Saturday 31 October 2020

Sean Connery: James Bond actor dies aged 90 🔴 @BBC News live - BBC

Sean Connery, Who Embodied James Bond and More, Dies at 90


To legions of fans who have watched a parade of actors play Agent 007, none played the part as magnetically or as indelibly as Mr. Connery.


By Aljean Harmetz

Oct. 31, 2020

Updated 11:19 a.m. ET


Sean Connery, the irascible Scot from the slums of Edinburgh who found international fame as Hollywood’s original James Bond, dismayed his fans by walking away from the Bond franchise and went on to have a long and fruitful career as a respected actor and an always bankable star, died on Saturday in Nassau, the Bahamas. He was 90.


His death was confirmed by Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, on Twitter. “Our nation today mourns one of her best loved sons,” she wrote.


“Bond, James Bond” was the character’s familiar self-introduction, and to legions of fans who have watched a parade of actors play the role — otherwise known as Agent 007 on Her Majesty’s Secret Service — none uttered the words or played the part as magnetically or as indelibly as Mr. Connery.


Tall, dark and dashing, he embodied the novelist Ian Fleming’s suave and resourceful secret agent in the first five Bond films and seven over all, vanquishing diabolical villains and voluptuous women alike beginning with “Dr. No” in 1962.


As a more violent, moody and dangerous man than the James Bond in Fleming’s books, Mr. Connery was the top box-office star in both Britain and the United States in 1965 after the success of “From Russia With Love” (1963), “Goldfinger” (1964) and “Thunderball” (1965). But he grew tired of playing Bond after the fifth film in the series, “You Only Live Twice” (1967), and was replaced by George Lazenby, a little-known Australian actor and model, in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” (1969).


Mr. Connery was lured back for one more Bond movie, “Diamonds Are Forever” (1971), only by the offer of $1 million as an advance against 12 percent of the movie’s gross revenues. Roger Moore took over for “Live and Let Die” (1973) and continued to play the part for another 12 years. George Lazenby’s career never took off. James Bond has been played by Daniel Craig since 2006.


Mr. Connery would revisit the character one more time a decade later, in the elegiac “Never Say Never Again” (1983), in which he wittily played a rueful Bond feeling the anxieties of middle age. But he had made clear long before then that he was not going to let himself be typecast.


He searched out roles that allowed him to stretch as an actor even during his Bond years, among them as a widower obsessed with a woman who is a compulsive thief in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Marnie” (1964) and as a raging, amoral poet in the satire “A Fine Madness” (1966). His first post-Bond performance was as a burned-out London police detective who beats a suspect to death in “The Offence” (1972), the third of five movies he made for the celebrated director Sidney Lumet. The others were “The Hill” in 1965, “The Anderson Tapes” in 1971, “Murder on the Orient Express” in 1974 and “Family Business” in 1989.


“Nonprofessionals just didn’t realize what superb high-comedy acting that Bond role was,” Mr. Lumet once said. “It was like what they used to say about Cary Grant. ‘Oh,’ they’d say, ‘he’s just got charm.’ Well, first of all, charm is actually not all that easy a quality to come by. And what they overlooked in both Cary Grant and Sean was their enormous skill.”


A Graceful Transformation

In the 1970s and ’80s, Mr. Connery gracefully transformed himself into one of the grand old men of the movies. If his trained killer in the futuristic fantasy “Zardoz” (1974), his Barbary pirate in “The Wind and the Lion” (1975) or his middle-aged Robin Hood in “Robin and Marian” (1976) did not erase the memory of his James Bond, they certainly blurred the image.


Mr. Connery won a best-actor award from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts for “The Name of the Rose” (1986), based on the Umberto Eco novel, in which he played a crime-solving medieval monk, and the Academy Award as best supporting actor for his performance as an honest cop on the corrupt Chicago police force in “The Untouchables” (1987). Mr. Connery taught himself to understand that character — Jim Malone, a cynical, streetwise police officer whose only goal is to be alive at the end of his shift — by noting the other characters’ attitudes toward him.


After reading Malone’s scenes, he told The Times in 1987, he read the scenes in which his character did not appear. “That way,” he said, “I get to know what the character is aware of and, more importantly, what he is not aware of. The trap that bad actors fall into is playing information they don’t have.”


Even before his acting ability was apparent, the 6-foot-2 Mr. Connery had a remarkable physical presence, onscreen and off. Lana Turner picked him to play the war correspondent with whom she tumbles into bed in the forgettable 1958 melodrama “Another Time, Another Place.” He earned his chance as Bond when the producers Albert Broccoli and Harry Saltzman watched him walk.


“We signed him without a screen test,” Mr. Saltzman said.


Mr. Connery’s magnetism did not fade as he grew older. In 1989, when he was 59 years old and had long since discarded his James Bond toupee, People magazine anointed him the “Sexiest Man Alive.” His response was to growl that not many men are sexy when they’re dead.


“The Man Who Would Be King” (1975), directed by John Huston, in which Mr. Connery played a British soldier who sets out to loot a country and is mistaken for a god, was among the highlights of his second act. When Mr. Huston had first tried to finance a movie based on Rudyard Kipling’s short story of the same name 20 years earlier, he intended the role of Danny Dravot, the exuberant rogue who fatally begins to believe in his own grandeur, for Clark Gable, the undisputed king of Hollywood during the 1930s and ’40s. (The role of his companion Peachy Carnehan, played by Michael Caine, was originally intended for Humphrey Bogart.) Mr. Connery was, Pauline Kael of The New Yorker wrote, “a far better Danny than Gable would ever have been.”


She continued: “With the glorious exceptions of Brando and Olivier, there’s no screen actor I’d rather watch than Sean Connery. His vitality may make him the most richly masculine of all English-speaking actors.” Few actors, she added, “are as un-self-consciously silly as Connery is willing to be — as he enjoys being.”


If he enjoyed being silly on the screen, Mr. Connery was darker and more complex when the arc lights were turned off. Always afraid of being cheated, he audited the books of almost all of his movies and sued anyone he thought was taking advantage of him, from his business manager to the producers of the Bond films.


In 1978 he and Mr. Caine filed suit against Allied Artists, the distributor of “The Man Who Would Be King,” over the way their share of the movie’s receipts was calculated. (The case was settled out of court.) He was still at it in 2002, suing the producer Peter Guber and Mandalay Pictures for backing out of “End Game,” a C.I.A. thriller in which Mr. Connery was to star. He later dropped the suit.


The lasting resentment behind his many lawsuits, which he carried with him from his childhood, was also one of the keys to his success as an actor.


A Challenging Childhood

He was born Thomas Sean Connery on Aug. 25, 1930, and his crib was the bottom drawer of a dresser in a cold-water flat next door to a brewery. The two toilets in the hall were shared with three other families. His father, Joe, earned two pounds a week in a rubber factory. His mother, Effie, occasionally got work as a cleaning woman.


At the age of 9, Thomas found an early-morning job delivering milk in a horse cart for four hours before he went to school. His brother, Neil, had been born in December 1938, and the usual meals of porridge and potatoes had to be stretched four ways. Once a week, if the family had a sixpence to spare, Thomas would walk to the public baths and swim “just to get clean.”


Like the months that 12-year-old Charles Dickens spent working in a factory that made shoe blacking, Mr. Connery’s deprived childhood informed the rest of his life. When he was 63, he told an interviewer that a bath was still “something special.”


His anger was never far below the surface. What he called his “violent side,” he told The Times, may have been “ammunitioned” by his childhood. The same was true of his odd combination of penury and generosity.


A passionate golfer — he discovered the game about the same time he discovered James Bond — he was the only player at the Bel-Air Country Club in Los Angeles who carried his own bag. Yet he gave the million dollars he earned on “Diamonds Are Forever” to the Scottish International Education Trust, an organization he founded to help poor Scots get an education.


When asked why he was willing to take second billing as a coal miner saboteur to Richard Harris’s company spy in “The Molly Maguires” (1970), he said, “They paid me a million dollars for it, and, for that kind of money, they can put a mule ahead of me.” But he donated 50,000 pounds to England’s National Youth Theater after he read that the theater needed money. An ardent supporter of Scottish nationalism, he also gave 5,000 pounds a month to the Scottish National Party.


As a national referendum on independence approached in 2014, Mr. Connery wrote an opinion article for The New Statesman arguing in favor it.


“As a Scot and as someone with a lifelong love for both Scotland and the arts, I believe the opportunity of independence is too good to miss,” he wrote. “Simply put — there is no more creative act than creating a new nation.” However, because his primary residence was not in Scotland, Mr. Connery was not eligible to vote.


At the age of 13, Thomas Connery became a full-time milkman. Britain had been at war for four years, and any able-bodied boy could get a job. Three years later, with the soldiers coming home and work scarcer, he joined the Royal Navy.


He signed up for 12 years, but was discharged at 19 after acquiring an ulcer. He had also acquired two tattoos on his right arm — “Mum and Dad” and “Scotland Forever” — and a small disability grant, which he used to learn furniture polishing. Then he went to work putting the finish on coffins. In his off hours he took up soccer (he played semiprofessionally) and bodybuilding.


Bodybuilding led indirectly to acting. In 1953, he and a friend went to London to compete in the Mr. Universe contest. Mr. Connery got a minor award — third place in the tall man division, according to most accounts — but, more important, while there he heard about auditions for a touring production of the musical “South Pacific.” He was chosen for the chorus because he looked like a sailor and could do handstands.


During the year Mr. Connery toured in “South Pacific,” he lost much of a Scottish accent so impenetrable that, he later claimed, other actors at first thought he was Polish. His name was shortened to Sean Connery. And he found himself a mentor. An American actor in the cast, Robert Henderson, gave him a reading program that included all the plays of George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde and Henrik Ibsen, along with the novels of Thomas Wolfe, Proust’s “Remembrance of Things Past” and Joyce’s “Ulysses.”


“I spent my ‘South Pacific’ tour in every library in Britain, Ireland, Scotland and Wales,” Mr. Connery told The Houston Chronicle in 1992. “And on the nights we were dark, I’d see every play I could. But it’s the books, the reading, that can change one’s life. I’m the living evidence.”


The next few years were a blend of small stage and television roles. His lucky break came on March 31, 1957. Jack Palance was to have starred in Rod Serling’s “Requiem for a Heavyweight” on live television for the BBC. Mr. Palance had triumphed in the same role the previous year on “Playhouse 90.” But he canceled at the last minute, and Mr. Connery inherited the role of the aging boxer Mountain McClintock. Although miscast, a reviewer for The Times of London wrote, he had “shambling and inarticulate charm.” Within 24 hours, Mr. Connery had gotten his first movie offers.


A string of B-movies followed, including “Action of the Tiger” (1957), a thriller starring Van Johnson in which he had a small part, and “Tarzan’s Greatest Adventure” (1959), in which he played a villain out to destroy a village. He also played a private in the all-star D-Day saga “The Longest Day” (1962) and a man enchanted into falling in love in Disney’s “Darby O’Gill and the Little People” (1959).


“In these early films,” observed the novelist and filmmaker Michael Crichton, who directed Mr. Connery in “The Great Train Robbery” (1979), “Connery exudes a rich, dark animal presence that is almost overpowering.”


His Count Vronsky opposite Claire Bloom’s Anna in a 1961 BBC television adaptation of Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina” caught the attention of the men who were about to produce “Dr. No.”


Both Mr. Connery and the character he played were instant sensations. “James Bond is clearly here to stay,” Variety wrote prophetically after “Dr. No” opened. “He will win no Oscars but a lot of enthusiastic followers.”


Mr. Connery and Diane Cilento, an actress he had met when they played lovers in a television version of Eugene O’Neill’s “Anna Christie” in 1957, were married on Nov. 30, 1962. Their son, Jason, who would grow up to become an actor, was born six weeks later.


The marriage lasted, more or less, until Mr. Connery met Micheline Roquebrune, a French artist and obsessive golfer, at a golf tournament in Morocco in 1970. She was married, he was married, and they both won medals. After their marriage in 1975, they lived in Marbella, Spain, mostly to avoid British income taxes but partly because of Marbella’s 24 golf courses.


By the time he returned to the role of James Bond in “Never Say Never Again,” at Ms. Roquebrune’s suggestion, Mr. Connery was in financial trouble because his former accountant had put the money he earned from the Bond films into unsecured property investments. Mr. Connery sued and won a $4.1 million judgment for negligence in 1984, but told reporters, “I don’t foresee I’ll get any money.”


‘I Don’t Mind Being Older’

Almost from the time he left James Bond behind, Mr. Connery shifted from gorgeous young man to character star. “The reason Burt Lancaster had a longer, more varied career than Kirk Douglas was that he refused to allow himself to be limited,” Mr. Connery told The Times in 1987. “He was more ready to play less romantic parts, and was more experimental in his choice of roles. And that’s the way I’ve tried to be. I don’t mind being older or looking stupid.”


Often willing to take roles in bad pictures if the money was good enough, Mr. Connery was the voice of a computer-generated dragon in “Dragonheart” (1996) and a villain trying to unleash a weather catastrophe on London in the misfire film version of the cult British television series “The Avengers” (1998). But he had more than his share of late-career triumphs as well.


He relished his role as Harrison Ford’s eccentric father in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” (1989) — even though Mr. Ford was only 12 years younger than he was. The next year he played a Russian nuclear submarine commander trying to defect to the United States in the film of Tom Clancy’s “The Hunt for Red October” and a hard-drinking but naïve British publisher recruited by British intelligence in post-Cold War Russia in “The Russia House,” based on John le Carré’s novel.


Mr. Connery’s last movie was one of his lesser ones: “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” (2003), an unsuccessful screen adaptation of a clever comic-book series about a group of Victorian heroes.


In 2005, he told an interviewer that he was done with acting, less because of his age than because of the “idiots now making films in Hollywood.” Five years later, he told another interviewer: “I don’t think I’ll ever act again. I have so many wonderful memories, but those days are over.” Except for some voice-over work, and despite occasional talk of possible new projects, they were.


On July 5, 2000, wearing the dark green MacLeod tartan of the Highlands, Mr. Connery was knighted at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh by Queen Elizabeth II. It was a knighthood that had been vetoed for two years by officials angry at his outspoken support for the Scottish National Party and his active role in the passage of a referendum that created the first Scottish Parliament in 300 years.


The palace is less than a mile from the tenement in Fountainbridge where Mr. Connery grew up. He never removed the “Scotland Forever” tattoo that he placed on his arm when he was 18. Nor was he ever tempted to deny his identity or turn himself into an English gentleman. As he told The Times in 1987, “My strength as an actor, I think, is that I’ve stayed close to the core of myself.”


Alex Marshall and Peter Keepnews contributed reporting.

The History of Fish & Chips

The History of Fish and Chips

by Ellen Castelow


Ahh…. Fish, chips and mushy peas! There is nothing more British than fish and chips. Freshly cooked, piping hot fish and chips, smothered in salt and soused with vinegar, wrapped in newspaper and eaten out-of-doors on a cold and wintry day – it simply cannot be beaten!


So how, when and where did this quintessentially British dish come about?


The potato is thought to have been brought to England from the New World in the 17th century by Sir Walter Raleigh although it is believed that the French invented the fried potato chip.


Both Lancashire and London stake a claim to being the first to invent this famous meal – chips were a cheap, staple food of the industrial north whilst fried fish was introduced in London’s East End. In 1839 Charles Dickens referred to a “fried fish warehouse” in his novel, ‘Oliver Twist’.


The populace soon decided that putting fried fish and chips together was a very tasty combination and so was born our national dish of fish and chips!


The first fish and chip shop in the North of England is thought to have opened in Mossely, near Oldham, Lancashire, around 1863. Mr Lees sold fish and chips from a wooden hut in the market and later he transferred the business to a permanent shop across the road which had the following inscription in the window, “This is the first fish and chip shop in the world”.


However in London, it is said that Joseph Malin opened a fish and chip shop in Cleveland Street within the sound of Bow Bells in 1860.


Fish and ChipsFish and chip shops were originally small family businesses, often run from the ‘front room’ of the house and were commonplace by the late 19th century.


Through the latter part of the 19th century and well into the 20th century, the fish and chip trade expanded greatly to satisfy the needs of the growing industrial population of Great Britain. In fact you might say that the Industrial Revolution was fuelled partly by fish and chips!


The development of the steam trawler brought fish from all over the North Atlantic, Iceland and Greenland and the steam railways allowed easy and fast distribution of the fish around the country.


Fish and chips became so essential to the diet of the ordinary man and woman that one shop in Bradford had to employ a doorman to control the queue at busy times during 1931. The Territorial Army prepared for battle on fish and chips provided in special catering tents erected at training camps in the 1930’s.


The fish and chip shop was invaluable in supplementing the family’s weekly diet in the Second World War, as fish and chips were among the few foods not to be rationed. Queues were often hours long when the word went round that the chip shop had fish!! On one occasion at Brian’s Fish and Chip Shop in Leeds, when fish was scarce, homemade fish cakes were sold – along with the confusing, and slightly worrying, warning: “Patrons: We do not recommend the use of vinegar with these fish cakes”!!


Fish and Chips with vinegarSo are fish and chips any good for us, nutritionally? Fish and chips are a valuable source of protein, fibre, iron and vitamins, providing a third of the recommended daily allowance of vitamins for men and nearly half for women. Magnus Pyke cites it as an example of a traditional dish once jeered at by food snobs and even censured by health food devotees but now fully appreciated as a nutritious combination.


In 1999, the British consumed nearly 300 million servings of fish and chips* – that equates to six servings for every man, woman and child in the country. There are now around 8,500 fish and chip shops* across the UK – that’s eight for every one McDonald’s outlet, making British Fish and Chips the nation’s favourite take-away.


*Source: The National Federation of Fish Friers

Friday 30 October 2020

Winston Churchill children ...


Sarah Millicent Hermione Touchet-Jesson, Baroness Audley (n̩e Spencer-Churchill; 7 October 1914 Р24 September 1982) was a British actress and dancer known for being the daughter of Winston Churchill, who was Prime Minister from 1940 to 1945 and from 1951 to 1955.

Sarah Churchill was born in London, the second daughter of Winston Churchill, later Prime Minister from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955, and Clementine Churchill, later Baroness Spencer-Churchill; she was the third of the couple's five children and was named after Sir Winston's ancestor, Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough. She was educated at Notting Hill High School as a day girl and later at North Foreland Lodge as a boarder.


Personal life

Churchill married three times:


Vic Oliver, born as Victor Oliver von Samek, a popular comedian and musician (1936–1945) (divorced)

Anthony Beauchamp (1949–1957) (widowed)

Thomas Percy Henry Touchet-Jesson, 23rd Baron Audley (1962–1963) (widowed)

It has been both stated and confirmed by multiple sources,[who?] including Sarah Churchill's sister, Lady Soames, that Winston and Clementine Churchill neither liked nor approved of Sarah's first two husbands. Towards the end of her marriage to Vic Oliver, she began an affair with the American ambassador to Britain, John Winant; it is believed the failure of the relationship contributed to the depression that led to Winant's suicide in 1947. Only Sarah's third marriage to Lord Audley (the love of her life, it was said) was greeted with warm approval by both parents.


In numerous books about the Churchill family, it is said that Clementine (despite her disapproval) managed to be polite to both Vic Oliver and Anthony Beauchamp after Sarah had married them, but Winston Churchill remained rather cold and hostile toward both, considering them to be self-centred, superficial types who ultimately did not make his beloved Sarah either happy or fulfilled. Sarah's marriage to Beauchamp in America in 1949 came as a shock to her parents since they had neither been introduced to Beauchamp nor informed of the forthcoming marriage. Despite her stubborn rebellion against the expectations of both parents, Sarah reportedly felt guilty about this for the rest of her life, since she had craved her father's approval in most matters.[citation needed]


In 1964 Sarah became romantically involved with African-American émigré jazz singer and painter Lobo Nocho, and there were reports that the two might marry. Her father was also believed to have disapproved of this relationship. Churchill appeared in a London revival of Shaw’s Pygmalion in the 1950s, but drinking had become a problem. She was arrested for making a scene in the street on a number of occasions and even spent a short spell on remand in Holloway Prison. She wrote frankly about this in her 1981 autobiography Keep on Dancing.


Death and interment

Sarah Churchill died on 24 September 1982 at the age of 67. She is buried with her parents and three of her siblings at St Martin's Church, Bladon, near Woodstock, Oxfordshire.


Diana Spencer-Churchill (11 July 1909 – 20 October 1963) was the eldest daughter of British statesman Sir Winston Churchill and Clementine Churchill, Baroness Spencer-Churchill.

She attended Notting Hill High School and then the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, where she spent five terms, although her focus was not on acting. On 12 December 1932, she married John Milner Bailey (15 June 1900 East Grinstead – 13 February 1946 Cape Town, South Africa), who became the Bailey baronet Sir John Milner Bailey, 2nd Bt, but the marriage was unsuccessful and they divorced in 1935. On 16 September 1935, she married the Conservative politician Duncan Sandys (later life peer Lord Duncan-Sandys). After they had had three children, that marriage also ended, and they were divorced in 1960.

On 11 April 1962, her name was legally changed back to Diana Churchill.

Diana had several nervous breakdowns. In 1962, she began working with the Samaritans, an organisation created for the prevention of suicide. In 1963, she died, aged 54, from an overdose of barbiturates. A coroner later concluded that the death was a suicide. She is buried with her parents (who both outlived her) and siblings at St Martin's Church, Bladon, near Woodstock, Oxfordshire.


Winston Churchill’s Brilliant but Troubled Son, Randolph

Was he bipolar? Evidence suggests Randolph suffered behavioral ills.


Thomas Maier

Uncovering Great Minds

Posted Oct 30, 2014


After World War II, Randolph Churchill, Winston’s only son, still believed his destiny was to become prime minister, and that the name Churchill alone would carry the day, regardless of the mounting evidence against his chances.


Many had predicted greatness for young Churchill a decade earlier, when he boldly displayed his gifts as a public speaker which seemed more impressive than his famous father. “He used all the colorful rhetoric and manners of Winston Churchill,” rhapsodized The New York Times about one of Randolph’s early speeches. “Except that he was more restrained in his speech than his impetuous father, the young Mr. Churchill showed conclusively he was a chip off the old block.”


Randolph shared these high expectations of himself. “I am not afraid to reveal ... my two main ambitions,” Randolph declared in 1932. “I wish to make an immense fortune and to be Prime Minister.”


Despite his braggadocio and overt confidence, however, Randolph appeared tired and much older after the war. At age 34, his smooth blond hair had begun to thin and gray, and his overweight body was still recovering from his wartime injuries. Unlike with his father, the election in 1945 had left him without a seat in the House of Commons and suddenly looking for a job.


In the past, Randolph had relied on writing, particularly for newspapers, just as his father had used journalism to earn some cash and promote his views in between political posts. But Randolph, caught in the maelstrom of divorce and a shortage of funds, returned to another, easier way to make money. Near the end of 1946, he traveled to America to give lectures, hoping to repeat his successful speaking tour from the early 1930s.


Americans still tended to view Randolph as the heir apparent, the next Churchill to assume power, unlike many in Britain with less regard for him. “It was perhaps just as well that America existed for Randolph,” remarked his cousin Anita Leslie. “It was such a large country to jaunt around in giving lectures—and Randolph remained excellent on the platform if not in private life.”


On the lecture trail, Randolph kept himself amused at night by excessive drinking and boorish gestures to women. “Britishly drunk all the time, soliciting respectable women at luncheon parties, etc.,” author Evelyn Waugh (“Brideshead Revisited”) complained to his agent after meeting his friend Randolph in Hollywood.


Randolph’s penchant for rapid mood changes—a sudden, almost violent intensity in his speech, followed by a period of mildness seeking forgiveness—suggested problems beyond alcohol abuse. Only Kay Halle, who’d known him since his golden-haired youth, seemed to recognize a deeper cause in Randolph’s psyche.


To Halle, Randolph confided that “he could feel whenever an illogical tantrum was going to overwhelm him." She didn’t seem to consider this “illogical tantrum” a symptom of mental illness. Instead, Randolph described to Halle, “a physical sensation that arose from the earth” and left him feeling out of control.


“If I can stop it before it reaches my knees I will be all right,” Randolph explained to Halle, his longtime friend, “but once it gets above them a black fog envelops me and I just don’t care what I say.”


Randolph Churchill’s behavior displayed signs of bipolar disorder (then called manic depression) as defined in today’s medical literature: very elevated emotional highs with racing thoughts and talkative outbursts followed by remorseful “black fogs” and feelings of worthlessness; irritable moods and little temper control; impulsive decisions and spending sprees; binge drinking and overeating; compulsively seeking sex with many different partners; and a false overestimation of self-importance.



In retrospect, Lady Juliet Townsend, Randolph’s goddaughter, said many of these symptoms were evident in his demeanor though never diagnosed professionally. “He certainly was a person who was very up and down,” she recalled in 2012, “and got more down than up as time went on.”


His contemporaries, including Waugh, dismissed these problems as part of Randolph’s eccentricity or buffoonery, without regard for a deeper cause. “Randolph’s friendships were not very close friendships because he was so wild—people didn’t like to get too close to him,” recalled Adrian Berry, grandson of newspaper baron Lord Camrose. “My uncle Freddie [Birkenhead] regarded Randolph in slightly comic terms, not a person whom he’d confide in.”


Neither Clementine nor Winston was much for psychological analysis, and none of their correspondence about Randolph’s behavior suggests it. Perhaps the nagging sense of a family link (that his son’s erratic nature too closely resembled that of his late father) was too uncomfortable for Winston to consider.


Even Halle seemed ill-equipped to deal adequately with Randolph’s raw admission. “Kay tried to train him to check this crazy creeping temper at the ankle stage,” Leslie described. “But it was no good.” Kay’s well-intentioned but amateur methods—as if his “crazy creeping temper” could be put on a leash—were no match for the “illogical tantrums” that continued to haunt his existence.


Across America, Randolph’s bad-boy antics were followed by gossip rather than political columnists. In December 1946, he was arrested for reckless driving after addressing a women’s club in Connecticut. Rather than hire a lawyer, he unwisely conducted his own defense. He argued that his 80-mile-an-hour speed along the Merritt Parkway wasn’t necessarily “reckless” because the highway was “one of the safest in the world.” The judge failed to see his logic and fined him 50 dollars.


Back in England, the verdict was even harsher. Both his parents, Winston and Clementine, could no longer hide their disappointment in him and his adolescent behavior. Randolph’s acts of genuine heroism during the war, his insightful advice as Winston’s eyes and ears in other nations, and the deaths of friends and colleagues in battle had somehow failed to mature him or season his judgment.


In his wake, all he seemed to leave behind were unpaid bills and a broken marriage, with a 6-year-old son who barely knew him. Unlike Winston at this same age, who spoke of life’s brevity after his father’s death, Randolph acted as if the party would never end.


Upon his son’s return to England, Winston let it be known he didn’t care to see him, an emotional wound Randolph could not bear. In February 1947, Randolph composed a heartfelt letter admitting his faults and acknowledging his father’s disappointment in him.


“As you know the only career in which I am seriously interested is politics,” he said. “While fully realizing that I have made my full share of mistakes I believe also that circumstances have not so far been propitious. But I am still young and fortune may yet come my way.”


Randolph conceded he should have become a lawyer, just as Winston suggested, but needed to work as a journalist to pay his debts. What he could not afford emotionally, though, was the estrangement of his father.


“Please don’t expect too much of me now,” Randolph beseeched. “Believe instead, I beg you, that I have no other ambition than to be ultimately judged an honorable and faithful son. No day passes but that you are constantly in my thoughts and I am grateful that you think so often of me. Give me your confidence and I shall not fail you.”



Girl who grew up with giants: Stalin, Chaplin, Lawrence of Arabia - she met them all. The extraordinary life of Churchill’s youngest daughter



PUBLISHED: 01:35, 2 June 2014 | UPDATED: 14:33, 2 June 2014


Right up until her recent brief illness, Mary Soames would finish every meal by reclining in her favourite armchair beneath a photograph of her father, Sir Winston Churchill, close her eyes and spark up a vast, Churchillian-sized cigar.


And, presumably, allow herself the occasional reflection on a truly extraordinary life.


Not many people spend their formative years living at Chequers and in both No 10 and 11 Downing Street, meet Stalin (or, indeed, remember him in their diary as ‘small, dapper and rather twinkly’), Harry Truman, wheelchair-bound Franklin D. Roosevelt (‘tremendous, extraordinary — he looked so powerful you almost thought he was going to get up and walk’) and pop downstairs before bedtime to find Lawrence of Arabia (or Aircraftman Shaw, as he was known to the family) with his ‘amazing, piercing blue eyes’ in the drawing room.


Lady Soames — who died on Saturday, aged 91 —  was the fifth and last surviving child of Sir Winston Churchill and his wife Clementine.


She always maintained she was ‘not intended — a child of consolation’.


Her birth followed the sudden death in 1921 of her sister Marigold, aged just two-and-a-half, from tonsillitis. The illness was contracted while her mother was staying with the Duke and Duchess of Westminster in Cheshire and spotted so late by the then nanny that there was nothing Clementine could do but watch helplessly and weep.


With three much older siblings and a mother deep in grief, Mary was raised by a new, strict but wonderful nanny she called ‘Nana’.


Mary was not like other children. At the age of five she already spoke, wrote Winston, ‘in the tone and style of a woman of 30’.


By her own admission, she was ‘the most awful spoilt little brat, very precocious, because I lived almost entirely with grown-ups’.


Even without the steady stream of very important people turning up for dinner — the artist Walter Sickert, War Minister Duff Cooper (‘he and papa would shout at each other and have frightful political ding-dongs, though they were on the same side’), Max Beaverbrook, the brilliant Oxford scientist Lord Cherwell, Noel Coward, the Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII), Charlie Chaplin (Mary was allowed to stay up late to watch him perform) — it was an odd household.


Her older siblings — Diana, 13 when Mary was born, Randolph, 11 (horribly spoiled by Winston to compensate for his own father’s cold neglect), and Sarah, eight — were a tight, unhappy gang who had already seen off a number of unkind nannies, including one who filled all the nursery chocolates with mustard because she thought one of the children had taken one without asking.




Meanwhile, their mother, Clementine — about whom Mary wrote a highly acclaimed biography — was the product of a desperately insecure, fatherless childhood. Clementine was neurotic, highly strung and depressive.


Then there was Winston. According to Mary, he was ‘frightfully noisy when he lost his temper’, and would recite the works of the Whig historian Thomas Macaulay or Byron at the dinner table.


He took up so much of her mother’s attention that Clementine ‘didn’t participate’ in her children’s early lives at all.


‘He always came first, second and third,’ said Mary. ‘But I honestly never felt neglected.’


Winston was also fantastically extravagant. Particularly when it came to Chartwell, the 80-acre Kent estate he’d bought at auction for £5,000 on the day Mary was born, against Clementine’s wishes and behind her back.


There was no enormous pot of money to dip into — the whole family relied for most of their income on Winston writing historical books and newspaper and magazine articles.


This meant that, with 17 servants, building projects and Winston’s combined champagne, port and cigar bills equalling all other household expenditure put together — he once grudgingly proposed to cut his cigar intake to four a day — tensions were often high.


‘There would be great harouches when you’d be shouted at for not turning the lights off,’ said Mary.


Meanwhile, she flourished. She did well in her school certificate and, a week later, war broke out, Chartwell was shut up and she was moved to Admiralty House, then Downing Street and Chequers.


Between 1939 and 1941, Mary worked for the Red Cross and the Women’s Voluntary Service.


And then one day she overheard a conversation at No. 10 between her father the Prime Minister and General Pile, the commander-in-chief of the anti-aircraft forces, about the lack of men available for the anti-aircraft batteries and how they’d have to use women.


Instantly, Mary rushed off to join the Auxilliary Territorial Service, where she served until 1946, working up through the ranks to junior commander in charge of 230 women, shooting down flying bombs and serving in London, Belgium and Germany.


She adored it. She worked hard and played harder.


‘Our lives were guided by the pleasure principle. Whatever terrible things were happening, there were parties every night,’ she said.


Mary was an attractive girl and love bloomed in that ‘very jolly atmosphere’. An early eight-week engagement to Eric, Lord Duncannon, was squashed by her parents, who worried she was too young.


She then fell for an ‘excruciatingly dull’ American officer called Ed Conkin, and a panicking Winston intervened: ‘Now don’t you go marrying that young man.’


Mary was close to her father, or ‘the Dove’ as she called him. They’d go to the theatre together, dine at The Savoy and she’d watch with ‘breathless pride and apprehension’ as he addressed the Commons.


She accompanied him as his aide-de-camp on several overseas trips.


She was at his side at the Potsdam Conference in 1945 where she arranged the table settings for Churchill’s dinner with Harry S Truman and Josef Stalin.


She was ‘stunned, numbed, incapable of thought’ when he lost the 1945 general election. That night she wrote in her diary: ‘His stature seems to grow with every hour of this bitter personal calamity.


He talked to us of the new government: “Give them a chance . . . let’s see what they can do . . .” ’


The following day, she had clearly gained her composure and added: ‘Bought two pairs of cami knickers to try to boost my morale.’


After the adrenaline highs and extraordinary times of war, civilian life was a terrible letdown — until she met Christopher Soames, a young Guards officer.


‘It was all a bit sudden,’ she once said. ‘I don’t suppose we’d seen each other six times before we  got engaged.’


The pair married in 1947 and moved into the farm at Chartwell. They were blissfully happy and were soon joined by five children, Nicholas (now the sizeable MP for Mid Sussex), Emma (the journalist), Jeremy, Charlotte and Rupert.


Politics were only briefly on the back burner. In 1950, Christopher became MP for Bedford and later parliamentary secretary to Winston.


Mary dedicated her time to him during the school term and the children in the holidays.


Next came four years in France, where Christopher was ambassador, and quite a bit of socialising with the exiled Duke and Duchess of Windsor.


‘He only wanted to talk about England and what was going on there,’ she said. ‘I’m sure he never regretted what he’d done. The things he regretted were the things he lost out on.’


A stint in Brussels — where Christopher was vice president of the European Commission — was ‘not so much fun’.


They were also in Rhodesia (‘happy at the time, but not such a  bright scene now’) where, as the  governor of the country, Christopher handed over the last great chunk of the British Empire to a nice-seeming chap called Robert Mugabe.


In the meantime, Mary was the perfect wife and mother, and wrote her best-selling book about her mother’s life, which won the prestigious Wolfson History Prize.


After Christopher died in 1987, she spent six very happy years as chairman of the board of the National Theatre.


Mary led an extraordinary life and lived it well. But if politics, history and very important dinner guests were the constant back-drop to Churchill family life, unhappiness also ran through like a thick, dark seam.


Her elder sister, Diana, committed suicide with a barbiturates overdose in 1963; her other sister, Sarah, became an alcoholic and died aged 67 in 1982.


And the grossly indulged brother Randolph became an arrogant, under-achieving gambler. ‘Nothing grows in the shadow of a great oak tree,’ he once said bitterly. He died aged 57 of a heart attack in 1968, having written the first two volumes of the massive biography of his father.


‘I don’t know why I turned out like this while others had such problems,’ she once said. ‘But I do think nana made a great difference.’

Wednesday 28 October 2020

Chrysalis Clothing

Chrysalis Clothing has been manufacturing the finest quality Town and Country Outerwear in their Corby factory in the heart of England

since 1985.

Advanced technology is combined with the best of British tailoring to ensure that the discriminating wearer is both dry and comfortable, whilst the garment retains the cut, style and finish of a traditional tailored coat.

Each Chrysalis garment is individually hand cut and made from the very best natural fibres woven in the British Isles. Many of the styles are Teflon™ coated and incorporate a waterproof and breathable membrane interliner for additional warmth and protection.


The Chrysalis brand is supplied to the finest stores worldwide and the Company is recognised as a leader in this highly specialised field. How is traditional tweed clothing made?


Brought to you by

William and Son


Clare Thorp

18 SEPTEMBER 2018 • 11:45AM


By investing in a country wear company, William & Son is breathing new life into traditional British craftsmanship — and ensuring its luxury outerwear boasts outstanding quality

Chris Blackmore’s passion for tweed clothing started on the day he bought his first-ever suit – a Harris tweed three-piece, back in 1966. “I got the bug from that time onwards,” he says. “I still wear tweed suits today. I love the colours, I love the touch, I love the finish and the individuality.”


Then working for a tailor in London, he went on to start his own business creating classic garments in the fabric he loved so much. More than 30 years later, the company he founded, Chrysalis, is still producing the finest country and town wear for stores and labels both in the UK and around the world.


It was the passion Blackmore has for his craft, and his commitment to creating high-quality British products using traditional methods, that led luxury-goods company William & Son to employ him to create their own country wear. In 2013, he went on to buy the company’s factory in Corby, Northamptonshire as part of vertical integration into the WRA Group.


Chrysalis is one of several British manufacturers that the WRA Group has invested in as part of its commitment to supporting British craftsmanship. “We’ve always worked closely with British companies,” says William Asprey, chairman and founder of William & Son. “There’s a very good reason for that, which is that the quality is excellent, if not the best. We saw a real opportunity for these businesses and felt that we could grow them.”


For Asprey and William & Son’s chief executive Lou McLeod, buying Chrysalis made perfect sense. “They are the best,” says McLeod. “Chris trained in Savile Row, so his cut is excellent.”


As with other manufacturers they have invested in, Chrysalis not only supplies William & Son, but produces for other companies, too. “In an ideal world, we want the factories to be flat out all year round,” says Asprey. “Chris has produced for a lot of our competitors and they come back to him because he’s very good at what he does. Men in the shooting field want practicality; they want comfort – something that’s not restrictive.”


For Blackmore, it means he can be confident that Chrysalis can carry on creating the finest outdoor wear for many more years. “To have somebody who has a keen interest and passion for what we do was great,” says Blackmore. “It means I can look after the workforce and continue the traditions that we have here with all the multi-skills the workers possess.”


In the Corby factory, a team of 30 skilled artisans work to create the garments. “None of our goods is mass-produced,” says Blackmore. “They’re all individually hand-made and tailored from start to finish. That’s what makes us unique.”


The process starts with the raw material, tweed, which is all sourced in the UK. “We buy the finest tweeds for the purpose, sourced from mills in Scotland and Yorkshire,” says Blackmore. “Our garments are British-made from British cloth.”


Tweed manufacturing

Each piece is hand-cut with shears from a pattern before the fabric is stabilised to make it waterproof. Once it leaves the cutting room it then moves into the sewing room, where three multi-skilled teams each work on different types of garments. One team create waistcoats, gilets and breeks; another makes all the top coats, such as classic racing coats with velvet collars. A third team is dedicated to creating field coats – a timeless garment that the company has been making since it started. 


“We offer it in 80 different tweeds and as many combinations as the customer decides to choose,” says Blackmore. “We also offer a choice of linings and all sorts of trims, so the customer can make the coat their own and know there’s nothing else on the high street like it.”


Each field coat has a breathable membrane inside to keep the wearer warm and dry. “It’s a mixture of old traditions and new technology,” says Blackmore. Chrysalis swaps in half a dozen new tweeds into its selection each year. “We’re always bringing in fresh ideas, styles and fabrics, and I’m always looking at new patterns, clothes and designs.”


William & Son’s country wear combines functionality with luxury. “It’s still about practicality, but we’ve added more style to it,” says McLeod. “We say ‘British with a twist’.”


Whether it’s updating a classic field jacket in a new colour or fabric, or investing in a UK company such as Chrysalis, it’s about breathing new life into British traditions – and ensuring that luxury products made in this country continue to be revered around the world.

Sunday 25 October 2020

The battle of the brothers by biographer and historian Robert Lacey // VIDEO: The battle of the brothers: how deep is the alleged rift between Princes William and Harry?

From bestselling author and historical consultant to the award-winning Netflix series The Crown, an unparalleled insider account of tumult, secrecy and schism in the Royal family.


The world has watched Prince William and Prince Harry since they were born. Raised by Princess Diana to be the closest of brothers, how have the boy princes grown into very different, now distanced men?


From royal insider, biographer and historian Robert Lacey, this book reveals the untold details of William and Harry’s closeness and estrangement, asking what happens when two sons are raised for vastly different futures – one burdened with the responsibility of one day becoming king, the other with the knowledge that he will always remain spare. How have William and Harry both agreed and diverged in their views of what a modern royal owes to their country? Were the seeds of damage sowed by Prince Charles and Princess Diana as their marriage unraveled for all the world to see? In the previous generation, how have Prince Charles and Prince Andrew’s own relations strained under the Crown? What role has Queen Elizabeth II played in marshalling her feuding heirs? What parts have Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle played in helping their husbands to choose their differing paths? And what is the real, unvarnished story behind Harry and Meghan’s dramatic departure?


In the most intimate vision yet of life behind closed doors, with its highs, lows and discretions all laid out, this is a journey into royal life as never offered before.


9 Royal Tabloid Controversies Explained in Robert Lacey’s Battle of Brothers


In the new book about the rift between Prince Harry and Prince William, the British press might just be the third most important character.



OCTOBER 21, 2020


In his new book, Battle of the Brothers: William and Harry—The Inside Story of a Family in Tumult, Robert Lacey, royal expert and historical consultant to the The Crown, tells the story of the recent schism separating Prince Harry and Meghan Markle from the rest of the royal family from the very beginning: when Prince Charles and Princess Diana first met. According to Lacey, the roots of Harry’s eventual disillusionment are seen pretty clearly in the cold and difficult relationship between his parents and the ways his mother pushed back against royal strictures.


The story of Charles and Diana has been told before, and so has the story of Meghan and Harry. But in his version, Lacey takes a closer look at the way the press itself shaped the lives of the people they were writing about as everything unfolded. He examines how the family participated with the press, reporting that Camilla Parker-Bowles, now the Duchess of Cornwall, had a weekly telephone appointment with a journalist from the Sun throughout the 80s, where she would share tidbits she gleaned from her phone conversations with Charles. He also discusses the way explosive press battles between Charles and Diana had an impact on William and Harry’s upbringing. In one poignant moment, Lacey writes that William’s boarding school had subscriptions to national newspapers, but on a day his parents’ arguments led the news, they were not distributed to the students to avoid causing him distress.


Treating the press as a significant force—and some of the leading royal correspondents as characters—means that Lacey brings a new eye to some of the biggest tabloid controversies and mysteries of the last quarter century. Here are some of the most fascinating ones.


William welcomed Camilla into the family—but she was surprised by his temper. Camilla remained friendly with Charles throughout his marriage to Diana, and though there is some debate about when their affair began, Lacey reports that William and Harry never met their future stepmother until after Diana’s death. They did know about her, and William finally met her in 1998 when he made a surprise visit to Charles and Camilla at home. Though he was friendly, the meeting stressed Camilla out. “I need a gin and tonic,” she told a friend she said afterward, before pouring herself a double. After his parents split, William was angry at Charles and the tension seemingly lingered for decades. Camilla later told friends that she was alarmed by William’s screaming and fiery temper when he got into it with Charles.


William and Harry were both wild partiers in high school. In the early 2000s, Harry had a reputation for being an out-of-control partier, a period Lacey returns to when trying to figure out when William and Harry first began to fight. William was responsible for turning the basement at Highgrove House into what Lacey calls a “disco rumpus room” called Club H, pouring Harry his first shots, and introducing him to marijuana at Eton, though Harry did continue to party after William graduated. Insiders who spoke to Lacey said that Harry resented that William never got the type of negative headlines he did, and was even convinced that Charles’s press officer was feeding the stories to newspapers to make him look bad.


There’s a chance Kate only decided to go to St. Andrews after she heard William was going. A long-forgotten tabloid controversy centers on the exact timeline of Kate’s application to the university where she eventually met William. In August 2000, William’s decision to attend St. Andrew’s to study the history of art was made public. At first, Kate had applied and had committed to Edinburgh University, where some of her friends were planning to go. Sometime in late August or September, according to Lacey, Kate changed her mind and decided to defer for a year and apply to St. Andrew’s, and her high school made her write a formal letter to Edinburgh to apologize. Lacey isn’t sure exactly what her motivations were, but he points out that applications for female students jumped 44% after William announced his choice. Even if Kate did apply because she harbored a slight crush on the prince who was already a global star, she certainly wasn’t alone. Who among us, Lacey concludes, wouldn’t do the same?


The tiara fight before Meghan’s wedding to Harry really happened—but it was way more complicated than previously reported. In November 2018, rumors that Meghan was denied her choice in tiara first erupted, adding to the narrative that the palace referred to her as “Duchess Difficult.” Subsequent versions of the story have cast doubt on the fact that Meghan was even there at all, and the authors of Finding Freedom, another bombshell biography, claim the fight was between Harry and the Queen Elizabeth’s dresser Angela Kelly about using the tiara for a hair trial. According to Lacey, the queen did say no to a first suggestion made by Meghan because it might have been acquired sketchily after the Russian Revolution and is thus rarely put on display. If Harry questioned his grandmother after that, Lacey thinks it might have only been because he didn’t understand the significance of the tiara.


The Buckingham Palace staff, specifically the queen’s private secretary and his allies, were not fans of Meghan’s. According to Lacey, Meghan joined the family right as a staff shakeup at Buckingham Palace had become contentious. The queen’s longtime right-hand man, Christopher Geidt, had been pushed out of his role, and his replacement, Edward Young, was not as beloved or competent a manager. As a result, unflattering leaks from palace insiders went up considerably starting in late 2017, meaning that some of the venom aimed at Meghan might have been a coincidence. Lacey also believes that Young particularly disliked Meghan and thus saddled her with a light, boring schedule that didn’t allow her to get involved. Her two signature projects from her years at the palace, the cookbook she worked on with Grenfell Tower fire survivors and the issue of British Vogue she guest-edited, were both developed without the help of the palace office, and made some insiders angry.


The Mail on Sunday sent a reporter out to Meghan’s dad once they read about Meghan’s letter to her father in the pages of People. Currently, Meghan is in the middle of a lawsuit with Associated Newspapers, the parent company of the Mail, over their February 2019 decision to publish excerpts of a private letter she wrote to her father. In defense documents, the company has claimed that the fact that an anonymous friend of Meghan mentioned the letter in a People interview means that they had the right to publish it. According to Lacey, they did send a reporter to Thomas Markle’s house in Mexico, trying to track the letter down after reading about it in People. It does give some credence to the argument made by Meghan’s legal team that reporters interfered in her family life in a troubling way.


Harry and Meghan gave the palace no warning before filing their lawsuits against the press—and this was a breaking point for the rest of the family. When Meghan and Harry announced the Associated Newspaper suit and Harry’s decision to sue two organizations over phone hacking, they did it on a website that didn’t belong to the palace. Lacey reports that the palace had no advanced warning about the decision, despite the fact that tradition dictates that a royal family member should ask the queen permission before moving forward on a legal matter. Lacey adds that William, who was already angry at his brother for disregarding tradition when it came to Archie’s birth announcement and Meghan’s British Vogue issue, and the rest of the family saw this as a line in the sand.


Harry did give the palace 10 minutes notice before announcing their royal exit, leading to acrimony and meltdown in the palace. According to Lacey, emotions ran high inside the summit where Harry would negotiate his future with William, Charles, the queen, and a few aides. William was so angry that he refused to join for lunch beforehand, and told friends that he didn’t want to be around to hash out the details. However, a palace insider told Lacey that the decision to strip Harry of all his palace-bestowed honors, like honorary military appointments, was not inevitable and may have been the result of vindictiveness on behalf of Young, the queen’s palace secretary. It also wasn’t inevitable that they be stripped of their ability to use their HRH titles or royal status in order to seek financial independence, but Lacey believes that their impulsive behavior over the last year had made the queen less forgiving than she might have been when she made her decision.