Friday, June 27, 2014

Air Raid Precautions. Hints for Housewives..

A wealth of practical information from a Mrs Creswick Atkinson. This 1941 booklet was aimed at housewives in World War II. In the case of an air raid or the possibility of such you either went to to your own air raid shelter (often an Anderson shelter), a public shelter or 'a table indoor shelter' or refuge room. If sheltering under a table you had to be sure it was the bottom floor or basement. The booklet is good on children and pets (although a child is often referred to as 'it') and says several times that they should be sent to the country, something not always possible. There is advice on gas attacks, incendiary bombs and even what to do if being machine gunned by an enemy plane:

Do not run away from the plane. Throw yourself down on your face at once. If you have to run, run towards the plane, not from it. 

In case your house is bombed:

1. Pack a suitcase of spare clothing and keep it at a friend's house in another part of town.
2. Arrange with a friend at the opposite end of your street or in another part of the town to give you hospitality for a short time in case of need.
3. Arrange with a relative to take you in until you can return to your house or find other quarters.

There is the usual advice about not spreading rumours and to 'keep cheerful yourself, and keep others cheerful too. A long face does not help anyone, but a cheerful face always makes the day seem brighter.' In fact 'Keep Calm and Carry on!'

Entering an air raid shelter (gas masks in boxes)

  Is your shelter clean and always ready for use?
  Do you take part in keeping things clean and neat if you use a public or communal shelter?
  Try to do your share and feel that you have a certain responsibility for the way in which the shelter is kept.

Anderson Shelters
  If you have an Anderson shelter in your garden, is the earth covering thick enough ?
  Is the back well covered with earth as well as the top and sides ?
  The earth covering should be 15 inches deep on the top, 30 inches thick at the sides, and 30 inches deep at the back. It is the earth covering which protects, not the steel walls.
  Is the entrance protected by a wall, barricade, or the wall of a house not more than 15 feet away from it ?

The Wheel of Orffyreus 2

The second and last part of a chapter from this fascinating forgotten work Oddities: A Book of Unexplained Facts (Allan, London 1928) by R.T. Gould. Gould was a polymath who appears to have tolerated fools and cranks gladly...however Johann Bessler was no fool (although he may have been insane) and no less a figure than the philosopher Leibniz and  and the scientist and Newtonian Willem Jacob 's Gravesande thought he had the secret of perpetual motion. Gould gets to the heart of the matter -as always with footnotes blazing...

Was Orffyreus honestly deceived when he wrote down such an incorrect description (for so we must regard it)† of his own mechanism? The thing is unlikely–but it is possible, as a later case has sufficiently shown.

 † The supposition that the wheel was kept going by external power does not, of course, exclude the possibility that it also contained "overbalancing" mechanism. If well made, this would waste very little power, though it could not generate any: and it would certainly impress an amateur mechanic like the Landgrave–the only man who ever saw it.

 Towards the end of the last War, public attention in the United States became focused, for a short time, upon an inventor bearing the perfectly incredible name of Giragossian. He appears to have been an honest but misguided man.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Make Mine with Marshmallows

Some recipes from the 1939 marshmallow cook book Make Mine with Marshmallows.  The booklet was produced by the Angelus Campfire Company and the company continues today as Doumak in Bensonville near Chicago. The original marshmallow, a delicacy enjoyed by the Pharaohs in 2000  BC, was based on the marshmallow plant. The modern variety is simply corn syrup, sugar, dextrose, water and (the magic ingredient) air. Doumak have a website about the history and manufacture of marshmallows. Here are 3 recipes from this excellent cookbook.


1 quarter-pound package (16) Campfire Marshmallows
1 tablespoon milk
2 egg whites
¼ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

Place marshmallows and milk in saucepan. Heat slowly, folding over and over until marshmallows are half melted. Remove from heat and continue folding until mixture is smooth and fluffy. Allow to cool. Meanwhile, beat egg whites until they hold a peak. Slowly add sugar, beating constantly. Add salt and vanilla extract. Blend lightly with marshmallow mixture and spread on pie in swirls. Brown in broiler or hot oven (450 degrees F.) for ½ minute or until tips of meringue swirls are golden brown. Sufficient to top 1 filled pie.
Lemon, Orange or Lime Meringue: Follow above recipe, substituting 1 tablespoon desired fruit juice for vanilla extract.


1 ½ quarter-pound packaqes (24) Campfire Marshmallows
2 cups cola beveraqe
⅛ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Place marshmallows and 2 tablespoons cola beveraqe in saucepan. Heat slowly, foIdinq over and over until marshmallows are half melted. Remove from heat and continue foldinq until mixture is smooth and fluffy. Cool sliqhtly, then blend in remaininq cola beveraqe and lemon juice. Pour into tray of automatic refriqerator and freeze, stirrinq two or three times durinq the freezinq period. Serve firm as an ice or somewhat melted as a dessert which is both sipped and spooned. Garnish with curled lemon rind and fresh mint sprays. Serves 5.


1 ½ quarter-pound packaqes (24) Campfire Marshmallows
¾ cup hot water
½ cup fresh mint leaves, cut fine
½ cup cold water
¼ cup lemon juice
3 drops qreen food colorinq
2 eqq whites
1 tablespoon suqar

Place marshmallows, hot water and mint in saucepan. Heat slowly, foldinq over and over until marshmallows are half melted. Remove from heat and continue foldinq until mixture is smooth and fluffy. Allow to cool, then blend in cold water, lemon iuice and food colorinq. Chill. Beat eqq whites until they hold a peal. Slowly add suqar, beatinq constantly. Blend liqhtly with marshmallow mixture. Pour into tray of automatic refriqerator and freeze, stirrinq twice durinq the freezinq period. Serve as a dessert ice or as a meat accompaniment. Serves 6.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Adah Isaacs Menken - A Victorian Lady Gaga

Today, the actress and poet Adah Isaacs Menken (1835 – 1868) has been largely forgotten and when her name crops up at all it is usually in association with Algernon Swinburne, with whom she reportedly had an affair. But in the mid nineteenth century, both in her native USA and in Britain, she was the Lady Gaga of her day—a sensational performer in various erotic guises and at one time the highest paid actress in the world.

Like Lady Gaga, she entered show business early and with some éclat. She also seems to have been obsessed with dressing up in outrageous costumes that reflected her need to regularly re-invent herself. Like Gaga too, she changed her name. She had begun life as plain Ada McCord, a child with Creole blood, but later, each of her three marriages gave her a chance to add exotic elements to her name. By her death she had adopted both the name and the faith of her Jewish husband. Today, in some quarters of the States, her Creole ancestry has made her a black icon of female liberation.

Menken had always expressed an interest in writing poetry and by her early thirties she had amassed enough material for a book. Tragically, in 1868 at the age of just 33, she died suddenly of peritonitis complicated by TB and a few days later, Infelicia was published privately—presumably through the auspices of her husband. Though heavily influenced by the invocatory style of Walt Whitman, Infelicia, reflects a good deal of her genuine literary talent, and it is easy to appreciate the effect it must have had on a generation of female freethinkers from the 1870s onwards.

‘How will it be with him who deceives and betrays
women ?
Answer me this, ye men who have brought woe and desolation to the heart of woman; and, by your fond lips, breathing sighs, and vows of truth and constancy,--your deceit and desertion—destroyed her, body and soul !
There are more roads to the heart than by cold steel.
You drew her life and soul after you by your pretended love. Perhaps she sacrificed her home, her father and her mother—her God and her religion for you !
Perhaps for you she has endured pain and penury !
Perhaps she is the mother of your child, living and praying for you!...’

From ‘The Autograph on the Soul’.

The collection  went through many editions and was in print up to the early twentieth century.

This extra-illustrated copy dated 1869 is remarkable in many respects. The title page,  bears the inscription ‘Thorkel Clementzen, Reykjavik, Iceland’ and either Mr Clementzen or another owner—possibly the Edward or Jenny Shaw, whose bookplate (designed by the well known watercolourist John Fullwood ) is stuck on the front endpaper-- has added some extra leaves and used them to reproduce the Contents page of the original book in manuscript. At the back are cuttings, including reviews of Infelicia, which praise this ‘brilliant but erratic woman’ as a true poet. There is even a notice of her appearance at the Theatre Royal, Birmingham. And to cap it all, a tiny watercolour dated 1890 by Fullwood, illustrating one of her poems, has been tipped in among the new leaves.

Clearly the owner of this little volume was a true fan and the extra-illustrations reflect very strongly the cult of personality that attended Menken during her life and in the immediate years that followed her death. [RMH]

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Wheel of Orffyreus 1

Yet another chapter from this fascinating forgotten work Oddities: A Book of Unexplained Facts (Allan, London 1928) by R.T. Gould. Gould was a polymath who appears to have tolerated fools and cranks gladly...however Johann Bessler was no fool (although he may have been insane) and no less a figure than the philosopher Leibniz and  and the scientist and Newtonian Willem Jacob 's Gravesande thought he had the secret of perpetual motion. Gould gets to the heart of the matter -as always with footnotes blazing...this is the first part:-


The history of human folly, on any scale commensurate with the vast and "ever-increasing amount of material available, remains to be written. A casual effort in this direction was made by Sebastian Brant, who published his Ship of Fools* in 1494. But while this book may have inspired Erasmus to take up the cudgels "for self and fellows", and produce his Praise of Folly,† its satire fell, for the most part, on deaf ears. Centuries later an atrabilious Scotsman, peering at the world from an anacoustic study in Chelsea, recorded his conviction that it was peopled by "too many millions, mostly fools”–a sweeping statement, but embodying an essential truth. Most of those, for example, who have had experience (internal or otherwise) of Government Departments can testify to having, like Oxenstiern, been amazed at discovering how little wisdom it takes to govern the world; and if there be any truth in the often-quoted assertion that "a nation gets the government it deserves”, Carlyle's apothegm must be regarded as resting upon a very solid–one might even say dense–basis of fact.

* Das Narrenshiff.

Encomium Moria. The title is a joke at the expense of his friend Sir Thomas More.


Of the many millions of fools who cumber the earth, I suppose that the fanatics, taking them all round, are the greatest nuisance–and tested by old-fashioned notions of personal independence and "the liberty of the subject", the one most actively mischievous. Possessing, far too often, that misleading form of energy which it is fatally easy to mistake for capacity; restrained by no false modesty from minding everybody else's business; and simultaneously unbalanced and supported by a chronic inability to conceive that there can be two sides to any question, they are the bacteria of the civilized world–a fertile source of past, present, and future disorders.

But if the fanatic, generally speaking, is an unpleasant figure, the harmless "crank" can be very amusing

Monday, June 23, 2014

Wartime codebreaking---the professorial connection

This article in the January 1986 issue of Cryptologia by leading expert  Ralph Erskine reveals how code-breakers were recruited just before WW2 broke out. In the summer of 1939, due to the fact that throughout the 1930s the
Government Code & Cypher School (GCCS) had been starved of funds, there were hardly any cryptologists who could rise to the challenge of deciphering the German codes. So when, in early September 1939, war was looming, the Director of the GCCS, Commander Alastair Denniston, was forced to recruit an emergency team of supposedly large brained cryptologists. Denniston wanted 'men of the Professor type' , which in 1939,  social and intellectual snobbery being what it was, meant academics likely to possess degrees in German, mathematics or classics from Oxford or Cambridge.

It made sense, sort of. Academics with a specialised knowledge of the German language would have been especially valued, as would mathematicians, and, one might suppose, classicists -- though I’ve never been able to accept that a person skilled in interpreting a short passage in Latin or ancient Greek should be regarded as having more brain power than someone who has wrestled over Anglo-Saxon, Sanskrit, Chinese, Japanese or indeed Elizabethan court hand, and many branches of physics, but there you are. Classicists were and still are, it would seem, officially ‘brainy’.

For some reason too, past or present Fellows of King’s College, Cambridge, were  especially favoured by the selection committee. Six of the men chosen had attended the college. These were Alan Turing, an 'eccentric and genius', according to Erskine

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Auroras and other doubtful islands

Another chapter from this fascinating forgotten work Oddities: A Book of Unexplained Facts (Allan, London 1928) by R.T. Gould. The Aurora Islands group of three phantom islands was first reported in 1762 by the Spanish merchant ship Aurora while sailing from Lima to Cádiz. They are referred to in an episode in Edgar Allan Poe's novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, where Pym and his crewmates search for but fail to find them. Gould was  an admirer of the 'divine Edgar' - whom he calls ' one of the greatest and most unfortunate of all writers... the only world-figure of American literature.'
The islands were last reportedly sighted in 1856, but continued to appear on maps of the South Atlantic until the 1870s.

Aurora Islands on a map circa 1800 (far left)

  At the beginning of last century the existence of the three Aurora islands, lying to the south-eastward of the Falklands, was as little doubted as that of Australia. Originally discovered by the Aurora in 1762, they were reported again by the Princess, Captain Manuel de Oyarvido, in 1790, and by other vessels at various dates, while in 1794 the Spanish surveying-vessel Atrevida surveyed and charted (so she imagined) all three islands, as well as determining their position by astronomical observations. Lying in the track of sailing vessels bound round Cape Horn, they were, of course, much too important to omit from even small-scale charts; consequently every chart-maker who valued his reputation and his sales proceeded to embellish his charts of the South Atlantic with a "new and correct delineation" of the group, frequently adding the track of the Atrevida in their vicinity–presumably as "corroborative detail" in the Pooh-Bah style, although that vessel's narrative was neither bald nor unconvincing.

Berwick Sayers on annotation 2

The second and last part of Berwick Sayers masterly work  Annotation in Catalogues (1948). Sayers was, like Casanova, a prince among librarians and also a man with many other interests - he wrote poetry, music, fiction and a book on the black composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. He also wrote a travel book Over some Alpine Passes. Memories of 1908. His life was commemorated in a work published a year after his death The Sayers memorial volume : essays in librarianship in memory of William Charles Berwick (1961.) He also wrote much on librarianship, including some dryish titles like: Report on the hours, salaries, training, and conditions of service of assistants in British municipal libraries (1911.)

Berwick Sayers by Juliet K Pannett
He wrote a comprehensive history of Croydon and his life was spent there, mostly at Croydon Library. Croydon is a large London outer suburb of some importance - one time residents include: Flower Fairies creator Cicely Mary Barker, singer Desmond Dekker, Raymond Chandler, Emily Blunt, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, A. Conan Doyle, Amy Winehouse, Kate Moss, Tracey Emin, D.H. Lawrence, Alfred Russell Wallace, Brit-pack artist Sam Taylor-Wood, Katie Melua, Kirstie MacColl, Roy Hodgson, billionaire Philip Green, Noel Fielding (Mighty Boosh) Victorian sexologist Havelock Ellis, Jeff Beck and Emile Zola.

 Annotation in Catalogues. Part 2.

 7.  One very important branch of annotation is that devoted to fiction. The tides of fiction are often far from descriptive, and no more indicate the fare they introduce than does the inn-sign, "The Spotted Dog," introduce the notion of beer ; e.g., A Flame of Fire, The Choir Invisible and A Ladder of Swords convey no meaning whatever to the average reader. For all these titles tell, any of these books might or might not be suitable for women or men or for children. The annotation of these should be a brief description of the type or character of the story ; its locale ; its period ; if historical, the names of real persons introduced should be mentioned

Saturday, June 21, 2014

W. T. Stead - a message from the Titanic & the after-life

Found - a rare booklet published in Melbourne, Australia circa 1913 -What Life in the Spirit World Really is. Being messages received from beyond the veil by Annie Bright. It is purportedly by the great newspaperman W.T. Stead (1849 - 1912) who had drowned in the 1912 Titanic disaster. It was  in fact 'channelled' from Stead by one Annie Bright. Stead numbered spiritualism among his many interests and as well as editing The Pall Mall Gazette (which became the Evening Standard) he also edited the occult quarterly Borderland. He is said to be the first 'investigative journalist' and campaigned against child prostitution and the London slums. He befriended the feminist Josephine Butler and joined a campaign with her to successfully repeal the Contagious Diseases Act. He was an early Esperantist and he is also the father of modern paperback publishing and even 'digest' publishing, issuing severely abridged versions of the classics. Wikipedia has this to say of his last moments on the Titanic:

After the ship struck the iceberg, Stead helped several women and children into the lifeboats, in an act "typical of his generosity, courage, and humanity", and gave his life jacket to another passenger.
A later sighting of Stead, by survivor Philip Mock, has him clinging to a raft with John Jacob Astor IV. "Their feet became frozen," reported Mock, "and they were compelled to release their hold. Both were drowned." William Stead's body was not recovered. Further tragedy was added by the widely held belief that he was due to be awarded the Nobel Peace that same year.

In this 1913 booklet there is a message from him a week after his drowning blaming the greed of the companies who try to break speed records crossing the Atlantic...the messages came through automatic writing (one of Stead's interests) via one Julia of a spiritualist gazette called The Harbinger:

I am now in a position to know some of the eternal truths of Spiritualism. The terrible accident had nothing in it of a terrible nature for myself. My only sorrow was for the despair and mental terror, as well as the physical suffering

A.N.L. Munby book collector, academic and ghost story writer

Found - a scarce pamphlet outlining the life of Alan Noel Latimer ('Tim') Munby (1913 - 1974). He was born on Christmas Day, hence the unused name 'Noel.' The Victorian diarist and poet Arthur Munby ('Man of Two Worlds' of Derek Hudson's book) who 'adored the roughest working-girls' and was for years secretly married to his kitchen-maid was his great-uncle. As a schoolboy and as an undergraduate (at King's College, 1932-35) he collected books; for a brief period after graduation he worked at Quaritch's bookshop. During the war he joined the Territorials (Queen Victoria Rifles); he was captured at Calais in 1940 and held as a prisoner of war in Germany for 5 years. On his return to England he worked at Sotheby's, then in 1947 was appointed College Librarian at King's. He is best known for an excellent collection of ghost stories The Alabaster Hand. Ghost fiction watchers Boucher and McComas praised the stories in The Alabaster Hand as 'quietly terrifying modernizations of the M.R. James tradition.' M.R. James was also a Cambridge academic and Cambridge produced several other writers of fantastic fiction.. The pamphlet is typical of the slim memorial papers  turned out at the great universities when a distinguished or well known colleague had died.

Alan Noel Latimer Munby
T.D., Litt.D.

A Memoir composed by direction of
the Council of King's College, Cambridge

Privately printed for

Alan Noel Latimer Munby ('Noel because he was born on Christmas Day, of 1913, but 'Tim' to everyone, from Latimer) was one of the best known and best loved Kingsmen of the past forty years. His devotion to King's, his efficiency and unaffected friendliness as an administrator, and his astonishing mastery of bibliographical detail made him for twenty-seven years an ideal Librarian for the College. But he also served it as Praelector from 1951 to 1960, a most welcoming 'father' for those who returned to take their M.A. or higher degree, and as Domus Bursar from 1964 to 1967, when the major joint building scheme with St Catharine's and the reconstruction of the Hall required someone of practical ability, intimate knowledge of our workings, and tact. And even this was far from being all. Thus when the Royal Family visited the College in 1951 he was put in charge of the arrangements, for which seventeen draft schedules were needed before Provost Sheppard was finally happy. When the Fellows' summer parties (called 'Ladies Nights' until we had Fellows of both sexes)

Friday, June 20, 2014

Pollen charts

Found in Dorothy Hodges bee book The Pollen Loads of the Honeybee (Bee Research Association Limited, 1962) an attractive 'pollen load' chart over a dozen pages. Similar to a paint chart and showing a surprising variety..

The colour of the pollen load is the colour as it appears when the pollen arrives at the beehive. Bees mix dry pollen with nectar and/or honey to compact the pollen in the pollen basket. The pollen basket or corbicula is part of the tibia on the hind legs of certain species of bees. They use the structure in harvesting pollen and returning it to the nest or hive.

The honey or nectar is used by the bees to mix the dry pollen into a paste-like condition suitable for packing her pollen loads…  as Dorothy Hodges says 'this mixing of the pollen with liquid, either honey or nectar, or possibly a mixture of both, makes the colour of the honeybees pollen load quite different from the colour of the pollen alone as it is seen on the anther of the flower.' This photo of a  Squill flower seems to bely this as the pollen is clearly visible as a dark blue...

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Song of the Football Cup (Eton 1890)

Found- a rare pamphlet Song of the Football Cup (Ingalton Drake, Eton 1890) by R. Carr Bosanquet, with music composed by Joseph Barnby. The whole song goes thus:

Mustering under the old red wall, less than year ago 
(The sky that day was sullen and gray the frost lay hard below,)
Each of us vow'd he would conquer or fall, facing the friendly foe; 
Our hearts we steel'd as we took the field, and felt our pulses glow.

Mustering under the old red wall, less than year ago etc.,

Remember the struggle that won the game! Remember the charge we made,
When only a minute was left to us to win it was e'er a man afraid?
Lock'd in a mass on the ball we came, between the cheering hosts, 
Like a roaring wind on their long behind, and drove it through the posts.

Mustering under the old red wall, less than year ago etc.,

Tho' almost done, tho' almost dead, we knew that we should win;
With lightning pace and stern-set face and crash of shin on shin;
Then shout till you shiver the beams o'erhead, shout till you shake the sky
We've won! for my tutor's the king among Pewters and still we'll do or die!

Mustering under the old red wall, less than year ago etc.,

And year after year, as body and soul are plunged in the sterner strife, 
As pleasures and pains, losses and gains, sadden or gladden our life;
Tho' scatter'd where'er from pole to pole our conquering flags unfurl'd,
In darkest December we still shall remember the noblest game in the world!

Mustering under the old red wall, less than year ago etc.,

R. Carr Bosanquet, later a distinguished archaeologist,  makes into the DNB  and even Wikipedia although there is no mention of this rousing football chant. While at Eton he edited The Parachute and later the rare anthology Seven Summers: An Eton Medley. He was related to the distinguished cricketer Bernard Bosanquet, the inventor of the Googly. The cricketer's son was the amusing and fun-loving BBC presenter Reginald "Reggie" Bosanquet. The reference to 'the king among Pewters' probably refers to sporting trophies..

Berwick Sayers on Annotation I

A  pamphlet for librarians that is still relevant in the days of the web. People still need to know how to annotate information in catalogues. As Berwick Sayers says, annotation is elucidation - but he is down on the annotator who adds information needlessly. A real offender is a cataloguer who in noting the plot of a novel gives away the whole story.  Internet booksellers  break B-S's rules every day. For example, if the information is obviously there already do not annotate-- we do not need to know that Wood's British Trees is 'a handbook to trees growing in Great Britain' or Harrison's The Boys of Wynport College is a 'a schoolboy story.'

He also points out a fault of which many cataloguer is now guilty - giving irrelevant details about the author: for example, if a man writes a book on The Fertilisation of Soils it is of no consequence to the reader to know that "the author was Chancellor of the Exchequer." There are of course different rules for sellers; a librarian is not trying to get someone to buy the book. B-S's rules however apply to the world of Wikipedia where they are often broken - giving opinions, recommendations, irrelevance, shallow research and, conversely, faults that '..arise from too great a devotion to this work. The introduction into catalogues of fine writing or elaborate language is an abuse greatly to be deprecated.'

 In the case of undesirable books B-S notes that drawing attention to them by 'danger notes' is self-defeating - "to say that a book is 'not written for girls' schools' must really be frightfully tantalising to any normally built schoolgirl."  To be continued with info on the life and writings of the great librarian-- a book on card indexes, mountaineering, songs, poems and a history of his borough Croydon..



The first draft of this paper was submitted to the examiners in cataloguing in the Library Association Examination in 1906. It appeared shortly after in the Croydon Libraries staff magazine, a typewritten periodical founded by Mr. H. Rutherford Purnell. In 1918 it was published in a revised form as No. 9 of the Library Assistants' Association Series. I am assured that it is still of interest to beginners in cataloguing, and, at the request of the A.A.L. Section, I have retouched it for this reissue, which I send forth with the caution that it is what it is called, "First Steps," and not a treatise on all annotation.

First Edition .. 1918
Second Edition .. 1932
Reprinted (revised) .. 1948

1.  So rapid is the output of the modern book press, and so swift are the strides that discoveries in all fields of science and art are making, that the current truths of one hour may very well be the exploded theories of the next. Librarians perhaps more than any people are conscious of the fluctuating state of knowledge; and the knowledge that is preserved in books demands constant watching. Moreover, this is a day of specialisation

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

French bicycle poster - Durex 'en vente ici'

Found! Actually the gift of an American colleague and dealer in ephemera- this hanging wall card for cycle parts from the French company Durex. Probably from the early 1950s, the company appears to be now defunct.... This poster may amuse some Brits as Durex is the pre-eminent maker of condoms in Britain. Durex is practically synonymous with condoms there in the way Hoover is with vacuum cleaners.

In the USA it is Trojans which, although not unknown in Britain, is also the name of several different companies on the sceptered isle including an electronics company, an arms dealer ( Trojan Group) and a timber crating company.

The arms dealer Trojan sells assault rifles  with this quote from Voltaire: 'God is not on the side of the big battalions but  on the side of those who shoot best.' Exactement.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Losing his marbles...

Sent in by a loyal jotwatcher. We have had many heavily annotated review copies, some angrily, some with further scholarship, praise or damning criticism.The Hon. Michael  Foot was a good customer at our West End shop and was much liked. He spent money, which is always endearing. He could get behind a cause and was in his way a powerful of the 'great and the good' - like the late, lamented Tony Benn. Thanks for emailing this in:

This letter was discovered in Michael Foot’s review copy of William St Clair’s Elgin Marbles (1998), which was inscribed to the reviewer by the author. Judging by the angry-looking pencil marks  in the margin, Foot was mainly interested in Chapter 24,which focused on the cavalier way in which British Museum ‘cleaners’ under the direction of the egregious Lord Duveen, rightly condemned by St Clair as an  ‘unscrupulous art dealer’, damaged for ever the surface of most of the Marbles back in the mid ‘thirties.

The publication of St Clair’s exposé—particularly  his accusations that  a cover-up by the PR department and curatorial staff of the Museum-- over the past few decades, prevented the scandal emerging much earlier, caused a huge rumpus at the time. Worse still, the subsequent further threats and bullying of external experts and the Press that followed the publication of the book, reverberates even today. St Clair was particularly incensed by the sneering review of his book by one Ian Jenkins, a supposed ‘expert’ at the BM, who referred to the author as an ‘ amateur’ and who stated quite erroneously that only ten percent of the Marbles had been damaged.

The whole truth has yet to be exposed.

River and Joaquin Phoenix - young vegans

Found - a vegan book from 1987 Pregnancy Children and the Vegan Diet by Michael Klaper ( Gentle World inc., Florida.) An interesting slightly out dated book but still of great interest because of the vegan children on the cover - the late teenage heart-throb River Phoenix, his sisters Liberty and Summer Phoenix, and his brother Leaf who changed his name to Joaquin Phoenix (same row, right) and is thankfully still with us.

The jolly gap toothed kid at bottom left is Ocean Robbins, son of John Robbins of the Baskin Robbins dynasty and author of the groundbreaking Diet for a new America. The story of the Phoenix family is told at River Phoenix's Wikipedia entry.

 The parents were hippies of the 1970s, ex Children of God, who had become vegans at a commune in South America. When they finally got as far as Los Angeles top child star agent Iris Burton spotted River, Joaquin and their sisters Summer and Rain singing for spare change in Westwood, and was so charmed by the family that she soon represented the four siblings. At jot we are keen on recipes - here is one from this excellent work:


2 12 oz cakes of tofu
2 tablespoons tamari
1 tablespoon oil
2 small onions, diced
2 celery stalks diced
Half teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon turmeric
6 tablespoons nutritional yeast

In a medium size bowl, mash the tofu add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Refrigerate to keep cold. Delicious with salad or as a sandwich. Serves 4.

Friday, June 13, 2014

A Post-Punk Manifesto (1993)

Found in a now unfindable short-lived magazine Verbal Abuse from 1993 - a post punk manifesto by 'editrix' Chi Chi Valenti in a special Punk issue 'No/ The Future.' Coming out of New York's early 90s underground demi-monde (especially the legendary club Jackie 60) the magazine was, in this issue, boldly keeping the punk flag flying 15 years after its demise. It was a time of  AIDS and cyberpunk, just pre internet… Vogue was championing punk fashion for that fall. Contributors included Richard Hell, Matthew Barney, Patti Smith, Charles Henri Ford, Chris Stein, Alan Vega etc., We like a good manifesto and this is a curiosity- a manifesto after the event, proclaiming former glories possibly with a view to re-igniting the dying embers. But some say punk never died..

Punk made good on its only promise -DESTROY- by self-destructing while still in its infancy, thus guaranteeing eternal life.

Punks morals were spray-painted like prophecies on Paris walls by the rioting student of 1968 : 'NEVER WORK' 'BE CRUEL' 'IT IS FORBIDDEN TO FORBID.'

Punk made black-and-white beautiful in the post technicolor world.

Punk's name was already 'in the air' in 1975 when Legs McNeil and John Holmstrom founded their new magazine and a generation found its B-movie moniker.

Punk spit on its idols, who often spit back.

Punk was speeded-up Dada for the information age. Cyberpunk is faster by a thousandfoldfold: Duchamp's bride on overdrive with all of punks adolescent rage intact.

Punks  printing press was the Xerox machine. Tens of thousands of handbills, broadsheets and fanzines were distributed during Punk's golden age, most of them free.

Punk introduced the dominatrix as shopgirl (Jordan), as dream girl (Sue Catwoman) and as career girl (Anya Phillips). Now she's the girl next door.

Punk's most famous phrase was no future years before AIDS would prove it true.

Punk artists brought the old Situationist device of détournement (the theft of fine art and advertising images and their co-opting for propaganda purposes) to the masses. Jamie Reid's safety-pinned Queen Elizabeth is the détourned poster girl of punk.

Punk made the terrible child sacrosanct  and the martyred junkie a saint.

Punk was the final solution to the visual mistakes of feminism, driving a generation of girls to the bleach. Some have never returned.

Punk's call to arms was drafted by the newly formed Situationist International (S.I.) in 1957, the year Sid Vicious was born. It began 'first of all we think the world must be changed.'

Punk rocks again this winter if one is to believe the September issue of Vogue, whose writer hastens to assure her readers: "But don't expect any death-to-the-establishment messages this time."

Punk made fools of its merchandisers once, and stands poised to do so again. 

Viva La Punk!

Chi Chi Valenti, Fall 1993

I once met...Desmond Morris

A book dealer I knew mentioned in passing that the author of The Naked Ape and Manwatching was a passionate collector. But no-one had prepared me for what I encountered when I rang his doorbell in leafy North Oxford.

This zoologist was not a collector—he was a bibliomaniac! He admitted to visiting book fairs, second-hand bookshops, junk shops and auctions. At one time he mistakenly bought copies of books he already owned, but remedied this error by always carrying around a laptop containing a disk that listed  all the books in his library. And what a library ! He had had it built as an annexe to his large Victorian house and it was absolutely crammed with books, floor to ceiling, and a few of his own paintings were also displayed. He, of course, was a sort of Abstract Surrealist, strongly influenced by Miro. There was a lot of ethnographical art too—mainly pots and animal inspired pieces.

We talked for over three hours—some of the conversation was off the record. He told me that he came from a village near Swindon and as a youth had gone out with Diana Dors, whose real name was Diana Fluck.

Horror in the Night by Richard Macgregor (aka MacGregor Urquhart )

A local dealer has this graphic artist's illustration for a lurid book cover. He thinks he may have bought it from someone selling a quantity of book cover illustrations on card (gouache, watercolour etc.,) by the railings on Bayswater Road about 30 years ago. Art (now mostly kitsch and worse) is still sold there every Sunday. Often these illustrations  have lettering so you can see the title, but not in this case, and no artist had signed either.

By sheer chance he found the actual book that had used the illustration - in a box of SF, fantasy and horror paperbacks.  The book was Horror in the Night, a short story collection by Richard Macgregor published by Digit in London in 1963. Not a lot is known about Macgregor, these were 5 short horror stories and he seems to have written 5 other books between 1963 and 1964 for Digit. Titles like The Deadly Sun, Creeping Plague, The Day a Village Died --- a category that came to be known as Doom Watch fiction, possibly post apocalyptic in content. A further book Taste of the Temptress came out in Sydney in the mid 1960s published by Eclipse, so he could have been Australian -this was also published by Digit so possibly not (also it seems he was from Essex - see the excellent Bear Alley.) As for the artist it could be one R.A. Osborne (1923 - 1973) art director of Digit at the time and responsible for many of their covers including Macgregor's Day a Village Died, the story of a village plagued by killer ants.

This piece first appeared at our old site Bookride and since then new information has come to light via dealer Cold Tonnage and the IMDB database. It seems that his real name was MacGregor Urquhart. IMDB's short biography says he 'was a writer and actor, known for The Powder Monkey (1951), John of the Fair (1951) and The Malory Secret (1951). He died on March 17, 1967.' His first work of fiction appeared in the early 1960s  so it seems that his writing career followed his spell in movies. Further investigation shows he was also a playwright with at least one published play Investigation. A Pay in Three Acts (Evans, London 1958.)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Robert Byron and Tripadvisor review Balkh

Balkh is in northern Afghanistan and  is one of the oldest cities in the world, possibly the oldest. Tripadvisor make this claim, as does Robert Byron writing in 1937 in the supreme travel book The Road to Oxiana. Balkh is still known locally as 'the Mother of Cities.' It was the centre of Zoroastrianism and under the Greeks it was renamed Bactra, giving its name to the surrounding  Bactria territory. Balkh is now, for the most part, a mass of ruins but has an extremely long history, going back to the 26th century BC and further - when the plains were fertile…

Byron writes:

After Akcha, the colour of the landscape changed from lead to aluminium, pallid and deathly, as if the sun had been sucking away its gaiety for thousands and thousands of years; for this was now the plain of Balkh, and Balkh they say is the oldest city in the world. The clumps of green trees, the fountain-shaped tufts of coarse cutting grass, stood out almost black against this mortal tint. Sometimes we saw a field of barley; it was ripe, and Turcomans, naked to the waist, were reaping it with sickles. But it was not brown or gold, telling of Ceres, of plenty. It seemed to have turned prematurely white, like the hair of a madman – to have lost its nourishment. And from these acred cerements, first on the north and then on the south of the road, rose the worn grey-white shapes of a bygone architecture, mounds, furrowed and bleached by the rain and sun, wearier than any human works I ever saw: a twisted pyramid, a tapering platform, a clump of battlements, a crouching beast, all familiars of the Bactrian Greeks, and of Marco Polo after them. They ought to have vanished. But the very impact of the sun, calling out the obstinacy of their ashen clay, has conserved some inextinguishable spark of form, a spark such as a Roman earthwork or a grass-green barrow has not, which still flickers on against a world brighter than itself, tired as only a suicide frustrated can be tired.

So that's like a 4.5 out of 10 or possibly less - "tired as only a suicide frustrated can be tired" does not bode well..

Masjid Sabz - The Green Mosque at Balkh

Tripadvisor in 2014, warning visitors of safety and security concerns, give this review:

Green Mosque
"Really Ancient History"
Balkh is reputedly the oldest city in the world. The Green Mosque is right in the center of what is left of the city. Genghis Khan destroyed it many years ago. The mosque is tiled and very beautiful. The Afghan government is at present refurbishing the building and adding some additional walls in an effort to return it to its former glory. The mosque is in a park with large trees around it. In winter this place is cold but in summer be prepared for temperatures that are amongst the highest in the world. 

Byron does not warn of this extreme heat and it appears he was there in the spring of 1934 when he may have also missed the cold. The late Paul Fussell wrote that The Road to Oxiana is to the travel book what "Ulysses is to the novel between the wars, and what The Waste Land is to poetry."

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Blind Boy Medium

 The second of a couple of pamphlets from the world of mediums, psychics and seances - part of a large collection bought from a major collector who was trying to disprove it all. He was particularly incensed by the spoon-bending Uri Geller and worked back from there. There were books on the occult, the paranormal, spirit messages from famous dead authors like Doyle and Wilde, the inevitable Madame Blavatsky, afterlife experiences, many books with titles like 'There is no Death' and messages from the ether, heaven and hell. 

This is the well told and touching story of a boy who lost his sight, the operations he went endured, the dismal reactions of his school friends and so called experts and his fortunate awakening to his mediumistic skills and partial regaining of his sight. He appears to have been an accomplished performer and he ends the piece with this caveat 'to all my friends' - 'I wish to state that I do not give private readings or psychometry neither by post or at my home. My work is exclusively confined to the platform.' The work was published in Britain in 1919 but is unknown to the internet and all world libraries - but no longer!

How I Lost my Material Sight
and Gained the Spiritual Sight.



  My sole object in writing my life's story is to try and give a little encouragement to those who perhaps, like myself, may meet with misfortunes, from which it may appear for the time being there is neither help nor hope for them on this side of life. My advice to such people is that they should never lose hope. If in despair or depression, or if afflicted, continue to live in hope, have faith,

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The McWhirters v. the unions (1974)

Ross & Norris McWhiter, founders of Guinness Book of Records
In the 1970s a phalanx of right-leaning protests groups emerged in Britain antagonistic to the trade unions and overwhelmingly drawn from Conservative voters. The Current Affairs Press was set-up by Ross McWhirter in 1974 with the ‘express purpose of fighting the unions.'  A flyer by McWhirter entitled Standing up to the Unions, reveals working capital of £100,000 and their ability to print three million newspapers a day in the event of a national printers strike. It also describes operation ‘Roadlift’, designed to take effect in the event of a national rail strike. In an experiment in Brighton, two hundred car owners offered 700 seats for more than one thousand commuters who applied for transport facilities. The Current Affairs Press, though officially non-partisan, pledged its support to the new leader of the Opposition: ‘Mrs Margaret Thatcher deserves, and must be given full support not only of the Conservative party but of anti-socialists everywhere.'

 Out of it grew The National Association for Freedom (NAFF) possibly the most successful anti-trade union campaign group, attracting some 20,000 members within a year. The flyer, like much political ephemera, is oddly rare but we were sent one by an offshore jotwatcher (PDJ) who found a perfect example in between the pages of an antiquarian atlas. This was a sort of British Tea Party avant la lettre-- the difference with the later American group being that the Roadlift crowd would have  actually drunk tea…

Self–Help Can Beat The Tyranny That Is Ruining Us

  The reason why the unions are riding rough shod over the rest of us is because they are organised and the rest of us, which is more than 80% of the public, are not.
  Since the Government is powerless to do anything about the many abuses of trade union power because they are nothing more than the political end of the union movement, we are destined to go on suffering hardship and inconvenience until WE, the people, do something ourselves.

  In the last three months an organisation has come into being for the express purpose of standing up to the unions.
  The movement began when a group of people, for whom I am the spokesman, met to discuss what can be done to avert the crisis towards which our country is now hurtling, and against which there appears at present to be no counteraction of any kind.

  The group included economists and businessmen, bankers, members of the legal and accountancy professions, politicians, other men and women active in public life and several (enforced) trade unionists.
  They agreed unanimously that the overmightiness of the Trade Unions is the gravest of all menaces