corset friday France part 2

Location: Le Chateau de Bruzac, Dordogne, France

Lingerie: purchased by The King (a.k.a “That man from the market”)

Photographer: The King

Permission granted by: QueenWilly

Published in: on July 16, 2010 at 8:10 am  Comments (33)  
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the glory of the gourmand

Brillat-Savarin was a man who knew his food and the effect it has on those of us who appreciate the finer things on our lips and in our mouths.

“Gourmandise is favourable to beauty… it gives more brilliancy to the eyes, more freshness to the skin, more support to the muscles… it is equally true to say that those who understand eating are comparatively ten years younger than those who are strangers to this science. Artists are well aware of this, for they always portray those who starve themselves as sunken cheeked, craggy necked and altogether decrepit. Such a person was Napoleon, who was irregular in his meals and ate fast and carelessly. As a result he lost the Battles of Borodino and Leipzig.

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Those predisposed to epicurism are for the most part of middling height, broad faced, bright eyed with small foreheads, short noses, fleshy lips and rounded chins. Those to whom nature has denied an aptitude for the enjoyment of taste are long faced, long nosed with dark lanky hair. It was one of them who invented trousers.”

read about Bunny Roger here

Brillat-Savarin had a sister who was also a gourmet and who outlived him. She died on her hundredth birthday after enjoying a delightful dinner and calling loudly for more dessert.

hairball extracted from woman’s stomach found here

Published in: on July 15, 2010 at 8:34 am  Comments (41)  
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slumming in a cheap nightclub

Sir Francis Henry Laking, Baronet and Royal Surgeon, was knighted in 1893. In 2004, historian Tor Bomann-Larsen published revelations concerning him that rocked the royal family of Norway.

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Bomann-Larsen makes an interesting case for King Haakon’s royal physician Sir Francis Laking as Olav’s real father. The book contains a photograph of Laking’s son Guy Francis Laking, born in 1875, who bears a striking resemblance to the adult King Olav. Bomann-Larsen also raises the possibility that Laking’s son was a possible sperm donor for Queen Maud, and that Olav was the result of artificial insemination.

Guy and Olav

The royal couple had been childless for six years before his birth in 1903, and Prince Carl was in Denmark while Princess Maud was in England at the most likely time for his conception.

The third Baronet was also named Sir Guy Francis Laking. Unlike his grandfather and father he did not seem particularly interested in medicine or museums. According to Tallulah Bankhead he was the greatest mischief maker in all England.

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“He was witty, malicious and petulant and lipthed when he spoke. When Tony Wilson and I were on the brink of wedlock Francis surpassed himself in offensiveness. We were slumming in a cheap nightclub with a crooked chemin de fer game upstairs when I spied the evil Francis nearby. He sent Tony a note via a waiter that stated “You’re a pimp”. Tony was furious and hunted him down in his rooms.

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“You can’t tuth me, you can’t tuth me, I’m on Tom Tiddleth ground” he cried.

Sir Francis was loathsome in many ways, yet his pranks and talent for troublemaking fascinated me. More than once I went round to the Bow Street jail to ransom him when he had been plucked from the gutter by a bobby. Even in death he was fantastic. He died at the age of 26 after drinking too much yellow chartreuse. His Will stated that he left “to my friend Tallulah Bankhead, all my motor cars”

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It was a posthumous prank. He never had a car to his name.

Published in: on July 14, 2010 at 8:05 am  Comments (34)  
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oscillate wildly

Back in 1923, an English woman by the name of Mrs Travers-Smith claimed to be receiving spirit messages from the late Oscar Wilde.

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Oscar told her that being dead is the most boring experience in life. That is, if one excepts being married or dining with a schoolmaster.

I feel the London of my time has been swallowed up he said; an article of a coarser quality is now in its place. The women of my time were beautiful, from the outside at least. They had a mellifluous flow of language, and they added much to the brilliant pattern of society. Now woman is an excrescence, she protrudes from social life as a wart does from the nose of an inebriate.

Oscar apparently had a low opinion of modern life. Or so Mrs Travers-Smith would have us believe. Psychics have a long history of trying to prove to us unbelievers that they do indeed have special powers. Franek Kluski had many people fooled with his beautiful hand moulds.

When the experiment was carried out, two participants sitting next to Kluski grabbed both his hands, so he could not move or use them. In addition, to identify if different wax or finished wax moulds were brought in and swapped, a very small amount of test reagent had been added to the wax in secret just before the experiment started.

Are there any tricks to make people believe that they were holding the medium’s hands without doubt, while not actually doing so?

The process is as follows: the medium keeps both of his or her hands together. Then pretending to call the spirits, the medium shakes or trembles, and while doing so, shakes off the hands of the bridlers for a moment, as if their hands slipped off.

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In another article, the author hypothesises how the moulds were made.

Leaving aside the accentuated vigilance of the controllers, and the fact that he remained totally immobile, the moulds obtained were visibly distinct from his own in every way, starting with the size : as mentioned, the wax moulds were child-sized. Kluski was not a midget, and there were no midgets attending the sessions. As if it were necessary, Geley sent some moulds and Kluski’s fingerprints to the Criminal Identification Department of Paris and obtained a written statement from the Head of the department that the two did not match. Also annoying, in the context of a fraud hypothesis, is the small foot mould ; we would be rather hard pressed to imagine how Kluski (or anyone else, for that matter) would manage to repeatedly dip his foot in the wax, free it from the fragile wax mould, and then tie his shoes back on, without being noticed.

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A simpler alternative would have been to use a prefabricated soluble cast (e.g., made of sugar). It would considerably lighten the burden of the cheating medium if the original cast could just disappear without a trace. But for this to work, Kluski would need to dip the original cast along with the dripping wax moulds into a bowl of cold water (or some other solvent). The researchers had explicitly decided against using the cold water bowl as a precaution against this possibility.

Regardless of how they were made, the hands have a certain beauty of their own, enhanced by the mystery of their creation. You can try the experiment yourself by following the directions published here

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Published in: on July 13, 2010 at 8:09 am  Comments (46)  
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slim, silky Argentines

On July 8 1922, attention turned to the divorce courts where the strange marriage of Mr and Mrs John Russell came under public scrutiny. It was stated that the day before her wedding, Christabel Russell had obtained a promise from her future husband that there should be no question of their having children, at least to begin with. Having apparently complied with this request, Mr Russell was shaken by the arrival of a child and thus was suing his wife for adultery. After a lengthy hearing it was decided that there was no evidence of adultery and Mr Russell, heir to Lord Ampthill, lost the case.

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Fast forward to 1976

The House of Lords hearing resurrected one of Britain’s most publicized scandals of the early 1920s, a story that has since been tagged as “The Case of the Virgin Birth.” It involved a young aristocrat, John (“Stilts“) Russell then heir to the Ampthill title, his vivacious and liberated wife Christabel and her baby Geoffrey, who was born in October 1921. Soon after Geoffrey’s birth, John Russell filed for divorce charging that the baby could not possibly be his. He claimed that he and his wife had agreed before the wedding to lead separate lives and leave the marriage unconsummated.

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Christabel Russell admitted that she had never had full intercourse with her husband. But she insisted that she had not had sex with any other man either. Her proof: after learning that she was pregnant, she had undergone a medical examination. Doctors testified that she was still technically a virgin; her hymen had been only partly perforated. How then had the baby been conceived? During a night of “Hunnish” behavior ten months before Geoffrey’s birth, she testified, when her husband tried to force her to have intercourse, but succeeded only in an incomplete act. He flatly denied any such behavior occurred.

Attila the Hun

One divorce trial ended without a decision, but a second in 1923 explored the details again. Christabel, her husband charged, had cavorted across the Continent, writing home about “slim, silky Argentines” and “marcel-waved” Italians who courted, wined and dined her. She still insisted that they had not slept with her; medical experts conceded that her story of Geoffrey’s conception might be true. A ten-month gestation was not unknown, they said. Impregnation without penetration, though rare, was possible. Still, the jury in the second divorce trial found her guilty of adultery with an unnamed man.

slim silky Argentinian?

Christabel Russell appealed the divorce decree to the House of Lords and won. In 1924 a panel of lords, Britain’s highest court, ruled that no child born after a marriage could be declared illegitimate merely on the testimony of his mother or father. Two years later, a High Court judge reinforced this decision by issuing a certificate of legitimacy for Geoffrey. Not until after John Russell succeeded to his title as the third Baron Ampthill in 1935 did the redoubtable Christabel finally divorce him.

Published in: on July 12, 2010 at 8:32 am  Comments (39)  
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gaiters and torn dresses

In 1921 a major ecclesiastical scandal gripped the public’s attention. It was said that the 61 year old Archdeacon John Wakeford had been staying at an obscure hotel in Peterborough with a young woman. Sensational evidence supplied by chambermaids resulted in Wakeford being found guilty and deprived of his office.

image by Paul Ickovic found here

“The appeal case came before the Privy Council, many of whom wore top hats and gaiters. Women fought for seats in the crowded room and dresses were torn. The Council sat for 7 days and heard 50 witnesses before unanimously upholding the guilty verdict.

Wakeford was accused of staying openly on Good Friday at the Bull Hotel with a woman not his wife. He made no attempt at concealment, registered in his own name and wore apron and gaiters, the characteristic garments of an Archdeacon.

Washington apron found here

He maintained the immorality charge was the result of a conspiracy between two clergymen, one of them, Mr Worthington, being his brother in law. He said he merely went to Peterborough to visit the noble church and take long quiet walks to prepare his sermons.

Was he guilty? The defendant’s wife, also the daughter of a rector,  stood by him and took the stand against her brother. It did no good, as this extract from the Canberra Times reveals….

“Archdeacon Wakeford has been found certifiably insane and sent to the Kent County Asylum.”

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Published in: on July 11, 2010 at 6:25 am  Comments (35)  
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corset friday France part 1

Location: Le Chateau de Bruzac, Dordogne, France

Lingerie: purchased by The King (a.k.a “That man from the market”)

Photographer: The King

Permission granted by: QueenWilly

Published in: on July 9, 2010 at 8:06 am  Comments (58)  
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out-drink, out-party and out-flirt

Augustus John was well known not only for his artistic talents but also for his unusual living arrangements with two women.

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“In the summer of 1897 he suffered a severe accident hitting his head on a rock whilst diving into the sea, this seemingly resulted in a radical change in character – later leading to the myth that he had dived into the sea, hit his head on a rock and emerged from the water a genius.

image found here

It was at the Slade that Augustus met and fell in love with Ida Nettleship. Sensuously beautiful she had almond eyes, a mass of dark hair and full lips. In 1901, Augustus eloped with her and they were married.

image found here

Marriage did not stop John’s womanising – he met and fell hopelessly in love with Dorothy McNeil, known as Dorelia or later affectionately as Dodo. Ida liked Dorelia enormously and a tumultuous ménage-a-trois was formed.

Dorelia

For a time this was successful; Dorelia bore him two children and Ida gave birth to five but sadly died at the age of 30 from puerperal fever. Then in August 1911, John and Dorelia decided to rent Alderney Manor, a strange fortified pink bungalow built by an eccentric Frenchman in 60 acres of woodland.

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Their children ran wild over the heathland and bathed naked in the pond. The communal chaos was presided over by Dorelia in pre-Raphaelite robes looking as if she was constantly about to pose for a portrait. Over the years they acquired all the trappings of a back to the land community; cows, a breeding herd of saddleback pigs, various donkeys, ponies, carthorses, miscellaneous cats & dogs, 12 hives of bees that stung everyone, a dovecote from which all the doves flew away and a ‘biteful’ monkey.

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Communal living did nothing to cramp John’s style – the affairs continued, almost too numerous to mention – with Lady Ottoline Morrell, Mrs Strindberg, the actress Eileen Hawthorne & Mrs Fleming, Ian Fleming’s mother, (a liaison which resulted in a daughter, Amaryllis, later an accomplished cellist.) John never seemed to deny any of his wayward offspring – taking some under his communal wing, paying maintenance to support others. Though the claim that he had fathered some 100 illegitimate offspring is probably an exaggeration – it being fashionable at one time to claim to have had a child with him.

Amaryllis

The years at Alderney were the peak of John’s artistic career. Everyone who was anyone seemingly wanted to have their portrait painted by the erstwhile King of Bohemia. A controversial portrait of Lord Leverhulme, the founder of Port Sunlight, was returned to John minus its head, the soap millionaire having been offended by the artist’s depiction of him. John exhibited the remaining section of the portrait with the title ‘Lord Leverhulme’s Watchchain’. In 1954 the two sections were joined together again. You can see the join line quite distinctly on the painting today.

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John and Dorelia lived out the last years of their lives at Fryern, interspersed with occasional trips abroad or up to London – where John would proceed, even into his eighties, to out-drink, out-party and out-flirt his considerably younger companions.

Augustus John by Cecil Beaton found here

Published in: on July 8, 2010 at 8:26 am  Comments (46)  
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pawpaw for the passionate

Born in Liverpool England in 1852, Edmund James Banfield came to Australia as a boy with his journalist father. The young E.J. also grew up to be a journalist but suffered a breakdown in 1897 and was given 6 months to live.

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It was then that he and his wife Bertha obtained a lease on Dunk Island off the coast of Queensland. Originally named Coonanglebah by the Aborigines, it had been renamed Dunk by Captain Cook in honour of Montagu Dunk, the Earl of Sandwich.

(image caricatured Lord Sandwich slipping money into the pocket of an attractive carrot-seller, said to be one of his usual amusements)

Bertha and E.J arrived with very little apart from camping and gardening equipment and a small boat. But their new home had plenty of coconuts, avocados, oysters and fish and it didn’t take long for them to create an enviable paradise. In 1908, E.J. published “Confessions of a Beachcomber” which prompted hundreds of people to write asking him how to find their own tropical island.

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The profits from this book enabled the Banfields to invite a former servant, Essie, to move in with them as a companion for Bertha. In subsequent books he theorised that the human race could thrive on a diet composed entirely of bananas. He was also devoted to the pawpaw and assured readers that it made a woman more beautiful and a man more virile.

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Dunk Island was the location used in filming “Age of Consent” starring James Mason and a 22 year old Helen Mirren. It was on this film set that Mason met his second wife, Clarissa Kaye who played his ex girlfriend. Their bedroom scene was cut by the censors who deemed it too hot. Nothing to do with the 103 degree temperature she was suffering at the time

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Published in: on July 7, 2010 at 8:45 am  Comments (51)  
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regarding my pussies

Miss Charlotte Rosa Raine died in 1894, leaving behind a very interesting will. She left her lands and hereditaments to Lord Randolph Churchill in recognition of his commanding political genius and bequeathed her books to found a public  library.

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She also left £500 to the Society for Promoting Christianity Among the Jews and then she turned to more important matters…. “And as regards my pussies…”

The Rabbi’s Cat found here

“her dear old white puss Titiens and her pussies Tabby Rolla, Tabby Jennefee, and black-and-white Ursula were left to Ann Elizabeth Matthews, who was to receive £12 a year for the upkeep of each cat so long as it lived. Louise and Dr Clausman (both cats) were to go to Elizabeth Willoughby (her maid); her Black Ebony and White Oscar were to become the property of Miss Lavinia Sophia Beck. Both these beneficiaries were also to receive £12 a year per cat.

artist’s impression of Dr Clausman

All the remainder of her pussies were additionally bequeathed to Ann Elizabeth Matthews, and the executors were ordered to pay her £150 a year out of the dividends of shares towards their support, but this was not to extend to kittens afterwards born.

Charlotte is by no means alone in writing a will stipulating how her animals are to be looked after. Mr William Joseph Haines also expressed a wish in his will that his two cats should be provided for after his death. Counsel for the executors explained that as the cats were not separately represented in court, he would have to argue on their behalf. The following exchange about whether they should live at home or be boarded out was recorded…..

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His Lordship: “It depends on the appetite of the cats”

Counsel: “Or whether they are good mousers”

His Lordship: “Can I take judicial notice of the fact that 16 years is a long life for a cat?”

Counsel: “Yes, my Lord, I think you can.”

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Published in: on July 6, 2010 at 8:13 am  Comments (33)  
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