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

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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.


Friday, October 08, 2021

The Joy of Six 1028

Akiko Hart explains why the National Survivor User Network plays no part in World Mental Health Day.

"The era of Mid-Century Britain is a curious one, and it has been neglected by comparison with both the white-walled international modernism that came before it, and the hardline Brutalism that came after." Owen Hatherley reviews a new book on modern architecture by Elain Harwood.

Jackson Rawlings lists 17 cognitive biases that explain Brexit.

"Exceptional things were happening in Liverpool during 1964. When the Beatles returned to the city on 10th July for the premier of their first film A Hard Day’s Night, 150,000 people lined the streets to greet them. A less well known fact is that a few days earlier thousands of children, and curious adults, went hunting for leprechauns in a Liverpool park." Nigel Watson uncovers a forgotten piece of Liverpool history.

"Sussex have not won a trophy since 2009, when they completed a limited-over double to end a decade that saw them collect seven pieces of silverware. Twelve years on, only Luke Wright and Will Beer remain, several influential senior players have moved on and this new project – based around championing the region’s up-and-coming, homegrown talent – is both admirable but also quite extreme. The line-up that faced Worcestershire at the end of August was the youngest ever fielded in a County Championship game." Nick Friend explains what is going on at Hove.

Jacob Lambert on reading Danny the Champion of the World to his son.

Tuesday, October 05, 2021

Matthew Hoggard runs a cookery school in Rutland

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An unexpected figure turns up in a Guardian article about Rutland ("England's secret foodie heartland"): the former England fast bowler Matthew Hoggard, who played throughout the classic Ashes series of 2005.

Hoggard turns out to run a school of barbecue cooking - Hoggy's Grill - at Manton on the southern shore of Rutland Water.

Sarah Baxter, author of the article, explains this move:

Unsure what to do after retiring, he finally decided to focus on what he loves most – eating and drinking, ideally outside, with flames – and opened Hoggy’s in 2020.

It's not such a surprise to find Hoggard in Rutland. Though he spent most of his career with Yorkshire, he finished at Leicestershire, captaining the county between 2010 and 2013.

Wizz Jones on the problem with being a beatnik in Newquay in 1960

Choosing Psul Simon and Anji as Sunday's music video, I quoted Wizz Jones. But who, I hear you cry,.is Wizz Jones?

Wikipedia tells us he has been

performing since the late 1950s and recording from 1965 to the present. He has worked with many of the notable guitarists of the British folk revival, such as John Renbourn and Bert Jansch.

And the blurb for this video on YouTube says:

Wizz Jones, one of the first British Beatniks, and noted folk-blues musician, performs two of his songs and talks about his life in this documentary from 1960, which provides an illuminating glimpse of the media's view of alternative lifestyles at that time. The interviews are conducted by veteran reporter Alan Whicker, looking very much like a Monty Python parody of himself. 

Wizz's two songs in this clip are interesting. Both were versions of older songs, but rewritten by Wizz to mock the Burgermeisters of Newquay. The first was based on "Down on Penny's Farm" by the Bently Boys, a white country duo who recorded it in 1929. ...

The other song Wizz sings is based on Elizabeth Cotten's "Oh Babe It Ain't No Lie", which appeared on another Folkways LP release "Folksongs and Instrumentals with Guitar" in 1958. Elizabeth Cotten used the same kind of alternating bass finger-picking style, complicated by the fact that she played a standard six-string guitar left-handed, i.e. upside-down!

The good news is that Wizz Jones is still with us and has his own website,

Monday, October 04, 2021

James Hawes and Nick Hayes visit Newton in the Willows


The goal of one of my very first outings with a digital camera has cropped up in two book I have just read.

It is the village of Newton (Newton in the Willows if you are a romantic) near Geddington in Northamptonshire and gets a necessarily brief mention in James Hawes' The Shortest History of England and a much longer on in Nick Hayes' The Book of Trespass.

As I blogged twelve years ago, in 1607 Newton was the site of slaughter:

Over 1000 peasants gathered from Rockingham Forest - men, women and children - led by Captain Pouch. He was a tinker whose real name was John Reynoldes. He claimed to have authority from the kingdom of Heaven and to have a pouch which contained "that which shall keep you from all harm". Following the events of 8 June, it was found to contain nothing more than a piece of green cheese.

The armed bands formed of local men were reluctant to be involved and the gentry had to rely on their own servants to support them. The rebels refused to obey the orders to disperse, and continued to pull down hedges and fill in the enclosing ditches. The King's proclamation was read twice. Still the rebels refused to give way.

Finally, the gentry and their troops charged, and over 40 peasants were killed. Prisoners were taken, imprisoned in St Faith's Church, and the ringleaders tried, hanged and quartered. Their quarters were hung in towns across Northamptonshire as a clear message.

Hayes was in the area to explore the nearby estate of the Duke of Buccleuch - "over thirty times larger than Hyde Park, and reserved for a single family," as he puts it.

Just down the road is another estate. Avondale Gragne, on the outskirts of Kettering, was the subject of an article in the NN Journal last week:

“A good comparison to the Grange estate is to call it a modern day dodge city,” says Ady, who has lived in the area for the past decade, relocating from Norfolk to be near his children.

“You don’t look at people,” says Lorraine. “I keep my head down and don’t look anyone in the eye anymore as it is enough to get you into an argument”.

We are still a very unequal country, and Hayes argues that out system of landholding has much to do with it.

Sunday, October 03, 2021

Paul Simon: Anji

Composed and played by Davey Graham, Anji was the track that every acoustic guitarist wanted to master in the Sixties. Acoustic Guitar explains:

Singer-guitarist Wizz Jones recalled Graham playing it at the Continental Coffee Bar in London’s Soho district around 1960—Anji, the song’s namesake, was Graham’s barista girlfriend who worked there. “Other people have claimed that they’re the Anji the song was written about,” Jones says, “but they’re lying.”

For many players, “Anji” was the portal from simple folk to new possibilities. Its author was a cool, military-mannered bohemian of Scottish and Guyanese ancestry, who dazzled young solo guitar players such as John Renbourn, Martin Carthy, and Bert Jansch with his command of various idioms, from blues to Indian ragas. “Davey was the one—the guru—who really inspired a whole generation of European guitar players,” Jones says.

And here is Paul Simon demonstrating his mastery of the tune live on Granada in 1967.

Simon also performed tt on the Simon and Grafunkel album Sounds of Silence and sampled its introduction for "Somewhere They Can't Find Me" on the same record.

As we once discovered for this blog, Davey Graham was born at Bosworth Hall in Leicestershire.