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The first woman to conduct the last night of the BBC Proms.

PEOPLE-ONLY-Nigella-Lawson-1955475

Nigella Lawson rowed in public with Charles Saatchi.

In photographs published in a Sunday newspaper, the television chef appears to have become embroiled in a violent dispute with the wealthy art dealer.

The couple were sitting outside Scott’s in Mayfair, central London, when he appeared to lean over and grab her by the throat.

Lawson, 53, looked terrified before leaving the restaurant alone in floods of tears.

A witness told the Sunday People: “It was utterly shocking to watch.

“I have no doubt she was scared. It was horrific, really. She was very tearful and was constantly dabbing her eyes. Nigella was very, very upset. She had a real look of fear on her face.”

The witness added: “He looked guilty. It was clear he knew he’d done something wrong. He was menacing, there’s no question. She had been abused and humiliated in public.

“No man should do that to a woman. She raised her voice and got angry but at the same time was trying to calm him down, almost like you would try to calm down a child.”

I always knew Saatchi was a shit, but now it appears he is a stupid violent shit. Will he get away with it? Probably. Scotland Yard has received no complaints about the incident, which happened in a public place. No one intervened.

During the First World War many a British soldier announced proudly when he left home that he was “on his way to Berlin”, and most of them were anxious to march through the streets of that German capital with their victorious Allies before they returned to civil life. This wish was destined to be ungratified, for Berlin lies far beyond the zone of occupied territory which was formally made over to the armies of the Allies by the Armistice of 11 November 1918.

Situated on the River Spree in the former kingdom of Prussia, about 85 miles from the western frontier of Poland and the same distance from the Baltic Sea at Stettin, Berlin is admirably located for the political centre of the country.

Its accessibility is greatly increased by the great network of railways which converge upon it. This railway communication with all parts of Europe aided in making Berlin one of the greatest industrial and commercial cities on the Continent, whilst in wealth and population it ranked third in Europe, immediately after London and Paris.

In it were great factories for the making of woollen cloth, dyes, furniture, gas chambers for exterminating Jews, and steam engines, which employed more than one-half the working population.

In spite of its age – for it was probably founded in the 13th century – Berlin is a very modern city. In 1871, when the German Empire was formed, Berlin had a population of 826,000; by 1914 it had grown to a city of nearly 4,000,000 inhabitants, including suburbs – one of the most amazing growths in history.

The appearance of the city is modern, with its wide avenues and imposing buildings. Its most famous street is Unter den Linden – so called from its long rows of lime or linden trees, which lead from the former imperial palace, with its 600 rooms, to the Brandenburg Gate, the only one remaining of the numerous gates of the old Prussian city.

With Prussian thoroughness the rulers of Berlin saw to it that the people should hold in grateful remembrance those who have contributed to the growth of the city and the Prussian state. Her streets and parks, therefore, are dotted with pretentious statues erected to the memory of rulers and generals.

Although the statues of war leaders predominate, those erected to Rauch, Hegel, Schiller, and Jahn show that the leaders in peaceful pursuits have not been entirely forgotten.

Like other German cities, Berlin was impoverished during the First World War by the blockade which cut off its trade, and it suffered severely from the riots which followed the revolution of 1919.

(The Duluth News Tribune, 15 April 1912)

Officials of the White Star Line have confirmed the sinking, during her maiden voyage, of the R.M.S. Titanic, the world’s largest symbol of man’s mortality and vulnerability.

First reports of the calamity were received Monday at the London telegraph office of the White Star Line, which owns the nautical archetype.

At 4:23 a.m. Greenwich Standard Time, the following message was received from the rescue ship Carpathia:

Titanic struck by icy representation of nature’s supremacy STOP insufficient lifeboats due to pompous certainty in man’s infallibility STOP Microcosm of larger society STOP

It is believed at this time that upwards of 1,500 passengers aboard the metaphor may have perished in the imperturbable liquid immensity that, irrespective of mankind’s congratulatory “progress”, blankets most of the globe in its awful dark silence. Seven hundred more passengers survived to objectify human insignificance in the face of the colossal placidity of the universe.

Among the prominent passengers ironically missing and believed perished are New York millionaire John Jacob Astor, mining tycoon Benjamin Guggenheim, railroad president Charles Melville Hays, and presidential military aide Major Archibald Butt, providing further example of man’s inability to cavort with God, no matter how wealthy or powerful he may be, as well as the vast indifference of the universe toward even the grandest of human achievement. Late word indicates, however, that the well-to-do and the privileged constitute a great majority of the living. It could not yet be determined whether this betokens a form of maritime social Darwinism or a particularly overt form of social injustice.

Although unconfirmed as of press-time, it is rumored that the Titanic was proceeding at a rapid pace through ice-berg-laden waters in order that her captain might flaunt the ship’s great speed, making all the more ironic the demise of this paramount symbol of man’s hubris.

An architect from the firm of Harland & Wolff, which constructed the great metaphor, was stunned and aggrieved by the significance of the tragic event.

“I spent the better part of two years re-drawing the marble on the grand staircase at the first-class entrance until it represented absolutely the right dimensions for showing off the daintily luxurious evening wear of the wives of the industrial millionaires. Now that staircase will provide an entrance only for the plankton, moss, and other marine life that inhabits the frigid North Atlantic seabed. I dare say that is ironic.”

Click to embiggen Nigella Lawson

(Source: Telegraph)

Nigella Lawson has called in lawyers to deny claims that she bought “under the counter” foie gras at Selfridges in London.

The Queen of Gastroporn and Caramel Bukkake vehemently denied a newspaper report published at the weekend suggesting that she bought the controversial French delicacy from Jack O’Shea, a prominent butcher, at his former concession in the department store.

Although production of foie gras – made from the enlarged livers of force-fed geese – is banned in Britain, it can be sold legally and is stocked in a number of London shops.

Selfridges banned it on animal welfare grounds two years ago after a high-profile campaign led by Sir Roger Moore, the former James Bond actor. Mr O’Shea, however, continued to offer it for sale to a select group of customers who requested it using the code name “French fillet” (reminding me of the sinister butcher of Royston Vasey, Hilary Briss, from The League of Gentlemen). He who said he prided himself on his animal welfare standards, and was unrepentant after his dismissal from Selfridges last year. He said at the time: “I couldn’t give a damn, my conscience is clear. Stuffing a goose with grain is like stuffing me with Guinness.”

MR D.J.S. MITCHELL AND MISS V.E. COREN. The engagement is announced between David, son of Mr and Mrs Ian Mitchell, of Oxford, and Victoria, daughter of Dr Anne Coren and the late Mr Alan Coren, of London.

Curvaceous yummy top-heavy writer and poker champion Victoria Coren is to marry television “personality” cult comedian and writer David Mitchell.

Ms Coren, 38, announced the engagement in The Times’s social and personal pages. The daughter of journalist and broadcaster Alan Coren, she is also the sister of Giles Coren, a columnist for The Times.

In 2006, she won the main event on the European Poker Tour, pocketing £500,000. She has a first-class degree from Oxford University and regularly contributes to the Observer and the BBC.

Mr Mitchell, best known as half of the duo Mitchell and Webb, was first rumoured to be involved with Ms Coren by the Telegraph’s Mandrake column last March. But the couple have largely kept their relationship a secret until now.

I had always fondly believed that “V.C.” and I shared an unspoken understanding, from the days when we would play in her father’s cherry orchard in leafy Cricklewood, north London, that one day she would become Mrs Stainforth.

Alas, she has succumbed to the superficial charm of this Mitchell bloke, forgetting the joy we had in those halcyon days when we flung us on the windy hill and kissed the lovely grass.

Breathless, we flung us on the windy hill,
Laughed in the sun, and kissed the lovely grass.
You said, “Through glory and ecstasy we pass;
Wind, sun, and earth remain, the birds sing still,
When we are old, are old. . . .” “And when we die
All’s over that is ours; and life burns on
Through other lovers, other lips,” said I,
“Heart of my heart, our heaven is now, is won!”

“We are Earth’s best, that learnt her lesson here.
Life is our cry. We have kept the faith!” we said;
“We shall go down with unreluctant tread
Rose-crowned into the darkness!” . . . Proud we were,
And laughed, that had such brave true things to say.
And then you suddenly cried, and turned away.

(Rupert Brooke, The Hill)

Notre Dame Cathedral Antwerp

The city of Antwerp, the metropolis of Belgium and one of the greatest seaports of Europe, has long played an important role in history because of its situation and its commercial importance. Located 50 miles from the open sea, on the right bank of the Scheldt River, which is here 2,200 feet wide, Antwerp possesses one of the finest harbours of the world, through which passes a huge volume of imports and exports. Besides its commerce Antwerp is important for its diamond-cutting, sugar-refining, brewing and distilling, and its manufacture of textiles.

Its commanding position was attained only after a long and troubled career. The city was founded some time in the 8th century and is said by some scholars to have acquired its name – Hand-werpen (“hand-throwing”) – from the gruesome practice of one of its robber chieftains who cut off the hands of his prisoners and threw them into the Scheldt. By the middle of the 16th century Antwerp had become one of the most prosperous cities in Europe and the world’s chief money-market, but in 1576 it was pillaged and burned for three days during the “Spanish Fury” because it had taken part in the revolt from Spain, which then ruled the Netherlands. The city was ruined and its inhabitants scattered.

Not until the days of Napoleon did it start again on the upward road, when it fell into the hands of France. Napoleon began the improvement of its harbour to make Antwerp a rival to London and a “revolver held at the heart of England”. With this impetus Antwerp continued to grow even after the downfall of Napoleon’s empire in 1814. Its commerce received another setback in 1830 when Belgium separated from Holland, for the latter country controlled both banks of the lower Scheldt and imposed heavy tolls on all vessels ascending or descending the river. This obstacle was not removed until 1863.

Antwerp suffered another heavy blow at the opening of the First World War in 1914. Although its fortifications had been strengthened after the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71, so that it was considered the strongest fortified city in Europe, it took the Germans only ten days to drive out the Belgian army. On October 8th, 1914, they occupied the town, which they had long coveted because of its strategic location, and did not give it up until their withdrawal from Belgium in 1918.

In spite of these disasters there still stand in Antwerp some of the old buildings. The most famous is the cathedral of Notre Dame, which was begun in 1352 and completed in 1616. With its lofty tower it is the most conspicuous building in the city, and in it are three of Rubens’ great paintings, The Descent from the Cross, The Elevation of the Cross, and The Assumption. Other important buildings are the richly decorated town-hall, built in the 16th century, and the gallery containing a priceless collection of Rubens’ and Van Dyck’s paintings. Boulevards mark the site of the old walls.

Not far from the cathedral stands the shop and home of Christophe Plantin, “the king of printers”. Setting up the establishment in 1549, the business was continued after his death by his descendants until 1867 – over three centuries. Not only did he work with all the strength of an active brain and an amazing physical energy, but the founder of a business that was destined to become the finest printing house in the world persuaded all his family to labour for him. His wife, five daughters and two sons-in-law toiled often enough from early morn until long after dewy eve. One of the most famous works produced by the Plantin Press was a Bible in several languages that filled eight volumes. The types, presses and other apparatus of this old 16th century printer are preserved as precious relics of a master craftsman. Population of Antwerp about 300,000.

An Opera Singer

Rupert Christiansen reviews Rusalka at the Royal Opera House

I only hope that the furious booing with which it was greeted at the curtain call means that it will be returned to sender at the earliest opportunity.

Reactions to Rusalka

Yet another shit let’s shock production of a very dull opera …

Black Dogs Defined

This is the best of me; for the rest, I ate, and drank, and slept, loved and hated, like another: my life was as the vapour and is not; but this I saw and knew; this, if anything of mine, is worth your memory.

(John Ruskin, Sesame and Lilies)

Whatever people say I am, that’s what I’m not.

(Alan Sillitoe, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning)

This is my letter to the world, that never wrote to me.

(Emily Dickinson, This is my letter to the world)

Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand:
Come and see my shining palace built upon the sand!

(Edna St. Vincent Millay, Second Fig)

R.A.D. Stainforth

I was born before The Beatles’ first LP and brought up in the reeking slums of Jericho. I am in love with a woman called Hazel and in love with her daughter, also called Hazel, both of whom I met at Alcoholics Anonymous.

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