Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Jot101 has moved on

Jot101 has just moved to our new site. Very similar- in fact, same name, same url. No room for sentiment...It is supported by Wordpress, said by some to be more dynamic than Blogger. Certainly the indexing is better. Have done a posting about a haunted house- a true ghost story. Also another post about the most eccentric professor Oxford has ever seen.

See you over there, it's not a big deal. If you have criticisms or comments please let us know. Goodbye and Hallo!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Joan Abbay - Art & The Holy Grail

Found --  a slim volume of poetry from 1927 Lodequest: A Ballad of the Grail (Ancient House, Ipswich 1927) by Herbert Hudson. His wife produced the illustrated cover and also contributed one of the poems. She was Joan Abbay an East Anglian artist, and this is the only example of her work currently online, although it is possible some of her paintings are occasionally sold at auction.

The introduction to the book places the Grail legend in context, quoting from Jessie L Weston's The Quest of the Holy Grail (1913)- (also an influence on a somewhat better known poem*):

Every student of mediaeval literature will bear witness that there were strange current stirring in those days, that more was believed, that more was known than the official guardians of faith and morals cared to admit; that much, very much of this undercurrent of yearning and investigation was concerned with the search for the source of life;

Monday, December 21, 2015

A Georgian Giles Coren

The Red Lion in the 1930s
A Georgian Giles Coren

Extracts from an anonymous ‘ Review of Taverns , Inns, Coffee Houses and Genteel Eating Houses’ published in the New London Magazine, July and August 1788.

The web has done part of my work for me by publishing the first part of this survey of eating places, which appeared in the June 1788 issue of The New London Magazine. Luckily, the second and third parts of this series remain offline. So here are some of the highlights of this witty and very politically incorrect survey of eateries in late Georgian London

July 1788

Brentford Eights, an island in the Thames off Brentford

This is rendered famous for pitch-cock eels. It is likewise celebrated for a very favourite Dutch dish called Vater Zuchee. This dish is composed of perch, parsley-roots and vinegar, served up in a deep dish, with slices of bread and butter. The visitors of the Eights, in gormandising this dish, have no occasion for any other knives and forks than what nature has given them. It is common to eat with digits only.
If any stripling of fortune, whether a coxswain of a barge, or the supercargo of a post chaise, wishes to be indulged, he may be served here with zouchee

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Sea Glass Beachcombers

New Brighton Beach, Capitola
Having returned to Northern California recently I noticed a new phenomenon on a beach that I regularly walk on when here - people looking intently at the stones and digging about in the sand. I asked one guy what it was all about and he said they were looking for sea glass, and that he had heard about this beach online. People make jewellery with this glass and also sell it online or just wear it. It is attractive stuff especially the more unusual colours (red, blue and the very rare black). So popular is it that people fake it - this type of glass is known as ‘tumbled.’ Some of the glass is not that old - a type of frosted white glass is said to come from Skyy vodka bottles. The best beach is at Fort Bragg (Glass Beach) in Northern California. The photo below is probably from before the recent craze, although remoter parts of the beach still have good yields. The amount found there is something to do with passing passenger ships and tides etc., The best time to look is after a storm. Some sea glass jewellery, especially in fancy settings, sells for $500 plus. See this high end  seller in Santa Cruz.

Friday, December 18, 2015

A to Z of Zowie (Hippy Slang)

Found in an old Sunday Observer colour supplement from December 1967 this glossary of (then) very recent hippy and 'underground' slang, apparently known as 'Zowie.' In Britain 'Zowie' is mostly associated with David Bowie's son Zowie Bowie (born 1971) now known as Duncan Jones...For a comprehensive online dictionary of hippy slang check out Skip Stone's Hippy Glossary. Since the Summer of Love some of the words below have entered the language (groovy, happening, trip, vibrations, riff) and some like 'Zowie' itself and 'grey' have had very little currency. Slang authority Eric Partridge imported most of Peter Fryer's glossary into later editions of his Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English.

Peter Fryer offers a selective glossary of the Underground.

acid/LSD. Acid-head/one who uses LSD.
be-in/hippy meeting.
bust/police search, raid.
cool/unruffled, admirable (but see groovy); not carrying illegal drugs.
dig/understand. Diggers/idealist hippies undermining capitalist economies by giving away free clothes, washing-machines to needy.
drag/bore, dissapointment.
drop-out/one who opts out of society.
flip/arouse enthusiasm. F. one's wig/lose one's head.
Flower Power/from Flower Children or Beautiful People.

Potash for Relief

Here is a short note from the Conservative politician and former soldier Sir Henry Edwards (1812- 86) to his physician, which was found among some autographed letters.

                                                                                    5, (street name illegible)
Dear Dr Deetz                                                             28th Aug.

I now send you as you wish part of the water I have made during the night & will call if agreeable to you about 10 o’clock this morning. I regret to say the pain I suffer, particularly after dinner, in walking home, even an hour after dinner, seems to me to increase & I suffer dreadfully. I have found relief from Potash & (illegible) on reaching home from dinner, but without that I don’t know how I could bear the pain—it is so excruciating. I will call on you before 10 o’clock, if convenient, at your house, or perhaps you would prefer to see me here.
Yours mostly truly, Henry Edwards
Deetz Esq, MD.        

As a former soldier, Edwards was doubtless used to speaking plainly and indeed suffering pain, but to those familiar with examples of Victorian decorum on such matters,

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Poetry and Jazz at the Festival Hall

A press-cutting for June 1961 found among the papers of Daniel ('Dannie') Abse, CBE, FRSL (1923 – 2014) well respected Welsh and Jewish poet who worked as a doctor much of his life. From the days of poetry and jazz, duffle coats and beards. The Tribune (a left -wing weekly) emphasises the youth of the audience, this is from a time when 'youth' meant under 30 - the youth movement didn't really begin until 1963 (see Larkin's poem Annus Mirabilis.) Another press-cutting notes the presence of the 'irrepressible' Spike Milligan 'the eminent goon poet.' Press cuttings, like Poetry and Jazz, are surely a thing of the past. Are there agencies still cutting up (and pasting) newspapers that mention their clients?

The Hampstead Poets and Jazz Group whose first recital was such a success at Hampstead Town Hall last February, greatly daring,took the Festival Hall on Sunday for another performance of their unique form of entertainment. Their optimism was well justified, as the hall was just about full; again the majority of the audience was under 30, and they were given the mixture of poetry and jazz much as before, although unavoidably, the intimate atmosphere of the first occasion was lost in the vast auditorium.

The one newcomer was Laurie Lee, himself a young poet in the thirties

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Action list from John Osborne

Found in Christoper Herold’s Mistress to an Age. A Life of Madame de Stael (Hamish Hamilton, London 1959) a list scribbled on the front endpaper. The book came from the library of the playwright John Osborne (1929 - 1994). It has a posthumous book label reading 'From The Library  of the Hurst. The John Osborne Arvon Centre Shropshire.' The Hurst was his final residence - a large country house, now a cultural centre owned by the Arvon foundation. The writings are Osborne’s notes to himself about changes possibly needed (or not) in his life.

Handwritten  notes-to-self are not uncommon in second hand books, although they tend to be in self-improvement or psychological/ spiritual works. In a jot from 2013 we show a copy of  48 Laws of Power with notes by King of Pop Michael Jackson. The connection with Osborne and Madame de Stael is obscure. Osborne appears never to have referred to her in a play.. He has a few notes about her on the rear endpaper: ’How that girl plays at sensibility writing letters from room to room..’ He notes a quotation from Voltaire about Diderot: ‘No one has ever written more amusingly on famine.’

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Collecting Spanish Civil War literature

(Merci, Surbouquin)
An excerpt slightly  abbreviated, from Student Magazine issue (January 1963.) Quite prophetic as almost all the books mentioned in it are now valuable, especially the Orwell. Edmond Romilly's Boadilla is almost unobtainable as a first edition and copies of his scurrilous magazine Out of Bounds are thin on the ground. Frederick Grubb, who was a friend of radio pundit Fred Hunter -whose estate of books we bought, was a poet and literary critic much admired in the 1960s.


They clung like burrs to the long expresses that lurch
Through the unjust lands, through the night, through the alpine tunnel;
They floated over the oceans;
They walked the passes: they came to present their lives.

W.H. Auden: Spain.

As the 20th century has just about consisted of wars, you may ask: why pick on the Spanish Civil War as an occasion of literary interest? The reason is that, when the Spanish Fascists joined forces with the military-capitalist junta of General Franco in 1936 and rebelled against the Republic, two factors of major concern to artists and thinkers - the ‘individual’ and the ‘idea’ were given their last chance to prove themselves, in action, in this century.

The Spanish War was the last ideological conflict in modern history. It was fought about ideas.

Monday, December 14, 2015

A Visit to Mars (concluded)

This, the third and last part of this strange account, is a follow up to an earlier jot.

January 15th. For the sake of those who, in spite of my gloomy experience on the whole, wish to make this voyage too, I should like to make the following observations on the equipment required for the expedition. A large quantity of provisions, as for an Arctic or Antarctic expedition for many years is a first requirement. It is quite easy to keep the provisions here owing to the permanently low temperature in the ground. If economically used, sufficient water can be obtained by melting hoar-frost.
      As for clothes---summer clothes are needed, if the tropics are to be visited, for the few hot hours in the afternoon when the sun may really be very hot.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Samuel Fuller and 144 Piccadilly

Found- a British paperback 144 Piccadilly (NEL, London 1973) a novel by the American film director Samuel Fuller. It concerns a group of London hippies who barricade themselves inside a decaying Mayfair mansion and resist all efforts to evict them. One cataloguer notes that the American edition rather obscures the fact that it was based directly on an actual event -- "ripped from the headlines," as Fuller might have put it. In September of 1969 a radical group known as The London Street Commune, formed to highlight concerns about rising levels of homelessness in London, took over a large house at the corner of Piccadilly and Park Lane (just across from Hyde Park); they occupied the building for six days
before being forcibly evicted by the police. Fuller's literary conceit was to insert himself into the situation, "playing" the narrator, a cigar-smoking American film director (in London for a BFI retrospective of his films) who gets involved with the squatters by accident. Unlike most of Fuller's books, it's not just a novelization of one of his own film treatments; as he tells it in his posthumously -published memoir, he actually had been in London

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Stewards at the Coronation of King George VI & Queen Elizabeth 1937

Found - a mimeographed 4 page typed set of instructions for stewards at the royal ceremony. It reveals the amount of detail and planning that goes into these occasions. It was found slipped into a book on George VI and must have belonged to a former steward. The mention at the end of fatigue and strain for this voluntary job is interesting. Stewards had to be at the stands at 5 a.m. wearing (in most cases) morning dress or uniform. Some were required even earlier. Still, refreshments came from Mecca Cafes Ltd (to be paid for by guests and stewards) and there were cigarettes, chocolates and sandwiches circulated by workers bearing trays. A phone service had also been specially installed...

The Coronation of Their Majesties King George VI.
and Queen Elizabeth.
Wednesday, 12th May, 1937

Instructions to Stewards.

1. Stand Stewards.

Each stand will be under the control of a Stand Steward, whose name will be indicated on the Steward’s pass. Stewards will report to the Stand Steward on arrival, will accept orders from him without reservation and will remain on duty until permission to leave is given by him.

2. Time of Attendance.

Stewards will be required to be at their stand, the number of which is indicated on the back of the pass, not later than 5 a.m. and should make themselves conversant with the general traffic facilities in order to ensure their attendance by this time. A certain number of Stewards on each stand may be required by the Stand Steward to be present at an earlier hour.

It is anticipated that in spite of the later hour of arrival which has been prescribed by the Police for seatholders, a large number will present themselves at the stands at a very early hour, and in order that congestion by seatholders and members of the public at the entrances to stands may be avoided it is considered necessary to arrange for Stewards to be present at that time indicated.

3. Opening of Stands.

Each stand will be in the charge of an Office of Works’ nightwatchman

An 18th Century joke

Found - a scrapbook of press-cuttings mostly from the Irish newspaper the Cork Gazette. This cutting entitled Bon Mot dates from about 1789. Most cuttings are about oddities, strange wagers (can a walking man cover 20 miles faster than a walking horse?) horrible executions, daring feats, obituaries, a letter from Dean Swift, marriages of royals etc., The following is a genuine 18th Century joke. If they had stand up comedians then this would presumably have them ROTFL.

An eminent painter, conversing with a gentleman upon the subject of his profession, very judiciously observes, that the air, the character of a person, was as essential as the face to constitute a just likeness: - that a person, so situated as only to have his face discerned, might not be known, even by his intimate acquaintance, for want of the character which his air would contribute. “ For instance”, says he “a man standing in the pillory.” - “Very true,” interrupted the gentleman “a man in that situation would certainly be without character.”

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

David Lodge on Edmund Randolph - forgotten Catholic novelist

Before he made the big time as a fully fledged comic novelist David Lodge was principally a literary critic who wrote the occasional novel. When I was taught by him at Birmingham University his reputation rested not on his four novels—Ginger You’re Barmy, The Picturegoers,  The British Museum is Falling Down, and Out of the Shelter, but on his doorstep-sized anthology of literary theory and his  books and articles on mainstream twentieth century Catholic novelists.

Lodge’s article on the hardly known late Victorian novelist Edmund Randolph, which I discovered in a copy of the Aylesford Review for Spring 1960, belongs to the period when he regarded himself as primarily a writer on the history of Catholic novel, a subject he had chosen for his M.A. dissertation at London University. This research involved reading a number of ‘forgotten Catholic novelists‘of the nineteenth century. Clearly, he had not been impressed by their quality:

L. R. Reeve - a Village Hampden, a Zelig

We have posted many portraits of the famous people that L.R. Reeve (1895? - 1980?) had met or seen. Sadly there are no more. He appears to have been a Zelig-like figure, a witness to many important events, an attender of meetings and addresses by the movers and shakers of his day. He was a great connoisseur of oratory and an excellent eyewitness. His writings proclaim his decency and lack of self importance; he was probably a good committee man, certainly a great observer, recorder, and witness. One of Thomas Gray's Village Hampden...

His book Among those Present appeared in 1974 published by Stockwell (a vanity publisher- L.R. Reeve probably had to pay for its publication- he had tried earlier to find an agent.) The preliminary notices in the book read:


Educated at Goldsmiths' College, London, L.R, Reeve very ably recounts his appreciation of, and interesting and revealing anecdotes about, some of the tutors, lecturers and exceptional people