The Perfect Blend: Coffee and Kane


Currently Browsing: End of Month

End of the month with Nell Peters: 2 years on…

For the past two years I’ve been lucky enough to have the fabulous Nell Peters write end of the month blogs for me. Let’s see what she has in store for us as May winds to an end.

Over to you Nell…

Good morning! And how are we today?

Back again – and on the second anniversary of my guest blogs for Jenny. I’m very soon going to run out of things to rattle on about!

On this day in 1902 Australia were all out for 36 v England at Edgbaston, their lowest ever cricket score. Elsewhere, the Second Boer War ended after two years, seven months, two weeks and six days – the first having lasted but four months. The British Army was reinforced by volunteer contingents from the Empire, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Cape Colony and Natal and wisely no longer wore ‘here-I-am-feel-free-to-shoot-me’ red uniforms.

This was thanks to Lieutenant Harry Lumsden of the Corps of Guides, who was the first British officer to provide his men with practical working garments when he served in India in 1846. He had white cotton dyed with mud so that when they dried, the uniforms blended in with the surrounding landscape – this became known as khaki, Hindi for dust.

The Boers (Boer being the Afrikaans and Dutch word for farmer – I’m such a linguist!) were adept at guerrilla warfare and wore no uniform at all, so they were hard to spot amongst farming communities, where they found places to hide, horses and supplies. Brutally, the British solution to that was a ‘scorched earth’ policy of burning down or destroying farmhouses, crops etc. and rounding up the inhabitants of the countryside to be held in segregated concentration camps, often under horrific conditions. Many thousands – mostly women and children – died during their incarceration.

Ardent imperialist Cecil Rhodes didn’t live to see the British victory at the end of the war, having died a few weeks beforehand on March 26th. Rhodes was a British-born financier, statesman, and empire builder who was Prime Minister of Cape Colony from 1890 to 1896. He also co-founded the now global diamond company, De Beers with Charles Rudd in 1880, so called after the De Beers brothers who originally owned the land where the diamonds were mined. Next (1887) came the purchase of the Kimberley Central Mining Company, to form De Beers Consolidated Mining Ltd.

A controversial figure even now, Rhodes also had a philanthropic side. His will gifted a large area of land on the slopes of Table Mountain to the South African nation and part of this estate became the upper campus of the University of Cape Town (my youngest sister-in-law went there!) Another area became the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, and land that wasn’t developed is now a conservation area. He also made a bequest of funds to establish the Rhodes Scholarship – the world’s first international study programme. The scholarship enabled students from territories under British rule, or formerly under British rule and from Germany to study at Rhodes’ alma mater, Oxford University. His aim was to promote leadership marked by public spirit and good character, and to ‘render war impossible’ by promoting friendship between the great powers. That worked well…

#3 son was recently headhunted by De Beers – as I write this (in advance, obvs), he has had three interviews and will have a fourth either in Mumbai or Bangkok, where he is currently based. I’m not sure he actually wants to move just yet, but it’s a bit of a diamond-encrusted feather in his cap to be sought out, I imagine. And since he travelled around SA as part of his gap year, he at least has something to talk about to fill any pregnant pauses while he’s being grilled. He had a high old time travelling (I know, because I paid his credit card bills!) – quite literally when he did the Bloukrans Bridge bungee jump. It’s one of the world’s highest at 216 metres (709 ft) above the Bloukrans River on the Garden Route. He also swam with sharks in a rather flimsy-looking cage and did a parachute jump. When he was home again, he actually told me in all seriousness that he’d have been very scared of jumping from the back of the tiny plane, if he hadn’t had a parachute on his back…

The OH was born in the UK but spent his formative years from the age of ten in Johannesburg, where he went to the Marist Brothers Independent Catholic Day School, along with one of the De Beers sons. The Marist Brothers were apparently a mean bunch with a penchant for corporal punishment at the drop of a hat, and I don’t think he’s been inside a Catholic church since he left.

In fact, churches generally give him the creeps and he has to be dragged, screaming, to weddings and funerals. In between school and uni, he was conscripted into the SA Army for two years’ National Service, where he joined the Paras and had to learn Afrikaans mighty quickly. Unfortunately, his jumping career was cut short when he fell awkwardly on an old ankle injury (motor bike accident) and spent a few weeks in hospital.

Thereafter he was sent for duty in the Townships and the Angolan Bush, where he spent his twenty-first birthday and slept through a mortar attack on the camp (not on the same day, I’m guessing). When out on patrol in the Bush, troops weren’t allowed to wash or clean their teeth lest the scent was picked up by enemy forces. Scary stuff, and a swift education in what apartheid really meant to those who weren’t lucky enough to be white and comparatively wealthy. He never really came to terms with the regime, left uni after less than a year and returned to the UK. He still has his red beret, though thankfully doesn’t wear it Frank Spencer-style.

Of course, we all know that Ramesses II, also known as Ramesses the Great, became Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt (19th Dynasty) on this day in 1279 BC, but what else has happened? Let me see … Jerusalem’s rabbi Sjabtai Tswi proclaimed himself the Messiah in 1665 – the guy must have had an ego the size of Mars: the planet, not the chocolate bar. Almost two hundred years later in 1853, Elisha Kane’s Arctic expedition left New York aboard the good ship Advance – any relation, Jenny? Kane was an American surgeon and explorer making his second trip to the Arctic, but had to abandon the icebound vessel on May 20 1855. The crew marched for eighty-three days to Upernavik, carrying their sick and wounded and remarkably lost only one man. They were saved by a handy sailing ship and Kane returned to New York on October 11 1855. The following year Kane published his two-volume Arctic Explorations, before he sadly died in Havana ten days short of his thirty-seventh birthday.

In 1861, on the same day that the Mint in New Orleans was decommissioned, General Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard was given command of the Confederate Alexandria Line. I mention that only because Beauregard is a name that always makes me smile, though I’ve no idea why. But since he’s popped up here, let me tell you that he was a prominent general during the American Civil War and had several nicknames, including Little Napoleon, Little Frenchman – he was born in Louisiana and didn’t learn to speak English until he went to school in New York, aged twelve – and Felix. Felix? In April 1865, it was Beauregard and his commander, General Joseph E Johnston, who convinced President Jefferson Davis and the remaining cabinet members that the war should end. After the military, he held two posts as an executive on the railroads and used his civil engineering knowledge to patent the design for a cable car in 1869.

The oldest recorded bride, one Minnie Munro aged 102, wed Dudley Reid 83, at Point Clare, New South Wales in Australia on 31st May 1991 – that’s what you call a toy boy – telling reporters they planned to make the most of the time they would have together. As children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren gathered for the ceremony in the gardens of the couple’s home at Orana Nursing Village, widow Minnie proudly showed off her antique amethyst engagement ring and said, ‘He’s been waiting for me a long time and I am pretty old you know, so I decided to say yes.’ The couple met four years previously at a health centre in nearby Woy Woy. So good they named it twice?

It was not such a happy occasion on this day in 2007, when actress Billie Piper and radio DJ Chris Evans divorced after six years of marriage. Billie was born Leian Paul Piper to parents Paul Victor Piper and Mandy Kane Kent (another Kane?!) and is a singer, dancer and actress who played Rose Tyler in Doctor Who from 2005-6. Perhaps attracted by the fact they share the same middle name, she didn’t hang around and married actor Laurence Paul Fox (Hathaway in Lewis) on 31st December 2007. By marriage she became sister-in-law to Richard Ayoade (The IT Crowd) who was newly wed to Laurence’s sister, Lydia. Alas, Billie headed to the divorce courts again – also in May, but the 12th – after eight years and two children.

Two Walters were born on this day – Walt Whitman (so called because his father was also Walter), American poet, essayist, and journalist in 1819, and artist Walter Richard Sickert, born in Munich in 1860. When he was eight, the family moved to England and were granted citizenship. Although he was the son and grandson of painters, he initially wanted to be an actor and appeared in small parts with Sir Henry Irving’s theatre company, before going to the Slade School to study art in 1881. After less than a year he left to become a pupil of Whistler, whose influence can be seen in his early work.

In his late twenties, Sickert took a keen interest in the crimes of Jack the Ripper. He believed he had lodged in a room used by the serial killer, having been told this by his landlady, who suspected a previous lodger. He produced a painting of the dark, melancholy room entitled Jack the Ripper’s Bedroom which now hangs in Manchester Art Gallery. Author Patricia Cornwell wrote a book in 2002 called Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper – Case Closed in which she names Walter Sickert as Jack. Not wholly original, as Jean Overton Fuller wrote Sickert and the Ripper Crimes in 1990, making the same claim. However in a 2004 article on Sickert, the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography dismissed any allegation that he was Jack the Ripper as ‘fantasy’. So, ladies and gentlemen, I invite you to decide for yourselves. Or not.

Meanwhile, I’m off in my Tardis to wrong rights and generally make a nuisance of myself. See you in June, perhaps?

Thanks, Jenny and toodles, all!

NP

Once again- a HUGE thank you for such an excellent blog – and for the previous 23 fabulous blogs!! Very much appreciated. It is no co-incidence that the last day of the month sees more visitors to my web site than any other.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

 

 

 

 

 


End of the Month: Nell Peters is thinking April

Hang on a minute…no one asked my permission for time to pass so quickly! I am sure I should have finished this years novel by now. I obviously spend too much time reading Nell Peters’ blogs!

Why not procrastinate with me and enjoy this months fabulous end of the month special.

Over to you Nell…

 

Another month gone! Toodles, April 2018 – it’s been …

Anyone planning to watch the Eurovision Song Contest in May, coming from Portugal? I have to confess I haven’t bothered with it for many, many years – my bad.

I didn’t know that Canadian, Celine Dion won the contest in Dublin on 30th April 1988 for Switzerland (how does that work?), beating the UK entry by just one point. Yikes, that’s thirty years ago! She sang Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi (don’t leave without me) in the Simmonscourt Pavilion of the Royal Dublin Society, which was normally used for agricultural and horse shows. I just know a joke lurks there, but sadly it eludes me. Maybe just as well.

The same venue hosted the 1981 contest, but when the performers lined up to take part in the 39th sing-off in 1994, also on 30th April, it was held at the Point Theatre, Dublin. Perhaps having the psychological advantage of being on home ground helped, because Ireland won for the third consecutive year, when Paul Harrington and Charlie McGettigan warbled a number called Rock ‘N Roll Kids, composed by Brendan Graham.

That doesn’t ring even a vague bell for me, but the interval entertainment certainly does – the first ever performance of the Irish dancing spectacular Riverdance, featuring the Lord of the Dance himself, Michael Flatley, and Jean Butler. They are both American, although Flatley has duel US/Irish citizenship. He hung up his tap shoes at the end of 2015, after an incredible forty-six years of performing and suffering a whole range of orthopaedic problems over the course of his career – he’ll be sixty in July.

The last day of April features randomly in Dutch history, starting in 1804 when The New Hague Theatre opened. The Hague (Den Haag) is on the western coast of the Netherlands and nowadays is the capital of South Holland province; with a metropolitan population of more than a million, it is the third-largest Dutch city, after the capital Amsterdam and Rotterdam. The Hague is home to the Cabinet, States General, Supreme Court, and the Council of State, most foreign embassies and the International Court of Justice, plus the International Criminal Court. It is also one of the host cities to the United Nations.

In 1905 on this day Holland played Belgium at soccer in the first of what would become a twice-yearly match, known as a Lowlands Derby.

The Netherlands won the International Friendly 4-1, but the next time the teams played on 30th April – in 1975, the Belgians were victorious, scoring the only goal of the game. According to statistics published in 2016, the Netherlands had won a total of fifty-six games, Belgium forty-one and thirty matches ended in a draw.

Moving along, wee Juliana Louise Emma Marie Wilhelmina was born on 30 April 1909, at Noordeinde Palace in The Hague to the reigning Dutch monarch, Queen Wilhelmina, and her husband Duke Henry of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. She was the first Dutch royal baby since Wilhelmina herself was born in 1880 and as an only child, remained heir presumptive from birth. On her eighteenth birthday in 1927, Princess Juliana officially came of age and was entitled to assume the royal prerogative; two days later her mother installed her in the Council of State (Raad van State.) She reigned as queen from September 1948 until abdicating in favour of her first-born daughter (of four) Beatrix, on her seventy-first birthday in 1980 – the same day that the Iranian Embassy siege began in London.

Celebrations of the national holiday, Queen’s Day (Koninginnedag) on 30th April 2009 turned mighty sour when 38-year-old Dutch national Karst Roeland Tates, drove his car at high speed into a parade which included Queen Beatrix, her son and heir Prince Willem-Alexander and other royals at Apeldoorn. Narrowly missing the royal family, the vehicle ploughed through people lining the street before colliding with a monument, killing eight (including the driver) and causing multiple injuries. It was the first attack on the Dutch royal family in modern times and happened on the same day that the UK formally ended combat operations in Iraq. Exactly four years later in 2013, Beatrix abdicated in favour of her son, who became the first male monarch in one hundred and twenty-three years.

Cloris Leachman

One year before (the then) Princess Juliana’s eighteenth birthday, American actress and comedienne Cloris Leachman was born in Des Moines, Iowa – she’s celebrating her ninety-second birthday today. A former beauty queen, award-winning Leachman’s stage and screen credits are numerous, including Lassie, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Rawhide, The Last Picture Show, Malcolm in the Middle, Young Frankenstein and The Muppets. Living in Canada, I watched US TV and remember her from The Mary Tyler Moore Show and her character’s spin-off sitcom, Phyllis – very funny lady, IMO.

Judy Garland

Somewhere along the line, she managed to have four sons and a daughter with her now ex-husband, director and screenwriter George Englund – best pal of Marlon Brando. During the 1960s, the Englunds were Bel Air neighbours of Judy Garland, her third husband Sid Luft, and their children, Lorna and Joey, (their half-sister being Liza Minelli.) Lorna Luft wrote in her 1998 memoir Me and My Shadow: A Family Memoir, that Leachman was ‘the kind of mom I’d only seen on TV’. Knowing of the turmoil at the Garland home but never mentioning it, Leachman prepared meals for the Luft children and made them feel welcome whenever they needed a place to stay. Awesome …

Rather younger than Cloris at thirty-six, American/German actress Kirsten Dunst also celebrates her birthday today, as does Canadian actor, singer and dancer Andrew Michael Edgar (Drew) Seeley who shares Kirsten’s date of birth. Could have been worse; I share my date of birth with Texan serial killer Genene Jones, who is currently serving a ninety-nine year prison sentence for multiple child murder. Bringing up the rear, today UK comedian Leigh Francis (better known as Keith Lemon) will have forty-five candles on his cake – a lemon sponge, perhaps? So sorry.

Drifting slightly off-piste, on 30th April 1988, the first Californian condor conceived in captivity was hatched at the San Diego Wild Animal Park. The avian celebrity was called Moloko, being the Northern Maidu Indian word for condor, thus acknowledging their respect for the birds. It was an immensely expensive project to save the condor from extinction, running to millions of dollars. Might I suggest this was the Day of the Condor? You’re right – I won’t do any such thing.

In July 1993, British forensic scientists announced that they had positively identified the remains of Russia’s last tsar, Nicholas II, along with his wife, Tsarina Alexandra and three of their daughters. The team used mitochondria DNA fingerprinting to identify the bones, excavated from a mass grave near Yekaterinburg in 1991. It was on the night of July 17 1918 – almost a hundred years ago – that three centuries of the Romanov dynasty came to an end when Bolshevik troops executed Nicholas and his family, plus servants, almost certainly on the orders of Lenin – the details of the execution, along with the location of their final resting place remained a Soviet secret for more than six decades.

To prove the identity of Alexandra and her children, scientists took blood from Prince Philip, her grand nephew. Because they all share a common maternal ancestor, they would also share mitochondria DNA, which is passed almost unchanged from mother to child. The Tsar was identified by exhuming and testing the remains of his brother, Grand Duke George. That left Crown Prince Alexei and one Romanov daughter, Anastasia, unaccounted for – apparently it wasn’t her cavorting with Christian Grey in Fifty Shades.

Anna Anderson

Nor was it Anna Anderson, a Polish woman who persistently claimed (amongst others less convincing) to be the Grand Duchess. She moved to Virginia, USA and died there in 1984, still maintaining her spurious heritage. On 30 April 2008, Russian forensic scientists confirmed that DNA from remains they’d tested belonged to Alexei and his sister Anastasia. This followed the discovery in August 2007 of two burned, partial skeletons at a site near Yekaterinburg. Archaeologists identified the bones as from a boy roughly between ten and thirteen at the time of his death and a young woman aged between eighteen and twenty-three years old. Alexei and Anastasia were thirteen and seventeen years respectively, when they were killed.

Aleksei

Incidentally, Alexei had inherited haemophilia B from his mother Alexandra, a condition that could be traced back to her maternal grandmother, Queen Victoria. He had to be careful not to injure himself because he lacked factor IX, one of the proteins necessary for blood to clot. It was so severe that trivial injuries like a bruise, nosebleed or tiny cut were potentially life-threatening and two naval officers were assigned to supervise him to help prevent injuries.  They also carried him around when he was unable to walk. As well as being a source of constant worry to his parents, the recurring episodes of poor health and recovery significantly interfered with the boy’s education. According to his French tutor Pierre Gilliard, the nature of his illness was kept a state secret.

Disgustingly healthy #2 GD was five on 26/4 (which doesn’t seem possible!) and her birthday party was held on Saturday – she discovered ten pin bowling when we took her during the Christmas holidays and asked to have her party there. #3 son specifically timed his periodic trip home from foreign parts so that he could attend, in his capacity as everyone’s favourite uncle. Must say it was quite painless, as staff organised invitations, food, party bags etc – all the parents had to do was herd the guests from shoe swap to lanes and back again, on to the restaurant, provide a cake and pay the bill. Oh, and make sure none of the little dears sustained injury when heaving too-heavy balls around – plus it’s advisable to have at least one adult stationed to the rear of lanes requisitioned for party use, primed to dive in and rescue any child who gets their fingers caught in the holes and ends up gliding majestically toward skittles and machinery.

Tomorrow, of course, hails the beginning of May and for us the most horrendous month for family and friends’ birthdays! I’m off now to empty my money box …

Thanks again for having me, Jen – and toodles y’all!

NP

www.Author.to/nellpeters 

***

Many thanks as ever Nell!!

Happy reading everyone. 

(Note to self- work faster, it’s nearly June!!!)

Jen xx



The Romance Reviews
© 2018 Jenny Kane | Site Designed and Maintained by Writer Marketing Services