Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Steve Winwood and Traffic behind the Iron Curtain

From the Budapest Business Journal:
Traffic, the U.K. foursome famous for their flower-power hit “Hole in My Shoe”, were one of the first Western rock acts to play in communist Hungary. It was 1968, and even though they had sanctioned it, the authorities were less than happy with the band’s presence. 
As the musicians took to the stage, police, uniformed and plain clothed, watched intently for any sign of “irregular behavior” among the crowd, straining to catch the merest whisper of an anti-government utterance. 
But after a couple of numbers, the mood relaxed a little: the crowd, it seemed, knew their limits. It was then that Steve Winwood, Traffic’s front man, calmly announced: “The next song we would like to dedicate to the police. It’s called ‘Who Knows What Tomorrow May Bring’.” 
Was this a joke? A provocation? Didn’t these guys know you don’t mess with communist police? 
“We froze. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of kids all froze. Will they stop the concert? Take them away in handcuffs?”

Monday, January 27, 2020

London from the top of a double-decker bus, 1970

This video was tweeted today by Dan Rebellato, who wrote:
I love that something so banal is so mesmerically fascinating.
In 1970 I was proud of knowing that the best Tube stop for Charing Cross station was Strand, not Charing Cross.

Six of the Best 907

"Most of us know precisely what is wrong with Tickbox - that most of these measures or targets either miss the point or get finessed by managers. Those who can’t see it tend to be the elite forces who run the world - and who believe what they are told by the frontline." David Boyle has a new book out on tick-box culture - or 'Tickbox'.

High-tech smart cities promise efficiency by monitoring everything. But, asks Amy Fleming, would cities be better if we ditched the data?

Shoshana Zuboff explains how we are all controlled by surveillance capitalism.

"The most dramatic moment came on May 17, 1972, when ten thousand school children went on strike. Central London came to a standstill as police struggled to contain crowds marching through the streets with banners reading 'No to the Cane'." Owen Emmerson on school strikes against corporal punishment.

"Terry was warm, generous and sociable. Always interested in meeting new people and sharing his enthusiasm with them. I’ve made many good friends through Terry and their messages and memories, coming in over the last few days, all conjure up a vision of a good man." Michael Palin remembers his friend Terry Jones.

Helen Day pays tribute to the Ladybird Books illustrator John Berry.

Lib Dem council backs return of rails to Cirencester

Liberal Democrat controlled Cotswold District Council has donated £13,000 to ensure that a feasibility study of the reopening of the railway line from Kemble to Cirencester can be conducted.

The line was closed to passengers in 1964 and to goods traffic the following year. Later Cirencester's ring road was built over part of it.

But that has not stopped the reopening campaign. You can find detailed plans on the Cirencester Community Railway site.

Terry Jones as a historian

Open Culture reminds us that, as well as being a Python, was a medieval historian.

His series Terry Jones' Medieval Lives was screened by the BBC in 2004.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Burton's shop in Long Eaton

Montague Maurice Burton (1885-1952) opened his first store in Chesterfield in 1904, and entered the bespoke tailoring business in 1912. By 1914, there were 12 shops, mainly in the north of England; by 1939 there were 595. 
At first the stores occupied existing buildings, but from 1923, new stores were built on freehold sites, and prominent town-centre corner sites (such as this one) were favoured. In about 1932, the company established its own architectural department, which maintained the house style established by the architect Henry Wilson, who had been working for the company since 1923. 
In about 1937, Nathaniel Martin became chief architect, so this store is probably his work. Burton's stores are important as pioneering exponents of corporate architectural style, and as sponsoring Art Deco design.
This piece of architectural history comes from the Listing for a Burton's store in Aberystwyth and the one in Long Eaton was built in a similar style.

What with its library, tin tabernacles and the arch that pinpoints the location of Trent Station, Long Eaton repays a visit.

Maria McKee: Page of Cups

Maria McKee is an American artist who has been around since the early 1980s, when she was a member of the band Lone Justice.

This a track from her forthcoming album La Vita Nuova.

Fire Records says:
The lyrics in 'Page Of Cups' flirt with the "unexpected, surprising muse" figure in the minor Tarot arcana. The track recalls 'Forever Changes'-era Love.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

First National Rally of Boats at Market Harborough, 1950

This uncredited photo was taken during the Inland Waterways Association's first National Rally of Boats at Market Harborough in 1950.

That's Hillcrest Avenue in the background.

G.K. Chesterton's Beaconsfield home threatened with demolition

Embed from Getty Images

From the Bucks Free Press:
The former home of famous writer and philosopher G K Chesterton could be bulldozed and replaced with flats – in a move branded “shameful” by angry Beaconsfield residents. 
Gilbert Keith Chesterton, best known for the Father Brown detective novels, moved to Beaconsfield with his wife Frances in 1909 and lived in Grove Road until his death in 1937 – first at Over Roads and then across the road at Top Meadow. 
Now, Over Roads, to which fans of the prolific writer flock every year, could be knocked down and replaced with nine apartments.
The National Catholic Register gives the history of Chesterton's two Beaconsfield homes:
In their will, the Chestertons left both houses, Overroads and Top Meadow, to the local Catholic diocese. They requested that the property be used as a seminary, a convent, or as a temporary resting place for Anglican clergymen who had converted to Catholicism. 
For a number of years, this was indeed how Top Meadow was used. Eventually, however, the diocese sold both properties. Today, both houses are privately owned. 
Over Roads or Overroads, I hope it will be saved.

Friday, January 24, 2020

The only landside remains of Trent Station

Since that trip I have discovered that Trent Station, once an important Midland Railway junction, was not by the cottages but a little further down the line. So I will have to go back and photograph the arch that is the only thing that marks the site on public land.
That's what I wrote about a trip to Long Eaton when I looked back on 2018.

Well I did go back and here is that arch.

It's heavily overgrown now,but in its day it was the only public access to Trent, which was built largely so people could change trains.

The arch took people under the high level goods lines and there must have been a subway so they could then reach Trent's one island platform.

If you doubt me, have a look at the photo below, which I salvaged from a website about the station that was about to disappear.

Six of the Best 906

Without the BBC we could be facing a post-truth dystopia, says Jonathan Freedland.

But certain Beeb programmes may be taking us there. Here's Fiona Sturges on Question Time: "At a time of entrenched tribalism, experts remain thin on the ground while showboating 'characters' reign supreme. As contrarian columnists spew bile on one side, terrified junior ministers trot out pre-rehearsed platitudes on the other. Meanwhile, viewers roar in fury on social media."

GrĂ¡inne O’Hare recommends a podcast on the history of general elections.

"When it comes to brain development, time in the classroom may be less important than time on the playground." Jon Hamilton on the power of play.

Sam Dresser explains why Margaret Mead became a hate figure for the right.

"In the early 1960s, Boothby, known throughout his life as Bob, was one of the country’s more famous politicians, albeit now in the House of Lords." Rob Baker introduces to a scandalous figure.

Vazectomy? Leicester East Labour Party to rerun vote for new chair

Embed from Getty Images

Last week came news that Keith Vaz had turned up as the chair of his old constituency Leicester East.

Today the Leicester Mercury reports that the position will be voted on again 'in the coming weeks'.

The East Midlands Labour Party says this was always the plan.

Others will be struck by the Mercury's account of the meeting where the first vote was held:
Some Labour members have claimed they were barred from attending the vote, and one reported being assaulted at the meeting. 
Current MP Claudia Webbe was not present at the constituency Labour party ... meeting which was held on a Tuesday night when she was in Westminster. She told LeicestershireLive she only became aware of it on the night it was held

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Farmer says 'all hell will break loose' if he's offered milk alternative in Ulverston Costa

Our Headline of the Day comes from the North-West Evening Mail.

The judges thank Jonathan Healey.

C.B. Fry and the Training Ship Mercury

Embed from Getty Images

Access to my photos of Repton still comes and goes, so let's stay with C.B. Fry and his training ship Mercury.

The photo above shows Fry with his inmates inspecting a statuette of himself as a cricketer.

The one below shows Winston Churchill watching the boys in training.

And quite what the one below that shows I do not know.

Embed from Getty Images

Embed from Getty Images

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

One, two, three, look at Philip Lee

I wondered how many of the MPs who joined the Liberal Democrats only to lose at the last election would be seen in the party again.

One is certainly staying around.

Wokingham Today reports that Dr Philip Lee has been appointed by the local Lib Dems as parliamentary spokesman for the year ahead and quotes him as saying:
"I was very proud to be asked to become the Wokingham Lib Dems parliamentary spokesman for the coming year and was delighted to accept. 
"With their large majority, it will be essential to hold the Conservatives, and their representative in this area, to account in order to ensure that neither runs roughshod over the interests and wishes of the local community."

Monday, January 20, 2020

Repton, C.B. Fry and feet of clay

Readers with a good memory will recall that I had begun showing you photographs from my days out during last summer's holiday.

I had got as far as Repton, with its Saxon crypt and stamp machines, when my Photobucket account went tits up.

That was five weeks ago and only today have my photos started to reappear. It all seems very fragile at present, but let's hope that soon improves.

Repton is one of the folders that has come back, so I can carry on with my visit.

St Wystan's does not just have a Saxon crypt to boast. It also has the grave of C.B. Fry - or rather the resting place of his ashes - who was educated at the public school next door.

Who was C.B. Fry? I hear you ask.

I once reviewed a biography of him for Liberal Democrat News and that review was reprinted by the Journal of Liberal History:
lain Wilton’s new biography reveals some heavy feet of clay, but first it is important to appreciate just how compelling a figure Fry was in his prime. Born in 1872, his fame came originally from his extraordinary ability as a sportsman. 
He equalled the world long jump record while a student at Oxford, was reserve for an England rugby trial, won an England soccer cap and played for Southampton in the FA Cup final. Contemporaries likened him to a Greek god in appearance. 
As a cricketer Fry was one of the giants of the golden. years before the First World War. Batting for Sussex with Ranjitsinhji, the silk-shirted Indian whose wristy stroke play ravished Edwardian crowds, he turned himself into the most remorselessly effective batsman in the country.
Fry was twice a Liberal candidate, assisted Ranjitsinhji when he became one of India's representatives at the League of Nations and was himself offered the throne of Albania.

Backwatersman has blogged about Fry's eccentricities, but there is a darker side to his story.

As I wrote in my Lib Dem News review:
 In 1898 he married Beatrice Holme Sumner, ten years his senior. She had long been involved with Charles Hoare, a married banker, and the relationship had resulted in a scandalous society divorce. Her marriage to Fry has been seen by some as a business arrangement: Fry made an honest woman of her in return for Hoare financing his cricket career. 
Wilton rejects this theory, yet his revelation that the first child of the marriage was probably fathered by Hoare seems to support it. 
Hoare had established the Mercury, a training establishment for boys wishing to go to sea. On Hoare’s death in 1908 Fry became its nominal head, but the real power was Beatrice. Her rule became increasingly brutal, and the rigours of life under it proved fatal to one young inmate. 
That reliable arbiter of morals, The Cricket Statistician, has gone so far as to describe both Fry and his wife as psychopaths.

Moving the House of Lords to York

Maybe moving the House of Lords to York isn't practical. Maybe it's the sort of idea that good for a newspaper column but can't survive in the real world.

Still, Britain does have a bad case of overcentralisation. London is our political, commercial and cultural capital. Other countries manage to spread the jam more fairly.

And shouldn't the Liberal Democrats be full of exciting, radical idea for solving this problem? What I have heard today is us speaking up for the status quo.

I admit I am biased: I love York and went to university there. But I would like to hear what the Lib Dem answer to London's overweening importance is if it's not this.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Shrewsbury Prison from above, 1927

As well as the town's prison, this also shows the Severn and Shrewsbury railway station.

The poet Housman adds:
There sleeps in Shrewsbury jail to-night,
Or wakes, as may betide,
A better lad, if things went right,
Than most that sleep outside.

Kevin Ayers: Stranger in Blue Suede Shoes

Time for some more Kevin Ayers.

This track from his album Whatevershebringswesing was relesed as a single in 1971 and again in 1976, but failed to chart both times.

But who cares about that?

Six of the Best 905

"Who displayed the strength and bravery to keep calling it out? Two women. Margaret Oliver, a former detective loathed by senior police command; and Joan Agoglia, the grandmother of a vulnerable teenage girl whose death she simply wanted investigating." Jennifer Williams on the Manchester child abuse scandal,

Chris Dillow points out the massive difference between the sort of conservatism Roger Scruton championed and free market economics.

"British tweeters skew left and toward remaining in the European Union, which reflects their demographic makeup." Helen Lewis reminds us that the Twitter electorate isn't the real electorate.

Anna McKie asks if standing up for expertise is a fool's errand.

Christopher Bray sees David Bowie's career as a Thatcherite parable of hard work by a boy from the suburbs.

Two Dario Argento films - Suspiria and Inferno - are discussed on the Evolution of Horror podcast.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Braybrooke, Great Oxendon and mud

It was a bright winter's day, so I decided on a walk across muddy fields. Very muddy fields, it turned out.

I caught the bus to Braybrooke and made it to the Canvas Cafe at Great Oxendon.

On the way, the low sun showed up the medieval ridge and furrow to great effect and, as ever in this part of the world, the walk was often accompanied by the sound of more or less distant shotguns.