Jerry Bock and Ian Bannen

A year ago I met Ian Bannen’s widow – what a chaming lady. I well remember her husband who spoke at my school once and gave me a prize. He was also a spectacularly good film actor- his last film “Hope and Glory” is a slightly overlooked masterpiece- here is the poster. Tomorrow is the anniversary of his death.

hope and glory poster

Oddly, tomorrow is also the anniversary of another slightly unsung hero- Jerry Bock who gave us “Fiddler on the Roof” and “She loves me”- Again, I think back to the 1970s and a brilliant adaptation with Gemma Craven broadcast on tv late one night. “Ice cream”, one of the great numbers from the show! There is also “the apple tree”, a broadway show  from 1966 with animated sequences by Richard Williams!

jerry bock by TIM.jpg

Authority and Luther

Who has the right to make decisions. This is really what lies behind Luther’s reformation. It is 500 years today since Luther nailed his theses to the door. Disestablishmentism, the possibility of the separation  of church and state, secularism, the rise of nationalism and so on, pushed forward by advances in printing which unified german language, arguably paved the way for Shakespeare, established ideas of individualism and led to general agreements on spelling and grammar. New technology, democracy and so on.

That said, Luther’s sense of humour, general manner and anti-semitism do not commend him much. It is entertaining to reflect that in writing against Luther (or getting Thomas More to write against Luther), Henry VIII earnt the crown the title “Defensor fidei” from Leo X in 1521, something retained today by the present queen (by an act of parliament to Edward, his son) and printed on all our coins. Ironic that having earnt this title by writing of the value of the 7 sacraments, most of them would be ditched in the established Anglican church. When Luther responded to henry’s initial book, Thomas More certainly wrote the reply, “Responsio ad Lutherum”.

martin luther theses by TIM

 

Mrs Merkel Martin Luther by TIM

 

The Balfour declaration

On 2nd November, it will be 100 years since the Balfour Declaration:

balfour declaration by TIM

 

 

The Balfour declaration followed shortly after the Battle of Beersheba, one of the last great cavalry charges in history, that led the way to General Allenby’s entry to Jerusalem. Like the Gallipoli campaign, this was an Australian/ New Zealand effort though there is a significant role played by the 60th (London) and 75th divisions of the XX corps and the Egyptian Expeditionary force (commanded by Allenby). But it was the Australian cavalry charge weilding bayonets that carried the day. On the Ottoman side was Enver Pasha

enver pasha

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Abingdon redrawn

Just working on a new version of the Abingdon picture- here is a progress drawing-

Here is the original picture which is now being updated and expanded taking in the whole vista looking towards the church. Essentially, it requires redrawing almost from scratch!

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re-doing the shops on the right-

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old man on a bike-

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cobbles

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more cobbles

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and a little more-

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Onward Christian Soldiers!

A fuss being made today about Oadby which is refusing to use the Sullivan hymn “Onward Christian Soldiers” during its remembrance service. I rather like the hymn and when I last spoke in Uppingham chapel, suggested that it should be used in the service. I was told that the then headmaster had specifically banned its use in the school. I am not sure why. But there we are- just down the road in Oadby, another ban.

Here is Arthur Sullivan, looking very pleased with himself! And posing like Christine Keeler. What a Scandal!

It was said at the time that he wanted to “de-Germanise” music, and wrote “as if Wagner and Tchaikovsky had never existed”. But this is not quite true-  he drew on whatever influences he needed to bring words to life, Berlioz of course, Mozart and in “Iolanthe”, certainly the Germans too. He was astonishingly good at setting words to music not only in Gilbert’s comic operas, and “the Rose of Persia” which was revived in the 1960s, but also in oratorio and in for example, “Onward Christian Soldiers”. In 2010, there was a proper professional recording of “Ivanhoe” (Welsh National orchestra), a work I rather liked ever since I was shown a manuscript copy by David Levine, a fellow G&Ser and like me, also a Wagnerite, when we were both at university. It is not quite Offenbach’s “Hoffmann”, but it does not demand to be dismissed, and we should put it back in the national repetoire.

So, regarding the hymn- if the words offend, get a great lyricist to change them. The music is something we should be treasuring. Few popular hymns were written by a musical genius.

arthur sullivan

 

In 1896, the future King Edward got wet in the rain and had his trousers pressed by a nearby tailor who put in the front crease. It is possible the picture of Sullivan predates this.