Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Story of the Olympics (1924)

Britain's Best. A Story of the Olympic Games (Diamond Library, London 1920) 

A flimsy story pamphlet with no author noted. The plucky story of George Compton of the Littenden Harriers. 'His form was simply amazing, in the first race he defeated some 20 competitors.. his time for the (100 metre) sprint was an astonishing 10.3 seconds, 5 tenth of a second inside the Olympic say that Azra Arnold was savage at losing is but feebly to express the feelings that raged inside his breast...' A mysterious conspiracy follows to stop him running in the Olympics.  The book ends "Oh yes I intend to complete again at the next Olympic meeting in 1924, when I hope to retain my place as record holder for the two short sprints; for I mean to keep up my training...I hope to see Great Britain do even better in the 1924 Olympic Games.'

Voodoo Power

John Esteven. Voodoo. A Murder Mystery.(1930) Recording this striking jacket of the UK edition of a book just sold to a 'locked room mystery' collector in the USA. From the Donald Rudd collection of detective fiction the book also has fantasy elements ('a modern day Dracula') and listed in Bleiler's Checklist of Science Fiction and Supernatural Fiction. The Voodoo element is apparently of Cuban origin and the book is discussed by Gary Rhodes in his examination of the genre White Zombies. He quotes these lines:

 'Belonging to no race, I chose the race your white law thrust on me. I found its essence in the voodoo cult, and sought to make of this a weapon and a flame. Hatred has its gods. I serve them. For with their power, I was able to quicken and restore old practices and rites.'

The author's real name was Samuel Shellabarger (1888-1954) who also wrote as Peter Loring. A high born American he taught at Princeton, wrote novels and biographies and in the last decade of his life produced a series of historical novels which with the help of Hollywood netted him 1.5 million dollars.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Capri in War Time (1918)

An article from the long defunct Anglo - Italian Review, October 1918. Edited by Edward Hutton, an English  Italophile who wrote several Italian travel books and featuring articles by Nobel Prize winner Grazia Deledda, Norman Douglas & Benedetto Croce. This piece is by one 'R.T.' an urbane writer, so far unrevealed**. Slancio means enthusiasm, abandon, élan...

If there are any spots on this earth which it is difficult to associate with war, surely Capri is one of them. To the imagination it must remain outside substantial horrors and continue the enchanted island which Shakespeare, as some think, chose as the scene of the Tempest; that 'island in the Bay of Naples' where Ferdinand and Miranda met and loved, and Caliban was teased by the dainty Ariel. And indeed in essentials Capri retains her enchantment. But yesterday, in the midst of an August calm, Prospero with a wave of his wand 'put the wild waters into a roar' and has now with a like magic allayed them. The news of the war seems far more like one of Ariel’s tricks than any incidents in the Tempest. The natural beauties of the island are accentuated by the diminution of artificial accessories. The moon shines with exceptional brightness in spite of regulations as to lighting. The summer flowers bloom with the usual luxuriance and the pergolas are heavy with the grapes. There is a same crush at the corner of the Caprese Fenchurch Street, namely the Piazza, where the people assemble for the arrival of the boat, now, indeed, only an evening occurrence and liable to interruption owing to the demand for tonnage.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Stacey Bishop, mystery writer & 'Bad Boy of Music'

Stacey Bishop. Death in the Dark (Faber, London 1930)

A thriller by the New Jersey born composer George Antheil (1900-1959) under the pseudonym Stacey Bishop. Self proclaimed 'Bad Boy of Music', championed by Ezra Pound, composer of over 30 Hollywood film scores, including the much rated Dementia (1955) and practicing “endocrine criminologist” he also wrote this scarce detective novel published by Faber (under the auspices of T.S. Eliot) in 1930.

The story behind the writing of the book goes something like this: from 1927 to 1933 Antheil lived variously in Vienna, Tunis, and Cagnes-sur-Mer, writing opera and stage works for productions in Vienna and Frankfurt; in 1929 he was summering in Rapallo, Italy something of an ex-pat artists colony. That year T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound and W. B. Yeats came through and also the German writers Gerhart Hauptmann and Franz Werfel. All of these writers are said to have had a hand in the work, with some final editing done by Eliot for the London Faber edition. Antheil had been surprised to see that off-duty these highbrow writers tended to read detective writers such as Dorothy L. Sayers. Antheil had an interest in criminology through theories he had developed about the thymus gland and endocrinology in crime detection. So serious was Antheil’s belief in endocrinology that it is said the Parisian police made him an honorary lifetime member.

Antheil assured the assembled authors that he could write a detective story as good as anything they were reading and Death in the Dark was the result. Theoretically it should be a C item in the bibliographies of Pound, Eliot, Yeats, Hauptmann and Werfel as they are all said to have helped with its writing. The book's hero Stephen Bayard was based on Pound. The plot and style of the book is said to be derived very obviously from S.S. Van Dine who created the languid detective Philo Vance. Despite the involvement of 2 Nobel Prize winners and il miglior fabbro himself the book is generally considered almost unreadable. Rapallo will always be associated with Max Beerbohm and it would good to think he also dropped by to add a whimsical chapter.

Michael Henshaw 'the cool accountant'

Licenced….to save you money.

For someone who a few years later was swanning around in a flashy sports car, Austin Powers- like, with mini-skirted 'chicks', Michael Noel Henshaw,  started modestly in 1960, as the accompanying driving licence shows,  with a 1942 black Austin saloon. Henshaw was the former tax inspector and show business wannabe who became the ‘cool accountant’ to so many media luvvies in the swinging sixties and seventies, including  the Fab Four, the Pythons, playwrights like David Mercer, David Hare and Simon Gray and writers that included  Alan Sillitoe, Ted Hughes and Basil Bunting. He even sorted out the tax problems of William Burroughs and Alan Ginsberg.

Born in Derby in 1930, Henshaw attended the local Bemrose school, where his  appearance in a Shakespeare production (he is third from the left in photo ) at the age of 16, hints at an early taste for showbiz. After National Service he took the civil service exams and joined the Revenue at Shepherd’s Bush as a tax inspector, while at the same time taking a part-time course in law at London University. His big break came when his childhood friend John Dexter, who had come to London as a theatre director, introduced him to the playwright Arnold Wesker at the Partisan Coffee Bar in Soho.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The British at Home

Introduction from The British at Home by Pont of Punch (London 1939) written by T.H. White (author of The Sword in the Stone.) The cartoonist Pont illustrated about 6 books, all amusing. His real name was Graham Laidler (1908-1940). He told White 'I do not try to draw funny people. I have no sense of humour. I try very hard to draw people exactly as they are.' White deconstructs one drawing, although how he knows these people are posing for The Tatler is a mystery.

Look, for example, at the family group on page 19. The 'Country Folk' are evidently posing for a photograph in The Tatler. But who are they, and what sort of person would each be to meet? My belief is that that paterfamilias is going to be a Governor General – hence the photograph for The Tatler – and that he will be a good one. He does not understand very much, dear fellow, but he has had a sound classical education at Harrow (yes Harrow: you would have thought Eton, but look at the tie) and his family mottoes show the extent of his learning. They are Mensa, Mensa, Mensam and Palam, Clam, Cum ex and E. No doubt he is interested in pigs or roses. His eldest son in the riding boots is at Oxford, and he does not understand very much about things either, for he has inherited his father's eyes. I doubt he is even good at polo. 

His wife was an actress, or else a famous debutante case, for she still considers herself a reigning beauty and spends all the time making herself up.

Monday, March 25, 2013

From the Library of Guy Burgess

Sold on eBay in late 2008 (price unrecorded but circa £180)

Algernon Cecil. British Foreign Secretaries, 1807 – 1916: Studies in Personality and Policy (London: G Bell & Sons, 1927)

This remarkable survival is the copy of Algernon Cecil’s 1927 book about British foreign secretaries owned by the infamous Cambridge spy Guy Burgess. The front free endpaper bears the inscription: ‘Guy Burgess / Eton 1929’. Burgess was seventeen or eighteen and preparing to take up his place at Trinity College, Cambridge.

Inconspicuous enough at first glance – a plain, dark blue hardcover without dustwrapper, a little worn about the edges – the book harbours a wealth of fascinating annotations in the hand of the young intellectual. There are many sentences in the book which Burgess has placed a pencil line under or alongside, such as the observation that Canning, foreign secretary during the Napoleonic Wars, ‘[as] he had a difficulty in understanding the value of a code amongst nations, so he had a difficulty in understanding the obligations of code amongst men’. Elsewhere, Burgess notes well the observation that the Earl of Clarendon (1850s foreign secretary) ‘betray[ed] himself by a kind of fatalism rather than a fund of resourcefulness [so that in the end] he proved somehow unable to take control of the situation, with the inevitable result that it took hold of him’. It is indeed remarkable that the vast bulk of Burgess’s annotations involve criticisms if not outright damnations of character.

There are also, at the bottom of some pages, Burgess’s own thoughts where he is moved to agree or disagree with the author.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Elvis's Cook

Memories Beyond Graceland Gates by Mary Jenkins (cook and housekeeper to Elvis known at Graceland as Mary Langston, her married name) published in USA by Eastland in 1989.

In this food orientated book Mary writes that Elvis returned from a concert tour in 1972 and told her about a fried peanut butter and banana sandwich he had eaten while on the road. Mary said it took her three tries to get the sandwich to his satisfaction, and then she cooked them for him the rest of his life. By all accounts she was a very good hearted woman and 'truly loved Elvis.' This old Amazon (2008) review has good background on this rare and expensive ($200) book and sheds light on the dream of the King of Rock:

This is a very positive book about Elvis ... it was wrote by Mary Jenkins ...Mary cooked for Elvis for years ... She loved Elvis dearly and his fans... Mary never said one negative thing about Elvis in her life... In the house Elvis purchased for her Mary would invite the fans in for a visit if she felt good she enjoyed cooking meals like she did for Elvis for the fans I was honored to be among one of the fans she cooked for along with Sharon and Sue...I will always remember the days I spent with her listening to Elvis stories ... the book is a must to any Elvis Fan collections... Mary passed a couple of years back she is missed by all for the love she had for everyone the beautiful smiles she gave everyone she met, the funny stories she would tell about Elvis such a pleasure to be around ... oh yes, she is the one that made the banana sandwiches for Elvis... The first one she made was a flop the next one Vernon stood beside her telling her just how to make it the way Elvis like it ... this book is one every fan should have in their collection...

The Queen Mother's courtier writes...

From the papers of the Cambridge don Dadie Rylands - a courteous letter thanking him for the gift of his latest slim anthology Croaked the Raven. Written by the Queen Mother's private secretary Sir Martin Gilliat.

Clarence House 10 April 1989

Dear Mr Rylands
I write to thank you for your letter of 7 April with the copy of your most recent anthology 'Croaked the Raven.'  When some five years ago you sent her 'Quoth the Raven'- so superbly presented by James Stourton - Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother was entranced by it and I have frequently seen Her Majesty dipping into it in the intervening years.

Your latest creation has been received with much pleasure and I am to offer you her Majesty's very sincere thanks.

As time allowed both Ruth Fermoy, who is here at present, and I skimmed through it before I laid it before the Queen Mother and were absolutely charmed.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Smoker's Progress

Publicity booklet from the tobacconist Bewlay's issued in 1967. Mostly drawings of historical types smoking pipes and taking snuff. They claim that Britain's first smoker was seen in Bristol in 1556 'he did walk in the streets emitting smoke from his nostrils…' He was chased through the town by an angry populace. This spirit is now returning. The 1967 image shows every single person smoking - even the women ('the fair sex have shown they are no longer willing to be excluded from one of the most exquisite pleasures of life.') 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Margaret Thatcher "What's Wrong with Politics?"

Conservative Political Centre pamphlet from 1968. A cultured speech quoting from Shakespeare and Sheridan and even the now slightly forgotten French writer Anatole France (who is quoted as saying 'I am not so devoid of all talents as to occupy myself with politics.')

Among the wrongs Margaret Thatcher identifies are too much government; government and its agencies had become too big and the mere man no longer counted. People had lost interest in politics, there was too much reliance on statistics and 'too little judgement…' 

One significant line in her speech is 'Bribery and corruption, which have now gone, used to be rampant.' She mentions the case of a Lord Ashley who spent £12000 on 'refreshments' in order to win Dorset in 1831. Probably more than a million…

Based on a speech given 10/10/68 at the party conference in Blackpool. From the collection of Ian Gilmour (Baron Gilmour of Craigmillar 1926 – 2007) with his marginal linings. The owner of The Spectator in the late 1950s and a distinguished historian. Later he was an anti-Thatcherite Tory Cabinet minister (i.e. what Maggie called a 'wet.') Margaret Thatcher became P.M. 11 years later in 1979.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

'Dreams for Sale' - the joy of books

A 1938 Christmas article for W.H. Smith's own magazine The Book Window by Collie Knox. Knox was a much published journalist who also wrote lyrics. He was a friend of Chips Channon from whose collection this came. A potboiler of an article of the kind that could no longer be written. Some of the sentiment about books has recently been revived in the face of Kindle and the decline of  book reading among coming generations. The idea of coming back to a room full of books (even a study) is still attractive and trumps coming home to a thin grey slab...

Dreams for Sale

CALL no man friendless while he owns one book.
 After your day’s work do you go to your home–large or small–where, ranged round your own particular room, are rows of books? It is to be hoped that you do so, for, once there are books within reach, you need never feel lonely.

Most of us lead painfully hectic lives in this age of pace. So little time there is for peaceful–unhurried things. We dash home only to dash out again–to mingle with large numbers of strangers who have been bidden to meet at this or that social activity. Further and further away from us rolls that heaven-given blessing–“A quiet evening at home.”

Waiting for us at home, weary, sad and neglected, are some of our best, our most real friends. Neatly ranged on their cosy shelves they wait eager to transport us out of a grey mood into an hour or two of excitement– of forgetfulness. To teach us by gentle example–to lead us into lands of memory–to smooth our cares and to assuage our workaday worries.
Here, indeed, lie the panaceas for almost every ailment of the mind.

At Christmas–is it really so soon upon us?–I never give any present  but the present of books. I choose my books with the care with which I choose my friends. Knowing their funny little ways, their idiosyncrasies–their unrealised dreams–I choose books for them accordingly.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

A sighting of Aleister Crowley

I remember seeing Aleister Crowley walking in Hampstead in the mid 1940s. He was pointed out to me by another boy called John Bunting.Crowley was staying with his father the writer and anthologist Daniel George (Bunting) in East Heath Road where it meets Whitestone Lane, an area now infested by oligarchs. As I recall he had a beard and was wearing a kilt and possibly carrying a sword stick with an entwined silver snake. I have heard of him wearing a kilt but seldom a beard and he is not known to have associated with Daniel George but I am certain it was him.

 Later I met the writer and film maker Lance Sieveking who also knew Crowley. He told me that in the 1930s the Great Beast had involved him in marketing a scent he had concocted from musk and various spices and animal products. The idea was that a man wearing this scent could not fail with women. It appeared to have the opposite effect however and was a financial failure. [Contributed by a Jot associate, now in his 80s. Many thanks! ]

The Time Machine seen in 1964

The Time Machine by HG Wells.

Airmont Classics series paperback N Y 1964.

Interesting cover art by an anonymous artist envisaging a time machine as a type of flying oven. From the portentous introduction by Donald Wollheim:

 '..if you have never read The Time Machine before I envy you the experience. It is a fascinating story you have awaiting you, one that spans all time until the last red rays of a dying sun shine down on a bleak and used up landscape. A story that will linger in your imagination…

Is it to be this way? you will ask. This is a vision of a future, but is it to be the future? We live in a pivotal century which may well decide what will happen to our children's children for a hundred generations. So, reader, the decision may well be up to you.'

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Mass Observation Class Codes etc.,

Mass Observation was founded in 1937 by the anthropologist Tom Harrisson, the poet Charles Madge and the film-maker Humphrey Jennings. Their aim, stated in a letter to the New Statesman, was to create an "anthropology of ourselves" - a study of the everyday lives of ordinary people in Britain.

Harrisson team of observers, diarists and investigators first big project was their study of the life and people of Bolton (the Worktown Project). Investigators went into a variety of public situations: meetings, religious occasions, sporting and leisure activities, in the street, in pubs and at work, and recorded people's behaviour and conversation in as much detail as possible. The material they produced is a varied documentary account of life in Britain. A great deal of it is now held at the University of Sussex.

 Mass Observation continued to operate throughout the Second World War and into the early 1950s, producing a series of books about their work as well as thousands of reports. Gradually the emphasis shifted away from social issues towards consumer behaviour and consumer research In 1949, Mass Observation was registered as a limited company.

 Sussex University gives a key to various 'M-O' codes

“Directs”: responses on a theme elicited directly by M-O investigators from members of the public

“Indirects” = responses on a theme elicited by a M-O investigators in the course of an informal conversation with a member of the public

“Overheards” = snatches of conversation gathered by a M-O investigators without the person being aware of being recorded

“Follows” = descriptions of a person’s behaviour while being followed by a M-O investigator (used mostly in pre-war work)

A simple system of coding was used for visual identification of social class:

A “Rich people”
B “The Middle Classes”
C “Artisans and skilled workers”
D “Unskilled workers and the least economically or educationally trained of our people"

Thus “F30B” refers to a thirty year old middle class woman (F=female) and “M20D” refers to a twenty-year old unskilled man. This code is listed at the beginning of the M-O publication War Factory (1943).

In our recent M-O posting about the Selby Oak by-election the 'inv' notes of an election worker: 'His speech, manner and appearance indicate class V, but he appears to have a position of some importance in the aircraft industry and drives a Vauxhall car.' Possibly a misprint for C or a new category not decoded by Sussex. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Moon the Loon

Moon the Loon is one of about a dozen books on The Who (once considered the third biggest group in the world after The Beatles and The Stones). Published in paperback by W.H. Allen (London 1981) and subtitled "The rock and roll life of Keith Moon -- the most spectacular drummer the world has ever seen." There are at least four books on the 'wild man of rock' Keith Moon. The hardest to find is Moon the Loon. Written in present tense 'mockney' (Chelsea/ Cockney) -  legend has it that Dougal Butler ghost wrote it 'to cover some of the debts he incurred working for Moonie'. The remaining members of The Who were furious with the writer - 'seeing the book as an affront to their dear departed drummer, and cut him off for years..' (Quotes from Amazon which has much background on this paperback.)

Another Amazon review notes; 'He appears to have written it in the same cheerful cockney/upper class gent manner in which Keith himself was known to speak.This begins to irritate after about two pages…' Covering the excesses of rock life it is said to have an undertone of pathos or sadness.  There is also Dear Boy: The Life of Keith Moon by Tony Fletcher - a hardback from 1998  which has interviews with Kim, his wife of eight years, and Linda, his sister and Annette Walter-Lax, his main girlfriend of the final years. Also interviewed are Oliver Reed, Larry Hagman, David Putnam, Alice Cooper, Dave Edmunds, Jeff Beck, John Entwistle and many others who worked and partied with him. Myths are exposed.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Mass Observation Report - Noel Pemberton Billing

From an archive of material of the writer George Hutchinson relating to his time in Mass-Observation (M-O) - a profile of the 1941 Hornsey election far right 'independent' candidate Noel Pemberton Billing, who in an earlier incarnation in his journal, Vigilante, published a homophobic article, "The Cult of the Clitoris" which resulted in a sensational libel trial. Much on Wikipedia about him and the trial and his friend Lord Alfred Douglas.  It is covered in Philip Hoare's  Oscar Wilde's Last Stand: Decadence, Conspiracy, and the Most Outrageous Trial of the Century (1999)

In this report 'inv' = investigator. Note PB's odd clothes--a remarkable collar with points more than six inches long held together by an Air Force brooch. No tie and the monocle lead coming from the tie (see photo.) Also M-O notes his accent (that one would expect to be of the Terry Thomas school) but  which was in fact Cockney. He stood on a policy of aerial reprisals against Nazi Germany but only received a quarter of the vote and the Tory candidate Charles Challen was returned.



The Independent Candidate.
This report is largely based on daily conversation with and observation of the candidate since last Friday (May 23). It should be read in conjunction with Tudor Jenkins' article in the Evening Standard of May 22, the last page of the candidate’s election address, and CG Gray’s Introduction to his book Defence Against the Night Bomber. (A summary of this book will be submitted later).
Noel Pemberton Billing is 61 years of age–he was born in 1880, in Hampstead. His father was Charles Eardley Billing, of Birmingham–an iron founder. His mother was Annie Amelia Claridge, of Coventry. It appears, therefore, that he is not legally entitled to use the hyphenated surname Pemberton-Billing. That he does so usually–but not always–is, however, quite consistent with his character, as this report will demonstrate.
Oh his birthplace and boyhood he told inv: 'I was born just outside this constituency–in Finchley Road, Hampstead. I went to school at Craven College, Hampstead–and if I give Winston Churchill as much trouble as I gave my headmaster he’s in for a lot. You can get the rest in Who’s Who. '
Who’s Who,  however, provides little information, but the last page of his election address is devoted to a biography sufficient for M-O’s  purposes.
Pemberton Billing is married. According to Who’s Who his first wife, whom he married in 1903, died in 1923. His present wife–to whom Who’s Who does not refer–is probably 45 years of age, a pleasant, plump cheeked, rather stout woman who invariably wears a fur coat.
He has two addresses–25, Chesterfield House, Park Lane, W., and Halliford Court, Walton-on-Thames.
He describes himself as a research engineer.
Appearance, Manner:
Pemberton Billing is well over six feet in height, an erect, impressive figure who very much resembles Conrad Veidt. His short smooth grey hair is brushed straight back and parted in the middle. His cheeks are tanned. He has a distinct–but not disagreeably pronounced–Cockney accent, although, as inv has noted in an earlier report, this is not noticeable except in private conversation. Outdoors and on the political platform he invariably wears a monocle

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Mass Observation report Kings Norton 1941

From an archive of material of the writer George Hutchinson relating to his time in Mass-Observation (M-O) this includes 38  letters from Tom Harrisson (some slightly argumental.) Originally a reporter for the Yorkshire Post, Hutchinson was a volunteer observer and later became a paid 'wholetime investigator' and was conscripted into the Navy during this time. He later became a journalist and wrote biographies of Edward Heath & Harold Macmillan.

 This is a classic M-O report, honest, opinionated, dispassionate and with an eye for the telling detail. Later we will put up an M-O profile of the 1941 Hornsey election  far right 'independent' candidate Pemberton Billing, who in an earlier incarnation in his journal, Vigilante, published a homophobic article, "The Cult of the Clitoris" which resulted in a sensational libel trial.



A small, red-brick house, one of a long row in a working-class part of Selly Oak, is being used as Smith’s committee rooms. The address is 145, Dawlish Road.
The tenant of the house is M, 45, D–Mr. Lacy, who served under Smith in the last war, and, learning of his decision to contest Kings Norton, immediately offered the use of his house as campaign headquarters.
The house has two rooms downstairs, and probably 3 bedrooms. The front room is used as the office, and in the backroom the candidate and his helpers have occasional meals with the Lacy family.
There is little office equipment. The only things that make this poorly furnished room, with its leather–upholstered sofa, cheap sideboards and two easy chairs, look anything like an office are a typewriter (of Danish make, incidentally) and a few box files.
A number of crude notices are fastened to the window. They read: ‘VOTE FOR SMITH’, ‘ VOTE FOR SMITH: BOMB BERLIN’, ‘YOU CAN VOTE WITHOUT POLL CARD’’.
Nominally, Mrs. Smith is the candidate’s election agent. But actually Mr Cronow is the election agent.
Cronow is a tobacco manufacturers’ agent in Birmingham, a Manchester-born man. A tall, burly, vulgar, uneducated fellow, who smokes cigars and drives a nice car, and probably has a good bit of money.

Roof Climbers at Cambridge

This turned up with some papers about Cambridge University. Sadly there is a bit of loss as one side is burnt. The guide referred to is very likely to be 'The Roof-Climber's Guide to Trinity' by Geoffrey Winthrop (1900) Note: Edward Bowen, 'the famous Harrow master and athlete' wrote the hymn 'Forty Years On.'

Records of early climbs are lamentably [hard?] to seek . It is known that Lord Byron 'decorated' the statues on the Library, and was proud of the fact. But research has shown that the ascent was made by ladders,under use for repairs; and possibly also by breaking in and out of the staircase to the roof. On the first appearance of the 'Guide', Edward Bowen, the famous Harrow master and athlete wrote that he had been on the roof of Chapel and of Great Court, with friends. But the routes are unknown. This must have been in the 1850's. In the '70's, Dr Roger Wakefield, father of Wavell, Teddie and Cuthbert, reports that he, likewise, with friends, scrambled on the Great Court roofs. There were probably many such enterprises through the centuries. The definite records began in 1895: when G.W,Y (Geoffrey Winthrop Young) started the mountaineering exploration of the Roofs.
His companions were,at different times,-F.M.L.(Felix Martin Levi.Maths Scholar. Perhaps the most brilliant and lovable man of his time. Afterwards in I,C.S, and killed early in an earthquake.) - A.M.M. ( Sandy Mackay. Mor. Sci. Scholar.Internat.Lawn Tennis Blue,and now Scottish Law Lord) - J.F.D.( Professor Dobson,of Bristol,[Classic.Schol.,] Dean of the Classic Faculty) - C.K.C. ( Clague.Maths Schol. now H.M.I,the author of the happiest of quotations, on Lliwedd; and distinguished as an athlete for putting his knee out while playing chess) -

Monday, March 11, 2013

Goddesses Never Die (1969)

Goddesses Never Die by George B. Mair. (Jarrolds U.K. 1969) Dust wrapper by Michael Johnson. An espionage thriller with a lot of 1960s references. Rather rare - none listed on web book malls and this copy with a signed presentation from the author...

The dust wrapper blurb reads:

Set in the Himalayas, this seventh David Grant thriller has all the narrative power and exotic colour for which the George Mair has been acclaimed in five continents.

Hashish and LSD are the weapons chosen by the Mafia and Cosa Nostra to corrupt western society on a global scale and to promote a world take-over by permissive politicians assisted by hippies, beatniks and flower people. A remote Himalayan village controlled by a woman who was once a living goddess in Kathmandu's Kumari Devi Temple becomes a headquarters for organised world revolt – and David Grant, on leave from his duties as NATO's special intelligence agent, is drawn into one of the most dramatic episodes of his career.

A casual meeting with Harmony Dove – socialite, mystery woman and man-hunter – involves Grant in a fantastic battle of wits in which civilisation itself is at stake.

[Backflap, with pic of the writer aged about 50] George Mair specialises in creating drama from existing situations, and his intimate knowledge of over 70 countries enables him to write with authority – whether his  setting is the West Indies or Chile, the Soviet Union or the Sahara.

His scientific training also enables him to see the potential in weapons ranging from drugs to nerve gases while his instincts as a newsman guide him in choice of plot.

His fantasy is always close to 'what may happen tomorrow' and he is an expert in blending fact with fiction.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Selling - 'Walk like a million dollars'

The Opportunity Course in Practical Selling. By Charles B Roth.(Chicago 1952) A correspondence course of a dozen (?) 4 page leaflets.

Handy tips on door-to-door selling. E.g. - 'always sell them through the eyes' -let the goods sell themselves by showing them and using the "eye lock" i.e. keep the buyers attention on the goods. As for looking at the prospect in the eye Roth advises looking at what he calls the "black dot" - an imaginary spot on the bridge of the prospect's nose - it is less embarrassing than looking the person directly in the eyes.

Selling begins before you actually get to the door… Roth gives details of the million-dollar walk.

The approach to the house begins with your walk. It can make the sale for you, keep you from making the sale, just the way you walk to the house. He talks of a seller who was failing to sell goods - saying to him " didn't deserve to sell. Your walk was wrong. I watched you. You were all hunched over. You walked like a man who expected failure, not success. Suppose you just made, or knew you were going to make, a million-dollar sale. How would you walk then?"

"Why man how would I walk then!? I'd square my shoulders, swing my arms, and really step off! I'd walk like a million dollars!"

 "That's it exactly - you'd have a million-dollar walk. Well, have one – and you will make million-dollar sales."

 He took it to heart. He walks like a million-dollar salesman now, chest out, head up, arms swinging, confidence in every movement. The first thing to remember in getting up to the house is – walk like a million dollars. 

How to ring a doorbell. A friend took over a faltering direct sales team and literally remade it in the simplest most unbelievable way imaginable – by teaching the team how to ring a doorbell! It seems pretty childish, to think that grown men and women, who know how to make out roadmaps and tie their own shoes, should need to be told how to ring the doorbell. 

There is a language of doorbells which every prospect subconsciously understands. You can ring it as a beggar would. And not get in. Or you can ring it as a person who knows he deserves attention would -and get in – and get an order. The secret of how to ring a doorbell? Two rings, never one. A good old family hearty ring of two sharp blasts, and the woman thinks it's somebody she knows or at least somebody special. So she answers the door -not every time but practically every time -enough times anyway to make you a lot of money. 

Roth advises "when the woman answers the door step back, this is to show you are not trying to force your way and you are not crowding her." 

What does the salesmen do with a slammed door full in the face? The best salesmen handle that in the only way it seems to me possible. They take the door slam in good grace. They do not pout ..and make it a point to call back next time with lines like  "I'm sorry Mrs Watkins I called at such a bad time last week I know how busy you are and how much you must resent interruptions and I don't blame you a bit…" The prospect is on the defensive now..

Friday, March 8, 2013

Velly Silly, Mister Hitler

An interesting example of ephemera from World War II, put out by the National Refugee Service (a 'constituent agency of the United Jewish Appeal for Refugees and Palestine') - it puts forward the example of a Jewish refugee, Private John Goetz, who has found 'home and freedom' in America after being 'tossed out' of Germany. He is now bravely fighting the Japanese - hence from their point of view Hitler has made a 'velly silly' move. 

 He won the Purple Heart and says that when he gets home from war he will have so many medals he will look like 'one of those doormen in front of a Russian night club...' His opinion of Japanese soldiers is very low. 

Nelson Algren, Simone de Beauvoir and Sartre

Four books by Nelson Algren found at  Shakespeare and Co in Paris and bought reasonably from George Whitman. About 1990. Catalogued thus (and sold). All inscribed to Simone de Beauvoir - a reminder of this great literary triangulation.

65. ALGREN, Nelson: NEVER COME MORNING. Harper & Brothers, New York, 1942. Signed by Nelson Algren. The French translator's copy with copious notes throughout. The translation was begun by Guyonnet and Bost but worked over, completed and improved by de Beauvoir & Satre. This copy contains many notes in their hands. Many are about obscure American criminals and low-life slang. According to Algren's biographer Bettina Drew 'Sartre helped take the inadequate translation and along with Simone turned it into a good French novel'. When Algren met Sartre he expected they would confront one another like jealous adversaries but was struck by his warmth and charm. Fascinating association copy. VG 

66. ALGREN, Nelson: CHICAGO: CITY ON THE MAKE. Doubleday, New York, 1951.
Signed presentation copy to Simone Beavoir. 'For Castor Avec Amour from Nelson in the Forrest Ave. Nest, Oct. 1951'. Castor was a pet name used by friends. Minor wear else VG. 

67. ALGREN, Nelson: SOMEBODY IN BOOTS. Vanguard, New York, 1935.
Author's first book. Simone de Beavoir's copy with a coloured drawing on the rear endpapers of two rabbits and 'Madame La Tigresse' and 'Monsieur Le Tigre' written underneath in Algfren's Hand. Nelson Algren and Simone de Beavoir were friends and lovers from 1947-1960. An interesting association copy. A somewhat worn and rubbed but solid copy. G/VG.

68.  ALGREN, Nelson: THE NEON WILDERNESS. Hill and Wang, New York, 1960.
1st collected edition of 24 short stories. Signed presentation copy to Simone de Beavoir 'For My Own Simone For Keeps Nelson.' Wraps. VG 

Apparently there is reference to the occasion when Sylvie Le Bon de Beauvoir sold these and many other of Beauvoir's English language books in Mary Duncan's Henry Miller is Under My Bed. See also Bookride which has more on this and mentions that Algren thought Sartre looked like a shoe salesman...

Thursday, March 7, 2013

John Banting letter

Letter to the critic Raymond Mortimer from the artist John Banting (1902 -1972) from his White Rock Gardens, Hastings address (undated but late 1960s.) Discussing a high society book by Daphne Fielding and life in general. The book was almost certainly Emerald and Nancy: Lady Cunard and Her Daughter. (1968)

Dear Raymond and Paul – it is so reassuring (and so daunting) that you both look so splendid  still. I feel my face sliding with pink jowels but do not resent my filleted clown's nose (it is a change from the old one I had and bewildered strangers.) I hated the extracts from the book about Lytton – I hate all the necrophiliac messes.  They are not history they are gossiping provincial suburban muck.

Portrait of Nancy Cunard by John Banting

I am impatient for your review of Daphne's new book about the haute monde (and incidentally the 'weird' Nancy** whom we both loved). I refrain from boring you with my silly feelings about it – but all the anecdotes (fascinating -but who really cares that  the Prince of Wales thought that "cold salmon was common?" )  The complete exclusion of politics  and the arts is unfortunate for Daphne and places her upon a silly old fence as a gossip columnist.  Her several wild letters to me (never met her) are far better and one day she may make a book instead of trivial memoirs. She is just too commercial. She could be really good.

I feel ashamed to be amused by them  –  O Fuck I feel ashamed to be alive anyway. Please accept  (wishfully)  many enormous  paintings - of  all periods - and vast volumes and heavy chandeliers of Golconda diamonds (no crystal trash) pigeon blood rubies on rings and so on. And so many variegated regards John X

** Nancy Cunard, socialite, poet and rebel - a close friend. He shared her outrage at racial prejudice and stayed with her in Harlem, New York in 1932 and contributed to her Negro Anthology (1935).
He accompanied her on a three month visit to Spain during the Civil War (Oct. - Dec. 1937).

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Magician's 'Patter'

1945 book The Gag Bag by Harry Stanley, most of whose books - both as writer and publisher - were for magicians. This is specifically for magic acts. He writes:

 Many years ago Professor Hoffmann pointed out that patter which fits the personality of one type of magician, is by no means certain to suit other types... Magic has long been following a distinct trend in the direction of comedy. Magicians today are usually less solemn than the wizards of Hoffmann's time…every successful conjurer now injects some humour into his work -here then are some 'injections' which will arouse an audience to laughter.

The first few pages are about a 'Comedy Mind Reading Act' -the rest of the book is devoted to patter - jokes to warm up an audience, to fill the gaps when the conjurer is preparing his act etc.,

Of course, I never dare let my people know I was a magician. It would shock them. They think I'm still in prison.

I used to be a wallflower, until I took up magic. Now everybody asks me out. The other night at a show, I had only done one trick, and I was asked out. 

There are only two kinds of conjurer you can't trust – the ones with moustaches and the clean-shaven ones.

He is a magician. His brother doesn't work either.

[Spoonerist patter] – 'my next disaster piece' (masterpiece) 'my next misery' (mystery) 'I will now utter the tragic words' (magic words.)

Public house catches fire... 50 magicians homeless.

Will someone call out any number between 16 and 60? Thank you I only wanted to find out if anyone was still awake.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Heckler Stoppers (1950s magicians patter)

The publisher of this book was Harry Stanley (Unique Magic Studio Ealing) and most of his books were for magicians, especially books of 'patter' although these 'Heckler Stoppers' could be used by any comedian.

Heckler Stoppers

Please remember that the average audience will be on your side anyway and it should not often be necessary to use heckler stoppers... Use them only when interruptions are frequent and troublesome. Never lose your temper, and deliver these lines with a smile.

Why don't you crawl back into your nightmare?

Twice as many brains and you'd still be a half wit!!

How much you charge to haunt houses?

Don't worry folks he'll be gone in a minute - they're just cleaning his cage.

Is your family happy…or do you still live at home?

I don't know what makes you so stupid... But it works.

Is that your lower lip or are you wearing a turtle neck sweater?

You have a chip on your shoulder... Or is that your head?

Sir if I said anything to insult you... Believe me!

I'll name my next Breakdown after you.

Is your hair naturally wavy... Or does it go in and out with your skull?

2 jokes from the  section of 'TV gags' date this book firmly in the 1950s: 'My girls so dumb she thinks the English Channel is a Television Network' and 'Here's a real novelty breakfast food.In each packet we give you ninety plastic aircraft and a cornflake!'

Sunday, March 3, 2013

A Jean-Louis Trintignant phone card

Souvenir of a business trip to Biarritz in the mid 1990s - a 120 Franc plastic 'Telecarte.' At the time collecting these cards was very popular (possibly still?).  Collectors / dealers used to find the best ones abandoned in phone booths at railway stations and airports (favoured because these places often had older ones brought in by visitors who had bought them on previous trips.)

This one appears to be worth about 1 Euro now - with higher prices (up to 20 Euros) for examples still 'as new' in the plastic film and blue tear-strip in which they were issued. One Canadian site is selling 15 'Cartes téléphonique TÉLÉCARTE FRANCE usagées' for 100 Euros - these feature:

Catherine Deneuve
Romy Schneider
Simone Signoret
Roman Polanski
Jean Gabin
Jeanne Moreau
Johnny Depp
Claude Lelouch
Bernard Blier
Michel Piccoli
Christian Clavier
Michel Serrault
Gérard Lanvien
Jean-Louis Trintignant
Gérard Depardieu & Christian Clavier

The image on the card is from the 1994 movie Three Colors: Red (dir:Krzysztof Kieślowski) in which JLT plays a troubled judge who eavesdrops on his neighbours' private telephone conversations.  Were all the other cards related to phone scenes in movies?

[The hobby is called telegery and hobbyists (apparently?) refer to themselves as fusilatelists. The rarest phone cards are those produced in limited quantities to test the market but then discontinued before catching on. They started in Italy in 1975 and are now regularly traded on Ebay.]

Stock market advice

A 1912 brochure from a stockbroker setting out terms of business. The first page has some interesting advice, most of which would hold true today (apart from being satisfied with "fair profits.") The last pages of the booklet have 'Golden Opinions' (testimonials from 61 bound volumes 'open to inspection.') This from Glasgow in 1891 hints at pretty fast profits. Not nano-seconds but good for 120 years ago...

Gentlemen. Your two wires received this afternoon are good reading; the smartest transaction I was ever interested in, 50% profit in 63 minutes. First wire 3.22pm advising purchase, 4.25pm advising sale. I am much obliged.



(whether you deal with them or any other firm)

To be careful to whom send your money.
To deal only with firms of known standing.
To insist on references, and when satisfied
To state your requirements fully and clearly.
To put up ample margin. 
To operate in stocks that have a free market.
To be satisfied with fair profits and
To leave something for the next man. 
To be prepared to face a loss. 
To average when markets are temporarily adverse. 
To cut losses smartly when on the wrong track.
To "hedge"  a risky operation.
To pyramid a promising deal. 
To remember "nothing venture, nothing gain." 
To never speculate backwards. 
To avoid buying when contangoes are heavy. 
To never "Bear" when a "Backwardation" rules
To "Stag" a promising issue.
To annually "spring clean" your investments 
To turn out the "bad eggs" and
To re-invest in securities  with good prospects.
To avoid unmarketable and hole-and-corner securities.

Who are you aiming at?

Someone emailed asking 'for whom is this site intended?' Not sure -we are still finding our way. Apart from Barry Cox (all glories to his name) no-one has added anything. Not a problem as we have unlimited reserves...this is a scintilla of HG Wells' World Brain, a drop in the vast ocean of knowledge... Short answer - we are aiming at:

Enthusiasts, scholars, readers & re-readers, polymaths, historians, beatniks, robots, bibliomaniacs, collectors, academics, curators, archivists, scientists, botanists, gourmets, goths, gurus, gossips, geeks, pataphysicians, hipsters, bores, geniuses, diarists, pedants, intellectuals, flaneurs, ramblers, boulevardiers, bluestockings, hoarders, quizmasters, know-alls, art dealers, theorists, philosophers, jesters, occultists, walking encyclopaedias, antiquarians, autodidacts, autobiographers, nuns, monks, eggheads, child prodigies, analysts, data miners, savants, renaissance men and women, revolutionaries, obsessives, omnivores, entrepreneurs, engineers, sophisticates, arguers, inventors, lexicographers, burners of the midnight oil, keepers of the flame, seekers of the Grail, Utopians, topographers, voyagers, travellers, explorers, perpetual students, poets, princesses, pundits, punks and pamphleteers…

Last days at the great book barn clearance

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Christopher Logue / Ralph Steadman - Talitha Getty

Short poem by Christopher Logue For Talitha 1941 - 1971
with illustration by Ralph Steadman. Issued in 50 signed copies. 'Talitha' was the wife of Paul Getty and daughter of the artist Willem Pol. One of the more beautiful of the beautiful people, she died young and rich in Rome. She can be seen in very small parts in a series of British 1960s movies like The System an Oliver Reed film where she plays a foreign student and briefly in Barbarella.  Logue, a London friend, writes:

Endlessly moving clouds
But no sign of you. 

For three nights running
I have dreamt of you.

Thank you for coming.

Each time we split we said
tomorrow, love. Next day

something had been arranged,
that made us say: 

tomorrow is the blind man's holiday.

Rain wets the town. 
Skids end and drivers die.

I scratch my head.
I tidy up my room.

Living for ever is a kindly lie.
We will not quarrel in posterity.

An Austin Spare Exhibition

In November 1984 art dealer James Birch put on a show of work by Austin Osman Spare at his gallery in Fulham, London. The introduction to the catalogue went like this:

Some see Spare's paintings as the work of an advanced occultist (reputedly a member of "The Golden Dawn') others see the work of a superb draughtsman, an unashamed Cockney artist who went back to Southwark and painted the ordinary people- whelk-girls, barrow boys, spivs and tramps. Certainly his life divides neatly into two periods. By the age of fourteen, possibly inspired by Beardsley and Ricketts, he was producing work of a high technical order. A fellow student at the Royal College described Spare as 'a fair creature resembling a Greek god, curly-haired, proud, self-willed, practising the black arts and taking drugs.' 

At his first one-man show in 1914 he was showing 'psychic' drawings later developed into his 'automatic' drawings. In the 1920s Spare was at the height of his powers, intensely active,producing books, magazines, objects and becoming briefly the darling of Mayfair. He appears to have reacted against the false values of his patrons and admirers in the Smart Set. His book The Anathema of Zos: A Sermon to the Hypocrites- a work of 'automatic writing' excoriates the self- pity and smugness of the mid-1920s. He was seen as a degenerate and crank; little bothered by this Spare headed back to South London, seldom to be seen again in the purlieus of Bond Street. He found peace and obscurity among the lower classes- the whores and sneak-thieves, many of whom he used as models.

His portraits from this latter period of his life show that he was still primarily a visionary.
Even in straightforward works like his portrait of a Southwark tramp, something shines out beyond the technique. Spare said that 'the portrait of a person should be more like them than they are themselves...seldom complimentary.'

Friday, March 1, 2013

Sylvia Plath & the Professor

In a recent post we mentioned a book by Professor Trevor Thomas Sylvia Plath-Last Encounters (Bedford 1989). Having now obtained a rare (signed) copy the text contradicts our last piece on Sylvia Plath where some Camden / Regents Park locals (and friends of the professor) suggest Thomas only met her once, very shortly before her suicide. While not substantial his book must be over 10000 words. He says of Sylvia:

 I think it would be correct to say that I did not positively dislike her. She was not someone to get to know intimately at short notice, certainly not in the stressful circumstances in which we met. Because of my domestic situation I was very cautious about risking any scandal. She tended to be a self-centred person not letting herself become involved with other people's problems. Never at any time did she wonder about me and my sons and what stress we might be under. Nor did she manifested any interest in my paintings nor in what I did. The world revolved around her. This self preoccupation I have observed in  other creative people.

  Sylvia Plath lived in Fitzroy Road, Camden Town in a house where W. B. Yeats had lived. TT says she was very keen to get the place because of the Yeats connection. She would ask him favours like help in getting her car started. He writes
of a local ironmonger who asked him if he ever saw 'any of the  Willies (Yeats) ghosts around. Queer goings-on, the seances and those women, and some say black magic and plenty of carry-on.' The last part of the book has Professor T's channelled poems that came to him in the nights after her death (he was also suffering from some gas poisoning)- here is the first: 

We were involved  involuntarily
The garbage and perambulator
Between  the red blood fog
And the quiet extinction.

We were so happy you cried.
Not we but them,
The non-lovers of the
Momentary dream in Spain
Or Moroccan sun
That will not cleanse
Nor bleach the heart's tissue, 
Know but the ashes
And the dust of lust.

Will you be here? 
I am not sure
A threepence for the stamp
And you waiting
Only a door between
The compassion and eternity.

He showed the poems to a Dr Horder - 'he did not reject them or the experience.. he said she was known to have a powerful aura or psychic presence.' He also showed the poems to the 'renowned critic' A. Alvarez who 'more or less dismissed them' as a reflection of subconscious guilt about the professor's wife and children. The red cover is by Trevor Thomas.