Monday, 30 April 2018

Memories: Round the Horne

Nostalgia time! From that great radio series, “Round the Horne”, 50 years ago:-

Kenneth Horne: “First, the answers to last week’s quiz, “Complete the proverb”. The first proverb was “It’s a long lane which has no …” The answer was, of course, “turning”, but thank you for your very detailed letter of complaint, Mr Gruntfuttock; and if your lane is really as long as you say and it hasn’t got one, I can only suggest that you petition your local council. The second proverb was “Look before you …” Now you all agreed this was complete in itself. In your case, Mr Gruntfuttock, you’d better watch out for the prevailing wind as well”.

Mr Gruntfuttock featured in several episodes of this kind: for instance :-
Kenneth Horne: "Last week we asked you, "Can be seen in Hyde Park". The answer we wanted was "The Serpentine"; but thank you for the very detailed description of what you saw there, Mr Gruntfuttock. I didn't know you were watching".

Occasionally he appeared in person (played by Kenneth Williams):-
"On your last programme, Mr Horne, you insulted a minority group in the community, of which I am a respected member".
"What group is that, Mr Gruntfuttock?"
"Dirty old men!"

Ahh: they don’t write scripts like that any more!    

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Wales: Tenby

Tenby is a pleasant little town on the coast of south Wales, which was once a prosperous fishing and trading port, and was developed in Victorian times as a seaside resort.
   Some of the old fortifications survive 
and a few old buildings; notably the mediaeval Merchant's House.

There is a charming little harbour, which nowadays houses pleasure-craft.

The church of St. Mary has a number of  splendid tombs and monuments

A promenade of hotels now overlooks the broad sandy beach.

Prince Albert presides over all.

We enjoyed our stay there.

Thursday, 5 April 2018

The Byzantine Mosaic Tradition in Italy

Mosaic artists from Constantinople were active in Italy over several centuries, leaving marvellous works which have survived the turmoil of the times.
Here is the Byzantine Emperor Justinian and his wife, Theodora with her court; created in Ravenna in the sixth century

Then, half a millenium later; King Roger of Sicily is portrayed crowned by Christ. This is in Palermo, from the early twelfth century.

Justinian's generals succeeded in reconquering Italy from the Goths, in an attempt to restore the Roman Empire, but this came at enormous cost in the devastation of the country. In later centuries, the Lombards occupied northern Italy, and the holy Roman Empire was established by Charlemagne and his successors. 
    Meanwhile Arab forces conquered Sicily. Roger overran the island and established a spectacular but short-lived kingdom which combined Greek, Arab, Norman and Jewish elements. 

In fact, both of these monarchs' families were flagrant interlopers. Justinian succeeded to the Imperial title on the death of his uncle, Justin, a peasant soldier from the Balkans who had risen to the throne through the army. Roger was from the second generation of a family of Norman knights, the de Hauteville brothers, who terrorised sounthern Italy in the 11th century.