Positive Negative


Today’s offering is a blatant lift from my old muckers at her majesty’s The Daily Telegraph. These snaps, taken by the very greatest of Britons, should be saved for the country. It’s scandalous that we cannot raise a couple of quid to keep these in the UK.

Back in the day when I was working at the aforementioned DT all of these photos would have been binned and we’d have used whatever Reuters or The PA had. The picture Editor (no names, no pack-drill) would have given the photographer, R.F.Scott, a bollocking and asked “Is this the best you’ve got?” and asked why he didn’t manage to get a blonde bird in the frame. This was back in the late 80s and the early 90s, the birth of myopic photo-journalism. The Back Bench would have hidden them as a 2 column or a thumbnail on the basement of page 19, or “saved” them as a “Sunday for Monday” an old euphamism for never considering them again) .

YOUNG WOMAN WEARS DRESS would have been the front page headline accompanied by a young-ish woman on the red carpet of some awards ceremony wearing a…er…dress. It’s what passes for news nowadays and the DT was the pioneer of such thinking. And they called themselves a “quality” “broadsheet”. Honest. They probably still do.   Whatever they’ll tell you now, they wouldn’t have used these polar pics properly, if at all (some of these butchers and know-nothings are still around and, staggeringly, gainfully employed today — see David Lucas on The Standard). So it’s rather amusing, ironic, even comforting to see the Telegraph come to the rescue of proper photography, years after having been its assailant. (I don’t sound too bitter do I ?)

Please forward this to that rich bloke you know and tell him to give generously. For my part, I am going through The Incumbent’s drawers  in search of hidden treasures.

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The Battle to Save Scott of the Antarctic’s Lost Pictures

Jasper Copping
The Daily Telegraph

Unseen images of Scott of the Antarctic’s doomed final expedition could be lost to the nation after their mystery owner gave Cambridge University until the end of the month to raise £275,000 to buy them.

If the funds are not in place by March 25, the photographic negatives are due to go for auction, where it is expected they will be purchased by a private collector from overseas.

The images were taken towards the end of 1911, as Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s team embarked on its ill-fated trek towards the South Pole, just weeks before it ran into disaster.

The 113 negatives had been thought lost until, more than a century on from the expedition, they have emerged, in private hands. The owner – whose identity has not been disclosed – has approached the Scott Polar Research Institute – part of the University of Cambridge – offering it first refusal.

However, the department has currently only raised about a fifth of the £275,000 purchase price that it must reach before March 25.

British Antarctic Expedition 1910-13: Foundering in soft snow. (left to right) Cherry-Garrard, Bowers, Keohane, Crean, Wilson, Beardmore Glacier, 13 December 1911 (Robert Falcon Scott/ Scott Polar Research Institute)

British Antarctic Expedition 1910-13: Foundering in soft snow. (left to right) Cherry-Garrard, Bowers, Keohane, Crean, Wilson, Beardmore Glacier, 13 December 1911 (Robert Falcon Scott/ Scott Polar Research Institute)

“The negatives are a key component of the expedition’s material legacy as an object and as a collection in themselves.”

However, the nature of the sale, and the deadline, has raised some eyebrows. John Mann, the Labour MP and a member of the all party parliamentary group on the Polar Regions, suggested it was “unseemly”.

“This is a very important part of our heritage and our history and the British spirit. I would call it living history, as it still inspires people to explore.

“We should do whatever we can to get them into the public domain. If I owned them, I would feel obliged to donate them to the nation. Selling off the nation’s history like this is a bit unseemly.

“There is a national interest here. If it was me, I would rather a plaque to acknowledge the donation.”

If successful, the Institute will display the negatives at its Polar Museum, in Cambridge, where it already holds prints of some of the photographs, as well as the camera on which they were taken. Nine of the negatives, however, have never been seen before.

The photographs were brought for the nation in 2012, when the Institute purchased them for around £750,000 from a London-based book dealer, with help a £704,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The negatives are owned by a separate vendor who has already agreed to extend the deadline once – from March 2 – to allow the institute to apply for grants from organisations.

The owner approached the organisation to offer the items for sale, but has requested that they remain anonymous. It is known not to be a relative of any of the expedition members involved.

Sir Ranulph added: “Unlike a print, of which any number can be made, the negatives are unique and would be a huge asset to the Institute.”

Julian Dowdeswell, director of the Institute, said: “There has been an extraordinarily generous response to the appeal, proving how important Scott remains in the national imagination. Every donation, however small, brings us closer to reaching our goal of £275,000. With this new extension, I am confident we can raise the remaining funds to acquire the negatives.”

The institute itself was founded with money left over from the fund for the widows and orphans of Scott and his four companions, who died on the expedition.

The negatives, taken between September to December 1911, are a record of Scott’s earliest attempts at photography through to his later images of his team on their journey towards the pole.

Scott’s ship, Terra Nova, had left Cardiff in June 1910, and travelled to the Antarctic via South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Following a period of preparatory work, as well scientific research – and aware of a rival bid by Norwegian explorer, Roald Amundsen – Scott started out for the Pole in late October 1911.

British Antarctic Expedition 1910-13: Ponies on the march, Great Ice Barrier, 2 December 1911 (Robert Falcon Scott/ Scott Polar Research Institute)

British Antarctic Expedition 1910-13: Ponies on the march, Great Ice Barrier, 2 December 1911 (Robert Falcon Scott/ Scott Polar Research Institute)

His team was equipped with mechanical sledges, ponies and dogs. However, the sledges and ponies could not cope with the conditions and the expedition carried on without them, through appalling weather and increasingly tough terrain.

Around half of the negatives chronicle this period, until December 22, when the dog teams were sent back, taking the negatives with them.

By January 1912, only five of the team remained: Scott, Edward Wilson, Lawrence “Titus” Oates, Henry Bowers and Edgar Evans.

They reached the pole on 17 January 1912 to discover that Amundsen had beaten them by 33 days. They set off on the 930 mile return journey, but ran into exceptionally bad weather and sledging conditions.

Evans was the first to die, on February 17. Oates followed on 16 March – walking out of the tent in a blizzard as he knew he was holding up his companions. Scott himself died with Bowers and Wilson in late March 1912, laid up by a blizzard 11 miles short of a pre-arranged supply depot.

During the last days, Scott kept up his journal, wrote twelve letters to friends, family, and next of kin and left a message for the public explaining his reasons for the failure of the expedition.

Eight months later, a search party found the ten and the bodies and Scott’s diary. The bodies were buried under the tent, with a cairn of ice and snow to mark the spot. News of the deaths did not reach Britain until early 1913.

The Brilliant Harold Ramis


Dr. Egon Spengler: There’s something very important I forgot to tell you.
Dr. Peter Venkman: What?
Dr. Egon Spengler: Don’t cross the streams.
Dr. Peter Venkman: Why?
Dr. Egon Spengler: It would be bad.
Dr. Peter Venkman: I’m fuzzy on the whole good/bad thing. What do you mean, “bad”?
Dr. Egon Spengler: Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light.

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Another one bites the dust. RIP Harold Ramis.

BLOUF*


Now regulars out there (and I trust at your age you are all pretty regular) will know that I am fascinated by language and its origins, development, and bastardisation, mainly by chaps from The Colonies. There is nothing I enjoy more than a quick session of word derivation, a look into Cock-er-ney rhyming slang, or the dialects of Scotchmen (formerly of this parish). Having sat through last weekend’s BAFTAs, gleefully listening to Dame Stephen Fry freely giving the Americans an English lesson and, subsequently, watching Emma Thompson’s very best Joyce Grenfell impression, whilst correcting every syllable her colonist co-stars utter in Saving Mr Banks, it has confirmed to me that I was born, at the very least, 25 years too late.

Pearly-Kings-Queens-cockneys

Or maybe 25 years too early. P.L.Tavers, and indeed Mr Fry would have had a field day correcting my English, my spelling and pronounciation. This paragraph alone would have had them weeing themselves with delight. But at least my poor English is done through ignorance, and not intentionally to desecrate our mother tongue. But no-one seems to care any more, at least in the generation.

The mere utterance of the word AWSOME, to describe anything from a solar eclipse, to a recent pop music recording, a brief bout of wind or even a a preprubescent fumbling leaves me longing for the comfort afforded to me by my old service revolver. I know it’s an American thing that, somehow, our yoof have adopted but that is no excuse. Leave the Awesomeness of every living thing, event and bodily function to the Vulgarians of Vermont and the Dullard of Delaware (I nearly said the Douches of Dakota, but that would involve another of my hated, and their over employed words). You’re on the phone all the fucking time, for fuck’s sake, so please google-up a thesaurus.

When I hear Cameron, Gideon, Bliar and the like talk about how awesome things appear to be, and that it makes them LOL or maybe PMSL —they never say that, but they would be AWSOME if they could— it makes me heave (archaic word meaning “to gag or vomit”) . Stop getting down wiv da kids. You went to Eton, for christ’s sake !.

So in the same vain, it is with glee that my very new friend Suzie M delivers this short list of text speak for those of us who should know better than to pretend to be young. I hit 50 soon and I can’t even see the keypad on my phone, let alone type. But when I can persuade The Incumbent Mrs B to text for me, I shall be using some or all of the following`;

ATD = At The Doctors,
BFF = Best Friends Funeral
BTW = Bring The Wheelchair
HGBM = Had Good Bowel Movement
WTL = Wheres The Lubricant
ISMSA = I’ve Shit Myself Again
WTFMT = Where’s The Fuck My Teeth

A couple of my own:

LOL: Leaked on Leg

ARSNRIRMA:  Allain Rolland should Never Referee an International Rugby Match Again.

and

*BLOUF— Boring Lonely Old Ugly Fucker. Archaic meaning “Former Bond Dealer now French Apple Grower”.

On the Ridiculous


2012012901-PDF

Noon GMT today.

Brrrring …Brrrrring…..  (that’s my phone impersonation again)

Brrrring …Brrrrring…..Brrrring …Brrrrring….. (it’s my mobile)
Brrrring …Brrrrring…..(I have one of those “retro” rings — same one as everybody else)
Brrrring …Brrrrring….. (so I never know if it’s my phone ringing— unless I’m alone)
Brrrring …Brrrrring….. (like this morning)
Brrrring …Brr- “Hello?”

‘Hello, Mr Bealing?’ a young female Geordie voice asked

“Speaking” an old male Estuary voice replied

“It’s Virgin Media here” she announced triumphantly

“hm-hmm” (I was less than impressed. Having dealt with the English-speaking world’s joint -2nd worst Customer Services** before, I  didn’t anticipate having too much fun here).

There was a slight pause, as if she was waiting for me to either shout ‘hooray’ or hang up. Once she’d established neither was about to happen, she continued.

“I’m calling you today to discuss improvements to your landline and to see if we can provide you with better value in the service we provide to you .”

“hm-hmm”

“Would you have five minutes at the moment ?”

“Of course, I’ve been desperate to talk to you” (that may have been a fib).

dvid-tennant-ad-remote-433-x-222

Another pause while she considered the implications of this statement.

“Oh, ok, well before we start, could you confirm for me the first two characters of you Virgin Media password?”

“I have no idea what my Virgin Media password is, I’m afraid”

“Really?” she was clearly incredulous

Really?” I emphasised. It’s not something I use often. Oh I dunno try X.A.” (regular readers will remember the name of my first pet stoat)

“Ooh, I’m afraid that doesn’t correspond to the password I have here”

“”Oh No!” I was mortified. Ish.

“Would you like me to ask you other questions to confirm you identity ?”

“I know my identity”

“But I need to confirm it before we can proceed, sir”. I don’t think she shared my sense of humour.

“Ok, yes, of course, fire away”

“Good, so can you confirm the method by which you pay for your Virgin Media Services ?”

“Direct Debit”

“Yes, Correct”. I had answered a question correctly. The warm glow of pride inside me was immense. She continued, and I was on a roll,

“Now can you tell me the speed of the broadband service which you currently receive from Virgin Media.”

“Nope. I think it’s 30 ish. Or maybe 50. I know it’s about half the speed of what you lot reckon it is.”

“Er….no… that’s not quite right…so can you tell me the name of the TV package which you currently have with Virgin Media?”

“Ha !  No I can’t. No idea what you call them. I know I reduced it a month or so ago shortly after the Ashes ended. Erm…. Tall ? Grande? “

“Er, no, Mr Bealing, I’m afraid that is not the package you have with us, so I’m afraid as you’ve answered two questions incorrectly we cannot continue this conversation”

“Ok then” I tried unsuccessfully to sound disappointed. She was clearly crestfallen.

“I am really sorry, Mr Bealing, but I do need you to answer these questions of verification, otherwise I cannot help you.”

“But you called me?”

“Excuse me?”

“YOU called ME . On my mobile. For starters, why didn’t you call me on my landline? At least you’d know you were calling the right house? But I was going along fine, not aware that I needed anything Virgin Media-wise until you called me. I didn’t call YOU to ask for anything. YOU called ME ! “

“It’s a procedural thing, sir. We would have called your landline and received no answer so we called your cellphone.”

“Well no, you didn’t, but that’s by-the-by. You called me to sell me something. But because I don’t keep a note of a password I use once every other luna equinox, or know your code names for Television packages, you are prevented from selling me anything. Something wrong with your system, I reckon, don’t you?”

She’d begun to go all Westworld on my ass. “It’s a procedural thing, Mr Bealing. I need you to answer these questions of verification, otherwise I cannot help you.”

“Ok then. Byeee”. I pressed the Fuckoffthen button on my mobile. My legendarily long patience had suddenly deserted me. I was left to consider where I was before the phone call.

sir-richard-branson

Now where was I ?  Ah yes, writing a letter of complaint.

Dear Mr Branston…”

**Tied equal with RBS and Interflora, just behind the British National Party.