Archive for the ‘history’ category

Georges Guynemer (1894-1917)

November 9, 2014

Something different for Remembrance Day…

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Guynemer’s memorial in Compiègne, Picardy, France

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GEORGES GUYNEMER is my new hero!  I hadn’t heard of him until we chanced on this magnificent Art Deco memorial in Compiègne — his adopted home town — on our way home from holiday in August this year.  Googling revealed that he was an extraordinary WW1 air ace, having shot down over 50 enemy aircraft (using his favourite attack technique of flying straight at the enemy and ‘not using aerobatics unless absolutely necessary’), crashed and survived seven times (despite not having a parachute), and disappeared in action in 1917 at the age of only 22.

Having discovered him, we were then haunted by the man.  In the Compiègne Transport Museum, there was his car (or what’s left of it)…

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And in the Armistice Museum (the famous railway carriage) outside Compiègne, there were the propeller and some burnt remains of his favourite plane, ‘Vieux Charles’;  and in the rooms full of old stereoscopes, what sh0uld be the first image in the ‘Aircraft’ one but ‘Guynemer preparing for takeoff’…

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(This is a different picture of him)

Great hero, amazing that he is not better known outside France.  Besides Compiègne, there are also memorials to him at the Panthéon in Paris and at Poelkapelle in Flanders, where he disappeared (French schoolchildren are told that he ‘flew so high he could not come down again’).

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More info here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georges_Guynemer

http://acepilots.com/wwi/fr_guynemer.html

 

We shall remember them…

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R I P Chris Hogwood

September 25, 2014

SSO Hogwood 1Very sad to hear of the passing of Christopher Hogwood (1941–2104).

Back in the summer of 1968, I had just left school and the family moved from Hitchin to Cambridge (where most of my father’s work was based). In those days the received wisdom was that ‘you couldn’t go to Oxbridge straight from school’, so I needed to find a ‘gap year’ course to prepare me for the big leap. We lighted on ‘Cambridge Tech’ (the Cambridgeshire College of Arts and Technology, as it then was – now Anglia Ruskin University), which offered a one-year ‘Post-A-Level Music’ course for people in my position or otherwise with a year to spare. The college was in walking distance of our new house (which a secretary at the Tech had actually helped us find!) so every day I would trot over to the collection of ‘temporary’ Terrapin huts – creaking under the weight of grand pianos – which constituted the Music Department along with a car park full of garden sheds (each with chair, piano, music stand and electric heater), Male and female mobile loos, and the neighbouring (dark and freezing) Zion Baptist Chapel for extra performing space.

Course director and our tutor in Music History was a bright young chap named Christopher Hogwood, fresh from Cambridge and postgraduate studies in Prague (he was then 27). From the start, he was an inspiration to the rather random selection of musicians who were the eight of us on the course: ‘Wherever you’re going after this’, he said, ‘you’ll be learning about Beethoven and Mozart and Bach and all the usual people – so I’ll teach you about all the others.’ Thus it was that we learned about Louis Couperin, Froberger, John Cage, Janacek, Martinu, Penderecki – and ‘all the sons of Bach you haven’t heard of’ including WF and JCF.

He brought in David Munrow’s Early Music Consort (of which he was a founder member) to give us a dazzling lecture/demonstration; he brought in his clavichord, which he demonstrated and let us play; he gave me piano lessons (Brahms and Mendelssohn – not the repertoire we would instantly associate with him); he organised mini-concert tours using whatever talents and personnel were available – I particularly remember playing at the various Village Colleges around Cambridge; and outside official hours he took us on jolly trips and picnics…

Happy days – lots more memories I could recall. We kept in touch over the years; as his meteoric rise took him ever further afield, he maintained his base in his lovely house in Cambridge (although my memories go back to the one before!). To the last, we would exchange Christmas cards – his always especially printed, elaborate and witty.

I’ve dug out this 35mm slide of Chris (standing at the back, in shades) and some of our PAM group on a picnic in 1969… It’s how I’ll remember him – the twinkle, the grin, the giggle – although he hardly changed over the years.

Farewell, Chris, and thank you for everything.

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Remembrance Day, 2103

November 11, 2013

At Alexandra Park, in Hastings…Image

“When you go home

Tell them of us, and say,

For their tomorrow

We gave our today”

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For remembrance — Wessex Male Choir

November 10, 2012

A stirring song in remembrance of fallen heroes.  Please buy this track or the album — proceeds from every sale will go to the British Legion.

Thank you.

The Wessex Male Choir singing ‘Blades of Grass’. Profits from downloads of the track are being donated to the Royal British Legion. For more information about the Wessex Male Choir go to www.wessexmalechoir.co.uk

St Leonards — more local history

July 30, 2012

Spotted along the Marina yesterday.  Evidently he didn’t stay long!

An Eminent Victorian, Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) was a fascinating and infuential writer — author of Sartor Resartus, The French Revolution and On Heroes and Hero-Worship among many other things.

His personal life was interesting too, and quite sad,  but let’s not go there.

‘The foreign gentleman executes an air upon the Grand Piano’

June 4, 2012

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This is a scan of a rather faded print that hangs above my piano – found on a stall at Cambridge Market for 10p (‘Nice picture;  two bob?’) among a pile of Victorian generals, circa 1971.  Having just written an essay on Liszt (for Philip Radcliffe), I knew at once who it was.

The mount is labelled ‘London, Richard Bentley, 1843’.  The print was included in ‘Bentley’s Miscellany’ of 1848, but I suspect it was a Punch cartoon first.

The scrawly signature is not, as I first thought, ‘F Liszt’, but ‘J Leech’ – John Leech, prolific and well-known Punch cartoonist.

So… was Liszt in London in 1843?  Any thoughts on whose salon this might be (if not entirely fictional)?

Some local history — Hastings and St Leonard’s

April 15, 2012

Spotted on recent outings:

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Opposite the Royal Victoria Hotel in St Leonard’s-on-Sea.  ‘Tradition says that William the Conqueror landed at Bulverhythe and dined on this stone’.

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‘The site of / ST LEONARDS PIER / Where the first moving pictures / in the town were shown / 7th November 1896’

[very hard to read unless the sunlight falls at the right angle!]

To quote Shelley, ‘Nothing beside remains…’ — except a bit of open space on the roadway which must have been where the pier head was.

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At the rear of Debenhams store in Robertson Terrace, facing the seafront at Hastings — all postwar rebuilding after bomb damage.  There is other history on this site — for another day…