Our Antipodean Friends

[At Akenside and Spence’s we frequently entertain the tales of travellers. It lifts the heart. Why, only recently, a fellow came in to tell us of his marches around the Border Marches (see our last post). But Allan Ingram takes us far further afield: to New Zealand!] 

The Lion has been flying south, mane-numbingly, mind-tanglingly south, hour after hour, day after seeming day, time zone after time zone, across countries and continents, seas and gulfs, meal-tray after meal-tray, Europe, Middle East, Dubai, Singapore, India, Australia, day, night, day, night until morning at last in Melbourne, there to linger a while in a departure lounge the size of a cupboard, squeezed behind a Chinese takeaway, before finally boarding a flight to Wellington and the end – or beginning – of it all: to meet with our Canadian Correspondent, herself fresh from an eternity of travel across the Pacific, and gnaw happily together over a bone or two in one of the bars on Cuba Street. The purpose of this upheaval? A conference of the Romantic Studies Association of Australasia (Leonine Branch). The Lion has always enjoyed flirting with Romanticism, and does so again in these southern climes: we mumble over Keats, worry at Shelley, growl gently around Godwin, eat the highly agreeable conference food, share affability over the local wine. Lions from the Pacific ring – Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the Philippines, and the big reserves of Australia and New Zealand – are every bit as dedicated to good things (including the coffee – though not, of course, up to our normal Akenside and Spence expectations) as their Northern counterparts, and a pleasurable level of pride enthusiasm is soon established. A wonderful welcome at Victoria University’s Maori Lodge – Te Herenga Waka Marae: such elegance, such presence, such artwork, such traditional rubbing together of noses! And then we confer, we laugh, we Roar – some with our unfamiliar northern hemisphere accents – we exchange business cards, we leave, and at last, the real prize of this long-haul visit, we tour!

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‘A Maori View of the Sea’

There are three official languages in New Zealand: English, Maori and Sign, but a fourth is also readily recognised and applauded: Roaring. We are welcomed wherever we go, whether our Roars are made with English or Canadian intonation: hotels, motels, restaurants, bars, all accommodate us with pleasure, meeting our particular needs, our distinctive taste in cuisine and our regal ways. A curious thing: beyond our Leonine conference, there are no Lions in New Zealand! Wildlife there is aplenty, of the most extraordinary kind, but the Lion is a real novelty – hence the kind reception to Roaring. It is applauded because, poor people, they so rarely get to hear it!

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‘Not a Lion’

Geologically speaking (which the Lion, fortunately, is able to do), New Zealand’s two main islands are rather different nowadays, as different as chalk and cheese, as antelope and gnu, as Newcastle and Sunderland! The North Island is volcanic, with hot mud, geysers, landscape with holes and mountains that stand solitary. The South, in contrast, was largely glacial, leaving long lakes, carved valleys, mountains in ranges, the Southern Alps, and, to the east, wide open plains. It is apparent to the Lion that these twins have little in common, were probably never twins at all. They separated off with the ages from some continental elsewhere (doubtless from Oz, thinks the Lion, sagely), rising under different tectonic pressures, almost to one, never quite joining, finally (as final as geology ever gets) becoming a single political body, but with very distinct physical identities. Extraordinary, thinks the Lion – how very affable.

Being creatures that like to lounge and stretch, rather than bubble and gush, the Lions head south.

Apart from two species of bat, New Zealand had no native land mammals. Hardly a diet for a Lion! Wherever those islands came from, they left before mammals were around. Sea mammals there were, and now introduced mammals of various kinds, both with the Maoris and then the Europeans, most of them damaging – to indigenous species (hungry weasels, hungry stoats), and to the landscape (pesky rabbits, pesky sheep). But the birdlife! The Lions look on enraptured as colourful, exotic, engaging, noisy, unique spirits occupy the air, the forests, the seashores, and, increasingly, the bird reserves and the wildlife parks. ‘The isle is full of noises’, think the Lions, restraining their Roaring for a while to enjoy the life around them. Such variety: the white-bobbed tui, with its bewildering range of sounds, from the sweetest melodiousness to weird cackles and gurgles; the antique, flightless takahe, looking like a self-possessed chicken; the noisy intelligent kaka, with a sure eye for food; the nocturnal and, frankly, antisocial kiwi; yellow-eyed penguins, tottering inebriates, gulping down fish like seasoned drinkers; and the world’s only alpine parrot, the kea, the most inquisitive, shameless, mischievous, kleptomaniacal, inquisitorial, intrusively in-your-face and appealing rogue in the entire cosmos, assailing travellers at higher level lay-bys and attempting to relieve them of their sandwiches, footwear, headgear, luggage, window seals, tyre tread, windscreen wipers and anything else remotely edible or glittery! (The Lions have none – none now, at least!)

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An inoffensive Kea being molested by a passing Hooligan’

And then there are the sandflies! As the Lions wait for their long-anticipated cruise on Milford Sound, out to the Tasman Sea, they slap, contort, growl and curse, while cloud upon cloud of the creatures assaults every hair on their bodies. Finally, desperate, they purchase the highly aromatic spray, thoughtfully available at the ticket office, and are content to wait again, reeking and damp, while they watch the queues of tourists slapping and contorting among the relentless waves. Noah made a whole arkful of mistakes, thinks the Lion, but letting two sandflies on board was surely the greatest blunder in the whole Bible!

Happily, sandflies dislike straying far from land: the cruise is magnificent! The Lions bask in vistas of towering rock faces, waterfalls cascading from skyscraper heights, turn after turn of seaways, and at last the open skies of the ocean, where successive captains – Cook, Grono – took views of the Sound, Cook, in despair of making a safe entry, choosing to pass by for friendlier-looking havens. Nor do sandflies like mountains. Queenstown, with its white water and its antique lake cruises, is largely spared. The Lions stroll the sidewalks, browse the shops, beaming beneficently at the crowded lakeside beach, everywhere greeted with awe and gratitude by the non-leonine inhabitants, as if in thanks for their dropping by, for gracing their town and for bringing a touch of the exotic north to such far southern climes. The Lions move on, to Aoraki/Mount Cook: no sandflies there, either, but glaciers, ice cold rivers and stunning turquoise lakes. The mountains shrug their shoulders among the low clouds. The Lions shiver in the sun. They put the kettle on.

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Sandflies at Milford Sound’

Pause for leonine thought: we travel, think the Lions, thousands of miles to the south, away from our northern habitats, across the equator, across the southern oceans, down towards the Antarctic, almost to the very end of the earth, and what do we find? We find a near-paradise of landscape, of creatures, of climate, of unpolluted beauty; we find a pace of life, an aspect on the world, that our northern homes have long left behind; we find breathing-space! We find, in short, our own selves as we have forgotten we once were.

Shame about the tourists!

It is time to move on: the Lions growl their sad farewells. Early airport, back across the Pacific, Vancouver, February, the snow on the plains, home. A later plane for the Lion himself, heading north, north, north: Melbourne, India, Dubai, the Gulf, mountains, war zones, eurozones, Eurovision zone (the Lion manages to keep his breakfast down – or was it supper?), grey skies, grey airport: Grey Street – Akenside and Spence!

A****** L***

Allan Ingram

Photographs: Michelle Faubert

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Getting into a muddle in the Borders

We, the Lion, like to leaf through books as we gather with our friends in the Coffee House. But we are lazy. We once went over to Gateshead, but it tired us out, and we did not repeat the experiment. Yet we do love to hear of those intrepid explorers who traipse across the world. Our own David Stewart likes to get out into the world, but his namesake (no relation – though one never knows with these clannish Scotch) has trumped him, stravaging across Afghanistan under his own steam. Here Stewart reviews Stewart: David reviews Rory’s new book about the borders between England and Scotland. One only needs to glance at the Electrick Telegraph to see that the Borders between these two nations are once again very much on the agenda. So – read on, friends!

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[A view of a bog. Butterburn Flow, Cumbria, looking towards the border. Taken by DS]

Rory Stewart, The Marches: Border Walks with My Father (Jonathan Cape, 2016)

Rory Stewart’s new travel book is about the border between Scotland and England. Borders are, to put it mildly, tense sites these days. There was a time, not too long ago, when the ‘border’ looked like being an out-dated concept. This was always naïve – it might have felt like that to relatively wealthy Europeans on the Eurostar, but hardly to migrants crossing the Mediterranean – but such optimism seems now absurd. Borders are complex, multiple things – we cross them and are contained by them in terms of money, language, rights, and much else – but many discussions, including the attitudes of leading elected officials, are at times embarrassingly simplistic. President Trump’s fantasy of an impenetrable wall is simply the most childish version of the idea that a border is a physical boundary that keeps nations pure.

The border between Scotland and England has become, this week, once more a hot topic. Yet whatever happens in the next referendum, it is very unlikely to be the site of the pain and desperation so frequently found at borders elsewhere in the world. When Ed Miliband, during the 2014 Independence Referendum, said that a ‘Yes’ vote would lead to armed sentries at Coldstream, he was simply demonstrating how out of touch he was with the far more sophisticated discussion happening on both sides of the campaign in Scotland. The stakes have changed since England and Wales voted for Brexit, but even at that the border is interesting not because it offers a simple line between ins and outs, but because it is, and it has been for centuries, a more complex, muddled, messy set of compromises and distinctions, defined by culture, history, roads, rivers, National Park boundaries, broadband (or its absence), phone signals, European, Scottish and English law, none of them secure or permanent. It’s called the Borders, not the border, for a reason, perhaps. Stewart’s book is, likewise, a bit of a muddle. But I think both his book and the borderlands it moves though can be revealing for that reason.

The book is one of many recent travelogues by highly educated middle-aged men, effete yet macho, who gloomily trudge around Britain mumbling into their Dictaphones and taking Sebaldian black-and-white photographs (to be published sans caption, natürlich). Frequently they are driven to prove themselves to their fathers, whom one imagines are slightly disappointed in their sons. That this has become a cliché is indicated by North Norfolk Digital’s Alan Partridge, whose Nomad (Trapeze, 2016) recounts a walk to Dungeness Nuclear Power Station ‘in The Footsteps of his Father™’, searching for the validation of ‘the man he simply called “Papa”’.

Stewart’s book is not without its Partridgean failures of self-awareness, but it is largely unlike the common run of contemporary post-Robert Macfarlane travel writing. With the Scottish Independence referendum on the horizon, Stewart sets off on two walks: the first along the length of Hadrian’s wall, from Wallsend to Carlisle, the second from his constituency home in Cumbria to his ancestral pile near Crieff on the Highland line, taking in the length of the Anglo-Scottish border on the way. One would expect a Tory MP who has served in the Army and the Foreign Office (and who tutored Princes William and Harry) to be a Unionist, and he is winningly transparent about this. He intends to establish the geographical and genealogical connection between the two kingdoms. More specifically he seeks to prove right his father’s theory that there is a ‘Middleland’, stretching from the Highland line to the Lake District, that is united linguistically, historically, geologically and culturally. This is driven partly by an interest in his own genealogy, as the English-dwelling son of a line of Scottish Stewarts who served the British Empire overseas, and who is due to inherit the family property in Perthshire. Blood and soil matter in a quite personal way to Stewart. [1]

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[picture of the edge of the military facility at Spadeadam, on the Cumbria/Northumberland border. They’ve built a model Afghan village which you can see in the background. Taken by DS]

Stewart is formidably well informed about Borders history, most particularly from the perspective of governance: the imperial systems of governance of the Roman wall, the legal governance that made the borders a barrier between two hostile kingdoms, and the differences in law that kept the border meaningful after the Union of the Crowns in 1603. His family history of imperial governance throws up fascinating insights, such as his father’s funny observation that Hadrian’s Wall’s principal function would have been to keep the soldiers in, rather than either population out. He reminds us that Northumbria was one a kingdom stretching to the Forth, and shows how the Cumbric people spoke a version of Welsh before the Northumbrians’ language supplanted them. The Borders become, in his telling, a fascinating patchwork of overlapping communities that is in constant flux: Hadrian’s Wall may have been intended as a barrier, but it helps us see the Borders’ connections to languages, cultures and communities in North Africa, the Middle East, and elsewhere by virtue of the soldiers who manned the wall. This is replicated in the people he talks to who live on the border, who seem more interested in Afghanistan than they are in the deep history of their particular plot of land.

This is liberating, perhaps, but not quite the genealogical continuity Stewart hoped to find. For all his generosity of spirit, there are little moments when something like impatience seeps through, especially when it involves the Scottish Government. He works himself up into a rage when he reaches the border and sees a sign saying ‘Welcome to Scotland/ Fàilte gu Alba’. Gaelic was never spoken here, and it was never called Alba, he says; signs in Cumbric Welsh of Northumbrian Saxon would be more appropriate. The fiction has triumphed over reality.

There’s some truth to this, and it’s a good tease to imagine the Cumbric Cryso i Cymbru on the sign. But it’s remarkably short sighted. When I was learning Gaelic in Glasgow, my teacher taught us the past tense by saying ’S e Gàidhealtachd a bha ann an Partick (Partick used to be a Gaelic-speaking area). [2] That’s true in the way Stewart means (many centuries back, Gaelic was the main language in what is now called Partick), but there was a Gàidhealtachd in Partick as my teacher said the words, and he made it one every time he walked to the bottom of Byres Road, crossing the border into Partick by turning right onto Dumbarton Road. Partick is many things, and it, like every place, changes all the time. It’s a French and an Urdu-speaking area too, at different times. (And anyway, the Western borders were ‘Gaelic-speaking’ in the traditional sense once too, though I don’t really see the value in that kind of nativism.)

We need surely a looser sense of what a nation or a place might be. The sign is, after all, a welcome (fàilte oirbh uile), not a barrier: and it also says to Gaelic speakers (who might be forgiven for feeling worried that they’re not welcome, or not considered important in the country as a whole) that ‘Alba’ can be a ‘Gàidhealtachd’ too; that Gaelic speakers are welcome, their language will be valued. In any case, the assumption that the ‘original’ languages have a right to be written, but that others do not, asserts precisely the sort of blood and soil nationalism Stewart was attempting, or claiming to attempt, to oppose. In fact, as the Independence referendum campaign went on, there was very little talk of ethnic depths, of a deep Scottish identity. If anything, talk of blood ties was more common on the Unionist side: as the Brexit campaign and Theresa May’s various pronouncements have since made clear, British nationalism is nationalism too, and it tends to be far more unreconstructed, far less reflective. [3]

Yet perhaps the most striking aspect of Stewart’s book is that he knows all of this. Every time I found myself irritated and thought I’d caught him out, a few pages further on he’d turn the tables on himself and recognise the limitations of his first thoughts. The writing is occasionally stylish, but it is never righteously sure of itself: he is constantly tracking back, questioning himself. He is able to concede that the ‘Yes’ campaign was not driven by ethnicity: blood and soil nationalism may be the terms he is most comfortable with, but he knows that it played almost no part in the campaign. He knows that there are problems with seeking to define a ‘Middleland’ with borders at the Highland Line and the Lake District: it just means two more borders. He might even dimly intuit that the reason so few people speak openly in favour of independence in his hearing might have something to do with the fact that they are being badgered about it by an upper class Tory MP with an imperialist background and a Dictaphone in his Thinsulated hand.

Instead the trip becomes a journey in which he gets lost – not literally, he’s too much the Boy Scout for that, but conceptually – over and over. He is left with a weary sense that he cannot find anything. The people he meets have relatively little interest in the deep history of the soil around them, or if they do, it is in a piecemeal way: one is fascinated by the Border Reivers, another by the old Waverley train line. Yet they are just as likely to have stories to tell about Argentina or India, and to have come from elsewhere and to have moved frequently. He seems dismayed by this, but also can’t help but acknowledge that this is life as it has always been lived (even for the Cumbric speakers), and his life (born in China, raised a Scot, walked across Afghanistan, served in Iraq, MP in England) exemplifies it.

He ends the book seeking certainty, and gloomily conceding that he hasn’t really proved anything. He admits as much to his father, and the final section, very movingly, describes his father’s death and his last days with him. His father is, in truth, the saving grace of this book. He doesn’t sound like a promising figure: an imperialist of the last generation whose response to a protest in the colonies is to shoot the ring leaders and round up a dozen or so of the protesters. These days he strides around in tartan trews and bunnet, proud to have served ‘The Queen’, but also proud of Highland dancing, Robert Burns, clan tartans, whisky, and eating porridge every day and haggis twice a week.

Brian Stewart is an old man at the start of the book, in his late 80s (he was 50 when Rory was born), and had an amazing life, from leading a tank division in northern France to serving as a spy in the Far East. He is full of knowledge – he is, in his twilight years, writing books on spying and the Chinese languages – and also full of fun. His worst insult about something or someone is that they are ‘boring’: there’s a touch of Boy’s Own about this, but equally a gleeful embrace of all the richness of the world. It is one of his son’s great achievements to have captured this for his readers, the greater because it is not an attitude much in accordance with his own. Rory is desperately sincere, and in the end slightly humourless; but he comes to this realisation: ‘In the end, I felt, [my father’s] legacy was not some grand philosophical or political vision, but playfulness, and a delight in action’.

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[This is the edge of a swimming pool at Gilsland on the Cumbria/Northumberland border. There used to be a thriving Spa here where Walter Scott met his wife. There are some nice anecdotes about swimming pools in the book, and quite a lot of Walter Scott, which I found very interesting. Taken by DS]

Towards the end of the book, Rory has had an interview with a local who lives near his father’s property, and whom his father has stayed in touch with. The local has been all over, lived in London and learned tango dancing with a Latin American girl, but has come back to Crieff. He paints, he creates things, he makes friends, he kicks about with his mixed race kids back on the Council Estate he grew up on. Surely this, Rory suggests, makes the case for the Union? You, provincial Scot, get to go to London and meet people from all over. The local shrugs (as well he might: you don’t need to be in a political union with England to go to London), and is quiet on the Independence question. As he leaves, Rory sees a big ‘Yes’ sign in his window. He tells Brian, obviously annoyed but claiming to be more in sorrow than in anger; but Brian is delighted, admires his sense of adventure, and suggests giving him a plot on his estate (MY estate in a few years, Rory is thinking).

It’s an absurd scheme, really, the feudal retainer punning on the two meanings of ‘estate’ (country and council) for the Crieff schemie, but why not? Don’t we just make these things up, chat about them, have a joke, see where things go? In his Manila days, Brian had tried to get some community bonding going. There weren’t any useful traditions, so he invented one, with colourful boats on the river. Decades later, long after he and his Empire left, the boat festival is celebrated as part of the community’s heritage. Has he conned them? Rory thinks so (traditions are about deep cultural truths), but perhaps he also glimpses the ability to entertain two thoughts at once, both sincere and laughing, that the community shares with his father.

The book offers a rather despairing search for truth and continuity, but finds only play and movement. The Marches is full of these twists and turns, tracking back on itself, never quite sure what it’s making of things. It’s an odd book: irritating, moving, uneven, funny, confused, deeply intelligent, and constantly self-critical. One might call this a mess, but I want to suggest that it’s a useful mess.

Stewart hopes that the act of walking can prove to be a kind of ‘miracle’, a means of thinking when nothing is clear. If he’s looking for clarity, he doesn’t find it. But perhaps it is the very muddle, the fact that the border offers us no clear solution but simply a succession of possible, playful fictions, that Stewart most usefully helps us to see. By walking he gets stuck in the material reality of the land, its boggy marshes, its council-planned paths, its people, and in doing so he can’t quite get back to a position from which he can give us the clarity of a conceptual overview, a panorama.

But perhaps Rory’s book’s very contradictions, its failure to achieve a position, is his way of honouring his father, approaching his spirit; perhaps it is also what he has learned from the Borders. Brian Stewart, Rory realises, was driven not by the Empire, the Union, or Scotland, but by ‘playfulness, and a delight in action’. It’s a spirit he finds, if he cannot quite understand it, everywhere in the always-plural Borders, and it is perhaps time that we learned from it.

– David Stewart @dgstewart07

[1] If you will allow me a David Foster Wallace-esque footnote, then I’ll comment that it is obviously weird for me to keep talking about ‘Stewart’ when that’s my surname too. I share almost nothing in common with him, and therefore found it extremely annoying when a) I found myself constantly in sympathy with him, and b) there actually was more in common between us than I imagined. I became terrified of his ferrety research throwing up a family link. Little things like his father’s largely spurious claim of a link to the Stewarts of Appin (the clan) would crop up, along with a certain sentimental Jacobitism entertained as a youth: was it, as for me, brought on by a youthful obsession with Stevenson’s Kidnapped? I remembered, horrified, that my Stewart grandfather was, like Rory, born in China. But I kept firm in my sense of difference: after all, there are lots of Stewarts: Jimmy, Rod, Kristen, Patrick, King. My sense was that a large part of what kept me resolutely apart from Rory Stewart was my murky Irish genealogy: various ancestors who came from Donegal in the early twentieth century to Glasgow, no-one really knew who was married to whom. You can imagine my irritation when Rory dug up a working-class Irish relative who died in a Dundee slum.

[2] It is totally embarrassing how wrong this must be. I’m not even sure which verb to use. I stopped learning Gaelic when I moved to England, and started learning French instead. I don’t know what that says about anything at all. But to my teacher Coinneach: je suis vraiment désolé; tha mi duilich.

[3] My one experience of ‘abuse’ was being shouted at by members of the Orange Order who were campaigning for the Union in Edinburgh. I couldn’t quite work out what they were saying. It was all highly thrilling.

Summer Jaunt at Harewood House

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Summer found this Lion not merely affable, but amicable, gregarious – why, positively clubbable, ravenous for the fellowship of sympathetic scholars, critiks, antiquarians, pedants, scribblers, idlers and ramblers. And so it was with no small delight that I passed a most tranquil – yet invigorating – sojourn far from the madding crowd – on the estate of Harewood House. http://harewood.org

Set amidst the rolling hills and verdant outskirts of North Leeds, Harewood is the ancestral seat of the Lascelles family, who hold the title Earl of Harewood. The Lascelles arrived with the Conquest, with their originary abode a feudal manor on the Harewood estate. But in 1738, Henry Lascelles expanded the Harewood estate with the proceeds from his West Indian plantations. His son, Edwin Lascelles, the First Baron Harewood, laid the foundations of the new house in 1759. Initially drawing upon the plans of the local designer John Carr of York, much of Harewood’s grand style was later added by the renowned architect Robert Adam. The genius of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown was also employed in the grand task of sculpting the estate’s dynamic topography. In particular the impressive artificial lake was created by damming local streams, and by flattening the valley floor beneath of the hooves of strategically deployed grazing cattle.

The house hosts an embarrassment of riches, from mahogany Chippendale furniture, to Wedgwood porcelain and enamel; a whole cabinet of curios including a troupe of musical monkeys (complete with bagpipes), and a treasure trove of works by many great masters: allegories by El Greco, landscapes of the estate by a very young J.M.W. Turner, and portraits of the family by Joshua Reynolds, Thomas Lawrence and Thomas Gainsborough – including Gainsborough’s last portrait, a youthful George Canning upon his leaving Eton College.

A special treat was a tour of the downstairs servant’s quarters, and a truly cavernous kitchen replete with rows of great cooking pots, a colossal wood-fire kitchen range, and an enormous table of ancient oak. Our own repast was a hearty meal served in the former stables, which we greeted with great gusto and relish.

The small second-hand bookshop provided a brief distraction for those antico-maniac antiquarians in our midst, rifling through faded parchments in search of concealed marvels.

Besides the majestic sweep of the lake, the lush gardens hosted some intriguing chinoiserie, and a charming kitchen garden, rich with hanging fruit and the riches of the soil, where several young cubs sported foolishly with the faddish craze for croquet.

A most entertaining hour was whiled away perusing the fine and exotic aviary, boasting in its bestiary such ornaments as ravens, owls, macaws, and a playful colony of Humboldt penguins. Birds of a different feather circled and wheeled as we took our afternoon refreshment on the terrace overlooking many a hunting kite, wimpling on the wing.

Such halcyon days! But now the hour-glass whispers to the lion’s roar, the curfew tolls the knell of parting day, and the start to a new year! Once more this Lion pads the familiar fields of academe, and bids Summer adieu!

– Pete Newbon

[P.S. We thought they had sculpted us on the South Wall; but the keeper of our bestiary informs us that this is an image of a bulldog, not a lion]

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An Edinburgh Lion

‘Tis summer and we are lazy. However, things are afoot: this week we go on our annual outing, so you can look forward to a detailed tour journal, a la Boswell.

Before that, a small encounter. We were recently in Edinburgh hunting literary lions at the book festival. The best of them is assuredly Martin MacInnes, whose novel Infinite Ground is astonishing. We were equally enchanted by Graeme Macrae Burnet’s His Bloody Project: one for fans of James Hogg.

It took us back to this encounter between the foremost literary lion of the nineteenth century, Walter Scott, and a lion of our own stamp in Edinburgh:

‘saw Nero the great lion whom they had the brutal cruelty to bait with bulldogs against whom the noble creature disdaind to exert his strength. He was lying like a prince in a large cage where you might be admitted if you dared. I had a month’s mind – but was afraid of the Newspapers. I could be afraid of nothing else for never did a creature seem more gentle and yet more majestic. I longed to caress him. Wallace, the other lion, born in Scotland, seemd much less trustworthy. He handled the dogs as his namesake did the Southron.’

  • El Leone

A Poetical Tribute to Geordie Beards

[The Lion has a mane, but he never thought that he had a beard. And, yet, he has a hairy face. It is a puzzle. Such ponderings aside, beards are always troubling. It is rare that a beard-sporter enters the finest coffee house in Newcastle, Akenside and Spence’s. We had a Scotch visitor for a time whom we christened ‘Beardie’: razor would not touch his cheek, he said, until the Jacobite cause was won. One admires the steadfastness of it all, but he was a scruffy sight. From our window we occasionally see youths with monstrous growths from their necks – our medical man, Dr Lawlor, was sure it was another outbreak of the Lupine Fever such as we had in the year 12, but we fear it is merely a lamentable fashion. Below you shall find some rather more elegant speculations on the topic from the proudly beardless Helen Williams]

There are many good jokes in Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy, but Tristram’s truism that ‘every man chuses to be present at the shaving of his own beard’ is a firm favourite. It seems funniest, perhaps, when we imagine shaving as a solitary pursuit in front of the mirror. Tristram pokes fun at the passivity of the shaved man, and, by extension, his potential vulnerability. This blogpost includes two poems by Tyneside authors suggesting that the story of facial hair in eighteenth-century Newcastle was not always a case of DIY. There was, in these examples, at least one other person involved, either in the preparation of the blade or in the act of shaving itself. Here, a poem by Thomas Whittle and a song by William Stephenson paint entertaining pictures of shavers and their facilitators in the eighteenth century. Mr Moody and Madame Scrape held enormous amounts of power over the bearded folk of Newcastle. Who do you trust with yours? Beard1Title-page of John Croft’s Scrapeana: Fugitive Miscellany (London: Blanchard, 1792)

Legend has it that Thomas Whittle, a Tyneside poet, songwriter, and artist, arrived in Cambo on an old goat. In 1735 he published one of his comic poems in London-based The Gentleman’s Magazine. The Magazine, founded in January 1731 by London bookseller Edward Cave and best-remembered for providing Dr Johnson with his first literary outlet, functioned not only as a publisher of current affairs but also as a reasonably-priced and widely-read poetic miscellany which anthologized canonical and popular poets alongside advertisements and current affairs. Whittle’s comic epistle to his razor-setter appeared in the regular ‘Poetical Essays’ section for June 1735 (Gentleman’s Magazine, Or, Monthly Intelligencer, volume 5 (1735), p. 326):

Newcastle on Tine [sic], May 29.

Tho. Whittle, his humourous Letter

To Master Moody, Razor-Setter.

 

Good Mr Moody, my beard being cloudy,

My cheek, chin, and lips, like moon in th’ eclipse,

For want of a wipe.

I send you a razor, if you’ll be at leisure

To grind her and set her, and make her cut better,

You’ll e’en light my pipe.*

Dear Sir, you know little, the case of poor Whittle;

I’m courting, tantevee, if you will believe me,

Pray mark what I say.

I’m frank in my proffers, and when I make offers

To kiss the sweet creature, my lips cannot meet her,

My beard stops the way.

You’ve heard my condition, and now I petition

That without omission, with all expedition,

You’ll give it a strike,

And send it by Tony, he’ll pay you the money,

I’ll shave and look bonny, and go to my honey,

As snod as you like.

If you do not you’ll hip me, my sweetheart will slip me,

And if I should smart for’t, and break my brave heart for’t

Are you not to blame?

But if you’ll oblige me, as gratitude guides me,

I’ll still be your servant, obedient and fervent,

Whilst Whittle’s my name.

 

*A North Country Phrase, expressing a particular Favour done to one.

Beard 2

Frontispiece to William Stephenson’s Collection of Local Poems, Songs, &c. &c. (Gateshead: Stephenson, 1832).

Gateshead poet, songwriter and schoolmaster, William Stephenson senior (1763–1836), had an altogether less eccentric reputation as a man of letters in the North East. In his popular song, ‘The Quayside Shaver’ (c.1810), he preserves the dying art of barbering as practiced by women on Newcastle quayside. It is transcribed below from John Bell’s edition of Rhymes of Northern Bards: Being a Curious Collection of Old and New Songs and Poems, Peculiar to the Counties of Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland, and Durham (Newcastle: Bell, 1812), pp. 43-45. Scroll down for the tune.

 

The Quayside Shaver*

On each market day, Sir, the folks to the Quay, Sir,

Go flocking with beards they have seven days worn,

And round the small grate, Sir, in crowds they all wait, Sir,

To get themselves shav’d in a rotative turn;

Old soldiers on sticks, Sir, about politics, Sir,

Debate—till at length they quite heated have grown;

May nothing escape, Sir, until Madame Scrape, Sir,

Cries, ‘Gentlemen, who is the next to sit down?’

 

A medley the place is, of those that sell laces,

With fine shirt-neck buttons, and good cabbage nets;

Where match-men, at meeting, give a kind greeting,

And ask one another how trade with them sets:

Join’d in with Tom Hoggards and little Bob Nackers,

Who wander the streets in their fuddling gills;

And those folks with bags, Sir, who buy up old rags, Sir,

That deal in fly-cages, and paper windmills.

 

There pitmen, with baskets and gay posey waistcoats,

Discourse about nought but whee puts and hews best:

There keelmen, just landed, swear may they be stranded,

If they’re not shav’d first while their keel’s at the Fest;

With a face of coal dust, would frighten one almost,

Thro’ off hat and wig, while they usurp the chair;

While others stand looking, and think it provoking,

But, for the insult, to oppose them none dare.

 

When under the chin, Sir, she tucks the cloth in, Sir,

Their old quid they’ll pop in the pea-jacket cuff;

And while they are sitting, do nought but keep spitting,

And looking around with an air fierce and bluff:

Such tales as go round, Sir, would be sure to confound, Sir,

And puzzle the prolific brain of the wise;

But when she prepares, Sir, to take off the hair, Sir,

With lather, she whitens them up to the eyes.

 

No sooner the razor is laid on the face, Sir,

Then painful distortions take place on the brow;

But if they complain, Sir, they’ll find it in vain, Sir,

She’ll tell them there’s nought but what Patience can do;

And as she scrapes round ‘em, if she by chance wound ‘em,

They’ll cry out as tho’ she’d bereav’d them of life,

‘’Od smash your brains, woman! I find the blood’s coming,

I’d rather been shav’d with an au’d gully knife!’

 

For all they can say, Sir, she still rasps away, Sir,

And sweeps round their jaw, the chop torturing tool;

Till they in a pet, Sir, request her to whet, Sir:

But she gives them for answer, ‘Sit still you pist fool!’

For all their repining, their twisting and twining,

She forward proceeds till she’s mown off the hair;

When finish’d, cries, ‘There Sir’; then straight from the chair, Sir,

They’ll jump, crying, ‘Daresay you’ve scrap’d the bone bare!’

 

*Formerly on the Sandhill, and afterwards on the Quay, near the Bridge, were people (chiefly women) who, in the open street, on market days, performed the office of Barber.

Helen's beard 3

Music from Chris Wilshaw, ‘Quayside Shaver’, ABC Notation, http://abcnotation.com/tunePage?a=tunearch.org/wiki/Quayside_Shaver.no-ext/0001

– Helen Williams

 

An Easter Byron

flowercrownbyron

Some of our readers may know that we harbour an artist in our midst. Alya, the Hogarth of Newcastle, is to be found frequently at Akenside and Spence’s, our Coffee House, sketching images of those who ‘do congregate’: a satirical view of the Dutch Spy over her pint of purl; a picturesque tracing of the tout ensemble at the end of a merry sing-song led by the Hibernian Radical; a sublime vision of The Lion himself in his splendour, reciting from Goldsmith’s Deserted Village when all have gone home. You may see some of her other work by scrolling down to our entries from November and December 2015 at our magnificent Night at the Museum. You can find out a little more in the ‘Contributing Members’ section.

For Easter, Alya has delighted us with this magnificent image. Would it were true that the noble Lord had graced us with his presence at our COFFEE HOUSE! We await the happy day, but until then: delight comes sudden on our hearts, with this magnificent envisioning. Here we see Byron in the flower of his youth, the gay innocent of Hours of Idleness dreaming happily at Harrow, or gazing at the Spring flowers promising warmth to Balgownie Brig’s black arches. And yet the fluttering scarf seems tossed by another, later wind, a Grecian breeze that would fan his temples on Easter Monday, 1824.

With that, we wish you all Easter greetings, and can promise a new post very shortly. It features beards and a song – but I anticipate. Happy Easter from all at Akenside and Spence’s!

The Press Teems with Fresh Thrills!!!

[We have received this missive, slid under a plate of chops we were enjoying at Akenside and Spence’s. In March, we often feel the chill of the Northern Blast the stronger, and it is in March that we turn to bid a fond farewell to the pleasures of Winter before it (we trust) finally slings its hook. That is, we take to our wing chair, book in hand, with a plate of devilled kidneys and a glass of negus. Our Dutch Spy has supplied us with the first part of the equation [vide below]; would only Akenside or Spence come to supply the second and our joy would be complete]

 

Dear Mr Lion,

I write with news of great import on receiving a missive from a friend in the city. This gentleman, one Mr. B-, is at present residing in the vicinity of Covent Garden – thought by some a dissolute neighbourhood, but one, it cannot be denied, at the heart of all intelligence relating to the spheres in which we both take such an interest, viz. literature, coffee and the performances of the celebrated Drury Lane Theatre. Our Mr B. was taking his afternoon coffee with a number of reputed hacks and other adventurers in the publishing world when a worthy piece of news came to his attention. Messrs. Lintot and Tonson, those esteemed publishers of the leading literati of our age, are to reissue once again – under the imprint of Pickering & Chatto – a collected works of our greatest playwright, and poet laureate, Nicholas Rowe.

You may well roar upon this news, and can well imagine the ecstasies I felt on hearing this most welcome of intelligence. I have long wished to obtain a complete edited works of all Rowe’s writings, from his occasional poems to his esteemed translation of Lucan’s Pharsalia, to, of course, his many tragedies, which, for so long, have held our hearts in sway as the great actresses of our age swoon and faint their way across the Drury Lane boards as a fallen Calista or repentant Jane Shore. As you must be aware, Rowe’s plays have always proved to be especially popular with the ladies and, despite Mr. Gildon’s objections, I cannot but feel them to be a proper reading matter for home performance, instilling good Christian principles and encouraging respectable behaviour in the weaker sex. Such reading material is surely much needed in the provincial towns of the nation, and our great city of Newcastle will benefit from an abundance of ladies styling themselves as the next Ethelinda or Jane Gray.

Mr B., who was also much excited by the news of this impending publication, informs me that the esteemed editors of the works have by now submitted their manuscripts to the printer, with the hope that Rowe will be in the hands of the booksellers by October of this year (MMXVI). I await the advertisement with all anticipation, and am planning on subscribing to the edition with the intention of donating a calf-bound copy to our venerable Literary and Philosophical Society, so that we may all benefit from a reading of that esteemed poet’s most celebrated verse.

Yours Sir, faithfully, as ever,

Dr. van Hensbergen.

Our Night at the Museum: Fashion, Dance and Health in the Eighteenth-Century City

[A Leonine note: Our writer here dashes merrily through events that we class among the finest moments of our existence; they form, indeed, an epoch in our minds. Yet we wonder whether we consumed to fully the advice of Dispensary David Hope: for it all seems a dream, and a dream in which a lion might find himself metamorphosed into a poet. We babble, readers, but glance at the post below by Dr Williams (and glance backwards to some earlier posts) and you will forgive, we hope, our reckless enthusiasm]

On November 21st 2015, Northumbria’s Eighteenth-Century Research Group was delighted to host A Night at the Museum: Fashion, Dance and Health in the Eighteenth-Century City as part of the AHRC-funded Being Human festival, the nationwide Festival of the Humanities. We collaborated with the Laing Art Gallery and local arts organisations to bring the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century gallery of the Laing to life through drama, dance, and interactive exhibits. This post reflects on some of the projects that contributed to that evening.

Night 1

[credit Nur Alya Omar]

On arrival, our visitors were provided with free drinks tokens whilst a range of mountebanks touted their wares and promised to heal body and soul with a range of lotions, potions, and literary prescriptions. Guests were treated to free tasters and demonstrations of eighteenth-century hot chocolate and coffee by PhD student Anna (Dame) Hope. Despite being described by contemporaries as ‘burnt sulphur’, or as ‘nauseous’, ‘bitter’, ‘black’, ‘stinking’ ‘puddle water’ (sorry, Anna!), our guests were very brave indeed and consumed samples for their historic healing properties. Dispensary David (PhD student, David Hope) operated a highly popular disease lottery, horrifying our guests with their latent ailments and chronic complaints.  Guests did not suffer long, however, as D.D. soon prescribed them with miraculous cures, which in every case consisted of the most enjoyable Madeira wine.

[Credit: Anita O’Connell]

Our resident Bard, Doctor David Stewart, regaled us with verse one one hand and in the guise of muse on the other inspired us to come up with our own comic ditties in his quick and easy poetry competition. We learned that the city of Newcastle is home to many a genius, and many a hack. Perhaps our most attractive stand was manned by the nymph at her dressing table, our 18th-century beautician, Elizabeth Phyzzpatch (Dr Katie Aske), who demonstrated the most on-trend contouring, helped hide those pesky pockmarks, and touted the new season craze: mouse brows.

[credit Nur Alya Omar]

After being primed with lead, stuck with patches, squeezed for couplets and lubricated with medicinal liquors and coffee-house tonics, the good people of Newcastle were ushered upstairs to the stay-maker (PhD student, Leanne Cane), wrapped in the latest fashions, and primped into prettiness. The eighteenth-century paparazzi were out in force, catching digital gravures of guests posing behind our portrait cut-outs of William Holman Hunt’s Isabella and Joshua Reynolds’s Elizabeth Riddell (thanks to Dr Wessie Ling of Design).

[Credit: Anita O’Connell]

After being papped on the proverbial red carpet, Newcastle’s good citizens were invited to listen to our eighteenth-century storytellers, Northumbria’s BA and MA students who volunteered as art stewards for the evening, and even turned up in period dress. Guests engaged in games of hazard with (yes, we are very generous) eighteenth-century cash and were invited to sit for their very own fashion plates, drawn by Ann-Marie Kirkbride and her fashion illustration team from the Design school.

Night 8

[credit Nur Alya Omar]

In the run-up to the festival, Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums were kind enough to invite our staff into the clothing archives. Dr Anita O’Connell collaborated with TWAM and Caroline Whitehead, Freelance dress and textile curator, presenting for the Night at the Museum a one-off exhibition of eighteenth-century dress, which dazzled the gallery with its sumptuous fabrics and sparkling embroidery exemplifying the very latest in Georgian discowear. Caro interpreted these artefacts and recapped their interesting adventures to bustling crowds of the most fashionable city-dwellers.

Night 9

As the clock chimed the eighth hour, the gallery suddenly took on a different function as theatrical space, with the bumbling entrance of Mistress Slurp, proprietor of Pickin Productions, eighteenth-century dowager actress, and gin connoisseur. Mistress Slurp delivered a panegyr-satiri-comic-dramatical demonstration, assisting the young and not so young members of the assembly to communicate their deepest desires through Joseph Addison’s coded language of the fan. The room (and many a heart) was a-flutter.

[credit Nur Alya Omar]

Finally, Inaudible dance team demonstrated the movements of the eighteenth-century minuet and updated the formations of the Georgian ballroom for the twenty-first century. Having studied the most up-to-date dance manuals by dancing-master Kellom Tomlinson, their use of Georgian formations in their hip-hop and break routines brought new movements to the oaken boards of the Laing galleries. Indeed, their original combination of Charles Avison and Jessie J was one which echoes in the memories of many a Geordie citizen!

Night 12

[credit Inaudible Dance Team]

By Our Notable and Quotable Shandean, Dr Helen Williams

Our Correspondence

My dear friends,

IMG_5268You will be aware, I hope, that we recently staged a Night at the Museum. Our most recent post gives a little overview, and one of our regular correspondents will shortly give a fuller picture. It was, ah, yes, it was indeed one of the best of nights! We met so many friendly faces at Dr Stewart’s literary stall, and learned a new dance (‘the Avison Allez-Oop’). Thank you for that, ladies of South Shields. Our paws have never moved so nimbly.

But, we have a debt to pay. Witness the above image of our desk. Our duelling pistol was necessary (not for any affair of honour) but simply to weigh down the immense pile of witty letters we received. Many of those of you who passed by Dr Stewart’s Temple of the Muses, his Land of the Literary, stopped to drop off some messages in the Lion’s Mouth. We shall respond to our correspondents here. But we shall also reveal the results of the POETRY COMPETITION!!! !!! !!!

IMG_5271

Let us take a few of these. Ms Fabulous (are you French, ma petite?) provides what her compatriot might call un petit poème en prose, providing (in English, though we sense it has been translated) un voyage autour de la nuit. ‘Red potion for my foul lips / Madeira wine 2x day for my weakness / Hot chocolate with cloves and Spanish fly to make me passionate / Oh what a night at the Laing!’ Ah! we feel the giddy whirl of the night return! 18th-century hot chocolate is a little odd (we liked it, but there were murmurings of dissent). Well, we salute you, Madame. We are, though, a cosmopolitan bunch, and were you to contact us with a missive in the original we should be most glad to give you space on The Affable Lion’s blog. Write again!

On y va! Zoe Marion (we think – a bit of a scrawl) writes beautifully: we salute the sentiments most thoroughly. We cannot tell your age (youthful, we doubt not), but your pleasure in meeting so many ‘like-minded people my age with the same interests’ at an event you found to be a ‘most uplifting and enlightening experience’ warms our heart. Where else can you do this? Well, we hope to do it all again next year, but in the meantime why not do it virtually? We’d be glad to have your thoughts (or yours, dear reader), at any time.

Hyacinthe Jena (a pseudonym, of a certain M. Schiller?) has attempted some verse: ‘Most merciful demon / To have forgiven your surgeon / That made your face like a gallion’ [all sic erat scriptum]. A mystical lot, those German Romantics. Terribly clever, we don’t doubt, but quite over our leonine head. Perhaps you might address us in the form of a critical essay?

IMG_5278

The above is hardly conventional verse, but a beautifully observed pictogram. A new logo for the Being Human festival? Or do you mean ‘manatees’? Anyway, we love it! A shake of the lion’s mane to you!

‘Anon.’ writes tolerably metrical verse, but this is a triumph of style over substance: ‘Lions in general they do like to prance, / They twinkle most delicátely; / But now I’m convinced I’ve got ants come from France / Who tickle quite déliciously’. It goes on like this a bit. Not our best contribution.

A question! Adele Chen asks ‘what inspires you the most in modern society?’ That’s a poser. Some people might expect us to say ‘nothing’ and to decry the ‘filthy modern tide’ of X-Factor and all that. But – no – our difficulty is that we tend to like so much that we can’t choose. The dancing we saw the other night suggests that modern life can be sculpted from the past and yet reflect the flash and clatter of the modern. We’d like to say more, but here are some things we like: the films of Mark Cousins; the music of Lana Del Rey; the books of Javier Marías; watching reruns of Frasier; the video for Taylor Swift’s ‘Wildest Dreams’; talking to people about what interests them. (P.S. Adele – we are a Lion, so prefer meat as a rule, but to tell the truth, our favourite dinner is Moroccan spiced aubergine). This sounds to me like a column for one of our correspondents to write in future.

Celimene also treats us like an 18th-century Dear Deirdre. ‘Could you please advise a young lady on some Improving Literature? My shelves are crouded with Novels, and, Sir, I fear they do me no good’. Oh, what a sad response! Have you been reading the dull strictures of Ms Hannah More? Novels are the very thing for a young gal! Read on, read thy Samuel Richardson, thy Fanny Burney, yea, even thy John Cleland. But should you tire of these, ask Mr Google about the poetry of Winthrop Mackworth Praed or Leigh Hunt. Their merry wit will cure any malady.

We move to the POETRY COMPETITION’s top four. Celimene, avert your eyes.

First, a Jacobin Spy.

IMG_5269

It treats of Politicks. ‘Oh Lion so Roary /’Tis sure you’re no Tory; / With well-writ command / The TRUTH spreads o’er the Land!’. This, sir, is a versified POLITICAL JUSTICE! And, sir, we SALUTE YOU FOR IT! The Lion pins his colours to the mast! He hates Tories! Down with Pitt into a pit! Hurrah for William Godwin and @Godwin_Lives! But, I’m afraid, though I salute your message, as verse – you have been trumped by others.

‘A man’ has scant regard for metrical scansion. I shall quote a few lines: ‘All the world will be your enemy, Prince of a thousand enemies. / And if they catch you, they will kill you’. The advice is given to the Prince of Rabbits. The epistle ends ‘Back! Foul scourge of all that is precious and high!’ We feel rather like the early criticks of Mr William Blake. Are we in the presence of genius? Or is this gibberish? We invite ‘A man’ to submit an explanation in prose. But you have not won.

We have, indeed, two winners. One for the best poem, one for the best presentation. Here they are:

On the left, Alya has submitted a weakish poem (we shall not quote it, but shall just say that we do not usually consider ‘cocoa’ and ‘evening’ to be a rhyme) with quite the best illustrations we have ever seen. Alya, thank you. These are truly wonderful. Please send in any of your sketches at any time.

On the right, Comrade Olga writes magnificently (across TWO PAGES!) about the joys of the night. The Comrade rejects metrical rules as a bourgeois imposture, but is careful to rhyme every line. We have a celebration of the information provided about the paintings, of the wigs, the smallpox, that ‘Lead was not just used for weight, / But ground down into makeup paste’ (how cleverly she pivots mid-line from grinding down to making up!) – the dancing, the glee, the wigs (did we mention the wigs?), the ‘crack of a fan’. She ends: ‘Finally those dancers walked through the door / Making me breathless and wanting for more; / University seems so interesting now! /Can I try it again, even with furrowed brow?’. Well – yes you can! Please keep following our blog, and you’ll see lots more events coming up at Northumbria and beyond (or enrol to do a degree!). You (and you, sir, and you, mademoiselle) are most heartily welcome.

Your prize, Alya and Olga, is small, we are afraid. It is this: you have now officially been enrolled as ‘Spies in the Provinces’ on the blog! You are, therefore, officially allowed to write a guest post. From that, fame and fortune await. Please write to us at your earliest opportunity. Leave a comment below.

To end: Silvia is glad that the youth come to A Night at the Museum with us Northumbrians rather than ‘just staying in a pub drinking’. More than that, ‘I like to see that culture is part of everyday life and that the past could be so interesting in our technological life’. Well, Silvia, you probably have seen that the Lion likes to be amusing, but he also likes to be sincere. This is beautifully put, and absolutely right (we think). It’s everything we try to do via this blog and via all the events we put on. You haven’t won the poetry prize (because this isn’t a poem), but yours is the letter that has given us all most heart. So – thank you, and we hope to see you, and everyone who thinks like you, very soon in virtual or non-virtual form.

The Affable Lion

P.S. We shall publish Comrade Olga’s poem in full at a later date.

A Night at the Museum

Well, friends new and friends old, what a joyous night it was. We shall have some proper reflections when sobriety returns, but our sketcher (Mr Hogarth) has dashed off a few impressions that we thought we’d share.

So: we had a NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM as part of the Being Human Festival. Words, for the moment, fail us (what’s that? uncharacteristically? why, thankee, kind sir, molto gentile). We made many new friends; we contracted a new disease. We dosed the latter with Dispensary David’s Madeira prescription; we toasted the former with Mistress Hope’s hot chocolate.

The Lion has received many entries for his poetry competition: and these he shall respond to shortly. The two page (TWO PAGE!) verse epistle we received at the end of the night is, we doubt not, the very thing.

For now, though, a caption competition. Clockwise from top left:

  1. ‘So, sir, you tell me that the learned author’s TOUR OF THE LOW COUNTRIES takes him not through Holland, though the climate is similarly wet?’
  2. ‘Stroike a loight! Polly Peachum’s lost er ed!’
  3. ‘It is a common disease, my lord, and although some suggest the cure is mercury, I caution you against such quacks; try my PATENTED delicacy from the Coast of Africk’
  4. ‘From Flo Rida to Fielding, from Beyonce to Behn, from Yeezy to Yorick, Mistress Slurp’s Hippity-Hop Quadrillistes!’
  5. ‘Fiddle-de-dee, my dear’
  6. ‘Oh, no, madam, a beauty mark on the cheek is a signifier of rare distinction!’

You shall hear from us anon.