This entry was supposed to be about Cecil Beaton following my perusal of The Strenuous Years, his diaries covering the years 1948-55 (Weidenfeld and Nicolson 1973). Having bought the book merely to check a quote, I thought I might as well read the whole thing. Unsurprisingly I loved it and was particularly struck by Beaton’s descriptions of his contemporaries. As a photographer, and maybe even more as a draughtsman and aspiring painter, Beaton had to have a good eye. However, capturing the essence of a person’s appearance in a photograph or a sketch is quite different from using words to […]
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The story of London Tweed
So this is how the story goes. In 1826 a London merchant decides to buy some cloth from a weaver in Hawick, a town in the Scottish borders famous for its cloth production. Very happy with his order, he decides to get some more but – crucially – misreads the weaver’s dashed handwriting. Instead of ‘twill’ this Londoner reads ‘tweed’, and assumes this new cloth must take after the River Tweed which runs fast and clear through the textile areas of lower Scotland. ‘Tweed’ and not ’twill’ has been the term used ever since.
Looking after London’s ghosts…
When I first started working at the Museum of London’s Archaeological Archive I was told there was a ghost in our metal store. More Casper than Blair Witch, the ghost allegedly helped you find objects that had been ‘misplaced’. Sadly, I’ve never seen this ghost, but with 200,000 boxes containing millions of fragments of London’s history, I think it fair to say the ghosts of London’s past sit on our shelves.
A few weeks ago I found myself surrounded by fascists. I was on my way to the West End when at Tower Hill station a large group of French-speaking men with assorted girlfriends and wives (I presume) entered my tube carriage.