Thursday, May 30, 2013

I once met….Kenneth Griffiths

Younger movie goers may remember him as the irascible elderly wedding guest (‘ Don’t you think I know my own brother ?’ ) in Four Weddings and a Funeral but cineastes would prefer to see him as the enfant terrible of the British film industry, if you can call a man in his seventies, a child. Perhaps maverick is a better word. He wanted to make films of deeply controversial figures in history but often ran up against the usual stuffed shirts. He asked awkward questions about Britain’s imperial past, and about the British in Ireland. I had been invited to talk to him about his Boer War collection, but we ended up chatting about the time when the IRA came to tea.

He lived in a four story stuccoed Victorian house in Barnsbury called ‘Michael Collins House’. Griffith’s Boer War archive was huuuuuge. Said to be the largest of its kind in private hands, it occupied all four floors. Apparently Griffith’s interest had started when he worked in a stamp shop for a while and became interested in Boer War postmarks. It developed apace in 1952 when he went to South Africa to act with the Old Vic company and was taken around the battle sites by a friend.

In amongst the Boer War material were hundreds of books, pamphlets, prints and letters relating to the British radical tradition. Although a Protestant, the history of Irish nationalism was an abiding passion, which led to death threats from the UVF. He showed me the receipt he received for the postcard he sent to Bobby Sands before he died. In his 'Gladstone Corner' I saw a piece of one of trees that the great man used to cut down. When some IRA leaders came to tea one of them noticed a photo of Queen Victoria and remarked that she was 'a very interesting old lady'. However, the visitor 'was very uneasy with me from then on...' said Griffiths.[RMH]

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Dressing Vorticist (Violet Hunt)

Extract from The Flurried Years - Violet Hunt's account
of her life between 1908 and 1914.

A languid airless summer, rife with Law and Cubism, 
spent at Selsey with Princess Maleine as sole guest 
and play-secretary. Her husband flitted backwards
and forwards in his car, now recalling her, now 
giving her a new leave of absence. Joseph Leopold*,
playing golf,eating little contraband crabs, writing 
poems, and helping me with my novel, and taking 
a car into Chichester on Sundays to attend Mass 
in his own church, contrived to wile the summer 
away. He wrote Impressionist ; she painted 

Futurist; in dress, we two women went a step 
farther and dressed Vorticist, which was newer than 
Futurism, than Cubism, than Impressionism, old- 
fashioned almost by now, but which Joseph Leopold 
was still practising in his cunning vers libres.  

The very clothes we rejoiced to wear made us feel like 
it ; they coarsened us, I think. Non-representational 
art makes for hardness, enjoins the cynicism that likes 
to look upon the crudenesses, the necessaries of life 
merely — the red of beef, the blue of blouses, the shine 
of steel knives in a butcher's shop. Better, said Wynd- 
ham Lewis, than a dying stag or a virgin in Greek dress 
picking daisies. But this kind of art died in the war, 
being relegated chiefly to the camouflaging of ships. A 
faint echo of it is to be seen in modern jazz. 

My friend was very beautiful, with a queer, large, 
tortured mouth that said the wittiest things, eyes that 
tore your soul out of your body for pity and yet danced. 
She had no physique, as doctors would say ; no health, 
as women would say ; and — as no woman would ever 
admit except me — charm enough to damn a regiment. 
I used to call her the Leaning Tower, or Princess Maleine, 
that heroine of Maeterlinck who, with her maid, was 
prisoned in a tower for ten years and dug herself out 
with her nails. She ought not to have dressed in butcher 
blue with red blood spots on it. She was much more 
like one of those delicate, anaemic, mediaeval ladies whose 
portraits are traced on old tapestries, their small waists 
seeming to be set between the enormous wings of the 
hennin** and the heavy rolls of their trains that spread 
all round their feet. The modern blouse and skirt of 
Maleine, born out of her century, always appeared to 
be falling off her, her crown of heavy hair toppling, her 
deep brown eyes protesting against Fate and the absurd 
limitations of behaviour applied to supermen and under- 
women. She was no real suffragette, though she had 
collected with me and rattled a box at stations. Nothing 
but her eyes protested.

* Ford Madox Ford

**The hennin was a headdress in the shape of a cone or steeple, or truncated cone worn in the late Middle Ages by European women of the nobility.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Frank Rutter / McKnight Kauffer etc.,

Stumbled across the art writer Frank Rutter's rare little work Revolution in Art (Art News Press, London 1910) and noticed it was presented to E. McKnight Kauffer the poster artist (pic above). An interesting association as Rutter was a great supporter of the poster. He wrote:

  The whole nation is much less affected by what pictures are shown in the Royal Academy than by what posters are put up on the hoardings. A few thousand see the first, but the second are seen by millions. The art galleries of the People are not in Bond Street but are to be found in every railway station.

Wikipedia in its lengthy bio of Frank Rutter has this poster by the Brothers Warbis from 1915 "Why bother about the Germans invading the country? Invade it yourself by Underground and Motor-Bus."

Rutter was a great supporter of the new art from Cezanne, Van Gogh, Picasso etc., and his 1910 work has this fervent dedication:

To Rebels of either sex all the world over who in any way are fighting for freedom of any kind I dedicate this study of their painter-comrades.

The title is a reference to Gauguin's statement "In art there are only revolutionists or plagiarists.'

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Beggars’ Marks and Mendicant Hieroglyphs 1860


No good; too poor, and know too much.

Stop,—if you have what they want, they will buy. They are pretty “fly” (knowing).

Go in this direction, it is better than the other road. Nothing that way.

Bone (good). Safe for a “cold tatur,” if for nothing else. “Cheese your patter” (don’t talk much) here.

Cooper’d (spoilt) by too many tramps calling there.

Gammy (unfavourable), likely to have you taken up. Mind the dog.

Flummuxed (dangerous), sure of a month in “quod,” prison.

Religious, but tidy on the whole.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The MP’s Chart 1964 (Andrew Roth)

The left leaning American-born political satirist Andrew Roth (1919 – 2010) produced these handy guides to the Commons personnel from 1955 and this particular issue, which seems to have been hurriedly hammered out on an electric typewriter (it is full of typos) is interesting in that it includes the first long-term Labour cabinet for over a decade and also a few MPs who became prominent in subsequent Tory administrations and who ended up being elevated to the Upper House. It also has something to say on a certain recently departed former PM, then a little known Tory backbencher of some 5 years standing.

Andrew Roth

Under Political Outlook Margaret Thatcher is described as an 'Able, RIGHT-leaning, suburban, SEMI-LOYALIST.' Under Occupation she is a 'Barrister (taxes); ex-chemical research' and under Traits she is 'intelligent, charming, with a strong will.'

As for Mrs T’s fellow Tory MP, Edward Heath, Roth is spot on. He is described as an 'ambitious, dedicated, pro-European contender' whose traits include being ‘plump, tough, voluble' and an organist.

Labour’s new Defence Minister Denis Healey, a friend of Heath’s at Oxford, is identified by Roth as having similar characteristics. He too is 'Tought'(sic) but 'CENTRE- RIGHT and an 'intellectual politico.' He is also, rather surprisingly, described as a ‘journalist and broadcaster ‘. But Roth, like everyone else, cannot ignore the physical feature of his 'bushy brows' and ‘ruddy’ complexion. In  personality he is  'truculent and aloof.'

Two other Tories, with contumelious and geographical associations with Denis, are also colourfully described by Roth. Under 'traits' Commons newbie Geoffrey Howe has this entry: 'chubby; specs; dark wavy hair', while Sir Keith Joseph, Bt is 'nervy, dynamic, pleasant; Jewish.'

But perhaps the most fascinating entry is the one for Enoch Powell (incidentally, pronounced to rhyme with how, not Poe, despite what some argue ) whose parents, according to Roth were both 'Welsh teachers'. Four years before the infamous  Rivers of Blood speech, the former professor of Ancient Greek is described as an 'Adam Smith-style crusading rightist', which is an inaccurate assessment of Powell’s economic philosophy. On the professor’s traits, however, Roth is bang-on: 'tortured; tough; pale; moustache'. [R.H.]

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Rant against War (Charles Richet)

An impressivee  rant against war by the Nobel Prize winning French scientist Charles Richet published about 1925 in his book Idiot Man or The Follies of Mankind (L’Homme Stupide.) A now rare and undeservedly forgotten book in which Richet seems to see ahead to all the millions of deaths in wars of the next 90 years...

When I evoke the vision of war–bloody, cruel, hideous war– burning, shuddering pictures instantly swarm into my mind, so numerous and vivid that I am dazed by them.
Thanks to war, the proofs of human ineptitude are so blatant that any words could only weaken them. But I shall do my best to dam this overwhelming flood of ideas and to calm my indignation.
It is futile to reiterate that war means death, death, and yet again death. But it is not these countless deaths that are my chief charge against it. After all, we must all die someday. A little sooner, a little later, what does it matter?
There are fifteen hundred million human beings on the face of the globe, and glorious war of 1914–18 was only able to destroy fifteen millions. That's nothing, for these fifteen millions represent a mere fraction of mankind; one per cent, which is next to nothing. Two years of increased fertility will make up for this holocaust. And I am almost tempted to use the words of Napoleon, who murmured with a kindly smile as he gazed on all the corpses which his vain glory had piled up on the field of Eylau: "One night in Paris will make up for all of this."

And now, among all the peoples of Europe, there reign hatred, abuse, outrage and calumny; with cries of anger, vengeance, and fury which blacken the soul. War stirs up all the base, fierce instincts peculiar to man; man who is baser and fiercer than the jackal or the hog. Everything low, vile and bestial is given full rein. A vain mountebank like Wilhelm II, a brainless old brute like Hindenberg, are worshipped as gods by a hundred thousand imbeciles. All justice scorned; all falsehood exulted; all pity insulted. The whole of humanity wallowing happily in blood and slime, and finding therein some obscure, perverse joy more hideous than a noble grief. 
Apparently man, in his quest for that which will at once injure and degrade him to the utmost, has finally succeeded in attaining the maximum. He has bent all his energy, all his cleverness, all his passion to this painful task. And with great success. The result has been splendid. During five or six thousand years man had tried his strength in continuous, but comparatively bloodless little wars,. But these were sketchy, childish efforts, mere preludes to the magnificent work accomplished in 1914–18...

Carry on, comrades! Keep it up–keep the ball rolling! Here you are at the dawn of the new era. For this war is only a truce. Wars will break out anew and our grandchildren will see still more glorious massacres; they will undergo more acute and prolonged suffering.

Forward! Bon appetit! Perfect the art of killing. There are still splendid things you may invent; you have still greater heights to scale. Strain every nerve! Toil on! A few years hence you will achieve superb results.
Shed the last vestiges of timidity! However great your savagery, your imbecility will far surpass it; and compared with it your savagery will be as a reed beside the Eiffel Tower.

Pitiful humanity has fallen so low that men kill without hating each other (the phrase is from Bossuet) and they no longer fill me with pity, but the black shame. Yes, in my inmost being, I am humiliated because I belong to this vile animal species, the most foolish of all created things.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Fancy cycling 1901

A splendid work lent to Jot101 by a visitor: Fancy Cycling : Trick Riding for Amateurs / by Isabel Marks.[Sands, London 1901]

From Ms Marks preface:

In the following pages it will be my humble endeavour to give an account of the many graceful, daring, and altogether fascinating feats which may be accomplished by any rider possessed of an ordinary amount of nerve, the virtue of determination, and a few spare moments secure from the rude intrusion of unsympathising spectators.

 It may safely be assumed that this same practice of trick riding does not diminish the zestful country excursions, nor the pleasures and pains of the annual tour, for to the cyclist no side of the sport is devoid of interest, and among the most ardent the merry trickster prominently figures. More especially are such riders fitted to cope with the difficulties presented by those mountainous regions whose charms appeal so strongly to the lover of beautiful scenery; to them ascents present no difficulties, to them descents are naught.

   Very pretty it is to see two ladies ,secure in the knowledge of each other's skill, confident with the trust born of tried experience of each other's capacity, coasting side-by-side,  their hold of handle- bars relinquished, their bicycles moving as one,  their figures gently swaying in graceful unison,  their fingers lightly touching each other's shoulders, their eyes  bright with the joy of motion  and with the pleasure of congenial comradeship.

This class of rider is naturally facile princeps in threading the intricacies of congested traffic in crowded thoroughfares… when watching the stream of cyclists amidst the sea of vehicles and horses it is easy to distinguish between the ordinary rider and the expert. These latter may be known by the accuracy of their serpentine curves amidst the openings out of, meeting and overtaking traffic; by their correct steering and, by the coolness with which, further progress being temporarily barred, the front wheel is right angled, and a stationary balance maintained… I trust that this unworthy effort may further popularise the gentle cult…

More images can be seen at The Science & Society Picture Library. The book's publisher Sands are associated with several rarities including The Adventures of a Journalist by Herbert Cadett (1900 Queen's Quorum), early books on football, SF - Fifteen Hundred Miles an Hour (1895) books by the young Ford Madox Ford and works on the occult. Isabel Marks was not afraid to write fancy prose…the book is presented by her to a Mr Neville whose flier for his new automobile school is loosely inserted (4000 square feet in a drill hall at Abingdon Villas Kensington). Neville also appears to have owned the drill hall in Berkeley Square where the photos were taken. Those were times of ingenious entrepreneurship and rapid change.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Association copy - Betjeman & Giles

A signed presentation from the poet John Betjeman to the cartoonist (Carl) Giles:

'The mighty cartoonist Carl Giles is [Summoned by Bells] by his admiring fellow Islingtonian John Betjeman...'

A pretty good 'association copy' - both light humourists, Londoners and cherished British eccentrics.

Coded Diaries etc.,

I had been reading about nicknames coined by Swinburne for some of his contemporaries - Fuxton Boreman for Buxton Forman and Soddington Symonds for John Addington Symonds when this piece arrived about a diary of that period with sexual code. Of course Pepys used a mixed language code and Anne Lister (1791–1840) the wealthy Yorkshire landowner, mountaineer and traveller kept coded diaries which chronicled the details of her daily life, including her lesbian relationships. RH who obviously  possesses a good size archive of ephemera and manuscript material sent in this. He is our third contributor and we could use many more who want to share their collections with a waiting world.

Pepys used a code when describing sexual activity and I think and Boswell did too. The sexologist Krafft-Ebing went Latinate when describing what he felt was a sexual perversion. And now we know that in his sex diaries Maynard Keynes used the letters C. A. W. to denote particular sexual activities—though the editor of the diaries cannot, even with the help of Oxford don, Professor Diarmid Macculloch, arrive at any sound conclusions as to what they denoted. All this suggests that many more of the unpublished diaries that the industrious J. S. Batts listed in his superb British Manuscript Diaries (1976), may also have contained codes to denote sexual activity.

I say this because I think I have discovered a monogram, which in the context of bedtime, denote sex in a diary I own, the yet unpublished ‘Travel Journal of Sir George Arney’, which dates from 1834. Arney, an English lawyer from Salisbury, who emigrated to New Zealand to become its second Chief Justice in 1858, spent several month touring Germany, Bohemia and Austria aged 24 —mopping up German literature, praising the music of Beethoven and being rude about the bribery system and continental inns. 

Arney was a passionate fellow, with a roving eye for a pretty face,and was liable to erupt into a violent outburst when recording the conduct of the bad mannered and the plain ignorant, whether English tourists or foreign upstarts. Accompanying him was his new wife Harriett, with whom he was totally besotted. In fact, a more uxorious husband can hardly be imagined. Often, while recording everyday sight-seeing, Harriett’s name is shortened to an elaborate monogram, but the same monogram is also used when Arney wishes to note sex with his wife. On one particular occasion, as we see here (next to the monogram) he is more explicit ---‘I put it in‘. [RH]

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Little Inns of Soho - the Koh-i-Noor

From a small book Little Inns of Soho (1948) this review of one of the few London Indian restaurants at that time.

The book is by Penelope Seaman (daughter of Owen?).

29 Rupert Street
Telephone GER. 3379
Closes 11 p. m. Open on Sundays till 11 p. m. Unlicensed.

From vegetarianism to Indian food seems rather a long step. But many delicious Indian dishes are made with a vegetable base, such as dhal (of lentils, onions and curry sauce) and, of course, all the various accoutrements that go with a good Indian curry. Pickles and chutney are difficult to obtain nowadays and one substitute used consists of strips of onion flavoured with red pepper. One very delicious chutney is made from onions and mint. Bay leaves are also frequently used for all flavourings.

There are some four Indian restaurants in the West End of London; and the Koh-i-Noor is one of five run by the brothers Vir in Great Britain. Krishna Vir, who comes from Delhi, looks after the London, Cambridge and Brighton restaurants and his brothers run the ones at Oxford and Manchester. 

The Koh-i-Noor has been in Rupert Street since 1932. Mr. Vir is very conscious of its war shabbiness but this does not strike the visitor so much, for its wall decorations give the appearance of sunlight, high peaks and deep, green valleys. The candelabra is ornate in the eastern manner and the restaurant consists of one long, narrow room.

The biggest part of the clientele consists of English people, largely those who have travelled and who like Indian cooking, although an English menu is also provided. During summer months numbers of Indians on vacation come in. It is they who demonstrate the correct way of eating chapatis, a form of unleavened bread, with your curry. The English cut them up but the Indian rolls them in his fingers and dips them in the sauce.

Soyaghetti** now replaces the ever-needful rice; and Puri (a fried bread), and stuffed Paratha (a bread ball filled with minced meat, vegetables and spices), are appreciated by hungry people. Bhajee is another Indian dish, of vegetables braised and specially flavoured. Kofta curry is prepared with meat-balls, and Bhuna Ghost is the name given to curried roast meat. Kebab, an Asiatic dish popular also with Greeks, consists of specially skewered and grilled meats.

There are not a great many specifically Indian sweetmeats from which to choose but one known as Gulabjaman looks like a small sausage and tastes rather like a dull semolina. One, however, that has an entrancing taste and is a great favourite is Jalebi. Resembling an English brandy-snap, it loks intricate but in reality is simple to make. From a large bowl of fermented flour-battter the cook takes a spoonful and forces this in ringlets through an icing tube into a pan of smoking fat. Within a minute or so it is cooked and is then served luscious with warmed syrup.

The Koh-i-Noor is one of the few Soho restaurants that are open on Sundays.

**'Soyaghetti' (1943) was a soya bean meal compressed into small grains as a substitute for rice. It was almost tasteless, but fairly popular until rice again became freely available.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The other Kate Middletons

There are at least two other well known Kate Middletons. The American (or possibly Australian) Dr. Kate Middleton author of Stress How to De Stress Without Doing Less and several recent works on eating disorders including First Steps Out of Eating Disorders. Also the Ulster poet Kate Middleton author of Into the Wind (1974) married to the Irish artist John Middleton (who drew the cover.) The first has a slight association/ resonance in her medical angles and the second, poet Kate, has a poem which recalls the famous song I've danced with a man, who's danced with a girl, who's danced with the Prince of Wales - written in 1927 by Herbert Farjeon at the height of the popularity of Edward, Prince of Wales.

KM's poem is called I live here too:

I have dined with a man
who danced with a girl
who lived with a man
who died in a fight
on a Derry barricade

I spoke with a man
who drank with a girl
who loved a man
who carried the can
for a guy who planted a bomb

a neighbour of mine
knew one of the girls
who lost her legs
in the Abercorn**

My neighbour's friend
had been to the house
heard the shouts
saw the tears.

** A paramilitary attack that took place in a crowded city centre restaurant and bar (the Abercorn) in Belfast on 4 March 1972. The bomb explosion claimed the lives of two young women and injured over 130 people.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

1920s Rare Book 'Wants' list

An old list (a 24 page pamphlet) put out by a superior antiquarian bookshop (Walter T. Spencer) in 1920s London. The bookseller has noted almost every single desirable book at that time. Many titles are now forgotten, no longer wanted, impossible to find OR still extremely valuable or even more wanted now than then (e.g. Jane Austen, The Brontes, Beardsley, Wilde.)



- BY - 



(Opposite Mudie's Library and near the British Museum). 

Telephone No. 5847 Central. Telegraphic Address- "Phiz, London." Private Address- CULVER HOUSE, THE ESPLANADE, SHANKLIN, ISLE OF WIGHT.

Bankers - LONDON & COUNTY (New Oxford St. Branch).

Any Parcels of Books sent, I willingly pay carriage both ways, if we do not come to terms.

Cash always sent by Return Post. Established 1884

→ Shall be glad to hear of Imperfect Copies or Odd Vols of any Books or odd plates in this List.

Many of the books were very rare even then - especially anonymous pamphlets put out by the Romantics and items such as Elizabeth Barrett Browning's impossible first book Battle of Marathon. Spencer's list encapsulates bookseller wisdom of his age and rarities passed down from 19th century book sellers. These were the 'sexy' books of his day and some of them are still appearing on wants list, some no longer wanted or too easily found (e.g. Charles Lever, Frank Smedley, Walter Scott.)

Spencer, known in the trade as 'Tommy', wrote a memoir "40 Years in my Bookshop" (London 1923) that reveals part of his story. Spencer's dates were possibly 1866-1964, he is unknown to Wikipedia and the DNB but these old booksellers lived long lives. He was a major book seller of his time, a friend of forger Thomas J. Wise and appears to have dabbled in forgery himself. His shop was at 27 New Oxford Street and he dealt in prints, plate books, bound sets, the Romantics, Americana, first editions of his time (Wilde, Conrad, Galsworthy, etc.). A big Dickens man, popular with visiting American plutocrats like pickle king Henry J. Heinz and numbering among his customers, Sir Henry Irving, Gladstone, George Meredith, Andrew Lang, Gissing, Pater, Swinburne, and Richard Jefferies. Specialist bookseller (1890s) Tim D'Arch Smith recalls Spencer trading from Upper Berkeley Street in the late 1950s. He even remembers his bookseller code - 'TWICKENHAM' with T standing for one, W for 2 etc., 

 O.F. Snelling wrote in a book trade memoir '...much of what he knew has certainly gone into limbo...some of the best tales I ever heard of Spencer's dealings never got into his book.' He was a constructor of false provenances, involved with some fake Shaw letters, a maker up of questionable sets of Dickens in the parts and would also 'sophisticate' books with unacknowledged facsimiles. His 1920 wants list (undoubtedly effective) could, to a great degree, have been the source of his fortune. It partly answer bibliophile A.E. Newton's remark- 'How he does it, where he gets them, is his business.' There is often an ingenious trick or stratagem behind fortunes made in the book or art trade.

The first book mentioned Absurdities In Prose & Verse is illustrated by Alfred Crowquill (pic by him above) with 13 hand coloured plates and now goes for £150 + in nice condition, for the ninth book in the list - A Declaration of the State of Virginia (1620) sells for circa £15000. It is likely that Spencer put many standard collector's books in his list to hide the occasional devastatingly valuable book. 

Absurdities In Prose Verse, 1827
Account of New South Wales, 1804
-Any Books published by him, with coloured plates
Actors by Daylight, 1838-9, 55 Nos.
Actors by Gaslight, 1838, 37 Nos.
Adair (J.) History of American Indians, 1775
Adam (R. and J.) Works in Architecture, 3 vols, folio, 1778, &c.
Addison (J.) Damascus and Palymyra, 2 vols, 1838
A Day's Ride, second edition
A Declaration of the State of Virginia, 1620
A Dialogue in the Shades, 1766
Adonais, an Elegy on the DEAth of John Keats, by P. B. S., Pisa,1821
Adventures of a Post Captain, with coloured plates, d (1821)
Adventures of Count Fathom, 2 vols, 1753
Adventures of Sir Launcelot Greaesv, 2 vols, 1762
Adventures of Ulysses, 1808
Adventures of Johnny Newcome in the Navy, 1818
Adventures of Mr. Ledbury, 3 vols, 1844 or 1846
Advice, a Satire, 4to, 1746 

Saturday, May 11, 2013


I have found a curious pamphlet from the rather neglected Mill House Press which was run by Edward Gathorne- Hardy whose pic is below. Printed on mould made paper in 1963 It is one of 200 copies only and called Inadvertencies collected from the works of several eminent authors.

Basically a collection of inadvertently obscene passages from mostly 19th century classics. The double entendre game. This passage from Charles Dickens gives the flavour -- 'She touched his organ; and from that bright epoch, even it, the old companion of his happiest hours, incapable, as he had thought, of elevation, began a new and deified existence.' My favourites are from Henry James. There is always a faint air of embarrassment with the Master anyway and Gathorne- Hardy has found some corkers.

"'Oh, I can't explain,' cried Roderick impatiently, returning to his work. 'I've only one way of expressing my deepest feelings - it's this.' And he swung his tool." (Roderick Hudson)

 "You think me a queer fellow already. It's not easy to tell you how I feel, not easy for so queer a fellow as I to tell you in how many ways he's queer." (Passionate Pilgrim)

'What an intimacy, what an intensity of relation, I said to myself, so successful a process implied! It was of course familiar enough that when people were so deeply in love they rubbed off on each other....' (The Sacred Fount)

"It 's just like Longueville, you know," Gordon Wright went on;"he always comes at you from behind; he 's so awfully fond of surprises." (Confidence)

"Then she had had her equal consciousness that within five minutes something between them had--well, she couldn't call it anything but come."  (The Wings of the Dove)

"This time therefore I left excuses to his more practised patience, only relieving myself in response to a direct appeal from a young lady next whom, in the hall, I had found myself sitting.' (The Coxon Fund).

 For more on Eddie G-H go to Bookride. If anyone has a tape of the man talking please send it over.The sound of his voice and his eccentric delivery are still talked about in these parts...

Saturday, May 4, 2013

An enigma inside a maze

Found this ad in a pulp magazine Clues - A Magazine of Detective Stories from November 10 1930. The advertiser pleads:

Help! Who can get me out?  I'll pay $8000. Come to my rescue – quick. I'm HOPELESSLY lost in these treacherous, trackless catacombs. 

I've tried for hours  to find the right path to freedom but here I am right back in the middle again. Can you find the right path? Will you try? 1000 thanks! – I knew you would. But first let me warn you there is only one path to freedom and it's oh so hard to find... Mark it plainly with pen or pencil and send it to me fast. If correct, I'll see that you are qualified at once for an opportunity to win as much as $2320 cash out of the $8000 in rewards that I'm going to give away. It's all free...

Is this an eccentric millionaire, or a wily entrepreneur garnering the addresses of mug punters, or a publicity stunt?
The clue is the word 'qualified'. Surely this is a forerunner of the Nigerian scams? The maze is probably not that difficult-- you send in your solution and soon hear that you have qualified to win a big prize and must send in, say, $10 (a useful sum in 1930) to enter for the big prize. After that you never hear from him again or are asked for further sums for even bigger prizes. Chap was based in Chicago.

Bay Psalm Book, 1640

This is an edited  reposting from our sister site Bookride first posted in June 2007. Sotheby's NY is selling a copy in November 2013 and expecting $30 million. It is about to go on a tour of America. Sadly our archive does not have a copy although it is worth noting that the same printing press (shipped over by the pilgrims) also produced some ephemera...

"...we have therefore done our endeavor to make a plain and familiar translation of the psalms and words of David into English metre, and have not so much as presumed to paraphrase to give the sense of his meaning in other words; we have therefore attended herein as our chief guide the original, shunning all additions, except such as even the best translators of them in prose supply, avoiding all material detractions from words or sense." From the introduction to the Bay Psalm Book, 1640. 

THE WHOLE BOOKE OF PSALMES. Faithfully translated into English Metre. (The Bay Psalm Book.) [Cambridge, Mass.] : Imprinted by S. Daye, 1640. Compiled and translated by John Cotton; Richard Mather; John Eliot; Thomas Weld; Stephen Day; Matthew Day; Adrian Van Sinderen. 

The Bay Psalm Book was the common hymnal of the Massachusetts Bay colony. An American icon, a piece of heroic history - it was both the first book printed in the Colonies and it was also the first book entirely written in the Colonies. Printed 20 years after the first arrivals in Plymouth in 1620 on the first printing press in New England which was purchased and imported from London specifically to print this book. In 1639 the press printed first the Freeman’s Oath and then an almanac, no copies of which are extant. The mind boggles at the value that could be attached to these.

The translations were prepared by a committee of approximately thirty clergymen, including Richard Mather, John Eliot, and Thomas Weld. The preface is generally attributed to Mather, although some scholars believe it was written by John Cotton. The book went through several editions and was in use for well over 100 years.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Slang glossary 1962

From a cult novel by old Etonian Robin Cook who later changed his name to Derek Raymond to avoid being confused with schlock novelist Robin 'Coma' Cook. As Raymond his books became very dark and gory but persisted with varieties of slang for which his first book The Crust on Its Uppers (1962) was known. A rich source book of slang, some unique, some well worn and some highly ephemeral. Here is a small selection:

Angst = trouble 

Archbishop = Archbishop Laud = fraud

Baize, the = Bayswater Road

Binns= spectacles (dark binns- dark glasses)

Blag= a bluff, a tall story (Fr. 'blague?) Also as verb

Bubble=bubble-and-squeek= Greek (thus Archbubble= ArchGreek or Greek-in-chief)

Cat's-meat gaff= hospital

Charver= to have sex with

Deviator= a crook (devious= crooked; deviation= a crime)