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Apple HQ Savile Row

Apple Corps HQ: ‘A controlled weirdness… a kind of Western communism’

After Brian Epstein’s death, the Beatles were effectively managing themselves for a time and the business that was the Beatles took off in new and sometimes strange directions. Freed from what had become Epstein’s erratic oversight, the band felt liberated to conduct business experiments, more often than not with expensive consequences (though by this time they were making so much money that the losses were manageable). Read More

St Frideswide

Frideswide and the treacle well

An angel that sulf nyght to that mayde cam
And bad hire oute of the kinges syght wende, that was so grame.
The levedy wende by nyght fram hure sustren tho
With somme that heo with hure toke – tweyne, witthoute mo.
To Temese heo yede and fonde a bote al preste, thorw Godes sonde,
And therin heo fonde an angel that broght hem to the londe.
For dred of the king heo wende, as God hit wolde,
Ne dorste heo come at non toune, to dwelle at non holde.
In a wode that Benesy yclyped ys al day
Thre wynter in an hole woned, that seylde me hure say.
A mayde that seve yere ne myght nothing yse
Cam to hure in the wode, and felle adoun a kne.
Hure eyghen that holy mayde wysche with water of hure honde,
And as hole as any fysche that maide gan up stonde.

An angel to the holy maid appeared on that same night
And bid her flee as best she could the furious king’s might.
The lady fled by night from her sisters all;
Only a few she took with her —two of them, no more.
To the Thames she went and found a boat waiting, by God’s plan,
And therein she found an angel who took them to the land.
For dread of the king she fled that place, as God it did provide,
But dared not go to any town, nor in any house hide.
As best she might she hid herself in a wood called Binsey
Three winters in a cave she lived, where no one could her see.
A maiden who for seven years nothing could see
Came to her within the wood, and fell down upon her knee:
Her eyes the holy maiden washed with water in her hands
And as whole as any fish the maid again did stand.

(from the South English Legendary, 14C, translation by Eleanor Parker)

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TE Lawrence camera Oxford

Sexing up the camera

Within the collection of the Museum of the History of Science in Oxford are a number of objects varnished with the patina of past celebrity. Here are Elizabeth I’s astrolabe, Lewis Carroll’s photographic developing kit, and a blackboard, its chalk-inscribed equations intact, used by Albert Einstein. Read More

Stoke Mandeville old village

A neglected spot

Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid
Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire;
Hands, that the rod of empire might have sway’d,
Or wak’d to ecstasy the living lyre.

(‘Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard’ – Thomas Gray)

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Hardy Tree

Human jam

Because the poet had stood in the churchyard
and watched, by flarelamps, the graves unearthed,
watched each night the unclaimed bodies
packed away, the graveyard cinch and cinch
its boundaries so—why?—so trains might pass;
because the poet had scanned the sky,
the belfries and steeples, dark against
a paler dark; because he had heard
a fox bark, sonorous and long—
three barks, horn-like
but melancholy,

the young man wanted the same churchyard,
the same gradually darkening, quiet sky.
Along the railroad berm, sparse clumps of heather
twitched and stilled. Twitched and stilled.
Gritty semaphores. Then he stood in the churchyard
where Hardy once stood. There was the ash tree,
and there—in memoriam perhaps?—
the upright headstones placed in rings
around its trunk. Just three or four
evenly spaced, concentric rings.
But no,

that was eighty years ago. Now the ash tree’s roots
had nudged the rings into a jumbled cluster,
had tipped, in little groups of two and three,
some stones together. One and one
and two and three. Is that a code?
Nature’s logarithmic shrug?

(‘The Hardy Tree’ – Linda Bierds)

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Old Sarum OS monument

Mudge’s buried cannon

Anyone visiting the Iron Age hill fort at Old Sarum in Wiltshire is likely to miss the weathered, lichen-speckled monument opposite the entrance, on the other side of the main road into Salisbury. The inscription on this irregular block of stone is very difficult to decipher, not just because of its age but also because of its unusual (perhaps even unique — certainly, I have seen nothing in this style before) lettering. Read More