Are Dead Nazis Due Royalties?

I heard about this in an item on the radio news today.

It seems the owner of the copyright of the diaries of Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels is suing a publisher over quotations from them.

My first reaction was “Goebbels had an estate?” As far as I was aware he and his wife Magda had killed all their children before themselves committing suicide – or having an SS man shoot them. So who could be the beneficiaries of his estate? (A private individual it would seem from the link above.) Reflectng on it as I write this, I wonder did Hitler have an estate? And who owns that?

My second thought earlier was, why should Goebbels have an estate? It all ought to have been confiscated and given over to victims’ organisations. Surely no single person has the right directly to benefit financially from the activities of the Nazi hierarchy?

This is a murky area of course, as the publishers are seeking to do just that.

Cockburnspath War Memorial

Cockburnspath is a village on the East Coast just west of the A1 about eight miles south of Dunbar.

The War Memorial is a Celtic Cross design on a stone base with the names carved proud of the stone.

The Scottish War Memorials Project has pictures of the two sides where there are more names.

There don’t appear to be any names for the Second World War.

Friday on my Mind 117: Warm and Tender Love. RIP Percy Sledge

Soul singer Percy Sledge has gone to the great auditorium in the sky.

Percy Sledge: Warm and Tender Love

His big hit was of course When A Man Loves A Woman, whose origins and authorship is disputed, but to me it has always had more than a touch of Pachelbel’s Canon about it. (See here, and here, and here.)

Percy Sledge: When A Man Loves A Woman

Percy Tyrone Sledge: 25/11/1940 – 14/4/2015. So it goes.

Yes, Dave, I Blame You

Today, on the BBC’s Reporting Scotland, there was a clip of David Cameron, aka Mr Irresponsible, saying that he was to blame for many things (well you’re right in that at least, Dave) but that Labour’s collapse* in Scotland wasn’t one of them.

Really, Dave? How un-self-aware can anyone get?

It’s got nothing to do with the speech you made on the day after the Independence Referendum where you slapped down those who had just voted to remain in the UK with a, “We don’t care about you, we only care about England,” attitude? Could anything have been more likely to enrage both those who had voted no and those for yes? A clearer demonstration that Westminster politicians just don’t get it as far as Scotland is concerned would have been harder to find. To anyone who knows Scots what response could have been expected other than a rise in support for the SNP (who ought to have been set back for perhaps decades by the rejection of their key purpose for existence?)

I suppose it could all be part of a diabolical (yes, I know it means of the Devil) plan to undermine the Labour party in the UK as a whole but I don’t believe Cameron actually is as cunning as all that. (His sidekick Gideon Osborne, aka George, is another matter, though.) I realise the Tories have more than something of the night about them but I doubt in their wildest dreams could they have deliberately conceived and implemented a coherent, rather than accidental, strategy to reduce the influence of Labour on the Westminster Parliament.

Labour having conspicuously failed over the many years of my lifetime to protect Scots from governments they have not voted for, many people seem to have come round to the view that only a large bank of SNP MPs at Westminster will ensure that Westminster cannot treat Scotland off-handedly.

So yes, Dave. I do blame you.

BTW: I suspect that Labour won’t lose quite so many seats in Scotland as the polls at present predict. There are still many “always been Labour” voters around.

The Screwtape Letters by C S Lewis

Letters from a senior to a junior Devil, Fount, 1991, 160 p (first published in 1942)

The Screwtape Letters cover

Many years ago, before we moved to Braintree, the good lady and I lived for a few months in Welwyn Garden City. We joined the library there and came across a book – which we both read and enjoyed – about angels and devils (and, I think, a war between Heaven and Hell.) Our recollection was, and is, that it was by someone reasonably well known, with a surname that began with a letter towards the end of the alphabet, but that the book wasn’t typical of his (it was a man) output. Since we moved from WGC we’ve never found the book elsewhere and can no longer remember its title nor who the author was.

When we heard of The Screwtape Letters both our thoughts were that, no, Lewis is too religiously minded to be the unknown author and his name does not begin with a letter in the latter half of the alphabet. I chanced upon this copy at a charity book sale and thought well, why not try it anyway?

The book is arranged as a series of epistles to “My Dear Wormwood” – the junior devil of the sub-title – all bar two of which are signed off with, “Your affectionate Uncle, Screwtape.” They outline Screwtape’s responses to Wormwood’s attempts to ensnare a soul and the various stratagems that may be employed for that purpose. In this Lewis highlights numerous human frailties and misconceptions, as he sees them. The whole thing is rather dry, coming over as an arid intellectual exercise, and strangely rooted in time by its many references to the “current European War.”

That book from Welwyn Garden City was funny and a delight. The Screwtape Letters is not.

Does my description of the WGC book strike a chord with anyone? Can you enlighten me as to its author and title? I’d like to read it again to see if it stands up to memory.

Pedant’s corner. All these despite this being a forty-fourth impression!:- dulness (that’s two books in a row now; did it used to be spelt that way) strategem, in which a stranger self preyed upon a weaker (stronger self, surely?) “reckoning in light years” used as if a light year were a unit of time rather than distance, to watch a man doing something is not to make him to it (“make him do it” makes more sense,) a shell-like tetter (??? – tetter is a skin disease.)

Günter Grass

I see that Günter Grass has died.

I haven’t actually read any of his novels – he’s one of those novelists whom I meant to get round to sometime. The closest I have come was when I watched the film that was made of his novel The Tin Drum. The film was excellent.

There was a stooshie when he revealed he had been a member of the Waffen SS – mostly because he had managed to keep the fact to himself for 60 years and in the interim had been outspoken about Germany’s post-war attitude to the Nazis. I doubt, though, many German seventeen year-olds would have resisted being called up in 1944. In any case his war record can have had no bearing whatsoever on his abilities as a writer. As a person perhaps; but not as an author. (There were doubtless many more in Germany, Austria and various parts of Eastern Europe who may have had more reason to keep theirs quiet.)

The Nobel Committee saw fit to award him its prize in literature in 1999. That puts him in good company.

Günter Grass: 16/10/1927 – 13/4/2015. So it goes.

Flemington by Violet Jacob

In Flemington and Tales from Angus, Canongate, 2013, 291 p, including 16 p introduction, 1 p each Acknowledgements, Note on the Text and Author’s Note, 14 p Notes and 6 p Glossary.

Another from the 100 Best Scottish books list. Again from a local (well, 9 miles away) library. The novel was first published in 1911.

 Flemington and Tales from Angus cover

As soon as the years in which this is set, 1745-6, are discovered certain expectations might arise, a focus on Bonnie Prince Charlie or his entourage, following the rising tide of his fortunes from the standard raising at Glenfinnan through his initial triumphs to Edinburgh and on down to England before the fatal loss of nerve at Derby and thence to his downfall. Jacob, however, is more subtle than this. The events of that last Jacobite rebellion are present here, to be sure, (the Battle of Prestonpans – here rendered as Preston Pans – the advance to and retreat from Derby, the Battles of Falkirk and of Drummossie Moor, otherwise known as Culloden, the bloody and vengeful aftermath of that final battle on British soil) but they occur offstage. Jacob’s focus is relentlessly on individuals, not the broad sweep of history or “great events”. Though the Duke of Cumberland does appear in Flemington’s pages as a character (and not in a flattering portrait) the Young Chevalier never does, except as the driving force for the dilemma into which our titular protagonist falls. The action takes place exclusively in the county of Angus and specifically in the area linking the towns of Forfar, Brechin and Montrose. It is in Montrose harbour that the sole military engagement described in the book – a fictionalisation of a very minor naval incident in the ’45 rebellion – takes place.

To prevent his mother compromising Prince Charlie, protagonist Archibald Flemington’s father was badly used by the Old Pretender in exile at St Germain. Archie was subsequently orphaned and put in the care of his grandmother who, due to those earlier experiences, is now a full supporter of the Hanoverian dynasty. Flemington is a painter but also a government spy trying to discern the plans of the rebel James Logie; to which end he turns up at the door of Logie’s brother, a retired judge. While Flemington is still undercover Logie reveals to him a personal confidence – unrelated to any Jacobite sympathies. This engenders in Flemington a sympathy for Logie which he will not thereafter compromise and so the central tragedy of the story unfolds.

The novel is full of well-drawn and memorable characters: Flemington; his grandmother; Skirlin’ Wattie, the no-legged bagpiper who travels about on a cart drawn by dogs; Callander, the Government Army officer who is dutiful to a fault. Despite his confidence granted to Flemington, James Logie is a shadowier character, though his brother Balnillo is portrayed in all his preposterousness. Wattie is the only one who speaks broad Scots. The context provides clarity enough but the glossary is there if needed.

One chapter begins, “April is slow in Scotland, distrustful of her own identity, timid of her own powers. Half dazed from the long winter sleep, she is often bewildered, and cannot remember whether she belongs to winter or to spring.” How true – especially redolent when reading it in Scotland, in April, and the passage is characteristic of Jacob’s writing which is especially strong on landscape description.

Flemington is an illustration on an individual human scale of the dislocations and traumas, the disruptions, which a Civil War brings in its train and of how character can both resist circumstances and be a victim of them.

I took the precaution of not reading the introduction before the story. Wisely, as the usual spoilers in such things were present.

Pedant’s corner:- I found the reference to English parents strange in a passage contrasting the thoughts of a Scots woman who had spent a long time in France with those who hadn’t. Also mentioned were English dragoons at Culloden. (I haven’t checked. Any dragoons may have been English, though certainly a large part of Cumberland’s army was Scots.) Dulness with one ‘l’?

Tower & Lake Illuminations at the Empire Exhibition 1938

Another stunning art-coloured postcard by Brian Gerald from the Empire Exhibition, Scotland, 1938.

Alloa Athletic 3-0 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Recreation Park*, 11/4/15.

Well it was only fair. We rolled over to Cowdenbeath last week so to give Alloa the same courtesy this, seems equitable.

So many things pointed to this result. They had a new manager. They hadn’t beaten us for fifteen games. They needed the points and we didn’t.

Yet the only difference in the first half was that their shots were on target and ours went just past the post – though our best was screwed well wide by Archie Campbell. We had more attempts in the first half than they did, their second goal wasn’t even a chance really but their two goals were both wonder strikes, one from a free-kick (the ref did not give us one in a similar incident and realtive position later in the half) but the other ought to have been closed down.

The second half was a bit meh. Their goal came after one of their players seemed to handle the ball on the halfway line but Danny Rogers ought to have made sure to get the ball when coming out for it rather than let the attacker lift it over him to leave an empty net.

As last week there weren’t many positives to take from this.

Our season now looks in danger of petering out but I suppose the players will be up for next week’s game against Rangers.

Despite us losing here, Cowdenbeath’s failure to win against Livingston means we cannot be caught for 7th place. Scotland’s best part-time team again!

*I will never think of it as the Indodrill Stadium.

The Affair in Arcady by James Wellard

Hutchinson, 1959, 336 p.

The Affair in Arcady cover

Clive Marshall, a not very successful author, has been hired to write the history of The Tylers of Tyler County: An Epic of American Enterprise, coming over from his home in Italy, leaving his wife to her nascent acting career, to do so. One night at work on this project in the family’s pile in Arcady, Illinois, he is disturbed by a young woman tapping at the window. When she enters he discovers she is the daughter of the house, Abbie. Abbie is wayward, used to getting her own way, except for when she chose a boyfriend her folks found unsuitable. That affair having been ended she continues to choose wrongly. Marshall’s first impressions of her are not favourable but neither that nor the fact that he is married stops him having sex with her the next night. Thereafter Marshall is inexorably drawn into Abbie’s orbit. Put as baldly as this it might not seem that this is a particularly worthwhile novel but Wellard’s writing is discursive and acute, his character drawing excellent. Outstanding here is Abbie’s stepfather, Earl Borman, in all his venality, his sureness of his world view, his sense of entitlement. When Marshall returns to Italy for a brief spell his wife, Lydia, is also revealed in all her frivolity. Marshall himself is portrayed as weak and easily led.

The situation gives Wellard plenty rein to criticise the society and culture he is describing. “I’ve enough evidence to prove that the Tylers were a clan of greedy, ruthless, unprincipled land and money-grubbers. So, as you asked me before, what do I intend to do about it? Answer: write them up as great Americans.” “The only true thing that was ever said about all of them was that all great men are bad.” “‘Yessir. Nobody wants to cheer a losing team.’ Marshall looked at him, aware that he had just uttered a profound maxim of American philosophy. … He had never even thought of football as a game…. This set of values… made him so … different from other national types, providing an incontrovertible argument against internationalism and the brotherhood of man.”

The words “negress”, “negro”, “darkies” and the other (now highly unacceptable) “n” word appear early and at first I thought their presence was simply a marker of the time the novel was written but they are important since racial prejudice and animus against miscegenation are germane to the plot. Oddly we had what I assume is an expletive deleted in the phrase “you –– bastard” though the last word there is considered by many to be unmentionable.

The title – and the novel – is of course about more than the relationship between Abbie and Marshall. As Marshall’s research into the family’s papers proceeds the dark secrets of the Tylers’ recent past are revealed. In Abbie’s fractured search for meaning in life, and her justified resentment towards her family, lie the seeds of despair.

The Affair in Arcady is an excellent book. I am mystified that it and Wellard himself do not appear on the Fantastic Fiction website. There is an extensive list of his books on LibraryThing though.

Pedant’s corner:- Youasked for it, ciaous (ciaos,) hadn’t of been – but this was in direct speech – if is is (if it is,) damwell (damn well,) ofthe (of the,) should of – again in direct speech, interne.

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