Sunday, 16 July 2017

Chapter 15: “So what about this Daisy I have read about, eh?”

The College of Arms London

Here are notes on Chapter 15 of The Lust World, an erotic adventure.

Edmund mentions that the rather dubious coat of arms of the Babylon Exploration Society was probably not produced by the College of Arms, the body which since 1484 (it was set up by Richard III) has been responsible for the granting of  coats of arms on behalf of the monarch.  I used to walk passed its office very often as it was close to where I worked in the City for a while.  It has been on its current site since 1555.  James Bond posed as an officer of the college in the Ian Fleming novel On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

From The Lost World (1960)

The word 'dinosaur' does, of course, mean terrible lizard although, as Professor Challenor observes to Edith, while they were reptiles they were not lizards.  A not uncommon confusion, no doubt exacerbated by the dressing up of lizards to represent dinosaurs in various low budget (Ray Harryhausen stop motion was expensive) nineteen sixties films.

Agathaumus (1897) by Charles Knight

The Courier starts to include reproductions of dinosaur pictures by Charles R Knight (1874-1953) the man who. essentially, first brought dinosaurs to life in his paintings.  Although legally blind he used special glasses to see and enrolled in the New York Metropolitan Art School at the age of twelve.   His first prehistoric reconstruction was actually of a mammal; the creature now known as Entelodon.  His reconstruction of Agathaumus was used as the basis of a model of the same creature for the silent version of The Lost World (1925) (which also introduced the first female character into its version of the Conan Doyle tory).

Edmund and Daisy go to the Scala Theatre on Charlotte Street, very close to where Triple P worked from 2008 to 2010.  It  opened in 1904 and was demolished in 1969 but not before The Beatles filmed scenes of a concert there for A Hard Day's Night in 1964.

Still from With our King and Queen through India (1912)

The Scala saw the premiere of the film Edmund and Daisy go to see, With our King and Queen through India (1912) which was actually a series of short films chronicling King George V's 1911 visit to India and the massive Delhi Durbar review held there.   It used the first successful colour film format Kinemacolor, invented in Brighton, England and was used commercially between 1909 and 1915.  The equipment needed to project the films was cumbersome to install and so once installed the venues tended to show Kinemacolor films for some months.  The Scala was a conventional theatre but as the premier of the film was there in February 1912 and King George V went to see it at the Scala in May 1912 we can be sure that Edmund and Daisy could have watched it in April 1912.  The film is credited with having made cinema going an acceptable middle class leisure activity as, up until that point, going to the cinema was regarded as rather low class in Britain.  Only ten minutes of footage from the film now exist.  The first newsreel, Pathe's Animated Gazette, appeared in British cinemas in 1910 and by 1912 there were a number of competeing newsreels playing at cinemas.  Sending a crew to catch sight of one of the famous dinosaur hunters would have been a top priority!

The River Restaurant at the Savoy the time of our story

The River Restaurant at the Savoy Hotel, where Edmund has lunch with Lord Hoxton, was one of two restaurants in the hotel (the other being generally known as the Savoy Grill -somewhere I took a Canadian lady once). The hotel opened in 1889 and was the first in the world to be lit by electric light.  Also, nearly all the rooms had en suite bathrooms, almost unheard of in Europe at the time.  C├ęsar Ritz. the original manager and his chef, Auguste Escoffier, had moved on by the time of our story to found their own hotel, The Ritz in Piccadilly, which features extensively in The Lust World.

Selfridges in 1909

Selfridges department store opened on the unfashionable end of Oxford Street in 1909 and pioneered many of today's department store practices.  it is just the sort of place where Daisy would have been able to pick up a dress and have it fitted at short notice.  Harry Selfridge himself could never resist a pretty woman and would, no doubt, have been delighted with Daisy and her attachment to the famous dinosaut hunting expedition and its publicity opportunities.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Chapter 14 “I’m a game young lady!”

Here are some notes on the latest chapter of The Lust World. The opening scene takes us back to the dining room of the Ritz Hotel, once more, somewhere we have covered in a previous post.  I have arranged to have lunch there with a lady shortly, although it is some years since I have been there.

Britten notes that Molloy takes Hoshimi 'like a dog'  It was not, of course called 'doggy' at that time, although the slightly more formal description 'dog position' was in use.  In erotic pictures of the time it was not, however, a position that was illustrated that much compared with, for example, women on top positions.

Devilled kidneys were a popular breakfast dish at the time and although you rarely come across them these days they have made something of a comeback with TV chefs.  Triple P's father was particularly fond of them.  The kidneys are  fried and served in a spicy hot (hence the name) sauce made from Worcestershire Sauce (itself made from a number of ingredients including vinegar and anchovies), cayenne pepper, butter and mustard.  Sadly, although the Ritz still offers those other Victorian and Edwardian breakfast specialities kedgeree and grilled kippers, they no longer offer devilled kidneys.

Lord Hoxton's birthday party is to take place in his house in Meon Bridge Hampshire. Meon Bridge does not exist, although there are the villages of West Meon and Meonstoke, which sit on the banks of the Meon river, which is really not much more than a shallow, meandering stream, popular with trout fishermen. I have relations who live in the Meon Valley, which is a very pleasant part of the Hampshire countryside, some seventy miles south west of London.  The Meon Valley is famous for being the site of watercress farms which produce most of Britain's supply of watercress.

Edith gives us some more information on Lady Caroline, who will feature extensively in future episodes of the story.  Many music hall stars of the time had nicknames and Lady Caroline's, 'the Romney Marsh Warbler' compounds her birthplace, Romney Marsh (a sparsely populated coastal wetland that straddles Kent and East Sussex in the South East of England) and the marsh warbler; a songbird whose population has been declining in Britain since the nineteen thirties and  is now almost extinct in this country.

Molloy mentions the Hellfire Club, the name for a number of largely debauched gentlemen's societies originally set up by Sir Francis Dashwood in the eighteenth century.  There was much drinking, pagan rites and ladies of easy virtue involved.  His nephew set up a similar club in my old Oxford College called the Phoenix Society; so named as the idea behind it was that it would be like a Phoenix rising from the ashes of the late Sir Francis' original.  The Phoenix remains in existence at my old college to this day and has a membership of 12 (men only) and a statue of silver Phoenix. Their attitudes to drinking and women have not changed!

Edith, Molly, Britten and Daisy have lunch in the 'cavernous' dining room of the long demolished Euston Hotel.  This picture of it set out for a banquet gives an idea of its appearance.