I Thought Only Oysters Had Beards


This very quick post is sent out to fellow blogger Fearsome over at Fearsome Beard – a blog devoted to all things bearded.   I’m not sure this has even been one of the things he’d thought about …. but hey why not????

Good on ya b’ys!  It’s for a good cause and calendars can be pre-ordered by following this link.


1917 and All That

A year that changed the world.

(In 1917 the Julian calendar, which is 13 days behind our Gregorian calendar, was used in Russia. In writing this post I have used the Old Style dates first with the New Style in brackets.)

Earlier this year the National Museum of American Jewish History mounted an exhibition entitled 1917: How One Year That Changed The World.  It highlighted three major events of that year that have echoed through the last century and continue to affect us today.  Within that year the United States entered the war that had torn Europe apart since 1914; the Balfour Declaration planted the seeds of a Jewish state in Palestine; and what had started in Petrograd (St Petersberg) in February reached it’s climax in the October Revolution.

A stamp to commemorate the October Revolution using Vladimir Serov’s painting of Lenin addressing the workers and soldiers on October 25 (November 7), 1917.  Interesting that the figures behind him have been altered from the original: Josef Stalin and Leo Trotsky (neither of whom were in Petrograd) have been added.

One hundred years ago today on October 25 (November 7) the Bolsheviks led an armed insurrection by workers and soldiers in Petrograd overthrowing the Provisional Government that had taken power earlier in the year.   All its authority was transferred to the soviets (committees) with Vladimir Lenin as the acknowledged leader and thus began the five year Russian Civil War that led to the creation of the Soviet Union in 1922.

Though it was a major holiday in the good old days of the USSR it seems that in modern Russia it is being underplayed.  For most Russians today is a regular working day and any celebrations are decidedly low keyed. Mr Putin’s has issued statements that have been a muted condemnation of revolution as a political tool.  A far cry from the military parades and glorious rhetoric of the Soviet Days.

It would seem the day is receiving more attention here in the West than it is in the nation that created it and that it, in turn, created.  Last weekend Sunday Edition, my favourite CBC radio programme, began a two part radio-documentary on the Russian Revolution. As usual they presented informative and thoughtful takes on it and how it and our world have changed over the past century.  A left click on the logo below will take you to the broadcast which can be listened to in full (54 minutes) or scroll through the site to hear various segments.  I am looking forward to Part 2 next week.


The year 1917 had been one that started with revolution when on February 23 (March 8) protests and riots broke out against the food rationing imposed by the war.  They were to last eight days; on February 27 (March 12) the army joined the revolutionaries and three days later Tsar Nicholas II abdicated.  Over at I’ll Think of Something Later, my friend David has posted a first person account of the chaos from the diary of composer Sergey Prokofiev.  David, a well-regarded critic, broadcaster, and writer, is the author of the definitive study of the early life of the composer.  He has created a compilation of entries from the diary which are being read by actor Sam West on BBC Radio3’s programming to mark the day.  Again a left click on the picture below will take you to David’s fascinating post and some intriguing pictures of those events 100 years ago.


Indeed 1917 was a year in which things were put into motion that would change the world.

On this day in 1907: Jesús García saves the entire town of Nacozari de García by driving a burning train full of dynamite six kilometers (3.7 miles) away before it can explode. ssss


La méchanique de l’histoire

The Mechanics of History

The French nouveau-cirque acrobat Yoann Bourgeois is a droll, slapstick comedian in the line of Chaplin and Keaton and an unsurpassed master of the trampoline as a tool for poetry.*  And for a period in mid-October Bourgeois and his company gave a performance in Paris on an installation placed over the Panthéon’s Foucault Pendulum that spoke to that mastery and that poetry.

Foucault’s Pendulum in the Panthéon – Yoann Bourgeios has built his installation over it.

Variations of this have been appearing on the Internet over the past few days but this is the most complete clip I have seen of the entire routine. I find the musique concrète annoying but the incredible timing and the ingenuity behind the concept is quite remarkable. It’s worth watching the entire clip for the numerous variations that are worked into the choreographic movements.

*The New Yorker October 2016

On this day in 1936: Mrs Wallis Simpson obtains her divorce decree nisi, which would eventually allow her to marry King Edward VIII of the United Kingdom, thus forcing his abdication from the throne.

A Bear of Very Little Brain

… but the best bear in the world.

He first appeared in one of the forty-five poems in A. A. Milne’s When We Were Very Young in 1924, but on October 13, 1926 one of the most beloved bears of childhood – and for some of us adulthood – came into his own when Winnie-the-Pooh was published.  The Bear of Little Brain was to appear again two years later in The House at Pooh Corner (1928)  and in eleven of the poems in Now We Are Six (1927).

Christopher Robin’s toys that were eventually to become Tigger, Kanga, Winnie, Eeyore, and Piglet.  Roo has been lost and the characters of Owl and Rabbit were created by Milne and the Disney Studios added another when they gained control of the stories.  They currently reside at the New York Public Library.

Much has been written about the origins of Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends – how he got his name, the setting in Ashdown Forest, what inspired Milne to write his stories, and the fame and discomfort success brought to Christopher Milne.  There is even a new movie that purports to tell the “untold story” of how the books came to be written – though you have to wonder how much of the story really is left to be told.

Whatever the inspiration or origins may be for the past 90 years Christopher Robin’s little bear has been enchanting children and reminding adults of the joys of their own childhood.  For 90 years Milne’s words and E. H.. Shepard‘s illustrations have taken us to Pooh Corner, The Enchanted Place and introduced us Poohsticks  Sadly several generations of children are now growing up with the “cutesy” Disney version as their point of reference rather than the gentler, less garish, less knowing – dare I say more English – stories that Milne wrote and that Shepard captured in his drawings.

22424288_10155473921088880_8676013321260831422_oTo celebrate that collaboration the Victoria and Albert Museum is opening an exhibition – on my birthday, wouldn’t you know! – featuring sketches, letters, photographs, cartoons, and fashion from the partnership.  A left click on that little passage from Winnie-the-Pooh (above left) will take you to their website and a few of the delightful things that will be on display.


Though I have quoted it once before I do so again with no apologies.  I don’t believe anyone has ever captured the bittersweetness of leaving behind childhood as beautifully as this final passage from The House At Pooh Corner.  And I have never read it without tearing up just a wee bit.

Suddenly Christopher Robin began to tell Pooh about some of the things: People called Kings and Queens and something called Factors, and a place called Europe, and an island in the middle of the sea where no ships came, and how you make a Suction Pump (if you want to), and when Knights were Knighted, and what comes from Brazil. And Pooh, his back against one of the sixty-something trees and his paws folded in front of him, said “Oh!” and “I didn’t know,” and thought how wonderful it would be to have a Real Brain which could tell you things. And by-and-by Christopher Robin came to an end of the things, and was silent, and he sat there looking out over the world, and wishing it wouldn’t stop.

But Pooh was thinking too, and he said suddenly to Christopher Robin:

“Is it a very Grand thing to be an Afternoon, what you said?”

“A what?” said Christopher Robin lazily, as he listened to something else.

“On a horse,” explained Pooh.

“A Knight?”

“Oh, was that it?” said Pooh. “I thought it was a– Is it as Grand as a King and Factors and all the other things you said?”

“Well, it’s not as grand as a King,” said Christopher Robin, and then, as Pooh seemed disappointed, he added quickly, “but it’s grander than Factors.”

“Could a Bear be one?”

“Of course he could!” said Christopher Robin. “I’ll make you one.” And he took a stick and touched Pooh on the shoulder, and said, “Rise, Sir Pooh de Bear, most faithful of all my Knights.”

So Pooh rose and sat down and said “Thank you,” which is a proper thing to say when you have been made a Knight, and he went into a dream again, in which he and Sir Pump and Sir Brazil and Factors lived together with a horse, and were faithful Knights (all except Factors, who looked after the horse) to Good King Christopher Robin . . . and every now and then he shook his head, and said to himself, “I’m not getting it right.” Then he began to think of all the things Christopher Robin would want to tell him when he came back from wherever he was going to, and how muddling it would be for a Bear of Very Little Brain to try and get them right in his mind. “So, perhaps,” he said sadly to himself, “Christopher Robin won’t tell me any more,” and he wondered if being a Faithful Knight meant that you just went on being faithful without being told things.

Then, suddenly again, Christopher Robin, who was still looking at the world with his chin in his hands, called out “Pooh!”

“Yes?” said Pooh.

“When I’m–when– Pooh!”

“Yes, Christopher Robin?”

“I’m not going to do Nothing any more.”

“Never again?”

“Well, not so much. They don’t let you.”

Pooh waited for him to go on, but he was silent again.

“Yes, Christopher Robin?” said Pooh helpfully.

“Pooh, when I’m–you know–when I’m not doing Nothing, will you come up here sometimes?”

“Just Me?”

“Yes, Pooh.”

“Will you be here too?”

“Yes, Pooh, I will be really. I promise I will be, Pooh.”

“That’s good,” said Pooh.

“Pooh, promise you won’t forget about me, ever. Not even when I’m a hundred.”

Pooh thought for a little.

“How old shall I be then?”


Pooh nodded. “I promise,” he said.

Still with his eyes on the world Christopher Robin put out a hand and felt for Pooh’s paw.

“Pooh,” said Christopher Robin earnestly, “if I–if I’m not quite” he stopped and tried again –“. Pooh, whatever happens, you will understand, won’t you?”

“Understand what?”

“Oh, nothing.” He laughed and jumped to his feet. “Come on!”

“Where?” said Pooh.

“Anywhere,” said Christopher Robin.

So they went off together. But wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the Forest a little boy and his Bear will always be playing.

The House at Pooh Corner (1928)
Written by A. A. Milne
Illustrated by E. H. Shepard

This post was inspired by my FaceBook friend Christopher and is for him and all my friends who though they have put away childish things still hold childhood in their hearts.

On this day in 1656: Massachusetts enacts the first punitive legislation against the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). The marriage of church-and-state in Puritanism makes them regard the Quakers as spiritually apostate and politically subversive.