Old Royal Naval College.

Health Before it reopened as the college, the building was originally developed to house the Greenwich Hospital for seaman. British History Online has a lengthy history of the hospital reproduced from the book, Old and New London, published at about the time the change of use happened. It's admittedly pretty arcane but there are some wonderful details:
"The hospital, as we have seen, was first opened as an asylum in 1705, when forty-two disabled seamen were admitted. In 1738 the number of pensioners had increased to 1,000, which had become doubled in the course of the next forty years. The number was subsequently increased to about 3,000, independently of about 32,000 out-pensioners. Each of the pensioners had a weekly allowance of seven loaves, weighing 1 lb. each, 3 lbs. of beef, 2 lbs. of mutton, a pint of pease, 1¼ lb. of cheese, 2 oz. of butter, 14 qrts. of beer, and one shilling a week tobacco money; besides which he received, once in two years, a suit of blue clothes, a hat, three pairs of stockings, two pairs of shoes, five neck-cloths, three shirts, and two nightcaps."

The Queen celebrates a win on Ladies' Day at Royal Ascot.

WHO 50: 1993:
Dimensions in Time.



TV  One of Dimensions in Times's many unnovations was the multiple choice cliffhanger resolution.  Sort of.

At the close of the thrilling first episode, from the steps of the Queen Vic, the Rani and the massed ranks of whatever old costumes the production team could beg, borrow or borrow some more menace the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa and Peri.

“You can’t escape, Doctor” says the Rani, “Say goodbye Doctors,” she continues pressing the point home, “You’re all going on a long journey, a very long journey!”

Close up on Pete looking concerned. Or bored. Cue titles.

After that, although this has been cut out of the many YouTube uploads of the story, but not this one, the Children in Need audience, at the point watching Noels House Party, were offered a choice of people to “help the Doctor” from two Albert Square residents, Mandy Salter or “Big Ron” Ron.


In the event, Mandy was chosen (though it was a surprisingly close run thing considering Ron didn’t have that many major storylines and ironic Twitter campaigns hadn’t been invented) and in the following episode she’s shown saving Liz Shaw from the Rani’s clutches, which can be seen here.

It also wasn't, as I'd assumed, how the cliffhanger would be resolved, which was with the Doctor "summoning his remaining selves" to explain why he suddenly looks like Jon Pertwee and the Liz Shaw thing.  It’s a very strange programme.

Nevertheless, for years afterwards, I obsessed over how different the Big Ron footage was, and if the actor Ron Tarr was ever disappointed that his own return to Who wasn’t broadcast (after apparently being an extra on Destiny of the Daleks).

Now, again thanks to YouTube, we can finally witness this epic moment.

Click here to see the titanic struggle.

As you can see, it's almost exactly the same, no great choose your own adventure, crazy changes here.

Slightly more poignant perhaps because this mountain of a man has to withdraw when faced with a massive gun, a moment thematically pulsating with the crisis of masculinity.

Nevertheless it's another example of the rule that sometimes the version you've seen is never as good as what you imagine.

Which to an extent is also true of the whole first episode of Dimensions in Time at least for me.  I could never rewatch it because on the night it went out I accidentally had the video on the wrong channel and recorded BBC Two instead and so found ten minutes of a documentary about fishing (I think) when I decided to relive the magic.

For years, even with episode two on hand, I kept wondering if it was really that bad.  I mean really?

Then YouTube was invented and I can say, no it isn't.  In some ways it's worse.  But also in a lot of ways, it's glorious.

Bromley North etc.

Travel This is excellent. A railway runs through it tackles the London Underground's stumpy branch line stumps, those stations which seem to end the lines which begin with much promise. Such as:
"1. Enfield Town

"Oh dear. Despite its location on a busy street full of shops, this is not a place that smiles at its passengers. Scowls might be a better word.

"A poster outside advertised a £45 “rail and sail” trip to Amsterdam “from this station”. I considered taking up the offer; it seemed a reasonable price to pay to put an immediate and healthy distance between me and Enfield Town. If only there had been somebody in the booking hall to sell me a ticket."
One of these days, and very soon, I'm going to finally attempt the ends of all of Merseyrail's lines in a day. But the idea of spending all day on Merseyrail trains seems to much to bare. Plus it has a pointlessness which this other project doesn't have. I think.

Claire Danes cries. Again.

Film This Claire Danes crying face supercut is going to need updating:



Features a character called Chuck Diamond. That may be symbolic of something.

A Tourist Invasion.

History In Gettysburg for the anniversary. The locals and local government are treating the effects on local services with the seriousness of an oncoming natural disaster (they're brushing up on crowd conc-control):

abc27 WHTM

Best quote: "I've heard people say "Prepare like snowmageddon is coming.  Go to the grocery store. Get gasoline. Do everything you need to do, then stay home for five days. Don't go anywhere."

Encounter on Burnt Snake Flat.

Nature Around the world in the pursuit of toxins:
"Zoltan Takacs is an adventurer with a mission. He travels to the far corners of the earth, sometimes flying a small plane, sometimes trekking through remote jungles and wading swamps. In the course of his travels he’s been threatened by pirates, chased by elephants, menaced by crocodiles, sprayed with venom by a cobra, dodged civil wars and seen the inside of a Bulgarian military jail.

"All this in pursuit of his passion and profession, to collect the venom from creatures as different as snakes, scorpions and stonefish — and there are an incredible number of them, he says — and develop drugs from the venom which can be used to treat life-threatening conditions.

"So far he’s been bitten by venomous snakes no fewer than six times. This is a man who is well aware that he is allergic not only to snake venom but to the antivenom used to treat bites, but that doesn’t stop him from pursuing and capturing them to take tissue samples or collect the crude venom from fangs and stingers."
Zoltan. Wow.

Is Torchwood coming back?



TV Well, Eve, is it?

You'll have to watch the clip of Eve Myles on BBC Breakfast yourself. But it is only a minute and brilliant and completely within the tone of the series itself, in that it never did really know what it was doing.  Spot the moment too when the fan lexicon intrudes into the real world, or as real as that day glow set can be and Bill Turnbull once again about ten years behind everyone else.

Covertly here, too, because it feels wrong to leave this at that, on the subject of the news which is going around at the moment, you know what I'm talking about, I'm oscillating between Gwen's reaction to the plot machinations of Torchwood's Miracle Day and the Fox Mulder side of the camp, leaning more to the latter. I want to believe.

Who is the Secret Actor? #8

Theatre Well, it's not Romola Garai if as this week's column suggests Secret has never acted nude. Romola's been naked on several occasions, most prominently in The Crimson Petal and the White. Fiddlesticks.

On the upside the fact that Secret hasn't acted naked and that a director would think that isn't necessarily a good idea narrows things down quite a bit, or at least, offers a piece of important information should a specific list of potential names become a possibility.

There are other titbits. We know for example that she's the sort of actress who would be given a job out of the blue at the theatre. She's famous enough, at least in some circles, or has been for that.

We also now know what kinds of jobs she's done. We have a confirmation that she's done commercials, or at least it's implied. She's also done "screen" and theatre and in the theatre a play in which a character is walking around naked for a whole scene should the director choose to.

Here's some. Here's some more.

As a side note, I once saw an all nude midnight production of Hair at the Edinburgh Festival. That's not something you ever forget.

 I also saw an experimental dance piece at university which just consisted of the two performers artistically removing their closes then putting them back on again to the gangling about of a gamelan. It was a matinee. I can't forget that either for a whole other set of reasons, and no, not because I was one of the performers. Enjoy that image nonetheless people I've met.

Nevertheless, if not Romola, who?

Farewells.

Education In Greetings and Farewells, Anna Buckland best known as the author of The Story of English Literature, collects together speeches from various points in a school year.

 I don't know that much about her, but the introduction suggests that she herself gave them during her own career and though they were published in 1891, they're still redolent of even today's educational experience and how sometimes greetings and farewells merge. Here, for example are the opening paragraphs of an address to at a new school:
"We meet together this evening with the sense of standing upon one of those boundary-lines which separate a Past from a Future ; and such critical moments, when we seem to be "leaving those things which are behind," and "reaching forth unto those which are before," are occasions suggesting serious thought, and calling forth earnest resolutions.

"As we look around us to-night) many of you miss familiar faces ; there are others, again, who feel themselves half-bewildered among fresh scenes and unknown companions ; and all are conscious that we have entered into many new relations with one another, the issues of which lie among the uncertainties of the future. Amidst these mingled emotions, by what steadfast thought, by what high resolves, shall we brace ourselves to meet the duties and difficulties lying before us ?"
The text is laced with a multitude of religious references, well alright a lot of sermonising, but within that there's still much eloquence.

Sander/Weegee: Selections from the Side Photographic Collection at the Bluecoat.

Photography  Find clickable to the left my new favourite photograph, "Max is rushing in the mornings bagels to a restaurant on 2nd Ave for the Morning trade c. 1940", the highlight of a selection of photographs by Weegee, less commonly commonly known as Arthur Fellig, presently on display at The Bluecoat in Liverpool.

A snapper who worked prolifically in New York in the 1930s and 1940s, Weegee was in demand by all the major publications for is uncanny ability to be at the scene of innumerable crimes and incidents, his nickname a derivative of the Ouiji board his rivals assumed he must be consulting as he captured images of murder and fires ripping through city properties, and the faces of those affected, the horrors of all which are represented in this exhibition.

But it's those shots like this, of people simply existing, going about their business which are arguably the most effective.  How early in the morning was this taken, at what time of day did Max begin the business of supplying that restaurant?  He's emerging from a darkness most of us sleep through and it's a reminder that no matter how early those of us who work think we may have woken up ready for our day, the people who serve us our breakfast or operate the transport which takes us into the city, will have begun their day even earlier.

Accompanying them are the portrait work of August Sander, a German portrait and documentary photographer, whose collections such as People of the 20th Century offer a valuable record of German in society in the inter-war years, particularly in the 1920s.  At a time when our ability to store so much more artwork digitally and to some extent safely has ironically only gone to demonstrate what we lack, Sander is an example of the work which has been carried out to preserve what's left.  His book Face of our Time was seized in 1936, the photographic plates destroyed.  During the ensuing war he was able to flee to the country saving most of his negatives, but his studio was destroyed in a bombing raid.  That makes what remains all the more precious.

Sander/Weegee continues until 14th July.

Help me identify this piece of art.

Art We recently found this piece of art at a table sale. It looks like something created by a known artist, their name is on the tip of my brain, but I'm drawing a blank. Does it ring any bells with any of you?




Country of the Blind.

20th Century Chic: 100 Years of Women's Fashion
at Sudley House.

Evening dress 1955-1960Fashion Endeavouring to keep up with all cultural events, I’m attempting to fill my Monday’s with art and the like and so to sunny Sudley House last week-beginning for their new fashion show, 20th Century Chic: 100 years of women's fashion. Sudley has a display area on the top floor especially for these semi-permanent exhibition space for clothes and costumes. Sometimes this is overflow from a much larger exhibition, but the twelve objects here are selected to discretely demonstrate the development of women’s clothing across the last century.

Sudley’s website has images of six of them (and flickr eight), beginning with this evening dress of silk satin, lace and diamant√© decoration from about 1911-1913 through this skirt of nylon spandex made by Moschino, Italy and presented in 1998 at the other end of the period. My favourite of the collection is here too, the evening dress of rayon taffeta made by Elizabeth Henry Ltd in about 1955-1960, its purple fabric all the more richly regal in the safety lighting of the space. As with every other form of artistic expression other than photography, photography can’t really capture the experience of seeing them up close.

The accompany advertising text suggests the exhibition is meant to reflect “the monumental changes in the role of women during the twentieth century. The changing styles, materials and colours of the garments echo wider social changes and represent key periods in women’s history.” Most of the pieces very much evoke period, especially the one piece smock affair from the 1970s once owned by Glenda Jackson and which looks like it could also have supported Alison Steadman’s performance in Abigail’s Party.

But what strikes my untrained "man at Asda" eye is the extent to which in this post-modern era, few of the dresses would be out of place in some social settings now. You could imagine Romola Garai turning up for the Olivier Awards in something approximating the Elizabeth Henry. There’s a polka dotted Jean Varon from the 1960s which resembles one of Zooey Deschanel’s typical modes of dress. The average very good street style and fashion blog potentially offers much the same variety of styles, albeit with probably more trousers of which this has none.

Does this mean fashion development has stopped? Of course not. As Sudley’s previous major costume display which featured examples from 1790 to 1850 demonstrated, there’s always been an element of costume to some extent looking backwards to earlier periods in order to produce something new or to find something to reflect or deflect against. In those days this manifested itself in increasingly elaborate stitching and plunging necklines (it's notable that the necklines in this collection become more conservative across time rather than less, the near opposite of before).

Another thing: before seeing 20th Century Chic, I think I would have been able to picture what the fashions would be like in each of the mentioned periods, thanks to years spent watching period dramas.  But I can’t especially say what our contemporary fashions are like, what their defining qualities are. It seems to me that as with everything else and with the exception of some wedding related social occasions, female fashions seem to be, even more than ever, about the individual, even within so-called subcultural groups.

Is this just because of my untrained "man at Asda" eye again?  If it is, I'm willing to learn, if someone wants to offer some pointers. It’s also possible that our age is also reflecting the early 1800s in that we’re making clothes last longer than before to save money and so that’s inevitably led to a necessary lengthening of fashion’s artificial seasons and that’s simply confusing me too. But one of the problems with being the kind of person who simply wears roughly the same clothes all of the time is that you do lose touch with what happens for people who, well, don’t.

Which all strays away from offering an opinion of Sudley’s exhibition which is well worth seeing if you’re in the area, as long as you’re well warned that what you’re seeing is just twelve dresses, albeit just twelve dresses of extraordinary quality.  Apart from anything else this is tangible social history of the kind which can't help giving me some pangs of jealousy.  One of the reasons I am man at Asda is because men's fashions seems so boring by comparison, especially for someone with my frame which is probably why I've all but given up.  Now, if we had an appropriate equivalent for the Elizabeth Henry ... well ....

 20th Century Chic: 100 years of women's fashion at Sudley House is on until, well, I’m not sure when it’s due to close – the website has TBA. There are some tours of the show advertised for September and as late as November (which might be the best way to see it) so you have at least until then.  Admission free.

Cambridge Previsited.

Travel Classic administrative anomaly:
"Some shoppers in Cambridge are finding it cheaper to park illegally in the city centre and pay a fine than to use an official car park, it is claimed.

"The cost of parking in the Grand Arcade shopping centre on Saturdays, over five hours, costs £26 from 0900 to 1700.

"Parking fines are £50, but can be reduced by half if paid within 14 days, making it cheaper for shoppers by £1."
Obviously I'm showing my public transport credentials, but aren't there any other sanctions with a parking fine? Points on a license that sort of thing?

The Prince of Wales visits Morgan Motor Company.