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

Thursday, July 30, 2009


To get back my youth I would do anything in the world, except take exercise, get up early, or be respectable. (Oscar Wilde)



I mentioned this disaster in EIGHTY PLUS on 24th October last year. I reported that the enquiry into the fire, in which 10 young Irishmen died, had been unable to discover the cause.

A few weeks ago a reader wrote to the Daily Mail asking about the tragedy, and the facts were given. However, a letter followed from someone from Achill, County Mayo (where the unfortunate men lived), saying that he had been told that a Kirkintilloch man on his deathbed many years later had confessed to starting the fire, but had no intention of causing injury or harm.

If this is true, how awful!


This famous painting takes me right back to my childhood, for it was featured in magazines and on posters everywhere.

“Bubbles” was the work of another Pre-Raphaelite John Everett Millais. With its copyright, it was sold to the owner of the Illustrated London News. Thomas Barrett, the Managing Director of Pears Soap, was a good bit ahead of his time as regards advertising, and he bought the painting to promote his product. As one might expect, the artist was very upset when a cake of soap was added in the foreground of the picture, but since Pears owned the copyright he could do nothing about it.


In the 1930s Sir Alan Cobham the aviation pioneer was well known for his solo flights all over the world.

He had been a test pilot for the de Havilland aircraft company, but I remember the years when he toured the country with what he called his “Flying Circus.” With a dozen or so planes, pilots and ground crew, he came to Kirkintilloch on at least two occasions, setting up a temporary airfield just outside the town.

Of course this was a tremendous thrill, not just for me but for absolutely everyone, for in those days planes flying over our town were few and far between, and there was the added excitement of seeing them on the ground.

The highlight of the afternoon was provided by the stunt pilots doing the falling leaf, looping the loop, swooping down to pick up a piece of cloth on the wing tip, walking on the wing, etc.

Probably there were short flights for the public, but I can't remember. My father and I were to have that experience a few years later, when planes were doing pleasure flights from the sands at Prestwick.



This a rather a nice picture of my great-uncle Andrew, his wife May, and their daughters Elizabeth and Jean. Andrew (1875-1948) was one of my grandfather’s brothers. I'm guessing the photo was taken about 1920.


This poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox is another piece of my childhood. She’s rather looked down on nowadays, but back then she was certainly held in high esteem.

There are two kinds of people on earth to-day;
Just two kinds of people, no more, I say.
Not the sinner and saint, for it's well understood,
The good are half bad, and the bad are half good.

Not the rich and the poor, for to rate a man's wealth,
You must first know the state of his conscience and health.
Not the humble and proud, for in life's little span,
Who puts on vain airs, is not counted a man.

Not the happy and sad, for the swift flying years
Bring each man his laughter and each man his tears.
No - the two kinds of people on earth I mean,
Are the people who lift, and the people who lean.

Wherever you go, you will find the earth's masses,
Are always divided in just these two classes.
And oddly enough, you will find too, I ween,
There's only one lifter to twenty who lean.

In which class are you? Are you easing the load,
Of overtaxed lifters, who toil down the road?
Or are you a leaner, who lets others share
Your portion of labour, and worry and care?


Finally, this video is a strange one! But I love it!!

Arnold Dolmetsch (1858-1940) was a French musician/instrument maker who played a vital part in re-awakening interest in early music. The music here is pleasant to listen to, but what can be said about the film?

I fancy the dancer - she’s a real raver!!!




Trinity said...

The work of John Everett Millais really gives me a sense of serenity. It's a pity to know that the man who bought this painting added something on it and ruined it. Some of the art buyers purchase the arts not to treasure it but take it for an object which he can show off to others or use them for another purposes. Respecting the authors' original spirits is a basic rule, but there are always some people don't know the meaning.

John said...

Oh, yes! I whole heartedly agree with you!

What a pity that pride of possession should be the important factor!