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D I A R Y
ILE ★ Conical bras
★ Kabbalah membership 100% ★ Adopted babies 97% ★ Crap Wallis Simpson film 100% ★ Brazilian toy boy 90% ★ Yoga addict 88%
redundant. The Devon Partnership Against Domestic Violence and Abuse has had its funding cut by 42 per cent, and a registered charity, Voluntary Youth Services Devon, lost all its council funding.
A tort for toffs Anyone hoping for great things for press freedom from the Leveson inquiry or the proposed libel law reforms should not hold their breath.
‘Leveson has no experience of – or interest in – the press,’ warned Geoffrey Robertson QC at The Oldie’s recent Soho Literary Festival. ‘He is assisted by six “experts”, not one of whom is an investigative journalist.’ The new libel bill, he added, does not reverse the presumption of guilt against anyone accused of defamation. ‘These rules were made by – and for – upper-class gentlemen to protect their image and their privileges. Not changing them is a fatal flaw.’
Roberston was also scathing about the self-regulation of the press, accusing the Press Complaints Commis-
sion of acting ‘fraudulently’.
‘Journalism is not a profession and cannot be licensed. The only way forward is a press with no prior restraint, and libel cases being decided by impartial juries – not kindhearted judges who want to find for the claimants.’
Clockwork Circus Readers north of the border might be interested to know that Mike Barfield, The Oldie’s fiendish Prize Draw Quiz compiler (see page 28 of our Christmas Gift Guide), will be appearing at the Edinburgh Museum of Childhood on November 19th in the guise of
What were you doing 40, 50, 60, 70 or 80 years ago?
This month’s £50 prize goes to D Daniel
years ago, I attended Crofton Lane Primary School in Petts Wood, Kent. One of my classmates was Royston Barrett, a very tall boy for his age, whose father was in the RAF stationed at Biggin Hill. I think he was a radio operator or navigator.
One day Royston arrived at school on a ‘grownup’s’ bike.
‘How did you get that?’ I asked. ‘Oh, Dad’s off duty and he let me borrow it,’ he replied. ‘By the way, do you know what happened to him as he was cycling along the footpath? A German fighter aircraft machine-gunned him, not hitting him but putting a dent in his wheel rim.’
He showed me the dent. I couldn’t get over it. To think that this man had been flying over Germany, doing his bit for his country, and he was almost caught out by one lone German fighter plane on a rural footpath! It was a lucky escape. The bullet had come very close.
Some time elapsed and one day Royston was on the bike again. You are lucky, I thought, as bikes were very important at that time.
‘I’ve got it all the time now,’ he said ruefully, ‘Father’s aircraft was shot down.’
Still at it... John North was born into a Jewish family in Bohemia in 1918 before coming to London just before the War. He is now one of the oldest students in the UK. At the age of 93 he was awarded a Doctorate of Philosophy at Queen Mary’s School of Languages, Linguistics and Film, part of the University of London. His PhD thesis concerned the German language as it developed in the mid-eighteenth century as a vehicle for the description of classical sculpture. He started studying in his 60s after a career as project manager of BOAC’s computers. He says ‘I enjoyed the research and the discovery of connections between German pre-classical and classical literary aestheticism.’ He adds that he won’t use the title ‘Dr’: ‘At my age it would not be sensible – but I will certainly be examining the choices open to a postgraduate research student.’ Professor Rüdiger Görner, the Head of Languages, says ‘A mature student of that quality simply makes the life of a supervisor quite easy. In academic discussion you forget about age completely, and what was valuable in his case was his multi-dimensional background. It is, I think, an encouragement for mature students to take on new challenges.’ If you know someone who is Still At It, please write to The Old Un’s Diary.
his alter ego ‘Professor’ Ivor Turnkey. Mike will be presenting two performances of his Clockwork Circus, a cavalcade of old-fashioned wind-up toys, as part of Scottish History Month – and holds The Oldie to blame. Says Mike: ‘I started collecting tin toys after spotting adverts for them in The Oldie some 15 years ago. I ended up with hundreds of
10 THE OLDIE – November 2011 D I A R Y
the things and decided it was far better to share the clicking, clanking fun of them with audiences rather than have them just moldering in the loft.’ For more details you can call the museum on 0131 529 4142.
The Name Game What do these people have in common? E Hay Pluke; T Trefor Parry; G Thackray Eddy; E Gordon Rupp; E Augustus Pitt; O Prys Davies; A Derryck Moon; C Ewart Hackshaw; H Ormonde McConnell; J Morritt Mayall Answer below
‘Don’t let the burnt meatloaf be a metaphor for our marriage, Ed’
Poop-poop! Here at Oldie Towers we resent it when younger folk imply that driving skills plummet with age, but even we had to smile at the tale of 77-year-old Marlies Schiller.
The German motorist had visited a car showroom to test-drive a new model. Once behind the wheel she shot backwards and forwards across the Volkswagen garage in Apolda, Germany, writing off five brand new cars. Her demolition derby came to an end when she smashed through a display window and hit a parked car outside. The damage came to £150,000. ‘The coffee machine seems to be the only thing she missed,’ said a police spokesman.
Jonathan Cecil Jonathan Cecil, who has died at the age of 72, is best remembered as an actor specialising in silly asses of the upper-class variety. He was also an occasional contributor to The Oldie, submitting handwritten reminiscences of life on the boards.
He bore a striking resemblance to his father, Lord David Cecil, whom he accompanied on a visit to Somerset Maugham (see Oldie issue 264). Admirers of Dad’s Army may remember Jonathan’s cameo role as Captain Cadbury, an ineffectual army dog handler whose charges run amok; but although Jonathan was invariably typecast as a chinless wonder of the old school, he was, in real life, a hard-working professional actor who had worked his way up through provincial rep to the West End. A convivial cove, it was always a relief to spot his Wodehousian features at an overcrowded literary party.
Next up: the royals Sexpert and former editrice of the Erotic Review, Rowan Pelling, has recently turned her hand to another subject dear to the people, viz the royal family. Ms Pelling is the scribe behind Debrett’s lavishly illustrated celebration of William and Kate’s nuptials A Modern Royal Wedding (Simon & Schuster £25. Foreword: Julian Fellowes, Oldie Top Chump, January 2011).
Review of Books
R E V I E W O F T H E R E V I E W S Review of Books
ISSUE 17 AUTUMN 2011
OVER 50 OF THE BEST BOOKS COVERED INCLUDING A N Wilson Janine di Giovanni Alan Bennett Alistair Darling Martin Sixsmith Jennifer Egan Robert Hughes Rachel CampbellJohnston Chris Mullin Judy Golding Evelyn Juers Virginia Nicholson
Iain Sinclair Emma Rothschild Kingsley Amis Asa Briggs Kate Colquhoun Graham Swift Jenni Murray Leo McKinstry …and many more
The lure of war: Patrick Mercer on the literature of conflict A dog’s life: the best dog books Francis King remembered Murder and mayhem
A R O U N D - U P O F R E V I E W S • N O T J U S T T H E B E S T S E L L E R S
OF BOOKS 32-page pull-out guide to the best (or most talked-about) books of the quarter December issue on sale Friday 18th November
Seeing is believing… Advertisement for Wind Mobile spotted in Perugia by Dr Andrew Pembroke.
£25 paid for entries
J U N E A N D G E R A L D b y N A F
This month’s contributors include Mira Bar-Hillel, Melvyn Dover,
Stephen Heath, Jeremy Lewis, Adam Macqueen, Alan Thomas, Mrs E Trellis and Russell Twisk
The diary is edited by Sarah Shannon. Please send any contributions to her, care of: The Old Un’s Diary, The Oldie, 65 Newman Street, London W1T 3EG,
or email email@example.com
Name Game : all Methodist ministers in 1962
November 2011 – THE OLDIE 11