Tuesday, June 10, 2008

National Trust Holiday to Southsea

Your Blogmeister returns. I have started the Lister diesel generators and am transmitting on full power. Thanks to our loyal readers who kept things ticking over in my absence.

A simply great holiday and all our thanks go to Jean for organising everything so splendidly. The extra day was a success and to 'do' a house on the first day, on the way to Southsea, and another on the last day, rather than just heading for home worked out just fine.

The beautiful weather made a contribution. It was english summer at it's best - clear blue sky, sunny, mild breeze etc.. etc.. Our first stop was at Waddesdon Manor and Picture 1 is a detail at the rear. A Victorian replica of a 16th Century French Chateau, built for the Rothschild's and filled with stuff, was (I must stress that this is only my opinion) slightly on the vulgar side of opulent. In one room was a hideous 'secrétaire' which even the Baron himself had considered ugly. The formal gardens needed a capital F. I saw a bed at the rear being planted out and I'm sure the gardeners were using a slide rule and calipers.

On the plus side, there were some beautiful Dutch Golden Age paintings, 18th century books, drawings, textiles, and the place was pleasantly light and airy. It's a good job everyone's tastes are not identical.

When we arrived at Southsea we found we had been allocated a super, super seaview room. Overlooking the Pier and, in the distance, The Isle of Wight. If the picture looks a little hazy it's because it was on the Casio and through glass. p.s. the double glazing was efficient because on the 2nd night, we heard nothing of a boisterous wedding which ended in fighting.

On the Saturday morning we went down Southsea and visited the D.Day Landings Museum and saw the Tapestry of that event. The Overlord Embroidery tapestry was conceived as a modern version of the Bayeux Taspestry and is, in our opinion, a moving and powerful work of art. The link (a tricky google btw) show you all about its creation and has some excellent pictures. Photography in the exhibition is not permitted, so I haven't any of my own.

We could sit on the promenade and watch the ferries in and out of harbour and I learnt lots. Mostly from a Marine Biologist I chanced upon during my walks.

Picture 3 is obviously the Brittany Ferry but, right on the right hand edge of the frame you should be able to see a yellow buoy. This marks the spot where the Mary Rose went down and was recovered from. When I took the snap I was standing just in front of Southsea Castle from the battlements of which, Henry V111 stood and watched the tragedy.

I'm going to end there, for the time being, but will return tomorrow with a further itinerary.

Comments ..... Reg.... In future my toast must be served in owls. I feel sure the 'long eared owl' is favoured, as a sort of toast-rack. We all wish Mo well at the clinic. Will they be demolishing the 'scaffolding' or is it subject to Wednesday's examination. Give her our love.

anonymousrob ..... Thanks for the continued Gilberto/Leonardo stories and thanks to Elaine for her pictures. What a shame we can't all see the sombrero ! Great Haikus again !

Jill ..... You are quite right about 'depth' in Tommy Cooper humour. People considered him a buffoon but there was more than that. This one for instance :-

"So I was getting into my car, and this bloke says to me 'Can you give
me a lift?'

I said 'Sure, you look great, the world's your oyster, go for it."

We seem to keep missing Springwatch but grandchildren keep us informed. Bill Oddy is becoming a bit of a pain and if Kate is editing him so much the better.

Bungus ...... 'Ram on Toast' ? butter ..... geddit?.

And as you know, I actually enjoy typos and consider them a creative spur. We would have been denied 'toast in owls' without one. And many many more.

Your multi proof-reading though, whilst admirable, doesn't seem to have prevented Bingis as the author of your follow up comment of 10.52am. Perhaps a fourth or even a fifth reading is becoming necessary ? Or stop bothering about it ! I would recommend the latter.

Thanks for your description of the Community Workshop. It needs to be 'on the record'. And we all hope that soon your dentistry is soon sorted.

Talking of traffic directions - One of our Mansfield Sergeants, George Dunning, was asked for directions in Mansfield shortly after the demolition of the viaduct. He told a motorist to go down as far as the viaduct and turn left. The PC who was with him said "Sarge... The viaduct isn't there any longer" so George said "Go down as far as the hole in the sky where the viaduct used to be and turn left there".


Thanks all for the good wishes for a pleasant holiday. It was ace. More tomorrow. Reg can't WoW tomorrow but Brian is game and Helen is keen to take advantage of what may be the temporary end of the lovely weather.

Quotation time ..... Having passed through and stopped in Shakespeare country I have decided on a line or two from The Tempest :

"On the bat's wing I do fly
After summer merrily;
Merrily, merrily shall I live now
Under the blossom that hangs on the bough"

William Shakespeare

At Charlecote Park (see tomorrow's issue) we were told the apochryphal story of William having been prosecuted for poaching in the grounds. He seems to have been caught poaching in every National Trust site or similar within a day's march of Stratford.

.... I'm signing off with the Droeshout engraving which is perhaps the best picture we have. What a pity there was no photography then. Sleep tight !..... Catch you tomorrow !.....



anonymousrob said...

How good to have the blogmeister back and so obviously full of vim and vigour. The break seems to have done you good.

More about our evening with Gilberto, Leonardo and friends. The full line up was:
Leonardo del Rey/"Leonard the King"
Jose Luis
Miguel Antonio
Leonardo's singing teacher (name not recorded)
Elaine and me

This is what I wrote at the time, well the next day anyway:
The festival was brilliant - what a great night. The rum flowed like water and was dirt cheap for Gilberto. We paid 16 pesos, about £9.50 for a bottle and a half of rum, 2 cokes, 2 lemonades and a pizza. We met Gilberto's friends - Jose Luis a maths and dance teacher, Leonardo del Rey who learnt his English from 'Star Wars' and 'Alien' films. He was a sci-fi fan and, tonight, a Mexican singer. Also Miguel Antonio who taught (?) Anglo-Saxon history, or just knew enough to teach it. What wonderful, friendly people. We have addresses, as do they, a photo of Leonardo, and a drawing in the phrase book showing the Saxon and Norse invasions of Britain.

There are also extra comments in the margins of the notebook, viz:
Leonardo is quite camp!
Leonardo told us he is a Jedi knight and he likes light sabres.
We also met Leonardo's singing teacher. He sang 'My Way' to us, was a retired engineer, his pension was equivalent to 10 US dollars a month and he drove a taxi - a 29 year old car. His English was perfect.


bungus said...

Welcome back Mr Blog. Glad you enjoyed your weekend away.

Pleased to hear that some weddings are still carried out in the traditional Wellow fashion.

The Overlord Embroidery tapestry looks impressive.

Sorry about the length of the following but I found it interesting:
A true story ....
Tommy Cooper was introduced to the Queen after a Royal Command Performance.
'Do you think I was funny?' said Tommy.
'Yes Tommy,' said the Queen.
'You really thought I was funny?', said Tommy.
'Yes of course I thought you were funny' said the Queen.
'Did your Mother think I was funny?' said Tommy.
'Yes, Tommy...' said the Queen, '...we both thought you were funny.'
'Do you mind if I ask you a personal question?' said Tommy.
'No, ..." said the Queen, '....but I might not be able to give you a full answer.'
'Do you like football?' said Tommy.
'Well not really ' said the Queen.'
'In that case, ...' said Tommy, '....do you mind if I have your Cup Final Tickets?'

>>> But there was a dark side too, although Tommy Cooper was no Tony Hancock or Peter Sellers. His chief demon was stage fright - a condition he found could be alleviated to some extent by drinking large quantities of alcohol. He once told his fellow comedian and friend Eric Sykes: "People say I've only got to walk out on stage and they laugh. If only they knew what it takes to walk out on stage in the first place. One of these days I'll just walk out and do nothing. Then they'll know the difference." In the end he could barely perform without a drink or eight and the alcohol slowly began to impair his act. Promoters grew increasingly dismayed when he peremptorily cut short performances, rambled or simply bombed. There were of course efforts to cut down on the drink. On a good day he could confine himself to three bottles of Dubonnet in each binge.
The drinking and relentless touring also had an impact on his weight, which he fought with illicit slimming pills. His poor health was exacerbated by the 40 cigars a day he chain-smoked. Meanwhile, Cooper suffered a myriad of ailments from poor circulation to insomnia and bronchitis. In an uncanny echo of his future demise, he suffered a near-fatal heart attack while performing to IBM executives in Rome in 1977.
Friends proved ever willing to forgive him his shortcomings, not least his notorious meanness. This parsimony took both financial and spiritual forms. According to John Fisher, author of the biography Tommy Cooper: Always Leave them Laughing - which is set to be televised - this could be deeply hurtful to those on the receiving end. In the book he recalls one old pro who had given Cooper the idea for a winning gag - about an old paraffin heater that he used on stage to "warm up the audience". A few days later after a Soho drinking session with the comic and his entourage, he was told to make his own way home after asking for a lift.
"I'm not a f*****g taxi service," Cooper sniped.
But taxi drivers were not immune from the comic's pathological meanness either. On arriving at his destination, Cooper liked to slip a used tea bag into their pockets with the quip: "Have a drink on me."
Harder to forgive - especially for the fans that worshipped him - were his affairs and outbursts of violence, normally directed towards his devoted wife, Dove, although both admitted the other gave as good as they got. She claimed only to have found out about one long-standing relationship with a television stage manager after his death. Loyal even after the end, she told reporters it had merely been a one-night-stand.
His friend Bob Monkhouse once described him as a "child with an infant's rage as many waiters will tell. But he was fundamentally a lovely man". Cooper never seriously entertained the thought of leaving his wife and children in their Chiswick family home and bitterly regretted his drunken rages.
Exactly what made his act so funny is hard to pinpoint. Many say it was the aura of perfect childlike innocence he projected from the body of an oafish giant. Others have argued it was his relentless literal mindedness. But jokes such as "I went into this pub, and I ate a ploughman's lunch. He was livid," never worked so well from the mouth's of other comics.
The veteran comedian Barry Cryer has claimed Cooper entered a unique and sophisticated pact with his audience. "He knows it's a terrible joke and he knows they know it is terrible. They are laughing less at the joke itself than at how bad it was, not to mention his effrontery in sharing it with them."
Fisher, who will act as a consultant on the forthcoming film and documentary believes Cooper's comic genius would have translated well to "serious" theatre, arguing he would have been brilliantly cast in Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot.
Yet today, nearly a quarter of a century after his untimely death, a generation has grown up never having heard that famous throaty chuckle and once ubiquitous catchphrase "just like that". His return to the small screen looks set to highlight the scale of the comic talent lost amid the fading laughter that night 23 years ago.

“I've got the best wife in England. The other one's in Africa.”

I have looked through most of the jokes attributed to Tommy Cooper. Several of them seem to me to have been purloined from the Scottish comedian whose name escapes me (the ‘I see you keep a bee’ man).

Where did 'Ram on Toast' come from? I like it.

Stop proof-reading!? Hush yo’mouth.
But I enjoy typos too and no amount of pr eliminates them completely.

Erratum re Community Workshop.
It has been going for 20 years, not 10.
Regrettably, except in the unlikely event that other members step into the breach, it will fold. The major forces in its continued existence (less than half a dozen people) are getting old and/or tired.

Thanks for the continued Cuba story.