Thursday, July 20, 2006

Byron's Year

Byron’s Year

Rather than bore the socks off you all with more details of my mundane life, I am going to take a leaf out of my talented fellow blogger Olivia's book and do something different and educational this week.

A Byronic Year

Here are some key dates in Lord Byron’s life that I have put together:

2 January (1815) Byron weds Annabella Milbanke, but the marriage soon runs into trouble. It is claimed Byron upset his wife on their honeymoon by expressing regret that they had married - and buggering her.

4 January (1824) Lord Byron reaches Missolonghi to be greeted enthusiastically by Prince Mavrocordatus and 5,000 soldiers including 600 Suliotes who were placed under his command.

12 January (1817) Byron’s second known daughter Clara Augusta Byron is born (as a result of his brief affair with his admirer Mary Jane Clairmont). Byron believed he had had more than 200 casual affairs with women.

13 January (1816) Lord Byron’s wife leaves him – never to return.

22 January (1788) Byron born at 16 Holles Street, London.

29 February (1788) Byron is baptised George Gordon.

10 March (1812) Childe Harold is published.

13 March (1807) Byron takes his place in the House of Lords.

9 April (1824) Byron catches a chill while riding in heavy rain.

19 April (1824) Byron dies after being incompetently treated by his medical team. His last words are said to have been: ‘The doctors have assassinated me!’

22 April (1811) Byron sets sail from Athens for England.

24 April (1816) Byron leaves England for the last time.

29 April (1817) Byron visits Rome.

26 May (1816) Byron meets Shelley for the first time, on the banks of Lake Geneva.

16 June (1817) Byron publishes Manfred.

2 July (1809) Byron sets sails from Falmouth for Lisbon and Seville, Gibraltar, Patras and Athens.

14 July (1811) Returning from Greece, Byron comes ashore at Sheerness.

15 July (1819) Two cantos of Don Juan are published anonymously.

16 July (1823) Byron sails from Genoa to Greece.
(1824) Byron is buried at Hucknall Torkard, near Nottingham.

2 August (1798) Byron’s disreputable father, Captain Byron, dies penniless in France.

9 September (1814) Byron's proposal of marriage to Annabella Milbanke is finally accepted.

15 October (1822) Byron’s Vision of Judgement is published in the first edition of the The Liberal.

1 November (1806) Byron publishes his first collection of verse, Fugitive Pieces.

10 December (1815) Birth of Byron’s first daughter Augusta Ada Byron (the mother was Bryon’s wife Annabella Milbanke).

This is a far from comprehensive chronology of Byron's life but I hope it may be of some help to students of the great man

For good measure, here's a poem about Byron.

Wednesday (19 July): ‘Leamington Garret. 8pm. Mega-hot. What an amazing, incredible summer. On the way home from the Day-Job I saw another man cyclist coming the other who had a girl in a bikini sitting on his handlebars (I am not making this up).

I can remember only one such glorious summer in my lifetime - back in the mid-1970s in Dorset. I love it. I love it. I love it!

View looking up the Parade, Leamington A picture of the view up the Parade, in Leamington, from my roof is displayed left.

Thursday (20 July): So tired I could hardly get out of bed this morning. Cycling to work in this tremendous heat is really taxing me. It must have been 100 degrees Fahrenheit when I cycled home on Wednesday night.

Went to the Jug & Jester last night. I was going to take the digital camera but changed my mind at the last minute and used my 50p camera instead – about 1/1,400th the cost of the other one!

The strange thing is I am just as likely to do a great shot with the 10 shillings camera as the 700 pounds sterling one.

For instance I took some photographs of Sinead - a really talented singer and very nice girl - performing and she came up to me and was quite excited about this (even though I was using the 50p camera). (I am quite pleased with the result - left).

The most striking musicians last night were a couple of lads, called Freddie and George, who were brilliant, really feisty and powerful on vocals and drums. The organiser told me they were aged 14 and 15. They got the loudest applause I have ever heard on Jam night. I have seen the future.

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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Peace and Comedy / Heavy Lids

Leamington - London Marylebone train I am feeling very happy today. Yes, really!

Mr Landlord is pleased I am staying another six months. I even managed to get us out of the £25 renewal fee.

My comedy pieces for The Stage are almost finished. I just need to talk to Peter Buckley Hill about his amazing raft of free shows (the veteran comedian Brian Damage telephoned me to give me Peter's number) and catch up with Justin Edward (a.k.a. drunken children's entertainer Jeremy Lion) who forgot to call me last night 'because he was writing some comic songs'. It sounds like something out of Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men in a Boat.

True, I have not had much sleep and got drenched to the skin bicycling to work this morning but, nonetheless, I sense life is getting better.

For the religious, lighting that votive candle at St. Peter the Apostle church, Leamington Spa, may have made the difference. If so, a match, a quid and a quick prayer before Our Lady has worked a minor intercessionary miracle.

This is what I wrote in the early hours of Wednesday:

Leamington Garret. 12.15am by Big Ken in the misty moonlight. It has been an amazing couple of days. Extraordinarily hot and beautiful. Last night I was exhausted, after getting up incredibly early to get up to go Leamington after my weekend away in Paris.

Still, I was committed to interviewing the brainy comedian Natalie Haynes for my Edinburgh Fringe preview pieces for The Stage newspaper.

I was not particularly looking forward to it. As a Catholic, I was shocked by her show last year with its apparent support for abortion up to the point of birth and beyond! In the event the interview was not as bad as I thought it would be.

Natalie essentially sounded off her views on manifold subjects, with me very subtly challenging her, something the argumentative always hard to handle. She started talking about her relationships.

She claimed she had dumped a bloke because 'he did not have a favourite square root number'. So, I said: 'Did you ask him if he had a favourite cube root?' 'No,' she replied.

'Did you ask him if he had a favourite prime number?' 'No,' she said. 'Then,' I said, 'you didn’t really give him a fair crack of the whip.'

Natalie Haynes said that after the failure to identify a favourite square root, she just had to walk.

I was really jaded by this point in the conversation but had not hesitation in answering the predictable question of what was my favourite square root number. ‘1.4,’ I said, ‘an f-number and the square root of two. The f-numbers go: 1.4, 2, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, 22 et cetera.’ That threw her!

She started talking about Latin but I was too jaded. I had the quotes I needed, so I said ‘Floreat’ (Latin for ‘Let it prosper!’) and called it a day on Natalie Haynes.

After we had said goodbye, the feeling lingered she had been flirting with me.

Tonight has been equally extraordinary. I met a neighbour from the garret – an amazing fact considering we are four floors up in an office block with no other inhabitants.

I was in the Garret preparing to talk a call on my mobile telephone to a very good (and extremely pleasant) Irish comedian called Jason Byrne who is on holiday with his family in the Canaries.

And this is what I wrote in the small hours of Thursday: Leamington Garret. 1.08am. by Big Ken agin a beautiful reddish sky in misty rain.

God, what a knackering, although productive, day. This morning I felt absolutely exhausted when I awoke. Very early, I tried to so some work on my Stage comedy pieces, and then my colleague picked me up and we raced off to Rotherham to see an awesome printing works.

Blimey! Printing has moved on a bit since I last took a close look at press (at the Hull Daily Mail in 1984). The £7million machine that the director of the company showed us was absolutely incredible. It did everything at a tremendous lick. What a beautiful piece of kit.

Got back to the Leamington Garret at around 5.30pm, with terrible back and neckache. I felt so out of it, I had to lie down and slept for 90 minutes, awakening bathed in sweat. 
The comedienne Lucy Porter telephoned me. What an absolutely delightful person she is!

If I had known she was that pleasant, I would have chatted to in the Assembly Rooms performers' bar years ago. 

I really enjoyed chatting with her. Lucy displayed a level of kindness and generosity that one does not detect in many stand-ups.

Afterwards, I should have got straight down to the writing, but I suddenly felt full of beans and desirous of celebrating the Portuguese defeat at the hands of the glorious French. God bless the French! The Jug & Jester Jam Night beckoned.

It was particularly good tonight. Sinead was on great vocal form, a blonde woman did an excellent Sheryl Crowe cover, and the finale, a version of Knocking On Heaven’s Door was outstanding. I love that gig. Brilliant week in, week out.

6.20pm. High Wycombe. One of my mobile telephones (one personal and one Day-Job) has rung in my rucksack and, attempting to fish it out, I stabbed a finger on something sharp. Now it bleeding profusely over the keyboard of my trusty iBook. Oh, dear!

Back to Paris, on Sunday morning I thought of getting up early to visit Rue Albert Camus. Albert Camus, you may remember, is the great French writer who used to own my brown suitcase. Studying the Paris A-Z, it seemed that the street name inscribed in the lid of my case had been renamed Rue Albert Camus in his honour.

Heavy Lids (Flashback to Saturday, 13 May, 2006.
Lewes Garret, writing on my iBook. Beautiful, hot day. 10.26am. Twenty days to go before the launch of Oliver's Poetry and its blog. I don't feel ready. Help! My eyelids feel heavy.

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