillian Darley visits Derby's Museum of Making.

"Both of them wrote books that I hung on to, cherished, re-read, and both of them used history to tell stories for children of now." Fleur Hitchcock pays tribute to her "writing gods" Joan Aiken and Leon Garfield.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Cambridge Hall, Kilburn: A cathedral among tin tabernacles

From the London Historic Buildings Trust website:

The Tin Tabernacle (Cambridge Hall) is a Grade II listed building within the South Kilburn Conservation Area and is currently on the Heritage at Risk Register.

It was built in 1863 as the St James’s Episcopalian church and though stylistically very different, it was constructed around the same time as its grand Italianate brick villa neighbours. The Hall is built of corrugated iron, which has been galvanised with tin to prevent rust, cladding a timber and iron frame. This type of prefabricated structure was developed in the 1820’s and by the latter half of the 19th century became a relatively common building type, particularly utilised by the non-conformist church movement.

It is understood that the Tin Tabernacle was in active church use until the late 19th century. In the early 20th century it was used for theatre shows and possibly as an early cinema and by the first World War it was known as the Lord Lloyd of Dolobran Memorial Hall. During the Second World War it was used as an Air Raid Precautions store, before being taken on by the Sea Cadets in 1949 and renamed the Training Ship Bicester. 

During the 1950’s the interior of the Hall was converted into a replica Ton-class Minesweeper vessel, utilising the north and south aisles to create a series of naval rooms; a galley (kitchen) chapel, rope room, museum and armoury, with a first-floor gallery above.  At the rear (east end of the ship), three further rooms were created; a Bosun’s, store a Ward Room and a parade ground exit, with additional first floor rooms. A Bofors anti-aircraft gun and Oerlikon light anti-aircraft cannon, were also installed.

The Sea Cadets continue to look after the Hall, though they are no longer able to hold their activities there. 

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Vanessa Redgrave remembers Blow-Up


You feel that if you watch Blow-Up just one more time then its mysteries will be laid open to you, but they never are.

Here's Vanessa Redgrave talking about the film in 2016 to mark its 50th anniversary.

Years ago I posted an interview on Blow-Up with its star, David Hemmings. He and Redgrave agree that their performances owed everything to Antonioni's direction.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

It became green everywhere in the first spring, after London ended, so that all the country looked alike

The opening chapter of After London is among the best things Richard Jefferies ever wrote. And as this video from South Downs Generations says, the book feels remarkably topical 136 years after it was published.

South Downs Generations is a living history project run as a partnership between the Friends of the South Downs and four West Sussex primary schools.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

The Tories took back control of a blue wall council on Thursday and no one will admit it

On Thursday we failed to hold a Liberal Democrat seat in Surrey Heath with the result that the Conservatives won overall control of the council.

But you wouldn't know it from the Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors' report on Lib Dem Voice:

On Surrey Heath Borough Council, Lib Dem candidate Jacques Olmo came agonisingly close to beating the Conservatives in Frimley Green ward. Well done to Jacques and the team for winning 47% of the vote. But sadly, they were just 19 votes shy of the Conservatives.

You would be somewhat better informed by the post on the blog written by Mark Pack, the president of our party. (May he live for ever.)

Under the headline:

Conservatives gain seat from Lib Dems after Ukip no-show

Mark writes of

a rare Liberal Democrat loss to the Conservatives after a recount and helped by the absence of Ukip this time:

Commiserations to Jacques Olmo and the team for getting so close but not quite making it in this contest in Michael Gove’s constituency.

But if you go to the indispensable by-election preview written by Andrew Teale, you will find that Ukip didn't have that much to do with it.

The result last time this three-member ward was fought (May 2019) was:

Lib Dems 1019/1012/889
Cons 601/568/519
Ukip 269
Pirate Party 190

Given that demolishing the Tories' blue wall is our only apparent strategy, this is a deeply disappointing result.

My worry is that if we are not honest about how badly we are doing then the party will continue to dwindle.

It reminds me of the way we reacted to the collapse of 2015 by tweeting incessantly about the #LibDemFightback. 

Having convinced ourselves it was a real phenomenon, we were shocked when our vote went down at the 2017 election.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Family: The Weaver's Answer

Family, pace Showaddywaddy and Kasabian, were the coolest band ever to come out of Leicester. And here they are performing on the German TV programme Beat Club in 1970.

What is the song about? Wikipedia, after noting that this is one of Family's more straightforward songs. explains:

Tt's about an old man asking for the "weaver of life" to show him "the patterns of my life gone by upon your tapestry". As the song gets underway, the old man recounts his childhood, his first love, and the day he took a wife; he wonders aloud how it looks on the fabric from the weaver's loom. He goes on to ruminate about his sons and how they grew into adulthood to take wives of their own.

After an instrumental break (see below), the old man grows more sorrowful, remembering the day his wife died and being unable to see his grandchildren after age has robbed him of his sight. Suddenly, he regains his sight to see the weaver's loom drawing closer. Realizing that he's about to see his life as a tapestry, the old man understands the reason why - because he's about to die.

The song was written by Family's lead vocalist Roger Chapman and guitarist Charlie Whitney. That Wikipedia entry goes on to quote Chapman as saying:

"The 'Weaver' in question comes from mythology, folklore and a bit of acid! Include any Marvel hero, Aesop's Fables, anything simply written with a moral and a story I could understand and make sense of. All the stuff I was interested in as a kid, read about and later included in my story telling."

So now you know.

Dormice favoured by Italian mafia seized in drugs raid

BBC News wins our Headline of the Day Award.

Friday, October 15, 2021

New Zealand council ends contract with wizard after two decades of service

Thanks to Christchurch city council, the Guardian wins Headline of the Day and puts me in mind of the Monty Python sketch about about the pantomime horse employed in a merchant bank.

I can't find that online, so instead here's Wizzard.

Give My Regards to Broad Street Station

A brief sketch of the rise and fall of London's lost railway terminus.

I have some photos of Broad Street which I took on a sunny Saturday afternoon in 1983 when I was the only passenger to alight from a train that arrived there. I shall share them here one day.

And as I blogged long ago, I wss once a regular user of Broad Street::

I used the line late at night. I played chess for Richmond & Twickenham in the London League, and the matches took place at the Bishopsgate Institute. I used to get the last train back around the North London line to Kew. 

Somehow I trusted the published timetable more than the Tube, even though the train took a circuitous route via Brondesbury and Willesden Junction.

You can support Jafo Hazzard's videos via his Patreon page

Thursday, October 14, 2021

The Joy of Six 1029

"Nearly three in four children’s homes and two in five fostering households are now provided by independent organisations, from both the private and charitable sector. For the largest private providers, income levels increased by 7.3% when comparing data between February and December 2020. Among the top 10 of children’s homes providers, seven are now owned by private equity firms." Katharine Quarmby and Sian Norris show how children in public care have become an opportunity for private investors.

Andrew Brown reviews Bleeding for Jesus, Andrew Graystone's exposé of John Smyth's beating of boys and young men and the cover up that followed. 

Fintan O’Toole on John Le Carré’s decision to become an Irish citizen shortly before he died.

"Public House has echoes of Geoffrey Fletcher’s 1962 book The London Nobody Knows, famously turned into a psychedelic documentary film in 1969. Partly it’s the ambling scope of it, the diverting asides, the delight at the curious and arcane. But it’s also the palette of the illustrations, a poppy array of orange and green that gives it a trippy feel of late Beatles and swirling pub carpets." John Grindrod reviews a new cultural and social history of the London pub.

K.B. Morris looks back at a John Bowen's television play: "Robin Redbreast was written at the tail end of the counter culture of the 1960s and Bowen is exploring the dichotomy of reason versus emotion or Apollo versus Dionysus. This conflict, which was so prevalent during that period, fascinated Bowen throughout his writing career."

"Olivia Laing walks the River Ouse in Sussex from its source to the sea, mediating on its flora, fauna, mythology, history and literary associations along the way. Chief among the latter is Virginia Woolf, who lived near the river, walked by the river, wrote about the river, and died in the river." With the help of Eric Ravilious illustrations, Terri Windling reviews Laing's To the River.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Rebecca West on public schools and good manners

Embed from Getty Images

Reading An English Affair: Sex, Class and Power in the Age of Profumo by Richard Davenport-Hines I came across a pleasing quote from Rebecca West's The Meaning of Treason:

While everybody knows Englishmen are sent to public schools because that is the only place they can learn good manners, it unfortunately happens that the manners they learn there are recognised as good only by people who have been to the same sort of school, and often appear very bad indeed to everybody else.

Paul Jones and Spencer Davis interviewed in 1966

"Tonight in Line Up, Spencer Davis, an arts graduate and leader of a pop group topping the charts this week, Paul Jones, singer from the Manfred Mann Group who was sent down from Oxford University and Neil Farrow a journalist and a psychology student. They're here to discuss the newest of the television pop shows, A Whole Scene Going. Later there'll be an interview by Joan Bakewell with Joseph Losey."

This edition of Late Night Line Up, a BBC2 arts magazine programme, was broadcast on 19 January 1966.

Spencer Davis comes over as the teacher he used to be, while Paul Jones experiments with a cheeky chappy act I haven't seen from him before. Neil Farrow's later career does not seem to have troubled Google.

When this show was broadcast the Spencer Davis Group was at number one with Keep on Running. The band was to be profiled on A Whole Scene Going, the yoof programme being reviewed here, a couple of months later.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Julie Christie, the Lamb and Flag and being rude about elves

Good news from Oxford where my favourite pub in the city, the Lamb and Flag, is to come back to life. 

It was closed at the end of January by its owner, St John's College, because of difficult trading conditions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The pub, according to the college's website, is to reopen thanks to an agreement with

a diverse and eclectic mix of Oxford people, past and present, scientists and entrepreneurs, writers and artists, Town and Gown, as well as local businesses and suppliers.

This assemblage is called 'The Inklings Group' in honour of a set of academics and writers, including J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, who used to meet there under this name.

One reason I like the Lamb and Flag is that it's less associated with the Inklings than the dark and hobbit-ridden Eagle and Child across the road. This has been going through its own Covid-driven cycle of closing and reopening.

If I have a hero among the original Inklings it is Hugo Dyson. Legend maintains that he responded to Tolkien's reading of The Lord of the Rings as a work in progress with " Oh fuck! Not another elf!"

Dyson is an obscure figure today, but he did have his 15 minutes of fame in 1965. Having been noticed giving television lectures on Shakespeare, he appeared with Dirk Bogarde and Julie Christie in the film Darling, playing a literary lion. 

You can see his scene with them below.