Archive for September, 2018|Monthly archive page

Coincidences No.s 876, 877, 878 & 879

No. 876 Ruth

Charlie Sheen and Jennifer Grey in Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)

Jennifer Grey & Charlie Sheen in ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’ (1986)

I go to see ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’ this evening, for the first time on the big screen since the late 80s. In the scene between Jennifer Grey and Charlie Sheen in the police station there is a glimpse of a wanted poster on the wall. The wanted person is Ruth Wilson.

I recently completed a documentary entitled ‘Vanished’. It is about a school girl who went missing in the mid-90s. She was called Ruth Wilson. She is still missing/wanted (by her friends).

No. 877 Ghana

I am listening to my old acquaintance Philippe Sands’ podcast ‘Intrigue: The Ratline‘ about a Nazi who escaped justice by fleeing to Rome and perhaps Latin-America after that (I haven’t finished the story yet). In the episode I’m on at present there is an ex-leader of the Hitler Youth. He became an advisor to the government of Ghana after the war as he evaded justice too.

I am working on a documentary about an Afro-American man who flees to Ghana, repatriating himself after becoming increasingly ill-at-ease in his native USA.

No. 878 Welling

Bobby Wellins saxophonist

Wellins

Enfant Terrible No. 2 starts a job in a school in a place I have never heard of in Kent, not far out of London. It is called Welling. I know Wellingborough in Northamptonshire where my first bank account was located. I know Bobby Wellins the saxophonist who gave us the haunting ‘Starless and Bible Black’, one of the greatest of jazz tunes. But Welling means nothing to me.

On the tube on the way home the next day there is a story in the Evening Standard about a wheelchair-bound man who is in court after running down two old ladies at a bus stop. The outrage took place in Welling.

No. 879 Seven Dials

seven dials covent garden

Where seven streets meet

I write an email to a colleague I am due to meet the next day at Red Bull Media. I ask him where their new offices are. He replies by email: Seven Dials, Covent Garden.

I open the email from Red Bull. I am standing on the street – at Seven Dials.

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The Steamboat Ladies

Girton College Cambridge September 2018I am sitting in the middle of Woodland Court at Girton College, Cambridge, my alma mater. From this bench I have a good view of the college chapel in one corner and the library in the other. Due to its Victorian gothic red-brick style (built 1874-87) everything here looks like a chapel – the library, the dining hall – one of the main reasons I came here was that I had been reading ‘Northanger Abbey’ just before choosing a college, was really taken with it, and thought this infidel place looked like it.

Next year Girty celebrates her 150th birthday and through that I came across the ‘Steamboat Ladies’. The Steamboat Ladies were female graduates of Cambridge and Oxford who were not granted degrees by their university but were awarded them instead by Trinity College, Dublin which was more progressive with regard to equality in higher education.

This took place between June 1904 (the year in which ‘Ulysses’ is set) and December 1907. The ladies were forced to board the steamboat for Dublin because their own universities, at which they attended the women-only colleges of Girton, Newnham and Sommerville, refused to confer degrees upon women.

Trinity College, Dublin started admitting female students in 1904. Cambridge and Oxford ghettoised the women in separate female colleges. Girton sits here on the edge of town, a good cycle ride from the centre, because that’s as near as the women were allowed. Before here it was in Hitchen, an even safer distance away, 35 miles away in Hertfordshire. The University of Dublin had a tripartite arrangement with Oxford and Cambridge of ad eundem mutual recognition.

Students at Benslow House, Hitchin, in 1872. In 1873 it reopened just outside Cambridge and became Girton College.

Students at Benslow House, Hitchin, in 1872. In 1873 it reopened just outside Cambridge and became Girton College.

By December 1907 Trinity College had granted degrees to around 720 Steamboat Ladies. They had all passed the exams at Oxbridge that earned male students a degree.

By the time I came here in 1983 this was 50/50 mixed, the only such college in Cambridge.

Girton College Cambridge officials mistress

Girton founders

Picasso’s menagerie

picasso bull guernica

Bull: Guernica (1937)

horse guernica picasso

Horse: Guernica (1937)

Fauns and Goat 1959 By Pablo Picasso

Goat: Faun and Goat (1959)

the-rooster 1938 picasso

Cock: The Rooster (1938)

dove-of-peace picasso 1949

Dove: Dove of Peace (1949)

Pablo Picasso — Cage with owl, 1947

Owl: Cage with owl (1947)

picasso bull 1945

Bull (1945)

Boy Leading a Horse (1906) picasso

Boy Leading a Horse (1906)

picasso the goat 1946

The Goat (1946)

Woman with a Cock (1938) picasso

Woman with a Cock (1938)

Child with dove (1901)

Child with dove (1901)

Picasso and owl (1947) photographed by Michel Sima

Picasso and owl (1947) photographed by Michel Sima

 

Coincidences No.s 435 & 436

No. 435 Shrouded in mystery

Turin Shroud Face

I am on the Eurostar to Paris sitting next to a group of men travelling together who turn out to be tax inspectors (I get talking to them through the bloke next to me reading Dante’s Divine Comedy). They are off to Italy, to Florence, via Turin where they are due to overnight this evening. I ask them if they will have time to see the Turin Shroud.

I am in the Sacre Coeur this same evening. I stop to light a candle in one of the side chapels. On the wall for some reason is an image of the Turin Shroud.

No. 436 Chicago

360-chicago-observation

I am on the phone on the street in Passy, Paris 16e, greenlighting the latest Real Stories Original, a documentary set in Chicago.

I come off the phone and glance across the road – there’s a vintage clothing store called Chicago.

 

Coincidences No.s 433 & 434

small talk taiwan documentary 2016

No. 434 Small Talk

I have a conversation with my wife about someone close to us who was saying that they struggle with small talk.

I go into the kitchen and on the worktop is a leaflet from the NSPCC entitled Small Talk.

I head upstairs and flick through last year’s programme for Open City Docs festival (at which I spoke on short form documentaries) – in it is a Taiwanese film called Small Talk.

Sir John Rothenstein C.B.E. [1938] by Sir William Rothenstein (1872-1945)

Sir John Rothenstein C.B.E. [1938] by Sir William Rothenstein (1872-1945)

No. 435 Rothenstein

I go to an exhibition at the Wiener Library called London 1938: Defending German ‘Degenerate’ Art. On one of the display boards the these days not particularly well known English art world mover&shaker (longest-serving Director of the Tate) John Rothenstein gets a mention.

I am reading my book group book later in the afternoon, The Sparsholt Affair by Alan Hollinghurst, and John Rothenstein gets a mention as a couple of the characters are more or less in the London art world.

*** 434 meets 435

Just before writing this I was reading more of The Sparsholt Affair to try to get finished in time for the book group post-summer gathering tomorrow night. One of the first sentences I read:

She was aware of the light burden it put on any adult seated next to her, to keep one ear on the real conversation while they turned to make small talk with her.

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