Archive for the ‘Reflections’ Category

4 reasons to love Albert Finney

A friend of mine (whose artwork sits below where I am writing) is a close relative of Albert Finney so it was with a bit of a jolt that the news of the actor’s death caught me yesterday. I had last watched him on the obscure Channel 81 on Freeview (which is my favourite, random old movies from the 50s and 60s) in the somewhat bizarre (but very interesting) Gumshoe a few weeks ago.

Last night Erin Brockovich felt like the right celebration for a Friday night of a distinctive and charming actor. I’d forgotten that the movie was one of Steven Soderbergh’s, adding to the alignment as the sad news came in on the same day as posting this new article which brackets Soderbergh’s latest movie with my commission Missed Call and Sean Baker’s Tangerine.

1. Tom Jones (1963) as Tom Jones

TOM JONES (1963) albert finney actor

From the year of my birth, derived from one of my favourite books, characterised by a youthful cheekiness.

2. Under The Volcano (1984) as Geoffrey Firmin

albert finney under the volcano actor 1984 movie

From my university days, watched at the Arts Cinema Cambridge (also sadly missed), I remember it as a deeply disturbing performance and movie.

3. Erin Brockovich (2000) as Ed Masry

erin brockovich albert finney julia roberts

Avuncular, great chemistry with his shining co-star Julia Roberts, still that cheekiness.

4. Skyfall (2012) as Kincade

albert finney skyfall kincade poster

Shot by my first boss (Roger Deakins), with the immortal line:

Welcome to Scotland!

as he shotguns two of Bond’s assailants. Cheeky and irresistible to the end.

 

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning is a 1960 British drama film directed by Karel Reisz and ... Albert Finney as Arthur Seaton

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960) as Arthur Seaton – bridging 50s Angry Young Men (here) and 60s Swinging England (Tom Jones)

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Postcard No. 4 & Coincidence No. 294

old postcard 1914 WW1 kings royal rifle corps

old postcard 1914 WW1 kings royal rifle corps

This is what is written in ink on the postcard:

Dear Aunt & Uncle,

I suppose you know by now I have enlisted. I am at present stationed at Aldershot, where we are busy training. I’m quite well, and worked hard, but quite content. In peace time we are dressed in the dress shown on the card.

Love to all, your loving nephew, CWW/GWW

The card was sent to:

Mr & Mrs Whitney
5 County Road
March
Cambs

So that makes him CW/GW Whitney.

He sent the card on 12th September 1914 from Aldershot, a big army town obviously, and just two months after the declaration of war. There are also the words Malborough Lines(?) on the postmark. Lines seems to be military jargon for something to do with barracks, probably lines of or between buildings. It was postmarked at 8.15pm across its Half Penny stamp bearing the head of George V.

The destination of the card, March, is a Fenland market town in the Isle of Ely area of Cambridgeshire. In 1914 it was the county town of the Isle of Ely (a separate administrative county from 1889 to 1965). March was once an island surrounded by Fenland marshes, the second largest in ‘the Great Level’, a 500 square mile area of The Fens.

On the front of the card is a watercolour illustration of a soldier from The King’s Royal Rifle Corps. Signed JMN. The front includes a list of the regiment’s Battle Honours including “Martinique 1762, 1809” and “Defence of Ladysmith”. The summary of History and Traditions mentions “the Afghan War, 1879-80, including Roberts’ famous march to Kandahar, and the Battle of Kandahar”. There seem to have been subsequent Battles of Kandahar in 2001, 2006 and 2011. Plus ça change.

A quick search online has revealed: Charles William Whitney

A/3092 Cpl, 7th King’s Royal Rifle Corps. Killed in action 15-9-16, age 26. Son of Charles & Elizabeth Whitney, 4 Station Rd, Chatteris; husband of Alice Whitney. Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France.

So our man only survived two more years and three days. 15th September was the day my wife was in labour with our first-born son.

Chatteris is only 9 miles away from March, being one of the four market towns in the Fenland district of Cambridgeshire, alongside Huntingdon, March and Ely.

The regimental badge on the front of the card shows the motto “Celer et Audax”. I’m going to guess that means Speed & Boldness – and now I’m going to ask Prof. Google… yup, close – Swift & Bold, now the motto of The Royal Green Jackets. Their badge is similar, just with a circle of laurels around the cross. They were formed in part from The King’s Royal Rifle Corps in January 1966.

The card was “British Printed” by G&P which seems to stand for Guards Posted, military being their specialism.

I wonder how Charles felt when he was first posted as a guard? and whether he ever got to see his uncle and aunt again?

A bit more googling and I found a photo of Charles…

ct06101916whitneycwpic charles w whitney soldier WW1

…and this information:

Corporal Charles William Whitney 7th Bn, A Coy, A/3092 King’s Royal Rifle Corps

Died 15 September 1916

Charles William Whitney was born in around 1890 in Bury Huntingdonshire England. In 1901 he lived with his parents Charles and Mary Elizabeth Whitney and his brother Laurie Stonecliffe (who also died in the war) in Station Road, Chatteris. His father was a mining engineer by trade.

In 1911 Charles boarded at 15 Church Road in Erith and was a school teacher at Dartford Elementary School. Before the war Charles had been an assistant master at King Edwards School.

By the time of his death Charles was married to Alice and lived at 24 Topsfield Parade in Crouch End, London, his parents still lived in Chatteris. Charles enlisted in Hammersmith in August 1914, having only held his current teaching post for 3 months, and joined the 7th Bn King’s Royal Rifles Corps, going out to the front on May 1st 1915. His battalion were part of the 14th Light Division in 1916. They, along with The New Zealand Division and 41st Division were successful in capturing the village of Flers on 15.9.16. English Newspapers reported that ”A tank is walking up the High St of Flers with the British Army cheering behind.” Sadly Charles wasn’t amongst them. A letter in the Cambs Times, 6th Oct 1916 records a letter from his Captain stating that Charles was instantly killed by a shell. He was a signaller. Charles has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval memorial.

Project File contains: • CWGC certificate • Cambs Times 29 Sep 1916, 6 Oct 1916, photo • 1901, 1911 Census • Soldiers Died • Medal Card • Picture of name on Thiepval Memorial

I can’t recall where I bought this card for 50p. It might have been in Ireland, at an antique fair in England, not sure. But the weird thing is this man lived only 2 miles away from where I am sitting in my backroom, his last address being in Crouch End, despite his origins in The Fens.

What are the chances – a postcard posted in Aldershot to Cambridgeshire by a man from Cambridgeshire should end up two miles down the road from his final address in London?

whitney-charles-william-ccanthiep thiepval memorial

Charles William Whitney on the Thiepval memorial

Charles William Whitney on the Thiepval memorial

His younger brother Laurie (three years his junior) ended up in Ealing before he left for the war. Laurie Stonecliff Whitney was Company Quartermaster Serjeant for the 1st Huntingdon Cyclist Battalion (The Fens are good for cycling being as flat as it comes so probably have a strong bicycle tradition). Laurie died two years after Charles on 11th July 1917. He had been born at Bury in Huntingdonshire (in 1893) but breathed his last (age 23, the age I met my wife) in Scarborough, where he would have been in hospital wounded.

whitney-laurie-stonecliffe-ccan-358x538

Charles’ brother Laurie – buried at Chatteris Meeks Cemetery

On the last Remembrance Day I wrote a post about a local casualty of the Great War, John Parr, who had the tragic distinction of being the first British soldier killed in action. He was from one mile down the road from this back room. By coincidence, he too was in a cycle brigade, a reconnaissance cyclist.

Quote of the Day: Resolution

'Helmet Head No.1', Henry Moore OM, CH, 1950

‘Helmet Head No.1’ (1950) by Henry Moore (1898-1986)

“I think in terms of the day’s resolutions, not the year’s.”

Henry Moore

Quote of the Day: Resilience

Learn to deal with the valleys and the hills will take care of themselves.

– Count Basie

Sinatra with Count Basie

The Count & The Chairman of the Board (Basie & Sinatra)

Quote of the Day: the corner of the universe that matters

“There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.”

― Aldous Huxley

Aldous Huxley writer

Best of 2018

 

Cold War pawel pawlikowski film movie

Cold War

Film:

Vice

Cold War

Green Book, Bohemian Rhapsody

Last year: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, The Florida Project

Foreign-Language Film:

The Square

Cold War

Last year: The Square (Sweden)

Documentary:

Faces Places

Three Identical Strangers, RBG, Bombshell, The Ballymurphy Precedent

Male Lead:

Rami Malek – Bohemian Rhapsody

Christian Bale – Vice

Viggo Mortensen – Green Book, Robert Redford – The Old Man & The Gun, Steve Coogan – Stan & Ollie

Last year: Daniel Day-Lewis – Phantom Thread, Steve Carell – Battle of the Sexes

Female Lead:

Olivia Coleman – The Favourite

Joanna Kulig – Cold War

Last year: Frances McDormand – Three Billboards

Male Support:

Terry Notary – The Square

Steve Carell – Vice, Sam Rockwell – Vice

Last year: Woody Harrelson – Three Billboards, Sam Rockwell – Three Billboards

Female Support:

Amy Adams – Vice

Sissy Spacek – The Old Man & The Gun, Rachel Weisz – The Favourite, Emma Stone – The Favourite, Nina Arianda – Stan & Ollie

Last year: Brooklyn Prince – Florida Project, Mary J Blige – Mudbound

Director:

Adam McKay – Vice

Last year: Martin McDonagh – Three Billboards

Writer:

Adam McKay – Vice

Last year: Martin McDonagh – Three Billboards

Editing:

Vice

Last year: Dunkirk

Cinematography:

Lukasz Zal – Cold War

Last year: Roger Deakins – Blade Runner 2049 (went on to pick up his 1st Oscar for this, after numerous nominations)

Film Music:

Bohemian Rhapsody

Cold War

Last year: Three Billboards

Single/Song:

I Want You (Sam Reid & Claudia Jolly – The Girl from the North Country)

Last year: Willie Nelson – God’s Problem Child

Album:

The Girl from the North Country (London cast)

The Prophet Speaks (Van)

Last year: undecided

Gig:

David Byrne – Hammersmith Odeon

The Midnight Special – White Album anniversary; Tom Robinson – Shepherds Bush Empire; Hothouse Flowers/Hot Press anniversary – Nells; Donal Lunny & Andy Irvine – Barbican

Last year: Hothouse Flowers – Electric Ballroom, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Millennium Dome, Avishai Cohen – Barbican

Play:

Girl from the North Country [2nd viewing]

Last year: Girl from the North Country, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Art Exhibition:

Picasso: 1932 (Tate Modern)

Collections Privees (Musee Marmottan)

Last year: Basquiat (Barbican)

Book:

The Leithen Stories – John Buchan

Last year: Everybody Lies – Seth Stephens-Davidowitz

TV:

Mrs Wilson (BBC)

13 Reasons Why (Netflix), Maltese (More 4)

Last year: Stranger Things S1

Sport:

Ireland beating the All-Blacks

The demeanour of the England team at the World Cup in Russia

Event:

50th anniversary of The Beatles’ White Album

Dearly departed:

  • Amos Oz
  • Philip Roth
  • Aretha Franklin
  • William Goldman
  • Chas (Hodges)
  • Burt Reynolds
  • Eric Bristow
  • Stephen Hawking
  • Ken Dodd
  • Roger Bannister
  • Dennis Edwards
  • Peter Wyngarde
  • Dolores O’Riordan

[Nov] Ireland beat world champions New Zealand for the first time ever on home soil - Jacob Stockdale scores the only try

[Nov] Ireland beat world champions New Zealand for the first time ever on home soil – Jacob Stockdale scores the only try of the match

Best of 2017 – with links to all previous years

Quote of the Day: New beginnings

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.     

Lucius Annaeus Seneca aka Seneca the Younger (c.4 BC – 65 AD)

Adam and Eve expelled from Paradise / Adam et Eve chassés du Paradis - Marc Chagall (1961)

Adam and Eve expelled from Paradise / Adam et Eve chassés du Paradis – Marc Chagall (1961)

Quote of the Day: Social Media

Comparison is the thief of joy.

 

 

Attributed to Theodore ‘Teddy’ Roosevelt (1858-1919), 26th President of the USA – but seems to be disputed.

facebook instagram snapchat logos on phones

 

Quote of the Day: Choose Life

Agatha Christie writer author novelist

“I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow; but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.”

― Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie writer author novelist

Quote of the Day: As the new year approaches

warhol andy johann wolfgang von goethe 1982

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe by Andy Warhol (1982)

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.

Goethe

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe by Andy Warhol (1982)

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe by Andy Warhol (1982)

 

Goethe In The Roman Campagna by Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein (1787)

Goethe In The Roman Campagna by Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein (1787)

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