Charles Dickens Museum: Entrance Hall, dining room and morning room

Adapted by FRANK MORRIS

APPARITIONS: YOU’LL NOTICE CHARLES DICKENS’ PRESENCE IN EVERY ROOM. Below: ONE OF DICKENS’ ENGRAVINGS FROM A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Below: THE ENTRANCE HALL WAS A BUSY AREA  WITH THE AUTHOR CONSTANTLY ON THE MOVE.

The entrance hall to 48 Doughty Street was a busy area in Dickens’s time. The author was constantly on the move. Although he was a keen walker, he would often order a carriage to the front door for rides with friends and family outings. He also kept a horse in stables around the corner.

Framed on the wall are documents that represent each of Dickens’s homes from 1837:

Nicholas Nickleby was written at here at Doughty Street; The Old Curiosity Shop, watercolour by George Cattermole, comes from Devonshire Terrace where Dickens lived from 1839 until 1851; Tavistock House, referred to in the theatre playbill, was the family home until 1858.

Dickens moved to Gad’s Hill Place, the only house he ever owned, and was very proud of this building with, as the gilded inscription shows, its literary connection to Shakespeare. The wall also has letters in Dickens’s hand-writing dating from his time at Doughty Street.

Next, in the Dining Room.

LITERARY WORLD

This room featuring an elegant curved wall well and truly central to Dickens’s lifestyle in the late 1830s.

As a rising author enjoying his first rush of success, he liked to entertain the friends he had made in the literary and artistic world, as well as his relations.

“Can you come and take a cutlet with us today at 5?” wrote Dicken’s to a friend. “Let me know and we’ll add a bit of fish.” An invitation to dine with the 25-year-old author of The Pickwick Papers was irresistible. On one occasion, fourteen dinner guests had to be squeezed into this room.

Next, in the Morning Room.

HOUSE MATTERS

This would have been the family room and, mainly, the domain of Dickens’ wife, Catherine, and their children. The Dickens were married in 1836. By the time Dickens and Catherine had moved to Doughty Street their first son, Charles Junior had been born.

While living here Catherine gave birth to two girls, Mary and Katey.

The Morning room was a space for Catherine to arrange household matters, welcome visitors during the day, and write letters. As Dickens travelled a great deal, much of their daily correspondence was in writing.

Many letters that still survived, show the happiness of the young couple during their Doughty Street days.

Next: You’ll make your way to the kitchen, scullery, washhouse, and the wine cellar – all as Dickens left them.


COMING: JOHN PAINE’S FEDERATION PHOTOGRAPHS: The sum of 20,000 pounds brought heaps of surprises in an effort to create a spectacle that would rival any held in the British Empire.


WILL FOR LIFE: The soldier without a gun!

HEART-WARMING STORIES OF HER FATHER AS A STRETCHER-BEARER IN THE LAST WAR -- ONLY IF HE COULD SAVE PROPLE AND NOT HURT THEM.

Adapted by FRANK MORRIS

LET’S GO, LADIES AND GENTS: ERLE PLAYED THE ACCORDION AND LEARNT A FLORICKING TUNE OR THREE. Below: MRS SHIRLEY GASH – “HE TALKED ABOUT HIS DAYS AS A STECHCHER-BEARER IN THE THICK OF WAR”. Below: A STILL LIFE – ERLE’S BAG OF MEDICAL GEAR, A PHOTO OF ERLE AND A BROWN COVERED BIBLE.

Throughout Shirley’s life, right up until she buried her father, Erle made her make a pledge that she would remember the Red Cross and “leave a bequest if able”. Erle was not in a position to leave a bequest himself and Shirley was happy to carry out his wishes.

Erle Gash passed away in 2010. He was 93.

He was recruited as a foot soldier in the Second World War but vowed he would only go to war if he was able to save lives rather than hurt people. Erle was firm that he did not want to carry a gun.

That being the case, he trained with Red Cross and became a stretcher-bearer and medic doing his job for nearly four years mainly in El Alamein, in Egypt, and Italy. Shirley says he would talk about how his tent displayed a large Red Cross emblem but it didn’t stop it from being bombed.

There were several medics injured from time to time.

FROLICKING TUNES

When Erle returned from the war, he continued to have a soft spot for Red Cross. He was always thinking about how he could pitch in to help.

Shirley recalled one heart-warming anecdote about her father when he was in his late 80s and decided that he wanted to raise some money for Red Cross. Being on a pension, he was not able to give personally but to inspire others to donate.

Erle could play the piano accordion and during his time in Italy he learned many frolicking tunes. Due to his age, he couldn’t cart around heavy equipment, He bought himself a small amplifier, which he attached to a luggage trolley, and got himself a busking permit for the main streets of Auckland, New Zealand.

MAN ON A MISSION

His sign read: “War veteran raising funds for the Red Cross.” He was hugely successful on his beat, raising approximately $10,000 over a number of years.

“For ‘an old guy’” Shirley says, “he was pretty amazing. He was very passionate and wanted to urge others to give to Red Cross.” Two young members from Red Cross attended to pay their respects at Erle’s funeral.

Says Shirley: “The family were so appreciative of this and thought it was wonderful that her 93-year-old dad had an impact on younger and future generations. I am so happy and proud to carry out my father’s wishes. My Will has been updated to leave a bequest to Red Cross.”

He was like a man on a mission.

<< Wills for Life the seniorsbook.com.au

COMING: Shorty, spring will be in the air. Exercise, gently. They’re are easier that you think.


FILM GREAT: Gone With the Wind – it was a picture for all time

RHETT BENDS SCARLETT BACK AND KISSES HER. NOT ONCE, BUT SEVERAL TIMES!

Adapted by FRANK MORRIS

PICTURE FOR ALL TIME: GONE WITH THE WIND, AT THIS MOMENT, RHETT AND SCARLETT ARE ON A SMALL SCREEN SOMEWHERE IN THE WORLD.  GWTW WENT ON TO MAKE MARGARET MITCHELL  AN INTERNATIONAL PERSONAGE. GWTW TOOK HER TEN YEARS TO WRITE.

“I don’t want the part for money,” said Clark Gable to producer David O. Selznick. Gable was being offered the role of Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind, but happily he ate his words. He accepted $2500 a week and $100,000 bonus.

The handsome, macho ‘King of Hollywood’ was the first choice for Rhett, but almost every female star was considered for the wilful Scarlett O’Hara.

A year later, Selznick made his decision.

When he saw the exquisite, green-eyed, twenty-five years old English actress Vivien Leigh, the search was over. A famous coupling was born.

A huge party at the ball at Twelve Oaks and the evocation of the Old South as represented by “Tara”, the O’Hara’s monolithic white mansion, symbolised the relationship between Rhett and Scarlett. It was a monument to devouring passion brilliantly embodied by Gable and Leigh which lifted the film into the highest category.

"Rhett Don't", I'll Faint!

Both characters were spirited, arrogant, self-centred and amoral. This is in marked contrast to Leslie Howard and Olivia de Havilland – Ashley and Melanie Wilkes.

Although Scarlett schemes her way to attract the fragile but aristocratic Ashley, she is irresistibly drawn to the virile Captain Butler – roguish black sheep of “the Charleston family.”

The directed sequence which deals with Rhett’s proposal of marriage to the already twice widowed Scarlett, is one of the most skilfully written. Butler is brief and to the point when he says, “I made up my mind that you were the woman for me, Scarlett, the first time I saw you at Twelve Oaks.”

When she objects to this approach, he sinks on one knee and takes her hand.

He said that, “A feeling more beautiful, more pure, more sacred … dare I name it? Can it be love?” Although he was play-acting, there is much truth in what he expresses. When she tells him she will always love another man (Ashley) … he takes her in his arms, bends her head back and kisses her hard on the mouth – again and again.

She struggles for air.

Scarlett: “Rhett don’t, I’ll faint.”

Rhett: “I want you to faint. This is what you were for, Scarlett.”

Naturally, the marriage of two such stubborn and tempestuous people is doomed. In the end, when Rhett decides to leave her, she sobs, “What’s to become of me?”

Turning in the doorway he replies, in one of the cinema’s most famous and well-remembered lines, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

<< Adapted from Great Love Scene by Ronald Bergan; Octopus Books, 1986.

Illustrations: Hands in pockets, a familiar pose, Rhett tells Scarlett that he’s not going to stand around any longer; Rhett gives Scarlett the kiss of life!


A NATION REBORN: Australian Chronicle reports on the second century!

FRANK MORRIS

THE HARD YAKKA: AUSTRALIA BECOMES A COMMONWEALTH.

What must it have been like to witness the jubilant festivities of Federation!

On January 1, 1901, the activities went ahead in Sydney, amid classic sunshine, and six states joined forces. All told, 20,000 pounds were spent in an effort to create a spectacle that would rival any held in the British Empire.
You can read the lot in the first issue of the Australian Chronicle, January 1, 1901.

Australian Chronicle said “there was no better vista than a five-mile long procession that passed through the streets followed at night by a Harbour display with fireworks and illuminations.”

START THIS WEEK.


COMING: How do I cope if I’ve got a gambling problem?

Posted in: Grand Years with Frank Morris at 13 July 18

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