Leonard Eric Grogan, 1903 – 1989

During his retirement, my grandfather wrote some notes about his life, family, and memories of his work as a barber and tobacconist, and some of the people he knew in Bristol. Some of his material I have recorded here.

Leonard, myself and sister around 1965
Leonard, myself and sister around 1965

Reflecting back upon my life, I often light upon some incident or detail, which is then as soon forgotten. So it was that I resolved to write them down as I could, ‘for the record’.

Regarding my maternal ancestors, I have only vague information. My grandparents were Yarnalls, Tewkesbury born and bred, and conducted a very successful Ironmongery, corn and forage business in Barton Street, occupying two shop premises. Continue reading Leonard Eric Grogan, 1903 – 1989

Anonymous (2011) DVD

Anonymous [DVD] [2011]  Rating: ★★★★★

anonymous_poster01

Set amidst the treacherous, shifting sands of Elizabethan England,  Anonymous brings to life an issue that for 400 years has intrigued academics, actors and theatre lovers… Who was the author of the plays credited to William Shakespeare? Anonymous poses one possible answer, focusing on a time when political intrigue, illicit romances in the Royal Court, and the schemes of powerful nobles were fearlessly exposed in the powder-keg that was the London stage.

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Courage and Peril

Courage and Peril by Herbert Havens et.al. (1909) Hardbound, 252 pages 10″ x 7.5″

The British public school education of 100 years ago is often remembered for the production of a puritanical breed of adventurers, with a taste for a challenge, whatever the hardships, or risk to life, out in the wildest and loneliest places on the planet. Most especially those under the sway of the British Empire, then nearing its own imperial peak. We may assume that this taste for spartan endurance was enjoyed by the officers as opposed to the troops and servants..

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Black Beauty

Black Beauty The Autobiography of a Horse (1877) by Anna Sewell

“We call them dumb animals, and so they are, for they cannot tell us how they feel, but they do not suffer less because they have no words”.  

Black Beauty

We have all heard of this classic novel, but how familiar are you with the book’s impact on animal welfare?

A century after first publication, in 1977, it was rated the favourite book read by ten year olds. Although its popularity is waning, its classic status remains unshaken. The strength of the novel lies in the sincerity and passion with which Anna wrote it, with its good hearted, hard-working hero who makes it against all odds, and incidentally, is a horse..

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Gone With The Wind

Gone With The Wind (1936 novel) by Margaret Mitchell

Atlanta born Margaret Mitchell’s 1936 novel, Gone With The Wind, occupies an important place in American literature. After breaking publishing records with one million copies sold within six months, the novel was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, has been translated into over forty languages, and remains one of the best-selling novels of all time…

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Van Meegeren’s Fake Vermeers

The Man Who Made Vermeers: Unvarnishing the Legend of Master Forger Han Van Meegeren by Jonathan Lopez

Han van Meegeren (1889-1947) painted in the style of Johannes Vermeer, but his works also include forgeries of Frans Hals, Pieter de Hooch and Gerard ter Borch. In 1937 the director of Museum Boijmans, Dirk Hannema, purchased ‘The Supper at Emmaus’ for 540,000 guilders (approximately $4million today). There was great interest in the painting, which some experts believed to be an early masterpiece by Vermeer. The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam even offered Vermeer’s ‘The Love Letter’ in exchange for the painting, but Hannema rejected the offer. Museum Boijmans exhibited the work as one of the highlights of its collection and art experts praised the work’s high quality…

Han Van Meegeren ‘Supper at Emmaus’ Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam

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Gold at Wolf’s Crag

Gold at Wolf’s Crag: An Inquiry into the Treasure of Fast Castle  (1971)  by Fred Douglas

Rating: ★★★★☆

Henry Bright (1814-1873)  Fast Castle from the Sea

Fast Castle is an isolated ruin on a rugged coast south of Edinburgh, north of Berwick. It might merit little obvious attention, but a closer look through the eyes of Fred Douglas was very rewarding. It seems the cache of gold (if it exists) is no nearer to being uncovered, but the trawl through the Scottish historical sources revealed much of interest.. Continue reading Gold at Wolf’s Crag

Out-Island Doctor by Evans W Cottman

Out-island doctor by Evans W Cottman (1963) guest reviewed by Rebecca Buckley

Rating: ★★★★★

Drawn initially to the book through a family connection with Abaco, an out-island in the Bahamas, for my parents married there, and my grandfather, like Evans W Cottman, was a doctor, and practised there for a few years in the mid 1980’s..

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Philip Marlowe, Private Investigator

Rating: ★★★★★

The High Window: A Philip Marlowe Mystery by Raymond Chandler

`A long-limbed languorous type of showgirl blonde lay at her ease in one of the chairs, with her feet raised on a padded rest and a tall misted glass at her elbow, near a silver ice bucket and a Scotch bottle. She looked at us lazily as we came over the grass. From thirty feet away she looked like a lot of class. From ten feet away she looked like something made up to be seen from thirty feet away’..
The plot of ‘The High Window‘ maybe doesn’t matter. What matters is the writing and how good it is. Chandler’s characters are corrupt for more than one reason, and Marlowe finds out what some of those reasons are. Chandler provides a tense mystery with a strong element of menace and personal danger, all in the author’s trademark concise and witty style. The dialogue between Marlowe and the somewhat abrasive Mrs Murdock, in particular, makes the pages seem alive with bite and tension and it becomes clear she is the first in a line of characters trying to hide something from Marlowe, even while demanding his assistance. He’s less interested in finding out who stole the rare coin and who committed murder to cover it up, than why Mrs Murdock called him in the first place, and then why she is a widow. ‘The High Window‘ is written by Raymond Chandler, and he was one of the best writers ever to use modern American English. Few authors have written sentences as clear and descriptive as his. If  ‘imitation is the best form of flattery’ he has been amply flattered..

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The Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple Treasure

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, INDIA – A stream of bare-chested religious devotees step gingerly through metal detectors at the Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple in southern India as armed commandos with AK-47’s guard perhaps one of the world’s greatest treasures to surface in recent times. For months now, following a court order to pry open subterranean vaults sealed for centuries at the heart of sleepy Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of balmy Kerala state, shell-shocked experts have been coming to terms with the vast hidden hoard, estimated at one trillion Indian rupees, or $22 billion. In a nation where 500 million people live in poverty, the find has been a revelation, stoking debate over how to best safeguard and use this newly discovered wealth at a time of financial uncertainty and modernization across India. 

 

Put in a broader context, the wealthy temple in the lush, spice-growing but relatively undeveloped Kerala, where infrastructure is patchy and per capita income lags behind the richer northern Indian states, could salvage the rickety finances of the country, lift millions out of poverty and even help wipe out a quarter of India’s overall fiscal deficit.

The treasure, a long accumulation of religious offerings to the Hindu deity Vishnu, includes a four-foot high gold idol studded with emeralds, gold and silver ornaments and sacks of diamonds.

Local legend has held that vast riches had been interred in the walls and vaults of the temple by the Maharajahs of Travancore and their subjects over many years.

70 year old retired police officer TP Sundara Rajan went to the Supreme Court asking that the state take over control of the temple, saying the current temple trust were incapable of protecting the wealth inside. The court ordered an inspection of the temple vaults..

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