I read ‘The Woman in White’ by Wilkie Collins as a teenager 70+ years ago, so when I came to think of a title for my memoir that would suggest that among my several professions were some in which I would wear a doctor’s white coat, his title never crossed my mind.
Now retired, I have been in turn a Harley Street dentist, an entrepreneur (co-owner of Conran-group designed educational toyshops), the director of a Cancer Research laboratory at a major London teaching hospital, as well as a wife and mother of four children.
I was first reminded of Wilkie Collins’ book when I saw my memoir for sale on Amazon and now I see that BBC 1 is about to air a serialized version starting tonight – the last was in 1997. Be interesting to see what the BBC makes of it.
It was lovely to be invited by the librarian of Askew Road library to give a talk and reading from my memoir Woman in a White Coat. The occasion was one of the Wednesday coffee mornings that have been running in the library for many years.
The library is on one floor and in a light friendly open space. To one side, towards the back, is a gaily coloured children’s area with carpeting so the children can read and play on the floor.
The chairs for the participants were arranged in a large semicircle. Louise was in the UK with her family for Easter and she came with Josh so I had an audience of at least two plus the librarians. But when I sat at the table at the front, the expanse of empty chairs looked enormous. Louise and Josh were lost at one end.
However, to my surprise and delight, by the time we started at 11am, not only were all the chairs filled but some latecomers had to fetch extra seating.
Most of the audience – mainly women with one man – were seniors who remembered life pre-WW2 and my story of life in a cold water tenement resonated with them, as did the medical episodes. They laughed and caught their breath in all the right places.
What a lovely responsive audience and welcoming library staff. I felt very lucky to have been given this invitation and have promised to return – perhaps with my sequel ’25 houses’
An incredible exhibition of works carried out by Picasso in only one year – 1932. Great to exhibit so many paintings I’ve never seen before and, for once, with labels large enough to read with ease.
Hard to believe one man could produce this much work in one year though much of the colour is in flat sheets. A film of Picasso painting on glass showed just how quickly he could draw. However, I would defy him to produce this number of paintings in the styled of Las Meninas by Velasquez that he admired and of which he painted simplified derivative images.
A few sculptures and examples of his ceramics as well as images of his ‘castle’ in France.
On February 6th 1918 – one hundred years ago tomorrow – women in the UK were given the vote if they were over 30 and moderately wealthy. They had to be householders, or the wives of householders, or occupiers of property with an annual rent of at least £5 (just under £200 in today’s money but at a time when rents were much, much lower) or graduates of British universities. It wasn’t for another 10 years that the franchise was extended in 1928 to women over 21 – giving them the same rights as men.
More important for my own future was the fact that my parents got married in 1918 on October 6th just over a month before the Great War of 1914-18 ended.
As you can see from this sepia photograph, like me, my mother was five foot nothing next to my father’s six foot. If you look carefully, you can see the bump in the carpet where the photographer placed a small stool to make the disparity in their height a little less obvious.
My father was the sixth, and last but one, son of a wealthy Hebrew book printer. Samuel Waterman, my paternal grandfather, was a Freemason and an important member of his synagogue. He frequently travelled abroad, ostensibly on business, though in fact, it was said it was to visit his mistress in Paris.
Note: There seem to be road works everywhere in Westminster so if you’re driving be persistent – there is a way through!!
Colen examines notions of identity and individuality, set against a portrait of contemporary America.
His works are said to be read as self-portraits. Colen (born 1979 in New Jersey) must have been feeling quite down when he made this big sad Scooby Doo (Haiku 2015-17).
There are a variety of fascinating shapes punched through the walls (Livin and Dyin) of Wile E. Coyote, Kool-Aid Man, Roger Rabbit and of Colen naked. The walls are around 1 foot thick. I wonder how they were originally knocked through and whether they will be made good completely or become a permanent display.
This mysterious painting Untitled (Me and You 2006-7) is one of my favourite works from this exhibition. It is one of a series of Colen’s paintings based stills from Disney’s Pinocchio showing a candle on the workbench of Pinocchio’s creator – Geppetto.
Charles II: Art and Power – another fascinating exhibition at the Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, more interesting for it’s historical significance than the paintings. After his execution in 1649 most of Charles I’s art collection and other valuables were given away or sold by Oliver Cromwell and his party and few of value were returned.
The Collar Charles II (1630-1685) wears in this painting by John Michael Wright (1617-1694) shows that he is a member of the order of the garter; the Orb represents Christ’s Authority over the world and symbolises that he has been chosen by God to rule; the Parliamentary Robes which are made of crimson velvet with an ermine fur cape and gold lace decorations, represent Charles II’s role as head of state.
Charles II was determined to make his reign as different from that of the Puritans as possible commissioning a variety of valuable artefacts and numerous prints and paintings of himself.
This rather vulgar set of gold plate is typical of his commissions.
He also commissioned paintings and prints of his numerous mistresses including this delightful print of Nell Gwynn as Venus.
The print was adapted from a painting by Correggio which had been in the collection of Charles I. There are numerous paintings of his many other mistresses – I lost count of how many illegitimate children he fathered – as well as of his wife, the unpopular catholic Catherine of Braganza
In spite of his decree that all off Charles I’s paintings be returned, in fact very few were given back to the throne, mainly from the English.
Starting January 27th 2018 a blockbuster exhibition of Charles I’s paintings collected from the other beneficiaries of Cromwell’s distribution opens at the Royal Academy, London – ‘Charles I: King and Collector.
When my daughter, Louise, and her family come to England for the New Year, Easter and in August, I cook their favourite foods.
Daniel, as a strapping nearly 18-year old, loves desserts in general and Plum Traybake in particular. I can’t remember where the original recipe comes from but it’s one of those that work every time.
As well as Louise’s family, our elder son, Simon, and Bernard and his girlfriend, Jo, came to dinner. It was Josh’s turn to cook but I made the dessert while he cooked a vegetarian cottage pie – Bernard is a vegetarian.