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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Albert Ketèlbey's House, Cowes, Isle of Wight

Rookstone, the house of Albert Ketèlbey, Egypt Hill, Cowes

The composer Albert William Ketèlbey (1875-1959) was tremendously famous in his day and was heralded as Britain's greatest living composer in 1929 as his work was performed more than any other British composer that year.  He is also believed to be Britain's first millionaire composer.  Yet by the time of his death in 1959 he was almost forgotten; his melodic, programme music becoming very unfashionable.  Now he is rehabilitated somewhat with compositions such as In a Monastery Garden, In a Persian Market and Bells Across the Meadows being performed regularly and receiving significant airtime on radio.  In fact, the latter composition was actually banned from radio broadcast (the first recording banned by the BBC!) during WW2 in case people thought that the bell chimes in the piece were the warning for a German invasion.

Born in Birmingham, the son of an engineer, he began piano lessons at the age of eight and started his formal studies at the age of eleven at the School of Music of the Birmingham and Midland Institute.  At the age of eleven he performed his own piano sonata in Worcester Town hall and greatly impressed Sir Edward Elgar, who was in the audience. At thirteen he won the Queen Victoria scholarship to London's Trinity College of Music, beating one Gustav Holst into second place. At Trinity he won numerous prizes and became a very young professor there; affecting a tail coat to make himself look older.  His first major compositions followed at the age of eighteen and by the age of twenty his Piano Concerto in G Minor won the Tallis Gold Medal for Counterpoint.

He met his first wife, Charlotte Siegenberg, while acting as musical director of the Vaudeville Theatre, where he started work at the age of 22.  For over forty five years his compostions made him "The King of Light Music" and in 1926 sales of the sheet music for In a Monastery Garden, the composition that made him a household name in 1915, passed one million copies.  He composed a lot for the pre-sound cinema and was also involved in the early days of gramophone recording.  His wife died of pneumonia in 1947 and he moved out of London to the south coast to recover from a nervous breakdown. There he met  and eventually married Mabel Pritchett, then the manageress of a hotel he was staying in and who had refused his request to have a piano installed in his room. They moved to the Isle of Wight, which was where Pritchett's family came from, in 1948, initially living in Bembridge. The following year the couple moved to Rookstone a bungalow on Egypt Hill Cowes where he continued to compose, although his music had faded from popularity after World War 2.  He wrote one piece, in 1952, named after a place on the Isle of Wight, On Brading Down, but it wasn't published and is now lost.

Osborne Court, Cowes 1958

In 1959 he moved to the Art Deco Osborne Court, built in the late thirties, on the Parade at Cowes but died there on December 1st the same year.  Osborne Court is still there today but for how much longer, given it's prime seafront position and the alarming rate of development in Cowes, we don't know.

Osborne Court today

Last week Agent Triple P was walking up Egypt Hill in Cowes and noticed that Rookstone, the bungalow he moved to in 1949, and where he enjoyed playing billiards, had been demolished and replaced with a rather horrible (and expensive looking) modern monstrosity (not that Rookstone had any architectural merit but that's not the point).  There were several letters of protest to the Isle of Wight County Press at the time but to no avail.  Fortunately Triple P had captured a photo a few years ago (top).

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Yachtie Tottie!

Or is it Yachty Totty? We're never quite sure. Anyway, at least one of our readers enjoys our candid camera shots from Cowes Week so here is the 2013 entry!  Having spent over two weeks in South America we missed all of the UK's hot weather in July. When we returned for our usual sojourn to Cowes we were amazed to find lots of English girls not only wearing shorts (proper shorts not those mid-thigh sensible ones) but with tanned legs! 

Now, of course, these days, unlike when Triple P was small, everyone is told to keep out the sun because the ozone layer has been destroyed by American motorists, aerosols, Chinese power stations or discarded refrigerators or some such. So the sort of tans that girls used to go for in the sixties and seventies are now not the thing at all.

Absolutely our favourite for this year!

The problem is, of course, that human skin just looks better tanned.  In the past it was not done to have anything other than pale white skin as only labourers and other poor people would have a tan.  But a tan evens out skin tone colour differences and covers, for example unsightly veins.  

So despite the hectoring doctors we can't see getting a tan in Britain disappearing for a while mainly, unlike Australia where pale skin is now de rigeur for example, because having enough sunny weather to get one is still unusual here.

Noticeably not stopping at Triple P's favourite breakfast cafe

So, it was not only with some amazement but also not a little admiration that we appreciated all these brazenly flaunted limbs.  Even legs which are not such a  perfect shape or are lacking in muscle tone (and Agent Triple P likes quite a lot of muscle tone) look better for a tan.

Nothing wrong with the tone on this fine example

Anyway, on to Cowes and we are not sure that there were any particularly new looks this year compared with others with the exception, perhaps, of platform wedges (see below).

There were rather less floaty sundresses around this year, which is a shame as Triple P likes these, partly because we had a girlfriend who used to wear them and nothing else during hot weather.

There were, perhaps, rather more vest tops designed, no doubt, to show off tanned arms.

There were also rather more flip-flops than we can recall before.  No young lady wants hot feet after all. Even the girls who were actually sailing (you can usually tell who these are as their legs are covered in bruises) seem to have adopted these while on land.

Not sailing types, we rather think

A very fine hamstring/gluteus curve here

Towards the evening, of course, the girls transform and head off for the rather ghastly bar on The Parade, the even more ghastly one in the marina or one of the yacht clubs.  Usually it is too dark to capture the tottie in their crepescular costumes but sometimes we get  a hint of something a bit more feminine earlier in the day.

 Gravity defying!

The two above, we suspect, may be some of the locals down from Newport on the lookout for a yachting type to buy them free drinks.  A fine back porch on the one on the left.

 A real beauty, this one

This young lady was doing a piece to camera on Cowes Week for a TV crew and is as fine a place to finish as any.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Big Breakfast of the Week 15: the Steakfast at Eegon's of Cowes

Agent Triple P has covered the big breakfast nirvana that is Eeegon's of Cowes before but was back there recently and had an opportunity to sample the Steakfast for the first time.  This consists of two sausages, two rashers of bacon, two fried eggs, two slices of black pudding, an eight ounce steak, mushrooms, tomatoes, onion rings and a huge portion of saute potatoes.  It was the latter that did for Triple P.  We soon polished off all the protein and vegetable accompaniment but those saute potatoes defeated us!  Even with the help of a young lady on the toast and potatoes there were still a lot left at the end.  We actually had this at lunchtime so maybe we would do better in the morning. The sausages, as ever, are the weakest part of the breakfast and the steak was pretty chewy as well still it's good value at £8.50 including a drink.

Now, however Eegon's have introduced an even bigger breakfast: The Big One.  Eating this wins you a coveted (at least by Triple P) Eegon's mug but only if you beat the record of 28 minutes.  However, it consists of 3 eggs, 3 sausages, 3 rashers of bacon, 3 hash browns, 3 slices of black pudding, an 8 ounce steak, grilled tomatoes, baked beans, mushrooms, onion rings, saute potatoes, and barbecue burgers, plus toast and tea for £14.50 (which is  less than the breakfast in the Royal Exchange which doesn't include tea). Only two people have managed this so far (and both looked really thin from the pictures up in Eegon's) and we are not surprised.  We reckon we could manage the Steakfast given another go but The Big One is really beyond us and, indeed, we suspect could actually be dangerous!  Wait until he Daily Mail finds out about it!