Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Lost and Found

The last two days' deliveries have yielded some superb discoveries. After writing about Diana Dors a few days ago, I was excited to discover this kiss and tell memoir:

"I've been a naughty girl!" declares Dors, giving a little frisson of excitement to vicars, bank managers and headmasters all over the country. The title's great too - if you like tabloid-style puns (and I do). Unfortunately, this book hasn't joined "Testament of Youth" in the pantheon of great biographies that never go out of print.

Next, a poem that I found on a folded-up piece of paper inside a book:

I love you Tim with all my heart
I know this full well
In poetry they say thou art and the rest can go to ****!
Lets cut yab (?) and say to you that I wish you liked me to
Also lets say that you are fab and better than doctor who
I love you true and I hope that you realize it
If you don't like it and really despize it
I shall get my brother on to you and you
will regretize it.

To think that I almost threw the piece of paper away, unaware of its hidden treasure. I don't know when it was written, but "fab" had become passé by the mid-1970s.

I wonder if the author "regretized" writing this poem?

On a slightly more exalted note, another book yielded this leaflet, with a beautiful woodcut by Robert Gibbings:

I'd never heard of Robert Gibbings, but apparently he was an Irish artist who was a colleague of Eric Gill. I've looked Gibbings up on Google images and there are some stunning engravings and prints.

On the subject of illustration, every since I wrote about Victorian colour printing technology, I have discovered around a dozen nineteenth century books with plates that seem far ahead of their time. This is the frontispiece to an 1874 copy of "The Heir of Redclyffe":

The bold, vibrant colours are very impressive and haven't deteriorated with age, unlike this photo:

The fashion suggests 1971-73 - maxi dresses with puffy sleeves were a relatively short-lived fashion. I love the contrast between the glamour of the dress and the bland, suburban setting: the television ariel cable disappearing into the window with nylon net curtains, the patchy lawn and half-broken fence.

It reminds me of some photos a friend used to receive from his penfriend - a girl in Nottingham.

She liked to design and make her own clothes and would create costumes that made Steve Strange look like Man at C&A. Once the outfits were complete, she'd put them on and have her photograph taken. When I saw the pictures, I always used to notice the contrast between the glamour of the clothes and the drab setting: the front room of a council house, with a gas fire in the background, a faded Hay Wain on the wall and a complete absence of books.

I wonder if there were any bookless houses in the Socialist paradise of the Soviet Union?

My Cyrillic's a little rusty, but this picture clearly says that all's well in the Motherland: the wheat quotas have been met, the five year plan is on track and Utopia is just around the corner.

In fact, this is just a school textbook for young children, with lots of pictures like these:

I couldn't find any illustrations of gulags, enemies of the people and bread queues, but many other aspects of Russian life are represented in this book and apart from a few pictures, it's as if the Revolution never happened.

How do I get from Russia to the King of Greece? I'll take the Orthodox route. The next item is the front of an envelope I found in a book:

It isn't every day that you find correspondence to the king of Greece. The letter is from a Mormon, warning the King about World War III and World War IV. I have no idea why the Mormon felt that it was so important to warn the king of Greece, but he made a bad choice, as Constantine was deposed in a coup a year or two later.

I can't think of a link from the King of Greece to this photo, although the baby does have a regal bearing. His name is Maxwell Craig Barton, born just over 90 years ago on February 6th 1920. It's possible that he is still alive.

Finally, glasses. I think that some women can look incredibly sexy in glasses, but I'm not sure if this is one of those occasions:

Thicker frames might have done the trick and perhaps an outfit that was less Little Bo-Peep, but fashions change and today's Diana Dors is tomorrow's Katie Price.


simoom said...

Sadly, he's not...


Steerforth said...

Thanks for finding this information. How sad that Maxwell Craig Barton only lived to the age of 43.

Resolute Reader said...

Are you going to send them a copy of the picture?

Steerforth said...


John Self said...

I think the line in question in the poem is "let's cut gab" - gab meaning chat or blah - so 'let's cut the crap and get to the point' by extension.

Steerforth said...

Ah, thank you John.

Richmonde said...

That girl in the home-made clothes needed a blog!

Steerforth said...

A blog would have been perfect for her - perhaps it would have helped her to meet lots of like-minded people, instead of focussing all of her hopes on a distant penfriend in Twickenham.

To everyone's horror, my friend actually married her.