A TRUE STORY: Part 1 “We were violently in love”

WHAT HAPPENED? I WISH SHE WOULD WRITE TO ME. I WAITED A DAY, A WEEK, A MONTH, A YEAR – BUT NOT A LINE.

An Australian soldier returned to England and wrote the story of a lost love that almost came true again.

SELECTED BY FRANK MORRIS

For a moment I couldn’t believe my eyes. She was standing there in the sunny Strand, gazing up at the balloons, which sailed in the sky like huge silver torpedoes.

She had the same dark hair, the same wide brown eyes, the same sensitive straight nose and the same quiet as Nancy had the time I saw her.

My first impulse was to rush up to her, for I was convinced for a moment that she was Nancy. Then it suddenly dawned on me that the girl was only twenty and that Nancy, like myself, must be forty now.

It was over twenty years since I last saw her. And now, clad once more in the Australian uniform I wore in the last war, I was reliving a scene that had lingered vividly in my since memory ever back I sailed back to Melbourne in 1919.

There was this unknown girl – the living image of Nancy – before me, as fresh and as beautiful as Nancy was on that memorable day I kissed her and said: “I see you tomorrow at six outside Romano’s.”

We were violently in love.

SHE WAS THE GIRL

There was no doubt about that; it was a beautiful and clean love such as I can never hope to know again.

It began on a day when I picked her up from the road, where she had slipped. It was a windy, cloudy and an altogether dreary day, when romance seems as remote from you as the tiniest star in the universe.

I picked her up and her embarrassed eyes smiled hurriedly into mine. At that moment I knew instinctively that she was the girl I had always dreamed of meeting. I helped her to on the pavement, where she brushed the dirt from her coat. Then I asked her whether she would like to join me in a coffee.

Yes, that was how it all began. And from that moment I felt the happiest and luckiest man the world.

There were the days we spent in the country during my leave. The long walks across the green fields. That beautiful wood in which bluebells formed an exquisite carpet of blue. And  the sun shinning through the trees like golden lances.

<< The Daily Mirror, London, August 30, 1940.

Picture: Forever. “I wanted this to on go forever, but I had a feeling it would not last,” he thought.


ONE NIGHT STAND: LADIES AND GENTLEMEN! ON THE LEFT -- A GUITAR-PLAYING SHEIK, AND ON THE RIGHT – AS “TARZAN”, THE LEOPARD AND CHIMPANZEE HUNTER! SPIKE ACTING UP IN 1984.

SPIKE MILLIGAN BRINGS SOME CHEER TO COLUMN 8

FRANK MORRIS

The original and zany Spike Milligan appeared at His Majesty’s Theatre for the last time in July 1984. Spike describes his Second Farewell Tour as a “completely unpredictable musical extravaganza.”

At the time I was working on a newspaper and went to seen him. I wrote a review at the times called “Spike’s one night stand.” He also played Eccles in the laugher-prone comedy The Goon Show.

Spike died of heart failure in 2002. He was 83. He spent his early life in India where he was born. Off and on, he came to Australia and stayed at Woy Woy for many years.

Just recently, some Column 8 readers picked up some of these gems from Spike Milligan:

I PREFER LEWISHAM

From Frenchs Forest, NSW: “There were holes in the sky for the rain to come in. They’re very small holes, that’s why the rain is so thin.”

From Lane Cove another bon mot: “So fair is she, so fair her face, so fair her pulsing figure; not so fair, the maniacal stare, of a husband who’s much bigger.”

From Darling Point, NSW: “On arrival by ship to perform in Sydney, Spike Milligan was asked by a reporter, ‘How long will you be in Australia?’ Quick as a flash he replied: ‘About 5 feet 6’.”

From Rozelle, NSW: In his later years, Spike said: “I don’t mind going to heaven, but if Jeffrey Archer’s there, I would prefer to go to Lewisham.”

<< Column 8 extracts are from The Sydney Herald, June 28 and 29; July 4, 2017.

Picture: No matter what he did? He was a fine trumpet player too, with a bit of humour thrown in!


LADY MARY FAIRFAX DEAD: In 1959, the media scion Warwick Fairfax married his third wife, Lady Mary Fairfax, who claimed the position of First Lady of a profitable and influential media dynasty, died on Monday (September 19) at the age of 95. At its peak, John Fairfax & Son was ranked tenth in the media world. It published a raft of newspapers and a vast network of magazines, radio and television stations. – FM.

COMING SOON: Warwick Fairfax, proprietor of the family flagship, The Sydney Morning Herald, was for “impartiality and fair dealing.”


FLASHBACK: YOU SERVE YOUR PETROL. Shell service stations lead the way when self-serve petrol was introduced 41 years ago in 1976. It’s hard to accept the fact that “motorists would stay in their car” while the attendant pumped the petrol and checked oil and tyre pressures as one of the conditions. All of it came to an end. It was now up to you. The attendant inside can read from the computer how much you have to pay. – FM.


A LONG TIME AGO: THE US ACTOR, WILLIAM GILLETTE, IN THE FIRST MOVIE ABOUT SHERLOCK HOLMES IN 1916. THE LOUNGEROOM, IN WHICH GILLETTE IS LIGHTING HIS PIPE, CAME FROM DOYLE’S ILLUSTRATOR, SIDNEY PAGET.

SPECIAL FEATURE! PART 3. SHERLOCK HOLMES AND FRIENDS – THE VARYING DEGREES OF PERSONIFICATIONS

Paget, Tenniel and John Leech – they were as different as chalk and cheese, but their contribution to their subject was. Indeed, inestimable.

FRANK MORRIS

There is no record of the exact time when Paget and Doyle met. But Paget’s impression of the Grand Duke of Castel-Felstein, the king of Bohemia, was unmistakably, according to Pound, “strongly reminiscent of Doyle himself, who had the physical presence and authority of a personage.”

Paget played an important role in creating the Holmes legend in the same way as Robert Seymour’s and John Leech’s linear interpretation of Dickens’ Pickwick Papers and Christmas Carol respectively, and John Tenniel’s acclaimed visual conception of the Alice books.*

The drawing styles of the three artists are as different as chalk and cheese, but their contribution to their subjects was inestimable indeed.

As one of the fashionable satirical artists of his day, Seymour had a tenuous start in his relationship with Dickens. The high point was, he created Mr Pickwick we all know today. “(And) this in itself was no doubt a stimulus to Dickens imagination,” writers Martin Fido in his biography of Dickens.

His success notwithstanding, Seymour, in a weak and infirm state of mind, took his own life, leaving behind a note in which he exhorted that no one was “to blame … I don’t think anyone has been a malicious enemy to me.”

WATSON “A MAN OF LETTERS”

“The artist who carried on the tradition of Seymour’s untimely death was Hablot Knight Browne who, using the non de plume Phiz, was “to remain Dickens illustrator for twenty years.”

The great detective’s friend and biographer, Dr John Watson, was modelled on the well-known architect, Alfred Morris Butler. Holmes, unquestionably, revered Watson as a “man of letters” and admitted that he would “be lost without my Boswell.”

Born in the 1850s, Watson is described in the Holmes story, Charles Augustus Milverton, as “a middle-sized, strongly built man” possessing a square jaw, and “as thin as a lathe” following his experiences in Afghanistan.

It was there, as a military surgeon during the second Afghan War (1878-1879) that Watson was severely wounded in the battle of Maiwund.

Paget added the deerstalker cap. Which, undoubtedly, Pound believes “assisted the fixation of Sherlock Holmes in the public mind.” But the famous cap, the curved meerschaum pipe and the Inverness cape, are not mentioned anywhere in the Holmes stories.

They are, according Jack Tracy, compiler of The Encyclopaedia of Sherlockiana, not part of Holmes as Watson depicts him.

<< Sherlock Holmes and Friends came about when Frank G. Greenop wrote a storyline (1974) and Frank Morris added to the storyline and wrote the story in 2002. It was never published until it appeared in Grand Years.

Next month: Some of Paget’s illustrations of Holmes were, at times, imperfect, said Frederic Dorr Steele.  The illustrations lost much in the publishing.

*Alice in Wonderland series.

Pictures: Thrills and romance. Conan Doyle wrote the play Sherlock Holmes and the US star William Gillette made it into a film. The film of Sherlock Holmes was made in 1916 and declared lost. A surviving print was found in 2014. It was made by Essanay Studio, New York. Pontificating: Sherlock Holmes, released as Moriaty in the UK, is a silent mystery drama issued in 1922. It stars John Barrymore as Sherlock and Roland Young as Dr John Watson.


PLAY SCHOOL: THIS IS A FINE DUO – DR CATHIE HARRISON AND BIG TED. PHOTO: THE AUSTRALIAN

BIG TED: PLAY SCHOOL – THERE’S A BEAR IN THERE!

FRANK MORRIS

Dr Cathie Harrison gets to cuddle Big Ted in her office at the Australian Catholic University for one reason: he, and his ABC Play School pals, have been ‘pupils’ of hers for the past 18 years.

“Cathie has helped shape the colourful stories and sing-a-long adventures of Big Ted and his pals while encouraging Australian children from Sydney’s inner west to outback Queensland to enjoy learning,” said the Australian newspaper.

ALWAYS CONSTANT

A senior lecturer in early childhood education, said the newspaper, Dr Harrison “is also one of the early childhood advisers on the ABC’s children’s television program.”

“The commitment to the child has been always constant,” she told the newspaper. Play School has been running for more than 50 years.

Graham Byrne, the designer and manufacturer of Big Ted, was “delighted” with his appearance.

Picture: Thrill’s: Graham Byrne, Big Ted’s inventor.

Posted in: Grand Years with Frank Morris at 21 September 17

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