KINDLE VERSION

KINDLE VERSION.

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LOUIS’ BOYHOOD AFFAIR WITH THE TROUT

François_Barraud_Les_truites_arc-en-ciel

[Wikimedia]

Louis lived close to, and later owned, several trout waters such as stretches of the Rivers Itchen and Test, so I have always imagined that he must have loved trout fishing.  I therefore wrote one of those fictional passages, a couple of which appear in the published version of Prinny’s Taylor.  This one didn’t make it but I think it’s fun just the same:-

The boy Louis, because of the demands of the business and the family, had little time to himself, but when a possible hour or so of freedom presented itself he would head inexorably for the river. The family would chaff him, saying that the youth held an unhealthy fascination for the river but he did not care. The river and its roaring or ripply magic were his solace and he crept down there whenever he could, to immerse himself, though not literally, in it, except on hot summer days when its chilliness was welcome. He loved the frisson of being there, of experiencing the sounds and smells, the occasional surprise of a flipping trout, the cool and cavernous reaches where the quieter water was full of promise, and the smell of wild herbs as he waded through the lush vegetation on his quest to reach parts of the Gorges du Tarn that others had never taken the trouble to get to. He owned no fishing tackle to speak of. His brothers would occasionally on a Sunday afternoon take out their long hazel rods to fish for carp, and, in the winter, pike, but Louis always saw this as a family entertainment, lubricated by much wine and surrounded by many galloping screaming children, so not touching the serious pursuit of The Trout, which had become in his mind the most beautiful, alluring and artful fish he had ever seen. So it was that he spent any of his free time observing the pretty antics of this gentleman of the stream, and thinking of ways to secure one for himself. He saw of course that they entrancingly rose to water flies floating down the stream, and realised that a particularly good feeding spot, because of the eddies that carried plenty of flies there, would hold a larger trout, as shown by the solidity of his rise to slurp down each ephemeral morsel. Louis’ efforts to catch these paragons on his inadequate tackle were limited because he was unable to cast his worm or maggot far enough in the gin-clear water not to be seen by the wary fish.

One autumn morning, when the leaves on the sweet chestnut trees were just starting to turn that yellowish-brown which makes them an unlovely second-best to the more showy maples, Louis had managed to slip away to his riparian solace. Nimbly loping along the bank he reached one of his favourite rocks, where as part of his river ritual he would habitually perch for a few moments to survey his domain. Here he would sample the sights, smells and sounds which gave him so much inner peace and freedom. He would relish every sensation and take comfort in the rightness and perfection of that place.

Today, though, something was not so right. Above the enveloping rush-noise of the water his keen ears detected a scuffling, a grating, which disturbed his small world. Sliding awkwardly down the steep opposite bank was Grigor, the club-footed gypsy boy. Louis watched, slowly sliding backwards into a less conspicuous spot where his rock sloped backwards from the bank. Grigor carried a small burlap bag which had a long drawstring which would loop over his shoulder, and could therefore be tucked under his armpit when required. Grigor, when getting closer to the rocky bank, showed the greatest delicacy in the way he moved. Not only did he slither with increased stealth, but he hunched and crept so that there was no chance of his arrival being noticed by the trout. Louis instinctively understood what he was about, but was very curious because Grigor carried no fishing tackle of any kind. The boy prostrated himself on the bank and reached carefully down into the water. He seemed to be feeling his way along, but suddenly withdrew his hand sharply. He crawled a few yards along the bank and once again put his hand under the water. From his vantage-point Louis could see the boy’s body tense with concentration. Suddenly, a relaxation, and Grigor quietly and deliberately lifted a trout from the water. He held it firmly round the gills, admired its red and black-speckled beauty for an instant, and quickly dashed its nose on the rock to kill it. Into the burlap bag it went. Grigor then crept for some distance down the bank, becoming almost lost to sight, so that Louis had to sidle through the brush to take up a new position so as to see what would happen next. The gypsy boy settled himself in another favourite spot and quietly groped under the bank. In a short time he withdrew his hand – no good fish had commandeered that hole since he had removed the last incumbent a few days ago. At that moment, a caterwauling in an unknown tongue struck their ears and Grigor rapidly straightened and scrambled up the bank, soon to disappear, presumably summoned by his mother.

Louis lay where he was for a few moments, replaying in his mind what he had seen. His recollection of the village children, trying to wade into the crystal-clear waters of the Tarn, on the off-chance of getting close enough to a fish to spear it, or even less likely, to scoop it out of the water, struck him as ludicrous at that moment. There was a different way, to charm the trout as it rested from the current in a favourite hole in the bank.   He started to reach into the water on his side of the river, and realised that about a foot below the surface the emerging river had gouged channels in the rock. He glided his nimble tailor’s fingers along such a channel and suddenly felt a nip. Now he understood why Grigor had whipped his hand out of the water. An eel, jack or even a trout could give an unexpected bite to a pink fleshy hand that came within range. Even the toothless carp will have a nibble at anything as grub-like as an immersed human finger.

Louis’s courage returned in an instant and he was keen to try his luck again. This time, as he felt his way along the channel, his fingers encountered the glassy side of a plump fish, but he was too sudden and it shot off upstream, leaving a flurry of fins and tail on the surface in its hurry to be away.   He was due home now, but he could feel it in his fingers that next time he would touch the fish as gently as a piece of weed floating by. He would lightly caress its silky side until he had reached its gills, whereupon he would gently encircle its head, the only place where one could hold a live trout, and quietly lift the captive from its element.

In time he got to know all of the rocky places where the trout chose to lie in the dark and sheltered holes away from the current. A favourite rock had a tunnel which ran right through it, opening to the side towards the back. He would place one hand over the mouth of this hole and with the other feel for a fish in the side channel. More than once a fish would shoot upstream inside the rock and he would catch it by the nose between two finger joints. The fish he brought home made a welcome addition to the family’s diet, usually fried in butter.

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KINDLE VERSION

You can find a Kindle version of the book at:

If you would like to review it in a blog or elsewhere I can send you a complimentary copy if you send your email to bazalgettec@gmail.com

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18C TAILORING SLANG

hotgoosepic

“Hot Goose, Cabbage & Cucumbers” is an original hand coloured etching engraved by Thomas Rowlandson & published in 1823 by John Fairburn, and shows the tailors using the goose, working on the cabbage, but the spectre of ‘short commons’ is staring them in the face, in the comely person of a young woman selling cucumbers.

Goose: The ‘goosing iron’ or sad-iron, was named because it often had a goose-necked handle. The term ‘goose’ was also applied to the tailor himself, and any political cartoons of the time containing a goose, or ‘gooses’ is likely to be directed at tailors, and often by inference at the clothes-mad Regent himself.

Cabbage: This was the remnants of cloth left over from an order, and already charged for. This was therefore a small bonus for the tailor, who could use them to make up other garments. ‘Cabbage’ was therefore a term also applied to cash. Again, the word was also used for the tailor himself, and for the Regent. Cartoons conferring the “Order of the Cabbage” are an example of this usage.

‘Cucumber Time’ was a term used for the slow season in the tailoring trade, when the journeyman tailor traditionally was reduced to living on cucumbers. An often used maxim was: “Tailors are Vegetarians, because they live on ‘cucumber’ when without work, and on ‘cabbage’ when in full employ.”

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BAZALGETTE THE WHALE

As a mild diversion on this festive season I bring you Bazalgette the Whale……

It is just possible that you have come across references on the web to a sculpture in Yachats, Oregon which bears this name. Well, I finally got round to asking why it was so named.

See: http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WMHQR3_Bazalgette_sculpture_Yachats_Oregon

Here is the reply I received.

“Greetings Charles,
Thanks for your inquiry – oddly the first I’ve ever had (in 18 years) about the name of the whale tail sculpture.
The sculptor Jim Adler says that he named the sculpture “after a crazy French artist friend” of his named Leon Bazalgette Russell. Leon Bazalgette Russell was an avid painter of nature. He was named after Leon Bazalgette of France, who was a biographer and literary critic who wrote about the great thinkers of his time, including Whitman and Thoreau…
So – the whale sculpture was named after some interesting cousin of yours!
Here are some additional pieces of information from Jim Adler…
Long timers in Yachats remember Leon Bazalgette as “the old dude who terrorized the town on his bicycle and occasionally left $100 tips at the Adobe causing fistfights in the kitchen.”
And importantly, Leon Bazalgette Russell’s father was Marsden Hartley.
All the best,
Beverly Wilson”

The statement: “Leon Bazalgette Russell’s father was Marsden Hartley” doesn’t sound right unless that was a pen name of Charles Phillips Russell, who appears to have been Leon’s actual father. Charles was a friend of Leon Bazalgette so this is why L.B.R. was so named.  Leon Bazalgette was descended from Louis Bazalgette’s elder brother Georges.

A Merry Christmas and  Happy New Year!

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TIZZIE

Tizzie-1873

My great-great-aunt, Theresa Philo Bazalgette (11 August 1850-25 April 1922), who was known in the family as “Tizzie”, was the eldest daughter of Sir Joseph Bazalgette, the civil engineer, and his wife Maria (née Kough).  The studio photograph above was taken in 1873, so she was 23 at the time.  I think she was hauntingly beautiful and and at the risk of being branded a male chauvinist I will remark that I always wondered why she never married, because she surely cannot have had a shortage of suitors.   It is a face full of character and wisdom, and she had a quirky humour and love of fun as the photograph below shows.  Her brother Charles Norman Bazalgette Q.C., (my great-grandfather) was called to the bar on 30 January 1874, and Tizzie must have accompanied him to the photographic studios of Elliott & Fry at 55, Baker Street, where a photograph was taken of him in his wig and robes.  They then had this charming picture taken of them wearing the other’s coat and headgear.

Tizzie-norman-xdress

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A PIONEERING LADY MOTORIST

louise

Women have taken driving a car for granted for many years but it is easy to forget that in the early days of motoring in Great Britain it was regarded as a hazardous undertaking, not suitable for a woman.  As with having the right to vote and other male preserves.
The background to this story is that Louis Bazalgette had two elder sons, Joseph William (who sired my branch of the family) and John.  Most of John’s sons entered the army, the exception being George, who joined the Royal Marines Light Infantry.  There is a lot about George at this website http://www.royalengineers.ca/Bazalgette.html though there are some inaccuracies to be found there.   George is best known for commanding the British garrison on San Juan Island during its rather friendly dual occupation known as The Pig War.
In June 1870 George married Louise Seville, a lady 16 years his junior.  George died in 1885 and Louise outlived him by 23 years.  She must have been very fond of old George, though, because before her death, finding his burial plot too small for both of them, she had him dug up and moved to a larger plot, in which she finally joined him in 1918.
As a widow she may have found time on her hands, and her interest turned to the new sport of ‘automobilism’.  She was enough of a novelty that there were frequent articles in motoring magazines starting in 1899 about her intrepid journeys from London to far-flung places such as Essex.  She was also one of the few female entrants to the Automobile Club’s 1,000 Mile Trial in 1900.
An article in The Motor-Car Journal in September 1899 describes one such journey.

“LADIES AND MOTORING
Mrs. Bazalgette, with a lady friend, has just concluded a pleasant trip on her Benz motor-car through Essex.  They were accompanied by a lad to clean and look after the car; but the outing fully demonstrated the capacity of ladies to go a-motoring and thoroughly enjoy it.  Leaving her house in Portman Square one day half an hour after noon Mrs. Bazalgette reached Chelmsford at 6.30 p.m., via Hatfield, through mile after mile of lovely lanes, and crossing two small rivers ere they reached Bishop Stortford on the way to their destination.  The only hindrances were the great harvest wagons that occupied most of the narrow lanes and necessitated stoppages here and there.  Among the other trips recently enjoyed by this expert lady-motorist have been runs to Henley, to Brighton, and to Oxford.  Most probably she will motor to Dover next week. These trips cannot fail to do much to popularise automobilism among the fair sex, who are being rapidly won to the seat of the motor car.”

An article in Louise’s own words, presumably transcribed from an address she delivered to the Automobile  Club, was reported in the Motor Car Journal in November 1899.

“Having been asked to speak at this meeting I do so in the hope that our gathering will lead to the formation of an Automobile Club the membership of which will be open to ladies as well as gentlemen, where ideas can be exchanged – ideas which may be a source of benefit and information concerning the use of motor-cars to all those interested in the new pastime.  I use the word “pastime” advisedly, in preference to “industry,” as I myself have little experience of automobilism except as a pleasure-giving pursuit.  The time surely has passed for gentlemen to object to ladies participating in their sports.  As I have owned and driven a Benz car for some three months, I have been especially asked to speak about lady motorists, and I think I can give the results of my practical experience, and present details that may be useful and interesting to those ladies and – may I dare say ? – gentlemen who want to know something of the subject.   My experiences may not be considered to be wide, for I have only driven a Benz Ideal and a Victoria, yet there are many gentlemen as well as ladies who have not progressed so far, and it is to them more especially that I address myself.  Before one can enjoy motoring as a pastime, one must have one’s own carriage, and I should recommend the purchase of a small, nexpensive
car of a good make.  Any well-built carriage will do for the first performance of an amateur,  even although its speed may be low, for it is generally undesirable to learn to drive on a vehicle constructed for great pace.  I have studied automobiles of almost every description for some
three or four years, so I have something to say concerning them.  I have travelled a great deal on my own car, and enjoyed more of the country than I at one time thought possible.  I generally do some-ten to fourteen miles per hour, visiting such places as Southsea, Brighton, Southampton,
Bedford and Norwich, and I have run swiftly on the high roads and wandered through the lanes of Kent, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Essex.  It is possible to drive a car with very little knowledge of machinery, if you have a skilled mechanic with you to help in case of a breakdown; but the lady motorist is in a much more happy frame of mind during her travels if she herself possesses knowledge of the mechanism of her automobile.  It is so much more enjoyable to really study and understand everything concerning the car you take an interest in.  You must not imagine that it is possible for any lady to acquire sufficient knowledge of the working parts of the driving machinery in a few days, or even months, but they should have the opportunity of studying it.  This is one of the main objects of the club we hope to form.
Many things may happen en route that may tax even the ingenuity of the expert, for some slight adjustment may be necessary, and the trouble must be diagnosed before the operation can be performed.  The lady motorist should at least know something about “short-circuiting.” ” back-shot,” “compression ” – as the doctor knows of a defective nervous system.  She should be able to detect whether the bearings are becoming heated, or the belt is slipping, for if it does it will have to be shortened, and the process of shortening is, to my mind, not beyond the powers of a woman.  Why the pastime of motoring is so interesting is that there is always something to be learned concerning the mechanism of the car.  Some experts maintain that no lady cares to start the driving wheel.  Why not?  The operation is perfectly easy—it requires skill rather than strength.  Indeed, the machinery of a motor is so delicate in its construction that very little force is necessary.  There is no sledge-hammer work.   The blacksmith might be able to do repairs under the direction of an expert engineer, but for my part I would prefer to leave my car in its damaged condition rather than trust it in the hands of the giant of the smithy.  I have driven my car some 2,000 miles, and have been most fortunate in not having experienced any mishap.   Yet the sceptics tell us of the dangers of the automobile!  But accidents may happen to the most expert and careful driver, for there is still much jealousy and prejudice to overcome.  These, however are only temporary, for the day will come when England will follow the lead of other countries, and horseless vehicles will be seen here, there, and everywhere – and probably nothing else!  Apart from the pleasure of motoring, some little consideration should be given to the profitable utilisation of the motor-vehicle.  If ladies are engaged in agricultural and horticultural pursuits, and find pleasant occupation in gardening, dairy-work, fruit culture, etc., why should they not with even greater dignity drive their produce to the markets?   Metropolitan dwellers revel in the delicious produce of the country, and if the motor-vehicle cheapens the transit of heavy loads, without the cost of reloading, the lady motorist can with hope look forward to the good times that are to come – and come they surely will – when ladies once discover how much enjoyment they can obtain from driving a motor-car.  That a great impulse will shortly be given to automobilism no one doubts;  but, like the boom in connection with cycling, it will not come until ladies take up the pastime; and the new club, the formation of which we have met to suggest, will do much to attain this end.”

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