One final blog, I promise, about the books I have picked up for a pittance from Michael Foot's vast library.
Among my latest purchases in Lower Marsh is a battered copy of a 1912 biography of the satirist and radical William Hone. Michael Foot's ownership signature is shown alongside, and a note: 'Read, January 1960' - along with an earlier ownership signature.
Another note in Foot's handwriting reads: 'See page 113 for the Chief Whip's Prayer'.
So I turned to that page, where a pencil mark highlights an extract from an 1817 squib catechism which occasioned the first of Hone's several appearances in court.
It reads: Our Lord, who art in the Treasury, whatsoever be thy name, thy power be prolonged, thy will be done throughout the empire, as it is in each session. Give us our usual sops, and forgive us our occasional absences on divisions; as we promise not to forgive them that divide against thee. Turn us not out of our Places; but keep us in the House of Commons, the Land of Pensions and Plenty; and deliver us from the People. Amen.
So you can see why the radical Michael Foot described this prayer as he did!
London Occasionals #3
OK, so this is a tougher one. Where is 'The People's Gospel Mission Hall'? It's north London, but I'm not giving away more than that.
I'm not sure whether it's still is use. The building is certainly cared for. There's no notice of services, so I guess the hall has been put to some other purpose.
Here's another view of the hall, and below I've taken a photo of the foundation stone, the lettering almost entirely obscured by layers of paint.
I make it out to read:
'THIS STONE LAID BY
FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT
OF THE PEOPLE'S GOSPEL
MISSION IN 1886 ...'
This is the first time I have scanned a tea towel, and while I have high hopes of living quite a while yet, I truly believe it will be the last.
But I couldn't resist sharing this reference to the term 'peelie-wally' - which any regular readers of this blog will know has exercised a compelling attraction for me, see here and here.
It's a remarkable Hindi loan word (it means 'the yellow one' or 'the yellow thing') which has entered vernacular Scots, meaning - as the tea towel explains - feeble, thin, ill looking (or a particlarly anaemic cup of tea, my Glasgow-born mother once told me).
Sorry if you think this is 'blether' (talk foolishly or too much, according to the tea towel), but I think it's 'muckle' (large, big, great) interesting - and I'm just trying to be 'couthie' (sociable firendly, sympathetic).
Returning to the remarkable story of the surfacing of some of Michael Foot's library in a Lambeth bookshop - I've found an intriguing handwritten note. Here's the tale.
I bought a pamphlet at the bookshop in Lower Marsh where a fair bit of Foot's library has been for sale. It doesn't have Foot's signature. But it does bear that of Jon Kimche, Foot's predecessor as editor of 'Tribune' in the 1940s. Inside I found a folded slip of paper marked on the outside, as above, 'SEC. OF STATE FOR EMPLOYMENT.'.
Well, Michael Foot was Secretary of State for Employment from 1974 to 1976, and as such the architect of the "Social Contract" with the trade unions. The slip of paper has the feel of something passed on discreetly during a meeting, or perhaps when Foot was on the government front bench in the Commons. It's posted below.
And the cast list: Len Murray was general secretary of the TUC - Donald Derx was a top civil servant at the Department of Employment - the PM at the time would have been Harold Wilson - and the Chancellor, Denis Healey.
What was 'the question of retrospection'? Who wrote the note? I can't read the signature - possibly 'David' or 'Denis'. Certainly not 'Neil' - Neil Kinnock was Foot's Parliamentary Private Secretary for a year in 1974-75. But it feels more a politician's note than a civil servant's.
Anyone with more information?
UPDATE: Was this note written by Bernard Donoughue, now Lord Donoughue and in the mid-'70s the head of Harold Wilson's policy unit? Over to you!
London Occasionals #2
So you think you know north London? Ok, tell me where the building is which features this foundation stone. It's on a main road and hasn't been a baths for an awful long time - but no further clues on offer ...
... beyond the photo below of the entire building (you can see the foundation stone at shoulder height to the right of the centre set of ground floor windows).
Answers please as comments to this blog post - the winner gets a free drink at the Irish pub next door, if they dare.
Yes, it is what's now the Boston Arms music rooms on Junction Road, close to Tufnell Park tube. There's a handill on the excellent Acland Burghley school history site of a distribution of prizes there, by the Hon. E Lyulph Stanley, in 1897. It must have been a big number - the event was held over two days.
Otherwise, I have found out remarkably little about this building. A stray web search came across the suggestion that in the inter-war years the building was a home to dance bands and became known, unlikely as it may seem, as the Tufnell Park Palais.
More recently, a band - the London Dirthole Co, - released an album entitled 'The Stanley Hall Sessions' recorded here.
If you know more, do share.
I was brought up in the rhubarb capital of the world. It grew in clumps in my childhood garden. But I never greatly liked the stuff. The stewed rhubarb and custard that was compulsory weekly fare at school dinner was enough to put anyone off for life.
Well, not quite for life. The other day a friend (thanks, Erica!) gave me a few excellent sticks of home-grown rhubarb. And spurred on by this generosity, I have cooked a very passable - even if I say so myself - rhubarb and blueberry crumble. Blueberry because rhubarb is so tart it needs a countervailing sweet fruit for full satisfaction. And we had some blueberries in the freezer. It worked well. Patent pending - full recipe on request.
So I have recommuned with my culinary heritage. The rhubarb triangle is, in case you don't know, a small enclave of west Yorkshire, encompassing Morley (my birthplace), Wakefield and Rothwell. Indeed, the 'Morley Observer' once commented, with a straight face: 'With the demise of the mills and mines in Morley rhubarb production is the only traditional industry left to the town.'
That was back in 2004. Since then, the sun of good fortune has not shined on Morley's rhubarb forcing sheds. (Like mushrooms, the best stuff grows in the dark). There are, at most, only a dozen rhubarb growers still in business in the triangle - and I'm not sure that any of them are in Morley proper. But if rhubarb and blueberry crumble catches on, perhaps there's hope yet for my home town.
UPDATE: There's a site which has a range of remarkable rhubarb recipes - including rhubarb mojito and rhubarb margarita. Strange - don't remember them from my early years in Morley.
A dozen brassy eyed herons
On a single stretch of water at Regents Park this afternoon, fully a dozen brassy eyed, sharp beaked herons were lined up by the water. They are majestic, graceful birds. I'd never seen so many in one place. Several were so accustomed to humans that they faced, not the water, but the passers-by - just ten feet or so distant.
The photos here were taken by Anu on her i-phone - you get a sense of the heron's elegance, and its reckless self confidence.
Just nearby, swans were indulging in a courtship ritual, entwining their necks around each other in a very sensual manner.
Everyone stopped and watched, enthralled. Including a family on a pedal boat.
We weren't quite quick enough with the i-phone. So, sorry, no photos of enraptured swans, so more of those proud Regents Park herons instead.
... is how Google Translate renders into Latin the phrase: taking all the Latin textbooks.
I was no good at Latin in school, and simply couldn't see the point. But one of my children - no name, no age, no gender - likes Latin. Is quite good at it. Is dallying with studying Greek as well. S/he is, however, hugely disorganised - always forgetting books, getting behind with homework, and otherwise getting into a tangle.
The said offspring's class teacher is a Latin teacher. It seems there's quite a lot of Latin books lying around the classroom. Whenever there's Latin homework, my adored child doesn't bother looking for a textbook in the locker, but simply grabs one that's lying around.
This has all come to light at the end of the term, with the ritual of assembling all the school books lying around the house. I can't say how many identicial Latin textbooks have been accumulated - it's too embarrassing, and might lay me open to legal action. Suffice it to say, it's well over a rucksack load.
I suspect my child's relative success in Latin may be because none of the other kids had a chance of using a textbook, as they are all in NW5.
As they say in Google Translate: 'Vellem omnes excusare dissensiones de pro pignori.'
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