Monthly Archives: July 2017

Charlie’s daughter Geraldine is born.

On Monday 31st July 1944, Geraldine Chaplin was born in California. Her father was Charlie Chaplin and her mother, Oona O’Neill, was the daughter of the Irish playwright Eugene O’Neill. Charlie was in his mid fifties and Oona was just 18 when they married and Geraldine was the first of the eight children they had together.

Geraldine became multi-talented – before becoming an actress she studied ballet – and also became a successful  model.

However, she soon made herself multi-skilled becoming fluent in French and Spanish.  This enabled her to appear in films made by French, Spanish and English directors and, as a result, she was able to win awards for performances in all three languages!  One of her early roles was that of Tonya, the wife of Dr Zhivago in David Lean’s film.

 

 

 

Advertisements

New books at sensible prices

It was on Tuesday 30th July 1935 that book publishers Bodley Head published their first ten paperback books.  They called the publication Penguin and each book cost six pence (6d) – hardcover books were priced at seven (7/-) or eight (8/-) shillings each,

These 10 books revolutionized publishing – and the buying of books. Within a year, Penguin had sold 3 million paperbacks and the sceptics – and there were many – had been proved wrong.  The success was not totally based on price but also design. Edward Young was responsible for the first 10 covers and those thick bands of colour, and the use of the Gill Sans-Serif Bold font have become part of design history. The 10 books included several writers who are still well known today and others like of Beverley Nichols, Mary Webb, E H Young and Susan Ertz receive little attention today.

In 1985, Penguin reprinted its 10 original trendsetting books as a set to mark their 50th anniversary – these were/are:

William by E H Young   /   Ariel by Andre Maurois   /   Poet’s Pub by Eric Linklater

Gone to Earth by Mary Webb   /   Madame Claire by Susan Ertz

Carnival by Compton Mackenzie   /   Twenty-Five by Beverley Nichols

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club by Dorothy L Sayers

Britain’s Conservatives seek – and get – a new leader

On Friday 23rd July 1965, Sir Alec Douglas-Home resigned as leader of Britain’s Conservative Party.  The Shadow Chancellor Edward Heath and Shadow Foreign Secretary Reginald Maudling were the obvious contenders with a number of ‘possibles’ hovering in the background.    In the end only the Shadow Transport Minister Enoch Powell stood.

Reginald Maudling was the most experienced and publicly known of the candidates and was generally considered to be the favourite although Edward Heath was thought to be a reasonable outsider.

It was on today –  Tuesday 27th July 1965 – that the vote was announced: was as follows:

Enoch Powell – 15 votes; Reginald Maudling – 133 votes; Edward Heath – 150 votes

The actual rules in place required the victor to have both an absolute majority (which Heath had narrowly achieved) and, in the first ballot, at least a 15% lead of votes actually cast. As Heath had not achieved the latter hurdle, the election could have gone to further rounds but Reginald Maudling conceded defeat and Heath was duly declared leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition in Parliament – a position he held until Friday 19th June 1970 when he became the Prime Minister of Great Britain.

‘It’s number 1 – it’s Top of the Pops!’ in 1969.

Many in Britain will know this headline coming across the airwaves.

In July 1969 the charts for 5th July showed the Edwin Hawkins Singers ‘Oh Happy Day’ at number 5; ‘Living in the Past’ by Jethrow Tull at 4; ‘The Ballard of John and Yoko’ by the Beatles at 3; ‘In the Ghetto’ by Elvis at 2 and ‘Something in the Air’  by Thunderclap Newman at 1.

12th July has Thunderclap, Elvis and the Beatles in situ but ‘Hello Susie‘ by Amen Corner had shot up from 14 to 4 pushing Jethro Tull to 5.

19th July still has no change at 1 and 2 but last week’s number 9 – the Rolling Stones ‘Honky Tonk Woman’ is now at number 3; the Plastic Ono Band has shot from 21 to 4 with ‘Give Peace a Chance’ causing ‘Hello Susie’ to slip down 1 to 5.

But we are looking at the situation on 26th July 1969 and at Number One – Top of the Pops is/are the Rolling Stones with their …….

‘Honky Tonk Woman’

This will stay at number 1 until 30th August when Zager & Evans’ ‘In the Year 2525’ knocks them down – to number 2!

John Knill – St James’s Day – and a 5 yearly habit

John Knill was an articled clerk to a solicitor in Penzance. He was a Collector of Customs at St. Ives between 1762 and 1782 and was, also, Mayor of the town in 1767. He was a well-respected citizen and travelled a lot in a time when roads were little more that cart tracks, and where all communication was poor. In his position as Customs Officer, both in St. Ives and London, his advice was eagerly sought and he inspected Custom Houses as far away as Jamaica. He also became a magistrate; was called to The Bar and was Treasurer to the Bench of the Inn. He appeared to enjoy life to the full and socially he met many eminent people, including John Wesley and the engineer John Smeaton. In 1782 he had a three-sided stone obelisk built high on a hill as a landmark to those at sea. In his will he left money for the upkeep of the obelisk and also £25 for celebrations to take place every five years on St. James’ Day, 25th July although the first ceremony took place in 1801 with him present. This is known as the John Knill Celebrations.

The people of St. Ives have been faithful to his wishes ever since and a ceremony has taken place every five years, even during war time. The £25 was to be spent thus:-

£10 for a dinner for the Trustees (the Mayor, Vicar and Customs Officer at the time plus two guests each; the dinner to take place at the George and Dragon Inn in St. Ives);
£5 to ten little girls who are daughters of either fishermen, tinners or seamen);
£1 to the fiddler; £2 to two widows; £1 for white ribbon for breast knots; £1 to be set aside for a vellum book for the Clerk to the Trustees to enter a Minute of the proceedings and £5 to the man and wife, widower or widow who shall raise the greatest family of legitimate children who have reached the age of ten years.

The ‘Speaking Clock’ speaks!

It was on this day – Friday 24th July 1936 – that a speaking clock service was first introduced in Britain.  The voice was that of London telephonist Ethel Jane Cain, who had won a prize of 10 guineas in a competition to find the right voice. Her voice was recorded optically onto  glass disks in a similar way to a film soundtrack. You made use of the service by dialing the letters TIM (846) on a dial telephone.

As a result the service was often colloquially – and continuously referred to as “Tim”.

A curmudgeonly accountant records…

George Taylor – described as a curmudgeonly accountant from Sheffield records on Monday 22nd July 1946:

‘As I am saving up current Readers Union books for my holidays I have been looking over old issues.  It is only last November that I read the anthology ‘This Changing World’ and I was astonished at how little detail I remembered.  I think the political trends in the book dismayed me even more than in November.  I, for one, do not wish to live in a world where everything is planned: I would much rather have liberty to make a fool of myself than become an ideal citizen by regulation.’

An extract from ‘Our Hidden Lives’ by Simon Garfield – published by Ebury Press in 2004

An extract from ‘The Diary of Beatrice Webb volume one – 1873-1892.’

I have read many of Beatrice’s diaries and find them fascinating.  I wonder how many of us have sat and thought something similar to this that she recorded on Saturday 21st July 1888.  She writes:

‘I wish I could rid myself of self-consciousness and ambition in all its forms.  Life is so short and there is so much that needs doing that it is a sin to waste a thought or a feeling on self.  Some days I seem to rise above it, to look down on my own struggle, failures and little successes as something too small and insignificant to be noted, to see it all in proportion to the great currents of life, of all kinds, that surround one.’

Published by Virago in association with the London School of Economics and Political Science.

The Birth of British Radio

Britain’s first live public radio broadcast took place in June 1920. The public loved what they heard but this enthusiasm was not shared in official circles.  They said that the broadcasts interfered with important military and civil communications and by late 1920 public broadcasts were a banned.  However, by 1922, nearly 100 broadcast licence requests had been received and the General Post Office – the GPO – proposed that it would issue a single broadcasting licence to a company jointly owned by a consortium of leading wireless receiver manufactures.  It was to be known as the British Broadcasting Corporation – the BBC

On Saturday 20th July 1889 a boy had been born at Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire, Scotland – the youngest, by ten years, of seven children.

He was baptised John Charles Walsham Reith.  In 1922 he was employed by the BBC as its general manager.  In 1923 he became its managing director and, in 1927, he was made the Director-General of the British Broadcasting Corporation that had been created under a Royal Charter.

His concept of broadcasting as a way of educating the masses underpinned for a long time the BBC and similar organisations around the world.

A snippet for 18th July

It was at the Montreal Olympic Games on Sunday 18th July, 1976 that the first perfect 10 ever recorded in Olympic gymnastics was achieved up by Romania’s 4-foot-11, 88-pound Nadia Comaneci on the women’s uneven parallel bars.  She later said that:

I don’t run away from a challenge because I am afraid. Instead, I run toward it because the only way to escape fear is to trample it beneath your feet.

Two other of her comments at the time are also worth recording:

Hard work has made it easy. That is my secret. That is why I win.
and
You should also appreciate the goodness around you, and surround yourself with positive people.