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.

Not a new King – just a new family name

It was on Tuesday 17th July 1917 that the British Royal Family formally adopted the name ‘Windsor’ in the place of ‘Saxe-Coburg-Gotha’.

‘The Cornishman’ carried a typical statement of the facts with the heading:
THE HOUSE OF WINDSOR
RENUNCIATION OF SAXE-COBURG.
A Proclamation was signed at the Privy Council at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday that the British Royal Family henceforce be styled “The House of Windsor.”

The Western Gazette carried a similar outline but added: ‘M.P.’s AND ENEMY DUKES: Mr Swift McNeill, on the second reading of the Titles’ Deprivation Bill (Lords), in the House of Commons on Tuesday, said the Bill aimed at the Dukes of Cumberland and Albany, who still retained their high British titles. Why had it taken the Government three years to eliminate traitors and introduce this measure? He hoped German influence would be a thing of the past, and there would be no more presents of fortresses like Heligoland to the German Emperor.’

This is a story that perhaps we wish had not happened

It was on this day – Monday 16th July 1945 – that the first atomic bomb was detonated at a desert site in New Mexico, close to the Los Alamos laboratory where the device had been built.

Three weeks later, on Monday 6th August 1945, a similar device was used on Hiroshima.

Quoted in the New York Times on Saturday 25th May 1946 Albert Einstein commented:
‘The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.’

Just in case it rains on 15th July this year

15th July has a rhyme: St Swithin’s Day, if it does rain; Full forty days, it will remain; St Swithin’s Day, if it be fair; For forty days, t’will rain no more.

Celebrated (or berated as the case may be!) on July 15th, weather sayings pertaining to St. Swithin’s Day are probably the most famous or infamous in the UK.  St. Swithin died in 862 and was buried outside Winchester Cathedral so that he could ‘feel’ the raindrops when he was dead. However, when he was canonised a tomb was built inside the cathedral and July 15th 971 was the day his body was to be moved. Legend has it that a storm broke on that day ending a long dry spell.  Not only that – it continued to rain on each of the subsequent 40 days. As a result the monks took it as a sign of ‘divine displeasure’ and` left his body where it was.

Since 1861 there have never been 40 dry or 40 wet days following a dry or wet St. Swithin’s Day. In fact, on average, about 20 wet days and 20 rain free days can be expected between July 15th and August 24th. The summers of 1983, 1989, 1990 and 1995 were, however, near misses. During these summers July 15th was dry over southern England, as were 38 of the following 40 days. As for wet weather, BBC Meteorologist Philip Eden presented a report that on 15th July 1985 it rained in Luton and then rained on 30 of the subsequent 40 days.

The creators of the St. Swithin’s Day sayings during the Middle Ages would be aware that summer weather patterns are usually quite well established by mid-July and will then tend to persist until late August. It is not just England though; similar sayings exist for the same time of year in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and France. If we modernise the sayings surrounding St. Swithin’s Day perhaps the sayings should be updated to read:

St. Swithin’s Day, if it does rain, 40 days staying unsettled, St. Swithin’s Day, if it fair, 40 days staying settled.

Today sees the start of Kingsbridge Fair Week down in Devon

Kingsbridge Town in Devon was granted a charter in 1461 to hold a fair.  The Glove Ceremony is still observed – it’s a white glove and is displayed to indicate an amnesty from prosecution for minor offenses committed during the fair – and precedes the picturesque Floral Dance through the main shopping street.  The week is filled with fun and games such as Pancake Races; Morris, Scottish and Country dancing and the Grand Carnival Parade.

All that above comes from the past records etc that I have gathered over quite a few years.  The following comes from the Kingsbridge website so should be right up to date.

During the last few months the Fair Week Committee have been working on this year’s Fair Week, putting together a programme of events to suit all tastes across this week.

First off  is the Five-a-side football which starts at 10.00.am on this Saturday morning.  While the footballers are running around the Farmers are opening their Market on the town square.

At 5 o’clock this evening the Gym Club will start the evening proceedings – and they will be followed by the official opening with the Crowning of the Fair Queen and Princesses on the bandstand. There will, of course, be musical entertainment continues throughout the evening.

The David Rowlands Fair will be in town all week with the Fair Week church service taking place at St. Edmund’s Church.  The day will close with Boules and family entertainment on the town square.  It all comes to an end with the ever popular Crazy Quiz.

Throughout the week there are games and competitions, music, the lantern parade and fireworks. The ever popular three legged race with the more exacting 10K race preceded by the Fun Run. Bingo, a very popular event which attracts players from across the South Hams, together with darts, pool, poker and euchre all to be found in venues around Kingsbridge.  There will be a baby competition and teddy bears picnic, town criers competition, dog show and junior crab catching competition. On Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon to enjoy a Cream Tea, always a nice treat.

Traditionally we will be holding the Glove Hanging ceremony followed by the floral dance and the week will draw to a close with the Carnival Parade and music on the town square.

I loved reading the stories of this man

For most of those reading this there may be the thought ‘Who’s he?’ or ‘So what?’  For men of a certain age – and maybe some ladies – the outlaw Billy the Kid was a part of our youth – part of a time when young boys would have great fun playing cowboys and watching cowboy films in the cinema and on television.   I’m afraid I can’t avoid telling a bit more about Billy – and about Sheriff Pat Garrett.  Please feel free to move on to something else!

On Thursday 14th July 1881 one Henry McCarty – known by many over the years as William H. Bonney and even more as Billy the Kid – was shot and killed by Sherriff Pat Garrett outside Fort Sumner, USA.  For most of those reading this there may be the thought ‘Who’s he?’ or ‘So what?’  For men of a certain age – and maybe some ladies – the outlaw Billy the Kid was a part of our youth – part of a time when young boys would have great fun playing cowboys and watching cowboy films in the cinema and on television.

Billy the Kidd was first arrest was for stealing food in late 1875, and within five months he was arrested for stealing clothing and firearms. His escape from jail two days later and flight from New Mexico Territory into Arizona Territory made him both an outlaw and a federal fugitive.

After murdering a blacksmith during an altercation in August 1877, Bonney became a wanted man in Arizona Territory and returned to New Mexico, where he joined a group of cattle rustlers. He became a well-known figure in the region when he joined the Regulators and took part in the Lincoln County War. In April 1878, however, the Regulators killed three men, including Lincoln County Sheriff William J Brady and one of his deputies. Bonney and two other Regulators were later charged with killing all three men.

Bonney’s notoriety grew in December 1880 when the Las Vegas Gazette in Las Vegas, New Mexico, and the New York Sun carried stories about his crimes. He was captured by Sheriff Pat Garrett later that same month, tried and convicted of the murder of Brady in April 1881, and sentenced to hang in May of that year. Bonney escaped from jail on April 28th 1881, killing two sheriff’s deputies in the process, and evaded capture for more than two months. He ultimately was shot and killed by Garrett in Fort Sumner on July 14th 1881. Over the next several decades, legends grew that Bonney had not died that night, and a number of men claimed they were him.

 

A Parliamentarian error?

I know that in this year the 14th July is on today – Friday.  However – amongst the bits and pieces I have gathered and horded over the years, I’ve discovered this fascinating sequence of comments that were published on Saturday 14th July 1990. The comments quoted were obviously made on previous days, but it was this day that a newspaper – probably The Independent – put them all together:

Nicholas Ridley – the then Trade & Industry Secretary – on German influence on the European Commission:  ‘I am not against giving up sovereignty in principle, but not to this lot. You might just as well give it to Adolph Hitler, frankly.’

Nicholas Ridley – when this remark was reported: ‘This time I’ve really gone and done it.’

Jessica Ridley: ‘My father is not all that important. I mean, he’s not the Prime Minister or anything, is he?’

An unknown senior Conservative on Ridley’s comments: ‘It’s the whisky and the loaded revolver for him.’

Jo Douglas and Six-Five Special

An hour or so ago I was reminding ‘us of a certain age’ some music of 13th July.  This piece, though, touches the downside of my music recall.

It was on Wednesday 13th July 1988 that Josephine Douglas died.  Again there will be readers who ask ‘Who’s she?’.  But others of a certain age will remember her as the deviser, producer and co-presenter of ‘Six-Five Special’ on Saturday evening BBC TV. Without the aid of synthesisers, strobe lights, multi-track tapes, mime, colour and all the dressings of modern pop music ‘Jo’, as she was known, planted rock’n’roll firmly in the laps of people like me. With co-presenter Pete Murray she made the BBC very much aware of the fact that teenagers did exist – and could become avid watchers of programmes for them. The BBC may have been aware but it appears not to have listened. Despite its success the ‘Six-Five Special’ only ran from 16th February 1957 to 27th December 1958.  Other popular music programmes took its place but us of a certain era missed Jo on our TV screens and even more on her departure on this day in 1988.