Perhaps I had ambitions to be an MP - or an undertaker!

Thursday, July 23, 2009


This week’s quote -
I don't believe one grows older. I think that what happens early on in life is that at a certain age one stands still and stagnates. (T.S. Eliot)




It’s strange how something that happened long ago suddenly comes into your mind.

When I was a boy I collected stamps, and I remember that any time we had visitors, my precious collection had to be produced for inspection. On one occasion we were entertaining a family of four and, as the boy was roughly my own age, I proudly showed him my stamps.

A few evenings later, when there was torrential rain, there was a knock at the door, and there on the doorstep absolutely drenched was the boy with his father. Once they were inside, the father said something to his son, who brought out of his pocket a handful of stamps. Yes, he had taken them out of my album. I was shocked and angry! He had done a terrible thing!! He had stolen something of mine!!!

A long time later, we learned that in his family he had been somewhat neglected, and his mother had always made very much of his sister, while belittling him.

There was one amusing aspect of the incident. That night, when he returned the stamps to me, he was wearing his cap inside out - his mother had made him do that to protect it from the rain!


The painting I’ve chosen this week is a real Victorian tear-jerker. There’s obviously a story here and it’s up to the viewer to decide what’s going on. “The Doctor” is by the English painter Luke Fildes (1843-1927)


MONOLOGUES with musical accompaniment used to be popular in old time variety shows. I recall two names in particular - Billy Bennett who did a parody on “The Green Eye of the Little Yellow God” and Nosmo King whose monologues were more serious. The latter, whose real name was Vernon Watson, blacked up for his act and in the 1930s appeared with his son Jack Watson, who later became a well-known actor on TV and in films.

I may be wrong, but I think that “The Lady without a Lamp” was one of Nosmo King’s monologues. When Jean and I entertained at women’s guilds and retirement homes, this was one that she often recited -

He was telling his class of the Crimean War
Of the soldiers who fought and who died,
And of how Florence Nightingale bearing a lamp
Could be seen at the wounded men’s side.

“That woman,” said he, “is a lesson to all
Of steadfastness, courage and love,
Just one fine example of what can be done
With the power that comes from above.”

Then a boy’s hand shot up and a voice said “But sir,
She wasn’t the only one,
There must have been others out there at the front
Or the work never could have been done.”

“Why, yes,” said the teacher, “some forty or more
Were helping to work at the camp,
But hers was the name that found honour and fame
As the lady who carried the lamp.

“So today in this world there are those who find fame
For the wonderful things they have done,
Some deed of courage, some generous act,
And they soon find their place in the sun,

“While others just carry on with their job
And the world never makes any fuss,
They just struggle along, even when things go wrong,
Like the Smiths or the Browns or like us.

“No limelight for them, no newspaper headlines,
No royalty claim them as friend.
They just play their part in the drama of life,
And then quietly slip out at the end.

“Yet this old world could never keep going
On its long and its difficult tramp
If it weren’t for the fellow without a name
Or the lady without a lamp.”


A big "thank you" to Anne for sending this to me - a real fun video. I'll bet quite a number of folk were late for work that day!


Today John's Quiet Corner includes a Chinese poem, a Turner nightscape, a 1940s love song and Clair de Lune (Debussy).


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