Here are some photos and poems from our Golden Wedding Anniversary ‘do’.
We got married on 27th March 1967 in Moycullen Church County Galway in the west of Ireland. We were married by my uncle George Quinn who was the parish priest there. We then drove in convoy across to Spiddal which is on the coast. Our wedding reception was in the Bridge Hotel owned by the Clancy’s which no longer exists. It was chosen because of the barter system as Daddy had designed their extension. Dave used to like to cite this in his economics class.
We had to attend an ‘instruction course’ with the local priest in St Vincent De Paul church in Altenburg Gardens with Fr. Smith who was from what was then called Rhodesia who believed in UDI- unilateral declaration of independence for Rhodesia – which became Zimbabwe. I did not like the man and Dave was amused at how I had theological discussions with him. As Dave was not Catholic ours was called a ‘mixed marriage’.
We were told later that it was an embarrassment for my uncle with authoritarian Bishop Browne whom I would have encountered at confirmation when we had to kneel and kiss his ring. Ugh! By then I was an atheist.
So, fifty years on and we are celebrating our anniversary with an afternoon ‘do’in Omnibus Art Centre on 18th March 2017. This was formerly a library. We held it on that Saturday because Dave was singing in The Messiah in St Luke’s with the Festival Chorus on 25th March.
The Omnibus Art Centre 1 Clapham Common Northside, Old town opposite the Holy Trinity Church which was frequented by the Clapham Sect – the anti slavery abolitionists lead by William Wilberforce and his cousin Henry Thornton who lived nearby in Battersea Rise House. This featured in EM Forster’s reminiscence about his great aunt Marianne Thornton who also had lived there.
We were in the Greene Room which was named after Graham Greene who wrote The End of the Affair. Set in London during and just after WW2.His own affair with Lady Catherine Walston played into the basis for The End of the Affair. Greene’s own house at 14 Clapham common Northside was bombed during the Blitz.
The last exhibition held here in 2012 was commemorating Pamela Hansford Johnson who also lived on Battersea Rise and I organised a talk on her for the Battersea Society with her biographer Wendy Pollard and her daughter Lady Lindsay Avebury. https://sheelanagigcomedienne.wordpress.com/…/pamela-hansford-johnson-battersea-.
We have been to some charming concerts and shows here.
We are grateful to John Garrett for talking photos because we were not organised enough ourselves.
We had said no present/cards but invited guest to send a favourite poem. We have held a few poetry parties in recent years which seem to work well. As usual there was variety in the choices and none were repeated. Maya Angelou’s chosen were Phenomenal Woman, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Still I Rise, Old Folks Laugh, Today in Prison by Dennis Brutus (June 1967 South African Freedom Day) chosen by Trevor and Jill, Sunlight by Seamus Heaney chosen by Carol MacDougall, THE DOOR by Miroslav Holub chosen by Anne Reyersbach, Warty bliggens, the toad chosen by Tony Tuck and Judy McKnight, A Time to Talk by Robert Frost, Follower by Seamus Heaney.
We did have a half hour of poetry readings. I started with one chosen by Ann Pettifer and Geoff by Billy Collins American Poet Laureate and ended with The Lake Isle of Innisfree by Yeats – a London emigrant’s poem ‘while standing on the roadway or on the pavements grey’
The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
never even heard of,
as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.
Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,
something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.
Whatever it is you are struggling to remember,
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue,
not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.
It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,
well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.
No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.
Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal read by Penny and Tony
BY ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON
Now sleeps the crimson petal, now the white;
Nor waves the cypress in the palace walk;
Nor winks the gold fin in the porphyry font.
The firefly wakens; waken thou with me.
Now droops the milk-white peacock like a ghost,
And like a ghost she glimmers on to me.
Now lies the Earth all Danaë to the stars,
And all thy heart lies open unto me.
Now slides the silent meteor on, and leaves
A shining furrow, as thy thoughts in me.
Now folds the lily all her sweetness up,
And slips into the bosom of the lake.
So fold thyself, my dearest, thou, and slip
Into my bosom and be lost in me.
Barbara read these two chosen by Anne and Geoff
Siegfried Sassoon – Everyone Sang
Everyone suddenly burst out singing;
And I was filled with such delight
As prisoned birds must find in freedom,
Winging wildly across the white
Orchards and dark-green fields; on – on – and out of sight.
Everyone’s voice was suddenly lifted;
And beauty came like the setting sun:
My heart was shaken with tears; and horror
Drifted away … O, but Everyone
Was a bird; and the song was wordless; the singing will never be done
Sonnet – William Shakespeare
To me, fair friend, you never can be old,
For as you were when first your eye I ey’d,
Such seems your beauty still. Three winters cold,
Have from the forests shook three summers’ pride,
Three beauteous springs to yellow autumn turn’d,
In process of the seasons have I seen,
Three April perfumes in three hot Junes burn’d,
Since first I saw you fresh, which yet are green.
Ah! yet doth beauty like a dial-hand,
Steal from his figure, and no pace perceiv’d;
So your sweet hue, which methinks still doth stand,
Hath motion, and mine eye may be deceiv’d:
For fear of which, hear this thou age unbred:
Ere you were born was beauty’s summer dead
John Rathbone read one written by him and Marie.
Ode to David and Jeanne on the occasion of their Golden Wedding anniversary
We are gathered here to celebrate
An auspicious and momentous date
For ‘twas in 1967 on Easter Monday
That David and Jeanne were married in fair Galway.
Barbara, Aonghus, and Fingal too
All were born and the family grew
And while talking of children ‘twould be remiss
To neglect to mention the wee lassie, Grace.
We’ll not allow this day to pass
Without a call to raise a glass
To Jeanne and David’s two score and ten,
Hoping to see you all, for their sixtieth, again.
(In the style of William McGonagall, best recited in an over-the-top Scottish accent)
Anahorish chosen by Clare and Christy
My ‘place of clear water,’
the first hill in the world
where springs washed into
the shiny grass
and darkened cobbles
in the bed of the lane.
Anahorish, soft gradient
of consonant, vowel-meadow,
after-image of lamps
swung through the yards
on winter evenings.
With pails and barrows
go waist-deep in mist
to break the light ice
at wells and dunghills.
Anahorish chosen by her and Christy
My ‘place of clear water,’
the first hill in the world
where springs washed into
the shiny grass
and darkened cobbles
in the bed of the lane.
Anahorish, soft gradient
of consonant, vowel-meadow,
after-image of lamps
swung through the yards
on winter evenings.
With pails and barrows
go waist-deep in mist
to break the light ice
at wells and dunghills.
Donald Hall, chosen by Christine who is on the right then Allana, Evelyn behind Sarah,Col Smith behind, Trevor, Ian John Spencer and Marie and Aoife and Peter standing.
Pale gold of the walls, gold
of the centers of daisies, yellow roses
pressing from a clear bowl. All daywe lay on the bed, my hand
stroking the deep
gold of your thighs and your back.
We slept and woke
entering the golden room together,
lay down in it breathing
caressing and dozing,
your hand sleepily
touching my hair now.
We made in those days
tiny identical rooms inside our bodies
which the men who uncover our graves
will find in a thousand years,
shining and whole.
Scaffolding by Seamus Heaney
Masons, when they start upon a building,
Are careful to test out the scaffolding;
Make sure that planks won’t slip at busy points,
Secure all ladders, tighten bolted joints.
And yet all this comes down when the job’s done
Showing off walls of sure and solid stone.
So if, my dear, there sometimes seem to be
Old bridges breaking between you and me
Never fear. We may let the scaffolds fall,
Confident that we have built our wall.
Never go Back by Felix Dennis chosen by Denise
Never go back. Never go back.
Never return to the haunts of your youth.
Keep to the track, to the beaten track,
Memory holds all you need of the truth.
Never look back. Never look back.
Never succumb to the gorgon’s stare.
Keep to the track, to the beaten track,
No-one is waiting and nothing is there.
Never go back. Never go back.
Never surrender the future you’ve earned.
Keep to the track, to the beaten track,
Never return to the bridges you burned.
Never look back. Never look back.
Never retreat to the ‘glorious past’.
Keep to the track, to the beaten track,
Treat every day of your life as your last.
Never go back. Never go back.
Never acknowledge the ghost on the stair.
Keep to the track, to the beaten track,
No-one is waiting and nothing is there.
John Spencer read an excerpt from Peace by Michael Longley after Tibullus.
I want to live until the white hairs shine above
A pensioner’s memories of better days. Meanwhile
I would like peace to be my partner on the farm,
Peace personified: oxen under the curved yoke;
Compost for the vines, grape-juice turning into wine,
Vintage ears handed down from father to son;
Hoe and ploughshare gleaming, while in some dark corner
Rust keeps the soldier’s grisly weapons in their place;
The labourer steering his wife and children home
In a hay cart from the fields, a trifle sozzled.
Hide behind tall newspapers.
The young are all arms and legs
Knackered by youth.
Tourists sit bolt upright
Trusting in nothing.
Only the drunk and the crazy
Aspire to converse.
Only the poet
peruses his poem among the adverts.
Only the elderly person
Observes the request that the seat be offered to an elderly person.
I wrote this back in 2009 but flagging it up again.
I signed an epetition to the Prime Minister about the need for the monarch to be head of state OR head of the Church of England but not both and got their reply on 21st December 2009 which proves that Britain is a theocracy.
The Queen is extremely hardworking especially for a person of her great age and much more so than Queen Victoria ever was.
Monday 21 December 2009 Secular Monarchy – epetition response
We received a petition asking:
“We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to relieve the monarch of one of the duties: EITHER as Head of the Church of England, OR as Head of State.”
Details of Petition:
“In the modern era of human rights, it is quite untenable [except in a theocracy] for a constitution to require an individual to fulfil both secular and religious roles. Current concern that the 1701 Act of Settlement discriminates against Roman Catholics affects just one family directly. However, the oath and affirmation of allegiance to “bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, her Heirs and Successors, according to law” must surely grate severely with all non-Anglican immigrants: and is therefore inconsistent with anti-terrorist goals.”
Read the Government’s response :
The Government supports the Monarchy and the continuation of The Queen as Head of State as fundamental elements in our constitution, personifying both national and Commonwealth unity. It is continuing to assess the scope for amending the laws on succession including the Act of Settlement 1701, but it has made clear that change cannot happen overnight and that it has no immediate plans to legislate. No changes are contemplated to The Queen’s position as Supreme Governor of the Church of England nor to the Church of England’s established status; disestablishment would only be considered if the Church itself indisputably favoured it. The wording of the oath or affirmation of allegiance taken by new British citizens and members of certain professions relates to the supremacy of the Sovereign, which is fundamental to our system of government, and the Government has no plans to change it.
I have received a response from Number 10 on Monday 21st December to a petition I signed about relieving the “‘the monarch of one of the duties : either as Head of the Church of England, or as Head of State” adding that it is untenable except in a theocracy.It states “No changes are contemplated to The Queen’s position as Supreme Governor of the Church of England nor to the Church of England’s established status; disestablishment would only be considered if the Church itself indisputably favored it”
So, it is official that we live under a theocracy and not a democracy and that the Church of England alone has the power to alter this not the Government. It seems that “God save the Queen” is really a campaign slogan of the unelected theocratic party, the Church of England. You don’t have to be a republican, anti-monarchy, religious or Humanist to be concerned about this, just a democrat.
Isn’t it ridiculous and undemocratic that it is Government policy that only the Church of England , not Parliament, can decide to withdraw all the powers and privileges of the Church and remove its established status. The Church will not voluntarily give up its power and status and will cling on desperately as its congregations dwindle and people turn away from the Church. I believe that that the position of the established Anglican Church with the Queen as its Supreme Governor is farcical and divisive. It is silly to have a monarch as a titular Church leader. She is not an ordained vicar. At least the Pope has moved up the priestly hierarchy. As Monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and northern Ireland we are all her subjects but as Supreme Governor she is only the leader of English Christians. It would seem that her Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish subjects escape her supernatural dominion. It is only in England that her roles of religious and constitutional leadership overlap which is a constitutional mess. I bet that she would be quite glad to relinquish her religious title if only Parliament asked her. They are just too timid to ask her Majesty.
Great Britain isn’t very united as Scotland has its own parliament which upsets the English and the Welsh and it is laughable that the Queen is monarch of a fraction of the island of Ireland – 6/32 of its counties where, in due course, the majority of those subjects will not want to be her subjects. Seamus Heaney, who identifies himself as Irish, objected to being included in a British anthology of poetry in 1982 wrote;”Be advised, my passport’s green, no glass of ours was ever raised to toast the queen”.
I come from a Republic. Ireland fought for its independence from British colonisation and exploitation and like most republics has no wish to become a monarchy. Monarchies are so anachronistic. They should only occur in fairy stories. Keeping an institution for the sake of tourism makes it a tourist attraction. The pomp associated with the monarchy really is rather embarrassing to its subjects and is rather tawdry and demeaning. I don’t think it is nice for her majesty to behave like a performing monkey. Oh dear, I hope that is not deemed to be treason felony. My uncle Stanley was holed up in Brixton prison on a charge of treason felony. Sin sceal eile.
The Queen is only the Supreme Governor of the Church of England. She couldn’t be the Supreme Head of the Church according to the Act Of Supremacy as this would imply that she was claiming divinity or usurping Jesus who is, apparently Head of the Church of England. So it is blasphemous to call her the Head of the Church. As the head of the Catholic Church is called the Pope why not call the Queen the Mome of the Church of England?
This cartoon by Trog I got from the wonderful cartoon museum.
No one should be forced to be a supernaturalist but the monarch has to pretend to be a deist – to believe there is a daddy god who sent his only son, Jesus, down to earth to be killed as a sacrifice for the naughty people. Jesus, was Jewish, and he said he was God. He had to do that to annoy the hell out of the people to ensure that he would be crucified. You see, if he hadn’t been crucified there woudn’t be any Christianity. It doesn’t make sense that they make a big fuss about it at Easter time.
It did it the trick, allright, because anyone who claims to be God is deemed to be schizophrenic and back in those days they killed people for that. Of course, if it was nowadays he would have been given medication after he was sectioned but then it was death by torture and crucifixion. The result is we are lumbered with the religious sect Christians and logo of a a dead man on a pole. They say he was a nice chap, a bit of wimp even, but by pissing off the Romans and getting himself killed and becoming a martyr has given the world so much grief.
Getting back to the Queen – we can never know what any religionists actually do believe but the Queen has to pretend to believe in all the Christian stuff. I don’t know why we still indulge religionists/supernaturalists. Within the mental health field it is accepted that you shouldn’t endorse the crazy beliefs and delusions of patients. We should not indulge the credulity of any believers and certainly we should not accord them any special respect for having these beliefs. It is both ridiculous and insulting to ask us to ‘respect’ those who have supernatural beliefs let alone give the Church of England, its leaders and followers special privileges. One of the worst aspects of this is the existence of Faith schools.
To segregate children into different schools according to their parents supernatural beliefs is so wrong.
It is is is the new poster of the British Humanist Association campaign. This was very much in response to popular demand and is allied to the campaign against faith schools. If you are concerned and interested you could subscribe to the campaign by going through the BHA website.
I had a comment from a member of the SW London Humanists. He takes the usual position of Cof E Humanists/atheists which is that other religions are worse – the usual suspects are Catholic, Muslim and American evangelicals. He cited Iran and 20th Century Ireland as examples of ‘real theocracy’. As an Irish person in the BHA I am well used to comments and jibes about Catholic Ireland and how the ‘troubles’ in the north were entirely religious and not as result of British imperialism. The majority of BHA members, inevitably, are a product of their culture which is that of a colonial power and the Church of England. The Church of England, having being formed from the libidinous proclivity of an earlier king wanting divorce, is seen as a hobbity, Vicar of Dibley quaint, harmless institution. This national treasure with the Queen, as its Supreme Governor and ‘Jerusalem’ its anthem, is being sentimentally preserved and and now regarded as ‘a bulwark against fundamentalism’.
This is similar in tone to the view of Giles Fraser the once ‘trendy vicar of Putney’ now the Loose Canon with the Guardian as his pulpit. writes:“The Church of England is fundamentally a theological peace treaty. As the Reformation plunged continental Europe into an ideological bloodbath, with Catholics and Protestants murdering each other by the million, England created a church that made the most remarkable claim for itself: both Catholic and Protestant. Sick of religious warfare, it invented the original big tent philosophy. Those of widely different philosophies could kneel together and worship God through the appropriately named Book of Common Prayer.
It was a pragmatic arrangement that came to shape our national character. The English didn’t do doctrinal dispute, we frowned on the public exploration of ideological differences characteristic of those hot-headed Continentals. Instead, we agreed to differ and muddled along. We became the world’s natural compromisers”.
Sure, the Church of England gained a reputation for not believing in anything and being shy in speaking about things that really mattered. But it was a brilliant way of creating an inclusive church. The parish church was to be a place where, under God, the English would find an oddly workable unity.
Two things have undermined this vision: the British Empire and the internet. In the days of the Empire, missionaries from the English church made faith our most successful export. Global Christianity mushroomed in the 20th century, with Anglicanism leading the way. There are now 77 million Anglicans. But what did not get exported was the very idea of Anglicanism as a peace treaty. Transplanted into different soil, Anglicanism grew hotter and more ideological, re-exposing deep theological fissures between believers that the C of E had agreed to set aside for the greater good. With the growth in communications technology, these differences could no longer be hidden.
The man said ‘the Cof E is fundamentally a theological peace treaty’….. It was a pragmatic arrangement that came to shape our national character…….. We became the world’s natural compromisers….Two things have undermined this vision: the British Empire and the internet.”
That arrogant, imperialistic, anglocentric view is the cultural heritage of those brought up in that Anglican tradition and that includes the majority of British Humanists. The BHA membership is so very middle England and not at all demographically representative. However, as people who have distanced themselves from their earlier conditioning, they probably do not see themselves in this way.
I was not at all surprised at this response from a Humanist in defense of the monarchy and the C of E, which has become the epitome of Englishness and must be protected from extinction. The assertion by the Government that the Church ‘would not be disestablished unless the Church indisputably favoured it’ he did not comment upon – evidently he did not see this as a problem for democracy. That is like taking the ‘Don’t ask the turkeys to vote on Christmas’ position. This country is in need of constitutional reform but Parliament itself will not take any action. It is only the will of the people that can do it. We will have to wait and see what the general election throws up
The tie, a superfluous piece of male attire, is a phallic symbol. It replaced the more overt codpiece as a symbolic penis exhibit centuries later.
Wikipedia › wiki › Codpiece
A codpiece (from Middle English: cod, meaning “scrotum”) is a covering flap or pouch that attaches to the front of the crotch of men’s trousers and usually accentuates the genital area. It was held closed by string ties, buttons, or other methods.
Only briefly in vogue, the codpiece has left a rich legacy in art, literature and – most recently – in televised costume drama. In focusing her attention on this ostentatious male accessory, PhD candidate Victoria Bartels has developed some new ideas about its evolution (and demise) as a symbol of virility.
A review of my show in the Connaught Tribune in 1996 added a postscript advising against the wearing of ties
“A Norwegian film crew, rain drumming off the marquee and rivulets running underfoot set the bizarre scene for Jeanne Egan’s opening performance of “Sheela-na-Gig’ at Taylors Bar.
Perhaps none other than a Scandanavian TV crew could dwell upon the incongruities of two millenia of western development as brought out here . They just happended to be exploring the Sheela-na-Gig phenomenon after discovering some figures in their home country.
P.S. Wearing ties not recommended.
I never did find out if any clips of my show were broadcast on Norwegian TV.
It is preposterous and decidedly kinky that it is also an essential part of enforced school uniforms in Britain. Why don’t schoolchildren rebel against this infringement of their civil liberties?
The tie is a piece of cloth that men wear around their necks. It serves no useful purpose except as an inadequate bib or dribbler especially when eating curries. They are so PHALLIC, silly and pointless.
“If men can run the world, why can’t they stop wearing neckties? How intelligent is it to start the day by tying a noose around your neck?” Linda Ellerbee (US journalist
The tie is always longer than twelve inches and it points down to a man’s genital equipment or as I prefer to call it -call it their blunt instrument- as it is a three-in-one tool. It is used for urination, procreation and sexual gratification whereas we have our clitoris-our exquisite bud- just for sexual pleasure alone.
Men continue to wear one because they believe that it gives them an air of intelligence and authority far greater than they actually have. If a tie gets you the job, it says a lot about the people who hired you.
St.Patrick should have used his willy, instead of the shamrock (which is gaelic for little clover) to explain the weird idea of the Holy Trinity, the three-Gods-in-one which is the basis of Christianity.
Freemasonry might have something to do with this, the first ritual you do involves having a noose around your head.
I am certain that the Irish Free State would not have adopted the male organ as a national symbol – imagine a penis on the side of an Aer Lingus aeroplane or tourist tea-towels full of pinkish pricks. This would have made Ireland a gay destination and there is now an alternative Gay Matchmakers Festival in Lisdoonvarna, as well as the hetero bachelors seeking any female at all but usually American women seeking Irish husbands and craic.
From wikipedia you learn that originally the piece of fabric around the neck was called a cravat derived from the French for Croat. This Croatian crack regiment came to Paris in 1660 after a victory over the Ottomans and its officers wore colourful silk handerchief around their necks and Louis IV loved this new fashion accessory and even established a regiment named The Royal Cravattes.
With the Industrial Revolution came the forerunner of the modern tie which was long, thin, easy to knot and for daily use.Then in 1926 a New York tie maker, Jesse Langsdorf came up with a method of cutting the fabric on the bias and sewing it in three segments. Before the Second World War ties were worn shorter than they are today; this was due, in part, to men wearing trousers at the natural waist. Around 1944 ties started to become not only wider, but wilder. This reflected the returning GIs’ desire to break with wartime uniformity. Widths reached 5″. The typical length was 48″.The 1960s brought about an influx of pop art influenced designs. The first was designed by a chap called Michael Fish-the term Kipper was a pun on the name because there was a chap called Michael Fish who was a weatherman.
The use of coloured and patterned neckties indicating the wearer’s membership in a club, military regiment, school, professional association (Royal Colleges, Inns of Courts) et cetera, dates only from late-19th century England. The immediate forerunners of today’s college neckties were in 1880 the oarsmen of Exeter College Oxford, who tied the bands of their straw hats around their necks.
Health and Safety hazard according to wiki. Necktie opponents cite risks of wearing a necktie as argument for discontinuing it. Their cited risks are entanglement, infection, and vasoconstriction. Entanglement is a risk when working with machinery or in dangerous, possibly violent, jobs such as police officers and prison guards, and certain medical fields. The solution is to avoid wearing neckties, or to wear pre-knotted clip-on neckties that easily detach from the wearer when grabbed. Vascular constriction occurs with over-tight collars.
(Another possibility is to tuck a tie into the shirt through the buttoning, but this protects only against the tie being caught and pulled taut.) Studies have shown increased intraocular pressure in such cases, which can aggravate the condition of people with weakened retinas.There may be additional risks for people with glaucoma. Sensible precautions can mitigate the risk.
Paramedics performing life support remove an injured man’s necktie as a first step to ensure it does not block his airway. Neckties might also be a health risk for persons other than the wearer. They are believed to be vectors in disease transmission in hospitals. Notwithstanding such fears, many doctors and dentists wear neckties for a professional image. Hospitals take seriously the cross-infection of patients by doctors wearing infected neckties, because neckties are less frequently cleaned than most other clothes. On September 17, 2007, British hospitals published rules banning neckties. In such a context, some instead prefer to use bow ties due to their short length and relative lack of hindrance.
In the UK, it is a popular prank to pull someone’s tie so that it tightens. This prank, known as peanuting or “squatknotting”, is often used to embarrass the victim and can also be used for more severe bullying. In March 2008, a 13-year-old boy from Oxted, in Surrey, was rushed into hospital with spinal injuries after being “peanuted”. He was kept in hospital for three days.
An example of anti-necktie sentiment is found in Iran whose theocratic rulers have denounced the accessory as a decadent symbol of European oppression. To date, most Iranian men in Iran have retained the Western-style long-sleeved collared shirt and three -piece suit, while excluding the necktie. The majority of Iranian men abroad wear neckties according to wiki!
Neckties are viewed by various sub- and counter-culture movements as being a symbol of submission and slavery – having a symbolic chain around one’s neck to the corrupt elite of society, as a “wage slave”.Among those who have expressed this sentiment is the entrepreneur Richard Branson.
Novelty tie etiquette or When to wear one.http://www.necktieadvisor.com/when-to-wear-or-not-to-wear-a-novelty–tie/
Wearing a novelty tie on casual Friday is a perfect way to liven up an otherwise strict office dress code. The day of an office party. Office parties are meant to be a distraction from the normal workday. Wear a fun tie to remind yourself – and everyone around you – that the day is a special one.On a special occasion. Upcoming special occasions make perfect opportunities to break the norm with a novelty tie. Holidays, sporting events, and other occasions are good reasons to bring a little light-heartedness into the workplace.
Novelty ties, as worn by Prince Harry are for people trying to be sexier than they actually are, while bow ties, as sported by actor and comedian Bill Murray, right, are for creative types and eccentrics.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1083521/What-knot-wear-Why-wearing-purple-green-tie-cost-new-job.html#ixzz4RbzsAlMU
Anytime you need a pick-me-up. Work can be a drag, and we all have days where we’d rather be at home. On these days, a novelty tie may be just the thing you need to cheer yourself up. Whether your favorite tie is funny, outrageous, or says something fundamental about who you are, it can be a source of good humor and strength when you need those qualities most.
Anywhere you can manage it. For some people, novelty ties are not just a style – they are a way of life. These people are adept at finding ways to work yet another fun tie into the dress code. With a little daring and flair, you can make novelty ties a fundamental part of your own personal style.
The Dicky Bow. A bow for the dick. Sheela-na-Gig says it is worn by men who have had a vasectomy because they they have had a little knot put on their genital equipment. When Dave dresses up for concerts I remind him of this.
Why is a bow tie called a Dicky bow? A bow could, effectively be worn with anything. A hat, a dress or even on a parcel.So to distinguish the bow tie worn with a shirt, it was called a Dicky bow, following the cockney rhyming slang, ‘dicky dirt’ for shirt.
To its devotees the bow tie suggests iconoclasm of an Old World sort, a fusty adherence to a contrarian point of view. The bow tie hints at intellectualism, real or feigned, and sometimes suggests technical acumen, perhaps because it is so hard to tie. Bow ties are worn by magicians, country doctors, lawyers and professors and by people hoping to look like the above. But perhaps most of all, wearing a bow tie is a way of broadcasting an aggressive lack of concern for what other people think.
– Warren St John in The New York Times.
George Shearing was a boy from Battersea who became an international giant of jazz. I am delighted that there is a proposal by the Battersea Society to commemorate him with our next blue plaque on Northcote Lodge School Bolingbroke Grove which was previously Linden Lodge School for the Blind which he attended from when he was twelve till he left at sixteen. His autobiography Lullaby of Birdland was edited by Alyn Shipton.
Lullaby of Birdland was one of his most famous compositions named after the eponymous club he played in early on in his career in America. He had a huge influence on jazz and the ‘George Shearing Sound’ became very familiar to jazz afficianados.
The youngest of nine children, George was born into a poor, working-class family. His father delivered coal for the same company Cockerell’s ( coal merchants to the Queen) for nearly fifty years and his mother cleaned trains by night at the nearby depot , having cared for her children during the day.George used to joke about how his Dad’s occupation got translated as a ‘coal miner’ An inveterate punster, he sometimes referred to his father as “Not the Cole Porter, but a coal porter’He also quipped about his brother Jim being a conductor ‘Really?’ ‘Yes.on the 49 bus’
George mentions his four sisters and brother who still lived at home when he was born Margaret, Dolly, Mary, Lily and Jim. They lived at 67 Arthur Street, later renamed Rawson Street now demolished. The railway ran at the back of their house near Latchmere Road. He described it as almost a cul de sac. His Dad bought him the piano for £5 and paid £3 for a few lessons with Mrs Dearsley when he was aged 5 but she said he was already too advanced for her.
Blind from birth, George showed musical aptitude, memorising tunes he had heard on the radio and picking them out on the family’s piano, taking lessons from a local teacher. He attended Shillington Street Primary School which had a department for blind children which was nearby and then continuing his studies for four years at the Linden Lodge School for the Blind in Bolingbroke Grove, Sw12 facing Wandsworth Common. (This was erroneously described as in the countryside on an American website)
He talked about how he played cricket on the street and was given a bicycle and the toys and games played which included braking bottles. He described how from when he was about ten his father would enter the horse that he used for delivering the coal into the annual horse show in Regents Park and he would help him prepare the horse and livery and they would set of at six in the morning and George would play the harmonium. He won fifteen first prizes over the years.Although his mother worked hard bringing up nine children and cleaning trains she also became an alcoholic. He admits that he didn’t feel so close to his parents or family because of his education.
He wrote about his Linden Lodge School days and Mr Newell his music teacher and how he would practice for two hours in the piano in the school sitting room.It was Mr Newell who suggested to George’s parents that there wasn’t much point in him studying classical music as his preference was already evident for jazz.
He was offered a university musical scholarships, he turned them down in favour of paid work as a solo pianist in a pub when 16 at the Mason’ s Arms, in Lambeth Walk later renamed the Lambeth Walk in 1951 and opened with fanfare by pearly Kings and Queens http://www.britishpathe.com/video/pearlies-open-lambeth–pub/query/Pearly now residential flats.
George concentrated first on popular songs and then branching out into jazz. He tells how he used to go on to posh hotels like the Mayfair or the Hyde Park Hotel and started to wear tuxedo and tails till Lou Jaffa the pub governor said that he had to choose between the pub or the hotels.
He achieved a degree of prominence with Claude Bampton’s newly formed, all-blind stage orchestra in 1937, joining as second pianist: press coverage of the time describing this as “a phenomenal venture”.
He made his first solo radio broadcast in 1938 and began to record regularly, either as a soloist or with groups led by Vic Lewis and the top players of the day.
During the war years he toured with the violinist Stephane Grappelli and worked in London throughout the Blitz. The trumpeter Tommy McQuater remembered playing and drinking with Shearing in London clubs and then coming out into the total blackout. Shearing would lead the sighted musicians through the pitch-black, rubble-strewn streets and set them on their respective routes home. A case of the blind leading the blind-drunk, as McQuater had it.
George had met Trixie Bayes and thee got married in 1941. They had gone to live in Pinner. Their daughter Wendy was born in 1942 and they had a son David George who was born blind but sadly died before his first birthday.
He was encouraged to emigrate to the States by American visitors to Britain like Fats Waller, Mel Powell, Glenn Miller and Coleman Hawkins.In 1946 they went to the States without Wendy to see for themselves and emigrated in 1947.”I expected to slay everyone when I got here, because I could play in the style of Art Tatum, Fats Waller, Teddy Wilson and Bob Zurke,” he said. Well, the people started to say ‘Oh, that’s nice. What else can you do?’ My wife at the time was kind of annoyed and she’d say, ‘What do you want him to do, stand on his head?
His recording of “September in the Rain” became an international hit. Its success established him as a hot property on the jazz nightclub and concert circuit. It established something else as well: the signature sound of the George Shearing Quintet sound which was not quite like anything listeners had heard before — or have heard since.“When the quintet came out on 1949, it was a very placid and peaceful sound, coming on the end of a very frantic and frenetic era known as bebop,”
In the 1950s, George pursued an interest in Latin-inflected jazz. He had another hit record with Mambo Inn (1954) and appeared leading a Latin ensemble in the 1959 film Jazz On A Summer’s Day. In the same year he recorded the hugely popular album Beauty and the Beat with the singer Peggy Lee
George and Neil Swainson in tandem
During the 1960s Shearing began giving concerts with symphony orchestras, usually playing a concerto in the first half and leading the quintet with orchestral backing in the second. He derived particular satisfaction from this demonstration of technical accomplishment.
Shearing’s musical partnership with the singer Mel Torme, which lasted almost a decade, had begun in the early 1980s, and brought out the best in both.
George and Trixie divorced and George met and fell in love with Ellie Giffert a singer he had met and they were married in 1984 by Ellie’s brother Melvin who was a minister in the Lutheran Church in Harvey Illinois.
George was the subject of the BBC programme broadcast in February 1992 of This is Your Life. He was performing at Ronnie Scott’s on the night.
George remained fit and active well into his later years and continued to perform, even after being honoured with an Ivor Novello Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993. In 2004 his memoir, Lullaby of Birdland, which was accompanied by a double album “musical autobiography”, Lullabies of Birdland. Shortly afterwards, however, he suffered a fall at his home and retired from regular performing.
George was invited by three Presidents to play at the White House – Ford, Carter and Reagan. He was appointed OBE in 1996. In 2007 he was knighted. “So,” he noted later, “the poor, blind kid from Battersea became Sir George Shearing. Now that’s a fairy tale come true.”
He was quite a prankster and had a punning sense of humpor I liked the Nat King Cole story about ‘smelling the money’ trick and telling an audience, if they had got held up getting to a gig to blame him as he was the driver.
One of the great loves in his life besides his family was his seeing eye dog, a Golden Retriever named Leland whom he called “Lee.” The two traveled together for well over ten years and after the dog’s death, Shearing devoted himself to the cause, by doing benefit appearances on behalf of Guide Dogs for the Blind, the organization which had provided him with Lee originally.
Alyn Shipton, who grew close to Shearing in his later years, said that Shearing was a uniquely warm, funny and straightforward man. “Being blind, he always said he had no knowledge of racial or color issues,” explained Shipton. “He listened to musicians and accepted them for how they played, not who they were. When we agreed to write the book together, we did it on a handshake, no contract, just mutual trust. And George was also extremely generous. When the book we wrote together was finished, and we’d just signed off the proofs, he treated me to an hour’s solo recital in his Manhattan apartment. Just me, George and his piano. I wondered if he recalled a particular Teddy Wilson solo, and he played it to me note for note from memory, even though it must have been years since he heard it. It was a privilege and pleasure beyond words.”
George and Ellie used to come to their home in the Cotswolds in the summer with visitors like neighbour Brian Kay whom he had played with in his King’s singers days, visiting and going to jam with the Dankworths in their Stables studio Wavendon Bucks.
One thing that that especially touched him was when the George Shearing Centre for people with learning and multiple disabilities in Este Road Battersea was named in his honour.
I was impressed by his anti racist stance and found this reference .
During most of my time with George, touring the U.S. was always littered with racial land mines, not always in the South.
When we would travel by car, it didn’t matter what part of the country, we would constantly get stopped and ticketed by the cops because of the mix of colors inside the car.
It was against the law in a lot of States for race mixing and the Shearing band was one of the first integrated groups in the business. Many times we’d show up at a gig and the club owner, promoter or manager would freak out because they didn’t know we were a mixed race band and would refuse to let us enter the club. That’s when George would mess with these people. He would ask them what was the problem. The offender would say he can’t have Black people in his club and George would then ask “What is a color?”
Since George was blind from birth, technically it was true that he didn’t know what the hell a color was, but George wanted to make the person explain their own racism to a person who couldn’t see. The person would try and always fail to logically explain it and would eventually give in and let us play, especially when George would say “If my musicians can’t enter, then neither will I.”
I loved the section about his trips to Ireland. In the 70s Louis Stewart began his lengthy association with George Shearing (with whom he has toured America, Brazil and all of Europe and recorded eight albums). George was invited over for the Cork International Jazz festival. On the way over , for the first time , he found the safety cards on the Aer Lingus aeroplane were in Braille.Then when he arrived he was met by a group of people who asked if he would join them at blind convention at a hotel which catered for blind people.On check in you were handed a map of your room telling where the furniture was etc. He enjoyed meeting the people there and played a little on the upright piano there. When he asked where they got all the Braille material he was told Arbour Hill Prison in Dublin and how it came about when prisoners were watching Parkinson interviewing George when he had mentioned the lack of Braille safety cards. They went to the eit Governor and said ‘They didn’t want Mr shearing to be able to say about Ireland and so with some lobbying on their behalf Aer Lingus was persuaded to act on the sugestion.
George was so impressed that he said to Ellie ‘I’d like to go and play for them sometime’ He duly went to the prison to give a concert a few years later with his bass partner Neil Swainson, was given a guided tour, met the piano tuner who said it was ‘Like shooting ducks in a fog’ as the atrium was so echoey. He was presented with a Braille version of Irish folktales, met a prisoner at the tea party who specialised in Braille music. George said to him “Next time I come I’d love to see more of your handiwork” “Mr Shearing I won’t be here.I am getting out and I have a job as a music Brailler” which really heartened George. and he concluded that he may have played a minor role in making the world a safer place for the blind.
I do recommend his autobiography and I hope that we will be seeing a Battersea Society plaque honouring one of our international artists who hailed from Battersea and that I will be giving details of when.
I was intrigued to learn that the house opposite ours, at 84 Lavender Sweep, contains a fanlight over the door which came from the demolition in 1880 of the house which had been owned by Tom Taylor and it had been called Lavender Sweep. Tom Taylor had quite a CV. He was a playwright, critic, editor of Punch, Professor of English Literature at London University, a barrister, a civil servant and friend to many writers and theatrical people who visited him in Lavender Sweep. He was busy man.
I don’t think this house will get a blue plaque but nevertheless we should remember Tom Taylor, his connection to Battersea and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln which I tell any visitors to our house.
Probably his most famous play was Our American Cousin being the play Abraham Lincoln was watching the night he was assassinated at Ford’s Theatre, Washington D.C by actor and Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth on April 14th 1865. He also injured Major Rathbone who had accompanied the President and his wife.
Taylor, who previously satirised Lincoln in PUNCH wrote a poem about the assassination in tribute to him.
Abraham Lincoln foully assassinated
You lay a wreath on a murdered Lincoln’s bier,
You, who with mocking pencil wont to trace,
Broad for the self-complacent British sneer,
His length of shambling limb, his furrowed face,
His gaunt, gnarled hands, his unkempt, bristling hair,
His garb uncouth, his bearing ill at ease,
His lack of all we prize as debonair,
Of power or will to shine, of art to please;
You, whose smart pen backed up the pencil’s laugh,
Judging each step as though the way were plain;
Reckless, so it could point its paragraph
Of chief’s perplexity, or people’s pain:
Beside this corpse, that bears for winding-sheet
The Stars and Stripes he lived to rear anew,
Between the mourners at his head and feet,
Say, scurrile jester, is there room for you?
Yes: he had lived to shame me from my sneer,
To lame my pencil, and confute my pen; —
To make me own this hind of princes peer,
This rail-splitter a true-born king of men.
My shallow judgement I had learned to rue,
Noting how to occasion’s height he rose;
How his quaint wit made home-truth seem more true;
How, iron-like, his temper grew by blows.
How humble, yet how hopeful he could be:
How in good fortune and in ill, the same:
Nor bitter in success, nor boastful he,
Thirsty for gold, nor feverish for fame.
He went about his work, — such work as few
ever had laid on head and heart and hand, —
As one who knows, where there’s a task to do,
Man’s honest will must Heaven’s good grace command;
Who trusts the strength will with the burden grow,
That God makes instruments to work his will,
If but that will we can arrive to know,
Nor tamper with the weights of good and ill.
So he went forth to battle, on the side
That he felt clear was Liberty’s and Right’s,
As in his peasant boyhood he had plied
His warfare with rude Nature’s thwarting mights,—
The uncleared forest, the unbroken soil,
The iron-bark, that turns the lumberer’s axe,
The rapid, that o’erbears the boatman’s toil,
The prairie, hiding the mazed wanderer’s tracks,
The ambushed Indian, and the prowling bear; —
Such were the deeds that helped his youth to train:
Rough culture, — but such trees large fruit may bear,
If but their stocks be of right girth and grain.
So he grew up, a destined work to do,
And lived to do it: four long-suffering years’
Ill-fate, ill-feeling, ill-report, lived through,
And then he heard the hisses change to cheers,
The taunts to tribute, the abuse to praise,
And took both with the same unwavering mood:
Till, as he came on light, from darkling days,
And seemed to touch the goal from where he stood,
A felon hand, between the goal and him,
Reached from behind his back, a trigger prest,—
And those perplexed and patient eyes were dim,
Those gaunt, long-laboring limbs were laid to rest!
The words of mercy were upon his lips,
Forgiveness in his heart and on his pen,
When this vile murderer brought swift eclipse
To thoughts of peace on earth, good-will to men.
The Old World and the New, from sea to sea,
Utter one voice of sympathy and shame!
Sore heart, so stopped when it at last beat high;
Sad life, cut short just as its triumph came.
A deed accurst! Strokes have been struck before
By the assassin’s hand, whereof men doubt
If more of horror or disgrace they bore;
But thy foul crime, like Cain’s, stands darkly out.
Vile hand, that brandest murder on a strife,
Whate’er its grounds, stoutly and nobly striven;
And with the martyr’s crown crownest a life
With much to praise, little to be forgiven.
TAYLOR, TOM (1817–1880), dramatist and editor of ‘Punch,’ was born at Bishop-Wearmouth, a suburb of Sunderland, on 19 Oct. 1817. His father, Thomas Taylor was self-educated, having begun life in early boyhood as a labourer on a small farm in Cumberland. By thrift, industry, and intelligence he became head partner in a flourishing brewery firm at Durham, and, on that city being incorporated, was one in the first batch of aldermen in the new municipality. Tom Taylor’s mother (1784–1858), though born in Durham, was of German origin.
Tom was educated first at Grange school in Sunderland, and afterwards at the university of Glasgow, where he carried off three gold medals. Finally, in 1837, he entered Trinity College, Cambridge. There he graduated B.A. in 1840 as junior optime in mathematics and in the first class of the classical tripos. In 1842 he was elected a fellow of Trinity, and proceeded M.A. in 1843. For the next two years Taylor pursued the career of a ‘coach’ at Cambridge, and met with great success. In the interests of his younger brothers he declined the ample annual allowance hitherto placed at his command by his father, and resolved thenceforth to support himself on his fees as tutor and upon the income of his fellowship.
During 1842, Taylor, together with his Cambridge friends Frederick Ponsonby who was Earl of Bessborough. (Fred Ponsonby, a Battersea Labour Party member was the fourth Baron but is now a life peer. He sings with the Festival Chorus that Dave sings in), Charles G. Taylor and William Bolland, formed the Old Stagers, which is recognised as the oldest amateur drama society still performing.
Taylor left Cambridge and in 1845 was appointed professor of English literature and the English language in the London University. He held the post for two years. Meanwhile, having kept his terms as a law student at the Inner Temple, he was called to the bar in November 1846. For a while he went the northern circuit. But a new opening was offered him in 1850, when, consequent on the passing of the Public Health Act, the board of health was called into existence, and Taylor was appointed assistant secretary under the presidency of Sir Benjamin Hall.
He married, Laura, daughter of the Rev. Thomas Barker, vicar of Thirkleby in Yorkshire on 19 June 1855. Mrs. Tom Taylor, a skilled musical composer, contributed the original overture and entr’acte to her husband’s ‘Joan of Arc. They had two children Lucy and Wycliffe, who became an artist.
In August 1854 he was promoted to the position of secretary. When the board of health was absorbed in the local government board his post became that of secretary to the sanitary department. He eventually retired 1871, when his office was abolished.
But Taylor owed his fame and the greater part of his income to other occupations. From his first settling in London he had engaged in journalism working on the ‘Morning Chronicle’ and the ‘Daily News’ as a leader-writer. He had also started his lifelong connection with ‘Punch,’ and until 1874 he was an active member of the staff becoming editor in that year he succeeded Shirley Brooks as editor, and he held that office till his death six years later.
In art criticism Taylor also made some mark, and for many years was art critic for the ‘Times’ and the ‘Graphic.’ He numbered C. R. Leslie, W. P. Frith, and other artists among his closest friends, and among his miscellaneous works was a valuable biography of Benjamin Robert Haydon . He also edited ‘Charles Robert Leslie’s Autobiographical Recollections’, completed Leslie’s ‘Life of Sir Joshua Reynolds’ and edited as ‘Pen Sketches by a Vanished Hand’ (1879) the essays of his friend Mortimer Collins. He had already translated ‘Ballads and Songs of Brittany’ from the Barsaz-Breiz of Hersart de la Villemarqué, and in 1874 he published an entertaining volume called ‘Leicester Square: its Associations and its Worthies’ .
Taylor, however, found his true vocation as a playwright. From his early boyhood he had written and acted plays, and as soon as he settled in London he worked assiduously for the theatre. A self-confessed populist, his intention was to create plays his audiences would enjoy, and many of his works were adaptations of existing French plays, or dramatisations of the novels of Charles Dickens or other popular novels of the time. He was also a prolific writer of dramatic works and in thirty-five years he supplied more than seventy plays to the principal theatres of London. His mastery of stage-craft was great, and many of his pieces still keep the boards; but he lacked dramatic genius or commanding power of expression.Taylor was fond of theatrical life in all its aspects. He played several parts as an actor, and is said to have been successful as Adam in a performance of ‘As you like it’ at Manchester.
The first piece of Taylor’s that signally attracted the public was ‘To Parents and Guardians,’ a farce at the Lyceum. ‘The Fool’s Revenge,’ an adaptation of Victor Hugo’s ‘Le Roi s’amuse,’ ‘’Twixt Axe and Crown,’ ‘Joan of Arc’ ,‘Lady Clancarty,’ and ‘Anne Boleyn,’ which was produced at the Haymarket in March 1875, and was Taylor’s penultimate piece and only complete failure. Other successful plays by Taylor ‘Diogenes and his Lantern’, ‘The Vicar of Wakefield’ , ‘The Philosopher’s Stone.’, ‘Our Clerks’, ‘Wittikind and his Brothers,’ ‘Plot and Passion’ ‘A Nice Firm’,‘Two Loves and a Life,’ in conjunction with Charles Reade,‘The King’s Rival.’ ‘Helping Hands’, ‘Retribution,’ from Bernard’s ‘Loi du Talion’,’Going to the Bad’ . ‘Barefaced Impostors’, ‘Nine Points of the Law,’ ‘Up at the Hills’, ‘The Babes in the Wood’ ‘Sense and Sensation’ , ‘Henry Dunbar,’ ‘The Sister’s Penance’ ‘The Hidden Hand’,‘Settling Day’ A collection of his early pieces appeared in 1854. He published a collected edition of his historical dramas in 1877.
Much of his archive material is now housed in the V and A collection thanks to Jack Reading (1916-2004) who pursued an interest in theatre and theatre history. It includes original working drafts and final drafts of play-texts, notebooks, sketchbooks, images and scrapbooks and personal ephemera. Jack was a founder member of the Society for Theatre Research and the International Federation for Theatre Research and helped to spearhead a campaign for the establishment of a Theatre Museum in the UK and later became a trustee of the Theatre Museum Association.
Tom Taylor’s home which he had built was one of four grand houses between Lavender Hill and Battersea Rise.Among his friends and visitors to Lavender Sweep were Dickens, Thackeray, Henry Irving and Lewis Carroll , who took a number of photographs of the house.Ellen Terry, who was another of the many visitors to the house, ‘to us he was more than this he was an institution‘. In her autobigraphy she said ‘it clearly became the home from home for the people from all the walks of literary, artistic and theatrical life that Taylor was part of”.
Lavender Sweep was a sort of house of call for everone of note…At Lavender Sweep, with the horse-chestnut blossoms strewing the drive and making it look like a tessellated pavement, all of us were always welcome…Such intimate friendships are seldom possible in our busy profession, and there was never another Tom Taylor in my life….The atmosphere of gaity which pervaded Lavender Sweep arose from his kindly, generous nature, which insisted that everyone could have a good time….I have already said that the Taylor’s home was one of the most softening and cultural influences of my early life…his house was a kind of mecca for pilgrims from America and from all parts of the world….. Yet all the time occupied a position in the Home Office and often walked from Whitehall to Lavender Sweep when his day’s work was done….lavender is still associated in my mind with everything that is lovely and refined. My mother nearly always wore the colour and the Taylor’s lived at Lavender Sweep.This may not be an excellent reason for my feelings on the subject, but it is reason good enough.
Taylor died at his home Lavender Sweep on 12 July 1880.That was when Lavender Sweep and surrounding roads were developed.
Laura died in March 1905 and had gone to live in Porch House Coleshill Berkshire with Lucy and two servants, Barbara Nugent and Jane Elizabeth Blake, both of whom had worked for the Taylors in London before the family moved to Coleshill. Lucy Taylor died in 1940. Apparently, in 1962 Mary Ure, who had been married to playwright John Osborne, lived here with her second husband actor Robert Shaw where they entertained their theatrical friends. A nice bit of serendipity.
A series of commemorative plaques featuring the writing of well known Irish and International poets have been installed around the City of Galway.
Often with a Galway twist, this series has become known as the Galway Poetry Trail and has so far included James Joyce, Mairtín Ó’Direáin, Seamus Heaney, Pádraic Ó’Conaire, Walter Macken, Louis MacNeice, Kevin Faller, Moya Cannon, Patricia Burke Brogan, W.B.Yeats, Gerald Dawe, Rita Ann Higgins, Gerard Hanberry, George Moore, and this year Máire Holmes and Arthur Colahan have been added
I think the first verse of Mary Devenport O’Neill’s poem should be commemorated in The Galway Poetry Trail. I think she has been unfairly neglected.
Thanks for your note. Mary Davenport O’Neill has been on our list from the beginning,but we can only do so much with our limited budget. The poem is fine but it is a bit long so we have to think carefully about where to place it.
The project is ongoing, we are now up to seventeen plaques, and it will always be a balance between living and deceased writers. We are also hoping that poets will start to write specifically for the trail.
I hope you are well. Things are good in sunny Galway and we are all anxiously waiting for The decision of the European Capital of Culture 2020 judges. We will know tomorrow.
Beatha agus Sláinte
(Galway’s bid was successful. Yea.)
I don’t accept the excuse as women are so unrepresented in the Poetry Trail. And I think Galway- a town tormented by the sea is a punchy epiteth for Galway. We’ll see!
Here is the poem. I used to have a handwritten copy of it in any bedsit I had when emigrated to London along with the Louis Mac Niece Galway poem.
GALWAY by Mary Devenport O’Neill
I know a town tormented by the sea,
And there time goes slow
That the people see it flow
And watch it drowsily,
And growing older hour by hour they say,
‘Please God, to-morrow!
Then we will work and play,’
And their tall houses crumble away.
This town is eaten through with memory
Of pride and thick red Spanish wine and gold
And a great come and go;
But the sea is cold,
And the spare, black trees
Crouch in the withering breeze
That blows from the sea,
And the land stands bare and alone,
For its warmth is turned away
And its strength held in hard cold grey-blue
And the people are heard to say,
Through the raving of the jealous sea,
‘Please God, to-morrow!
Then we will work and play.’
The hollow grey houses,
The rubbish and sewage,
The grass-grown pier,
And the dredger grumbling
All night in the harbour:
The war came down on us here.Salmon in the Corrib
And the water combed out
Over the weir
And a hundred swans
Dreaming on the harbour:
The war came down on us here.
The night was gay
with the moon’s music
But Mars was angry
On the hills of Clare
And September dawned
Upon Willows and ruins
The war came down upon us here
Mary Devenport O’Neill has been forgotten and neglected in a way that many women writers and achievers have been. The backdrop to this was the prevailing puritan streak in Church and State, the same smothering conservatism that had driven the nation’s greatest cultural figures to take refuge abroad (Joyce, Wilde, Beckett, Yeats) or, for the men, to escape to the relative freedom of the bars of Dublin frequented by the likes of Behan, Kavanagh and O’Brien.
The vision of the new Irish State as promulgated by the narrow-minded, sexist President DeValera which was broadcast over the radio to the nation on St Patrick’s Day 1943 sticks in the craw of so many Irish women.
A land whose countryside would be bright with cosy homesteads, whose fields and villages would be joyous with the sounds of industry, with the romping of sturdy children, the contests of athletic youths and the laughter of comely maidens, whose firesides for the wisdom of serene old age.
She worked with W.B. Yeats on A Vision . This short poem is from her one book, the 1929 Prometheus and Other Poems. Her work is all out of print and does not appear in many of the numerous anthologies of Irish verse.
It seems to me
I live perpetually
On the cloudy edge of the sound of a bell
For ever listening.
I cannot tell
If it is memory
Of something that rang beautifully
Or if a bell will ring.
She published three verse plays,Bluebeard (1933), Cain(1945) and Out of The Darkness (1947). Her final play War, The Monster was performed by the Abbey Experimental theatre Company in 1949 but was not published. When she was fifty, she published a collection of poetry Prometheus and other poems (London: Jonathan Cape 1929)- thirty-three lyric poems, four “dream poems”, one long poem, and a verse-play. This was the first collection of poetry published by an Irish poet, besides Yeats, which could be considered modernist
She published regularly in The Dublin Magazine and contributed reviews to The Bell and The Irish Times. Two of her plays were performed by Austin Clarke’s Lyric Theatre Company. She engaged in lengthy correspondence with Clarke from 1929-48 concerning the production of her work and combining choreography with verse for these productions. Bluebeard, a ballet based on her play, was choreographed by Dame Ninette De Valois as one of the final productions of the Abbey School of Ballet.
There is an interesting article about her poem entitled A Crooked Slice of Bread
A Crooked Slice of Bread
A convent parlour with a floor
Of shining boards and a glass garden door,
A wide ring of slippery chairs,
Saints on the wall – a young saint with a skull,
An old saint thin with prayers –
Sea-shells upon mats of coloured wool;
An oval table set with bread
And wine the colour of foxglove
And little vases,
Such as children dress their altars with in May;
In these I poured the wine,
But why did he who got the first vase shove
His vase away?
I stopped pouring the wine;
And then as if a rain-cloud spoke he said,
‘You’ve given me a crooked slice of bread.’
I turned and found a loaf so stale and dried
‘Twas hard as sandstone, and a knife
As thin and waving as a blade of grass;
And then while centuries seemed to pass
All things had faded but the task I tried.
Do I in some less palpable life
That slides along one side of this
(Using the force and strength I miss
In this life here) work hard instead
To cut that straight smooth even slice of bread?
Chad Varah was a clergyman who founded the Samaritans, was vicar of St Paul’s Church on St John’s Hill Battersea SW11 from 1949-53 and scrptwriter/visualiser for comics through his friend and fellow vicar Marcus Morris who described Varah as “the wild card of the Church of England”
He was never a conventional clergyman. His chief concern from the start was to help individuals rather than spreading the gospel. In his autobiography Before I Die Again he said”Church people were all too often narrow-minded, censorious , judgemental intolerant, conventional”
I think he is another strong candidate to receive a Battersea Society blue plaque. I’ve got a little list!
Edward Chad Varah, the eldest of nine children, was born on November 12 1911 at Barton-on-Humber, where his father, Canon William Edward Varah, was the vicar (he named his son after the founder of the parish, St Chad).
From Worksop College he went on an exhibition to Keble College, Oxford, to read Natural Sciences, but he changed horses midstream and achieved only modest success in PPE, getting a third class degree..
He was, however, secretary of the university’s Russian and Slavonic clubs, thus beginning a lifelong interest in the Eastern Orthodox Churches, and was also founder-president of the Scandinavian Club (not least because of the access it gave me to long-legged, blue-eyed blondes).
He married Susan Whanslaw in Wandsworth in 1940 and they had five chidren including triplets. She later became a key figure in the Church of England as world president of the Mothers’ Union during the 1970s, steering through important changes in the organisation’s statutes.
The Samaritans website http://www.samaritans.org › About us › Our organisation › The history of Samaritans explains how he came to establish The Samaritans and dedicated his long life to providing emotional support, caring for people, and teaching others how to do so..
“I wasn’t suicidal. I wasn’t at a loose end. I was busy and needed as Vicar of St Paul’s Clapham Junction, Chaplain of St John’s Hospital Battersea, Staff Scriptwriter/Visualiser for Eagle and Girl strip cartoon magazines and Scientific and Astronautical Consultant to Dan Dare!
When I wasn’t running an ‘open’ youth club, or bawling prayers at geriatric patients, or teaching in my Church School, or cycling around giving Holy Communion to the sick, I was pounding my typewriter up to 2 or 3am earning my living, as my stipend was only enough to pay my secretary. There was no time to discover whether I was happy or not, and I’ve managed to keep it that way.
A lightbulb moment
It had been 18 years since I made my debut in the ministry by burying a 14 year old girl who’d killed herself when her periods started because she thought she had a sexually transmitted disease – which had a profound affect on me.
I read somewhere there were three suicides a day in Greater London. What were they supposed to do if they didn’t want a Doctor or Social Worker from our splendid Welfare State? What sort of a someone might they want? Well, some had chosen me, because of my liberal views. If it was so easy to save lives, why didn’t I do it all the time? But how would I raise the funds to offer this kind of support and how would they get in touch at the moment of crisis.”
When he was offered charge of the parish of St Stephen Walbrook, in the summer of 1953 he knew that the time was right for him to launch what he called a “999 for the suicidal”. At the time, suicide was still illegal in the UK and so many people who were in difficult situations and who felt suicidal were unable to talk to anyone about it without worrying about the consequences. A confidential emergency service for people “in distress who need spiritual aid” was what Chad felt was needed to address the problems he saw around him. He was, in his own words, “a man willing to listen, with a base and an emergency telephone”. 15 years after the emergency 999 number was set up, the number MAN 9000 was chosen for the helpline that was number of the church!
In February 1954, Chad officially handed over the task of supporting the callers to the volunteers and Samaritans, based on the principles that it is today was born.
From then Chad became known as the ‘Director’ and he continued to be in charge of many aspects of the service such as selecting and training volunteers until 1974. His involvement with Samaritans has continued through the years, primarily working on developing a network of international support services to mirror Samaritans’ work in the UK but also in shaping the organisation.
Varah revelled in the extensive travel which his work involved. He soon became familiar with airports of the world, seized an opportunity to fly from Bahrain to London on Concorde, and wherever he went gave classes on dealing with sexual problems.Language problems did not hinder him — he was fluent in French and knew some Russian.
Befrienders International now operates in more than 40 countries, including some where there is no easy access to phones or emails, and where people will walk for hours to receive emotional support. As an inveterate traveller, Varah visited continuing these journeys into his nineties.
It was only as The Samaritans’ 50th anniversary in 2003 approached that he felt it necessary to express his disapproval of, and disappointment with, some of the ways both The Samaritans and Befrienders International were being directed.
However, in the summer of 2005 a rapprochement was reached when he enjoyed a particularly happy meeting with the new chief executive and the then chairman of The Samaritans, listening enthusiastically to news about all those people who continue his original enlightened and essential work. Varah was delighted when, in 2006, his eldest son, the late Michael Varah, was appointed to sit on the organisation’s newly created board of trustees.
Varah was a man of immense intellect and linguistic skills, of eclectic interests, originality and practicality. He engaged in consultancy work for the sex education magazine Forum for 20 years till 1987 – in that year, in recognition of this efforts, the aids charity The Terrence Higgins Trust made him its patron, a role he held till 1999.
Only in 2003, at the age of 92 and 50 years after he had founded the Samaritans in its crypt, did he finally retire as rector of his beloved church, St Stephen Walbrook, and prebendary of St Paul’s Cathedral. He was, at the time, the oldest incumbent in the Church of England.
The desire to speak his mind and take on contentious issues never left him: some would say that it was what had kept him going. He would not easily drop an issue in which he believed.
Among many awards, Varah was made a Companion of Honour in the Millennium Year honours list. His wife died in 1993, and he is survived by four of his children. He died November 8 2007.
In 2012 three trains were named after him .Felicity, his daughter, said of the honour:
“My father never drove a car, he believed in public transport, especially trains. In his lifetime he would have travelled thousands of miles visiting Samaritans branches up and down the country. He would say it is the best form of transport and would have been delighted that both he, and Samaritans, is being recognised in this way.”
I think Battersea should commemorate Chad Varah , one time vicar of St Paul’s church and founder of such an important organisation worldwide and which has been so influential in the understanding of suicide and mental health.