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Tuesday, 6 June 2017

A B C of Immigration by Simon Sherbrooke




ISBN: 9781841045979  Price: £20.00 available from The Memoir Club memoirclub@msn.com or tel 0191 4192288

Introduction

I perceive that the explanation for this book having taken so long and that it has grown so much include the following factors. First of all and despite the conclusion of the House of Lords’ Select Committee on Economic Affairs in 2008 and David Cameron’s representation in 2010 the amount of immigration has continued or even increased.
Secondly investigation into an item produces leads so that, for example, that committee’s report led back to the evidence it received.
Thirdly the sources listed in the book and in the bibliography were mainly unknown to me in 2010: in other words, when one investigates one finds “there is so much more out there”.
Fourthly as time went on, there were (or came to my notice) further examples of the original point plus the publication of reports such as by Peter Clarke (as the result of the publication of the so called Trojan Horse letter) and by Professor Jay (as the extent of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham began to come out, which report was followed by Louise Casey’s) and the Serious Case Review into CSE in Oxfordshire from the experiences of Children A, B, C, D, E and F plus judicial decisions such as BAPIO v Royal College of General Practitioners and the General Medical Council in 2014 and as to the Tower Hamlets mayoralty election of that year.
I don’t think the book’s contents have been cherry-picked and that is shown by the following. In January 2015 there was a small item in a newspaper, that twenty years before receipt of the Trojan Horse letter, the Department for Education had received warnings of Islamist infiltration of schools in Birmingham. An internet search showed that the Department’s Permanent Secretary, Chris Wormald, had conducted an investigation the result of which was his Review into possible warnings to DfE relating to extremism in Birmingham schools.
He found six instances where concerns were raised with the Department. The first had been in 1994 when the headteachers of three schools in Birmingham had written to the Department expressing concerns about Hizb ut-Tahir [the Party of Liberation which seeks a caliphate and by one description first converts, secondly establishes a network of secret cells and thirdly tries to achieve its aims by infiltration]. Additionally that year there had been a letter from Revd. John Ray who after 25 years as principal of a school in Srinagar, Kashmir had, for 10 years (to 1991) been chair of the governors of Golden Hillock School: the result had been a meeting, in Westminster, with the Minister of State for Education.
Those alerts had got nowhere because the Department ‘lacked inquisitiveness’ and the policy at the time was for delegation from central to local government.
(But as to the latter reason) Peter Clarke (of the Clarke Report) concluded ‘senior officers of (Birmingham City Council) were aware of practices subsequently referred to in the Trojan Horse letter as early as 2012, and discussions on this issue took place between officers and elected members in May 2013’ and yet eight weeks after receipt (in late 2013) of the Trojan Horse letter the 'focus of the Council was very much on the potential community cohesion impact...'.

Several quotes from the book

In a short time swarms of the aforesaid nations came over into the island, and the foreigners began to increase so much, that they became a source of terror to the natives who had invited them.
The Venerable Bede, as to the 5th century

One day, millions of men will leave the southern hemisphere to go to the northern hemisphere. And they will not go there as friends. Because they will go there to conquer it; and they will conquer it with their sons. The wombs of our women will give us victory.
Chairman of the Revolutionary Council of Algeria to the United Nations General Assembly in 1974

Their commitment to a British education was implicit in their decision to become British citizens. Maintenance and transmission of the mother culture has nothing to do with the English secular school. If they want their children to absorb the culture of Pakistan, India or the Caribbean, then that is an entirely private decision to be implemented by the immigrant family and community, out of school.
Raymond Honeyford. Headmaster of Drummond Middle School, Bradford 1980/84


The idea that their children might be integrated into our kafir society was anathema to them, and they saw the school to which they were legally obliged to send their children as a thing to be either subverted or destroyed.
Roger Scruton following Honeyford's death in 2014


Black and Asian people should not be forced to accept British values or to adopt a British identity.
Kenan Malik 2007

No one knows the true scale of child sexual exploitation (CSE) in Rotherham over the years. Our conservative estimate is that approximately 1,400 children were sexually exploited over the full inquiry period, from 1997 to 2013. By far the majority of perpetrators were described as ‘Asian’.
The report by Professor Jay
                                                                                                               
 I just can’t believe that where local authorities can whistle up plentiful supplies of eager and energetic baristas and beanpickers from central Europe, this has no effect on local wage rates. I do think that if Marx and Engels were with us today they would be telling us immigrants are the new reserve army of labour in Britain.
Ferdinand Mount 2013

Get a white chair and a white desk and put the white kid in a white corner with a white teacher and keep him away from the others. If that fails, get rid of the white kid. It's what the community wants you to do. 
Muslim parent at Anderton Park School, Birmingham: part of the evidence secured by the Clarke Report of 2014 as to the so called Trojan Horse letter. 

Monday, 10 October 2016

Victoria Wood - Comedy Genius - her life and work by Chris Foote Wood







Victoria Wood Comedy Genius - her life and work by Chris Foote Wood is published by The Memoir Club at £12 + £2.75 P & P. Copies can be ordered via 
email: memoirclub@msn.com or 
telephone 0191 419 2288.


Author- Chris Foote Wood


‘Britain’s funniest woman’ - hugely popular stand-up comedian who paved the way for other women comics; multi-BAFTA award-winner; singer-songwriter, playwright, actor, producer, director and inspired scriptwriter who gave many of her best lines to her fellow actors. Stories behind

Wood and Walters
Victoria Wood As Seen On TV
Acorn Antiques’ ‘dinnerladies
Pat and Margaret’ Housewife, 49’ ‘Eric and Ernie
That Day We Sang An Audience With…
The Ballad of Barry and Freda (Let’s Do It!)

How an overweight, lonely and unhappy girl overcame early difficulties to build a hugely successful career, cut short by her early death at 62. How Victoria Wood became a true
‘National Treasure’ with her own unique brand of humour.

Victoria’s story told in depth by her brother Chris
A fascinating account: new material includes extracts from her father’s daily Journal, family stories and original cartoons by ‘Rog’

Our great consolation is the legacy Victoria left us: forty years of hugely entertaining comedy, song and drama which we can still enjoy. I hope this book reminds you of your particular favourites, as well as telling you things you might not have known about my famous sister.


REVIEWS 


There were 13 years between Victoria Wood and her only brother, and it's pretty obvious that he didn't really know her - in fact toward the end of the book he admits as much. There isn't much here that's original - few personal anecdotes, nothing like that, but what this book does is to collect together all that is known about her in the public domain, and remind us of some of her best and funniest moments, and peculiarly British sense of humour. ("Mrs Gupta's a really nice woman - she comes from somewhere far away that has a funny name - Kidderminster.") Victoria was a very private person, so there are no real surprises, but you have to hand it to Mr Foote-Wood for having put this together and having pledged to donate all the royalties to charities associated with his sister. She was indeed a comedy genius, much admired, shockingly gone too soon, but her legacy will doubtless endure.



Chris Foote Wood should be congratulated heartily for writing the biography of his sister so soon after hearing the sad news of her death in April 2016.  She was just sixty-two and in this unique piece of writing her admiring brother mirrors the star's total dedication to her art.  He completed this 'warts and all' 250 page, beautifully illustrated, plainly told, story in less than two months and his youngest sister would have been quietly proud of her brother's abilities.  Away from her stage productions, Victoria was a very private person and, like her two elder sisters, did not take kindly to publicity - especially if it was negative.  Amongst a thousand other tiny gems of information, the author tells us that she did not read 'reviews' of her shows, be they good, bad or indifferent.  But let us be clear on this.  If, in thirty years time some historian of Comedy Genius did not have this volume to consult, they would be screaming: ‘Do you mean to say that Victoria Wood had an older brother who was a trained journalist, who, at 75 had all his abilities and faculties and did not even attempt to record something of her life?  Shame on him.’  But no one can ever say that.  With that grit, passion, determination, dedication, commitment of any one of the family, Chris has buckled down and completed the task that no one else could have achieved.


As an avid reader, I have consumed some magnificent biographies in my seventy-five years.  But I specially recall reading of one of my heroes, one of the great orators of the 20th Century, as he lay dying from throat cancer at the tender age of sixty.  He had received many requests to tell his story but did not have the strength to do it himself.  Unable to speak, he beckoned to his son and requested that he write the story: ‘But’, wrote the dying father on a bit of paper, ‘tell it warts and all.’  Chris has done that for his sister and the world of literature will be forever grateful.  Mind you, if you are looking for a literary classic you will be terribly disappointed.  CFW does not claim to be an Evelyn Waugh or James Boswell, still less a more modern Ian Kershaw or even Sheila Hancock.  With the dedication of their father or mother which formed the basis of Victoria's work rate, Foote Wood has told it as it is and, I believe, as Victoria would have wanted it told.  So in addition to factual shows on stage and screen, we have miniscule details of a comedian's struggles and dilemmas.  250 pages of it!  With pictures t'boot!  And clearly readable.  Congratulations to writer and publisher: in a world of instant news they have stepped up to the plate and delivered. 
Revd Dr Alan Powers

Monday, November 28, 2016 www.lep.co.uk Lancashire Evening Post 

Entertainer Victoria Wood loved Lancashire and settled in the county after finding fame. Her brother Chris Foote-Wood has written a new book about his sister’s life and times and offers a fascinating insight into her years in the Red Rose county.

‘A national treasure – but to me she was my sister’ 

Living in Morecambe was a crucial time for my youngest sister Victoria Wood.

Living with her partner, the magician Geoffrey Durham, later her husband, Victoria began to develop the unique comedy style that brought her huge success.

Geoffrey played his part by advising, encouraging and teaching Vic card tricks. In an early self-promoted show “Tickling My Ivories”, Vic offered “an evening of singing, talking, sketches, standing up, sitting down again and possible one card trick. All inquiries to 12 Oxford Street, Morecambe”.

In 1977 Geoff, as the “Spanish” magician The Great Soprendo, played the Silver Jubilee Victorian Music Hall on Morecambe’s Central Pier, put on by the Dukes’ Theatre three times a week, June 20 to September 3. Vic and Geoff decided to stay in Morecambe and rented the first-floor flat in Oxford Street, overlooking the bus station, at £13 a week.

At the time that was the only work they had between them. As things improved, they moved to a better flat overlooking the sea, and then to their own home with an orchard in Silverdale across Morecambe Bay. When Vic and Geoff first became a couple living in a Morecambe flat, our mum Nellie Wood was a bit worried and sent our dad Stanley to check up on them.

As Stan told it, he went up the fire escape and found the back door unlocked. It was early on a Saturday morning, and he crept inside to find two figures fast asleep on the floor in two separate sleeping bags. Eventually one stirred. “Are you all right, love?” said one. “I’m all right, are you all right?” came the reply. “Yes, I’m all right” was the rejoinder, and with that, both went back to sleep. Without announcing his presence, Stan crept out. He reported back to Nellie that there was nothing to worry about: “they’re just like an old married couple”, he said.

After four years together, Geoffrey eventually persuaded Vic to marry him. They had planned to marry in Morecambe on February 29, 1980 so their wedding anniversaries would be only every four years, but the local register office only issued death certificates. So they married in Lancaster on March 1. No family was present: Vic informed our parents by postcard later that month.

The Morecambe flat, packed with books, was a hive of creativity. Vic wrote her first play “Talent” there, writing longhand all day with Geoff typing it up at night. Victoria’s long-term friend and collaborator Julie Walters rehearsed there on Vic’s follow-up play “Nearly a Happy Ending.” It is widely believed that the inspiration for Vic’s best-known comedy sketch “Two Soups” came from her regular visits to Lubin’s cafĂ© in Morecambe.

Looking for a family home, the Durhams moved to Silverdale. This was a happy time for Vic and Geoff and their two children Grace (born 1988) and Henry (born 1992). While still pursuing their careers, Vic and Geoff spent as much time as possible with the children. As they both had to be in London a lot, they made the decision to move to the capital. They set up home in Highgate, where Victoria sadly died in April this year.


Living in London, primarily because of her career, Victoria never became a ‘luvvie.’ Brought up in Bury and spending those crucial early years of her career in Morecambe. Vic was always the Lancashire Lass.’ She never forgot her roots, and she remained the same down-to earth, unfussy, unspoiled sister I had the privilege of knowing, loving and admiring throughout her remarkable life and hugely successful career. As well as being a top comedy writer and performer, Vic also showed her talent as a dramatic actor. She won a best actress Bafta in the TV film ‘Housewife, 49’, and memorably played Eric Morecambe’s mother Sadie Bartholomew in ‘Eric and Ernie.’ The success of the Eric Morecambe statue in Morecambe inspired me to sponsor a similar statue of Victoria in our home town of Bury. 

REVIEW - DAILY MAIL Saturday 8 October
Stanley Wood was a handsome ex-naval officer whose diverse gifts as a scriptwriter, author, producer and pianist foreshadowed his youngest daughter Victoria’s supreme talents as an entertainer.

He also had a northerner’s predisposition towards bluntness. A caustic entry in his journal for September 7, 1969 records, ‘V (Victoria) fatter than ever and has more spots. For breakfast Vicky had toast thickly spread with jam and two pieces? Then lunch 30 minutes later. I calculate she watches the telly for eight hours.’

He also comments unfavourably on an early boyfriend of Victoria’s and observes that any children they have will be like ‘balloons.’

Should such censorious private musings about the 16-year-old Victoria Wood, who went on to become one of the nation’s best loved and most garlanded comedians — embracing singing, song writing and acting with equal deftness — and who died six months ago, ever have been made public? Should we be privy to her father’s barbed remarks about her teenage over-eating; her insular, sedentary lifestyle; her over-weight boyfriends?

The eldest of Victoria’s three siblings, her only brother Chris Foote Wood, 75, has this week defended his decision to publish excerpts from their father’s private diaries in a soon-to-be published book, Victoria Wood Comedy Genius: Her Life And Work.

He has written a biography which offers extraordinary insights into the bizarre upbringing of his famous sister, who died aged 62, from cancer; a woman who guarded her personal privacy so closely that only a tiny coterie of her immediate family — Chris was not among them — even knew she was ill.

Chris, a journalist, broadcaster, author and former politician, says: ‘I’ve been castigated for saying Victoria was an unhappy teenager, that she spent her time in her room eating; that she got overweight and depressed. But I’m just repeating what she’s said publicly herself. She said in an interview for Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs in 2007 that she was overweight and miserable in her teens.’

Actually, Victoria went further, revealing the depth of her desolation and isolation when she was at the fee-paying Bury Grammar School for Girls: ‘I went under. I was a mess, a misfit. I didn’t have any friends, let alone try to be funny. I didn’t do any work, didn’t have clean clothes and didn’t wash.

‘If I didn’t have any money, I’d steal from people and if I hadn’t done my homework I’d steal someone else’s. I was envious of all the groups: the horsey group, the girls who went out with boys, the clever ones. Looking back, I feel really sorry for that little girl.’ Chris comments that father Stanley did not confine his scathing remarks to Victoria: ‘My father wrote cruel things about all four of his children; also amusing and kind comments. He made fun of us all.
‘I hope Victoria’s story will inspire other young people who might feel lonely and unhappy as she did, to make a success of their lives.

‘She left the most fantastic legacy of work and the tragedy is, she had so much more to give. I’m one of her biggest fans.’

Indeed, Victoria Wood left a dazzling comic bequest to the nation. She still holds the record for the most sell-out shows for a solo performer.

She also combined this prodigious creative output with motherhood, and was married for 20 years to Geoffrey Durham, the magician The Great Soprendo, with whom she had two children, Henry, 23 and Grace, 27, whose privacy she strenuously guarded. 

Responding to criticism that he has disregarded their feelings, Chris says: ‘It’s totally untrue. I wrote twice to them, said I’d been asked to write a book and offered them the chance to be involved. I asked them to get in touch if they had any concerns. They didn’t respond.

‘I’ve been asked: “Did you get permission?” But when was a law passed decreeing you had to have permission to write about your sister?’

He’s also keen to point out that he is not doing it for the money: all proceeds will be donated to ‘charities close to Victoria’s heart’, although he hasn’t decided which ones yet.

It cannot be denied that the insight Chris gives into the eccentric upbringing of the Wood family is tantalising. Stan and Nellie Wood had four children: Chris, born in 1940, Penelope, who arrived five years later, Rosalind, born in 1950, and Victoria, born in 1953.

Because of the relatively large age gaps between them, the children became self-contained and self-reliant. ‘We weren’t a convivial family who gathered together for evenings in the sitting room. We all retreated to our own bedrooms,’ says Chris. Chris, 13 years older than Victoria, only spent five years living with her in the family home before he left for university.

He insists that there was a sharp disparity between Victoria’s down-to-earth northern girl image and her affluent middle class upbringing.

‘She was very conscious of the “Victoria Wood Brand”, which was that of a working-class girl — which she never was,’ he says.
‘By the time she was four our parents could afford to live in a very big house in the country, overlooking a golf course and the Irwell Valley near Bury.

‘Victoria used to refer to it as a bungalow, which strictly speaking it was. But it had been a convalescent holiday home for 24 boys and eight staff. Each of us had our own huge bedroom, father had a study and dressing room; mother had her sewing room. There was a vast entrance hall, big enough to hold a dance in, with a baby grand piano in it, and later Victoria had her own piano in her bedroom.’ 

It seems, too, that while Victoria lacked pretension, her mother Nellie — a complex and difficult character — was, according to Chris, a remorseless social climber who made strenuous efforts to cut off from her roots in working-class Manchester.

Nellie — bright and frustrated by the constraints of motherhood — was one of eight children born to a father invalided in the First World War and a mother who worked in a cotton mill. Nellie had left school at 14 to work in a steel works.
That she resumed her studies aged 49, and gained a BA and a Masters degree before beginning a new career as a lecturer in English literature, is well documented.

Only her immediate family, however, knew about the multifarious complexities of her ‘dark character,’ says Chris.
‘Nellie had been a vivacious, outgoing woman in the younger days, and when she met my father Stan it was a love match,’ he says.

‘But in later life she became a recluse. She turned her back on the world. And she was a very hard mother. She never showed us any affection; certainly never cuddled us, praised us or told us she loved us. She became grim, morose.
His diary records that in 1950, three years before Victoria was born, he received £100 in one month for a sales bonus alone, and almost £700 for a radio play. (The national average wage at the time was £400 a year.)Meanwhile, Stan was supplementing his healthy income as an insurance underwriter by writing radio plays and songs, and producing stage musicals.



‘Often she’d only speak to me through my father. She’d say: “Tell the boy this . . .” when I was standing right by her. I’d call it mental cruelty.

‘When we were small I remember her rubbing our faces so hard with a flannel she nearly scoured the skin off them.’
Nellie also dissociated herself from her working-class family, to the astonishing extent that she pretended to Chris that his maternal grandmother was dead when she was still very much alive.

He recalls: ‘One day when I was 14 — Vic was still a baby — I got my bike out to cycle over to my granny’s. Mum said: “You can’t go. She’s dead.”

‘I asked when she’d died and mother said: “Three weeks since.” Then I asked why I hadn’t been allowed to go to the funeral, and she said dismissively she didn’t think I’d want to. I never saw my granny again even though I later learned she lived for another eight years.’

Chris finds it hard to fathom why his mother so brutally truncated his relationship with his grandmother — and in so doing, also severed links with his many cousins, aunts and uncles still living in Manchester.

The kindest interpretation he has is this: ‘When I was 13, at about the same time as Victoria was born, I’d caught tuberculosis (TB) — a disease associated with overcrowding and poverty — from one of my cousins. I can only assume she was worried I’d go back and get ill again, and bring the infection home. But our mother’s behaviour certainly wasn’t natural.’

He remembers, however, that his mother’s public face was a gregarious one. Nellie pursued a path of upward mobility, joining the Ladies’ Circle and Costume Society.

‘She’d decided her own family were beneath her socially and she started to mix with prosperous middle-class women,’ he remembers.

He wrote scripts for the actor and broadcaster Wilfred Pickles and later for Coronation Street. By the time Victoria was born they were a prosperous family.

‘As a small child she had blue eyes and mass of golden curls,’ says Chris. ‘She was a lovely baby; always smiling and she grew into a cheeky toddler who made us laugh.’

It was from Stan, of course, that the prodigiously talented Victoria inherited her love of theatre, comedy and performance.
Touchingly, her father’s diary also records her first joke: a seven-year-old Victoria was listening as her dad told her a story about the Three Musketeers, when she asked: ‘Were they deaf? You just said they “must get ears”!’
Nellie and Stan were polar opposites. ‘Nellie was very severe,’ says Chris. ‘Like Victoria, she waged a lifelong battle against her weight and although she cooked for us all when I was a child, she used to pass food through a hatch into the dining room and never ate with us.

‘Stan was tall, good looking and an outrageous flirt.

‘I believe he was monogamous, but he was a terrific ladies’ man. He played the piano for the Ladies’ Circle and when they were considering putting on a Costume Through The Ages show, he suggested, “Why don’t you do underwear?” They agreed and he orchestrated it for them.’

It was Stan who gave Victoria her first piano lessons teaching her to play Polly Wolly Doodle on their baby grand by marking the names of the notes on the keys. Much later her brilliant comic songs, played at a white grand piano, became her hallmark; her homage to suburban lust, Let’s Do It, earning its rightful place among comedy classics. That her parents were each, in their own way, exceptional is undisputed and it is evident that she inherited traits from both. But while she has only hinted at the darkness of her childhood — the solitary meals eaten in her room; the addiction to sugar; the diet pills she took from the age of 12 — her brother confirms it.

Nellie, he says, was prey to arbitrary, black moods. She developed an antipathy to her only son — according to Chris, it was never explained why — and when he left home to go to Newcastle University aged 18, she severed links with him completely, refusing ever to speak to him again.

Indeed, she remained alienated from him for the ensuing 40 years until her death, aged 81, in 2000.
According to Chris, Nellie also tried to ban him from his father’s funeral in 1993. But it was Victoria’s then husband, Geoffrey, who stepped in.

‘He told Nellie: “Not only will Chris be there, but he will also help carry the coffin and read during the service”, which I did,’ he says, adding, ‘Geoffrey has been a very good friend to me, the very best of brothers-in-law.’
The conundrum of Nellie’s unkindness has never been resolved.

‘My sisters all said to me: “We don’t know why she was like she was”,’ Chris says now. ‘They encouraged me to go into therapy, because of the way she treated me — she didn’t disown her daughters, of course, only me. But I didn’t see a psychiatrist.’

Instead, his catharsis was to write a book about his mother ten years ago. Called Nellie’s Book, it drew on her journals and memoranda as source material – and through it, he says he learned ‘to love and admire her’.

Chris, a widower whose second wife Frances Foote died three years ago from cancer, clearly also admires his famous sibling. The sitting room of his modest terrace house in Darlington, County Durham, is cluttered with memorabilia: photos of Victoria are interspersed with those of his late wife.

Despite her busy and hugely successful career, Victoria always found time to meet her brother once or twice a year – the four siblings would gather at Christmas or New Year – and Chris would regularly go to see her shows.

‘We used to play parlour games at Christmas and Vic was always incredibly competitive,’ he recalls. ‘She had to win. And when her children were on the same side as her, they’d wipe the floor with everyone.’

It was the same talent, tenacity and determination that had always burned in Victoria.

Far from finding fault with his overweight, awkward, youngest daughter, one entry in Stanley’s journals shows just how proud he was of her.


New Victoria Wood biography - publication postponed
Family was told about it in June

The publication of a new, in-depth biography of comedian Victoria Wood by her brother Chris has been postponed for a month while the text is revised.

Originally planned for the end of this month, the new publication date is November 25th. This follows criticism of the book Victoria Wood Comedy Genius - her life and work (*) which describes the teenage Victoria as “fat and unhappy”.

The hugely talented, multi-Bafta award winning comic, writer, actor, singer-songwriter, producer and director died in April this year aged 62.

Author Chris Foote Wood said: “I have discussed this with my publisher at the Memoir Club and we both agree that I have given too much emphasis to Victoria’s early problems with her weight. I am revising the book to ensure that this aspect of her life is reduced and put in its proper context. However:

“I cannot and will not leave it out altogether as it is an essential part of Victoria’s story. She wanted the public to know about her early problems with her weight, and she spoke of them at length in some very candid press interviews.

“I am a huge fan of Victoria. I admire her all the more for overcoming her early problems to build her hugely successful career. She also had many disappointments at the start of her career, and it was years before she finally made her breakthrough. She succeeded against the odds through her force of character and sheer determination.

“I make no apology for writing this book. It tells Victoria’s story, her full story, from unpromising beginnings to national treasure. It cannot be a ‘betrayal’ to tell the full, true story, especially as Vic herself has made public her early problems.

“And I must put the record straight. To say the rest of our family did not know about my book is totally untrue. Back in May and June, I wrote to my two remaining sisters, and both of Vic’s children, telling them of my intention to write a biography of Victoria, and asking them if they had any concerns to let me know. None of them responded. In other words, they left me to it.

“It has now been announced that Victoria’s children, Grace and Henry Durham, have authorised another biography of their mother, written by a ghost writer, to be published next year. This is fine by me: the more books about Victoria, the better. I hope both of our books do well”.

Foote Wood - who added the name Foote when he married his late wife Frances Foote in 1977 - includes extracts from his father’s diaries, his own reminiscences as well as many from Victoria’s fellow actors, directors and other professionals. Chris has agreed to donate all his royalties from the book to charities supported by Victoria.

Chris Foote Wood has also set up a Crowdfunding appeal to pay for a life-size, lifelike statue of Victoria in her home town of Bury, where a site has been agreed. Bury Council is supporting the scheme and will maintain the statue once erected. Donate via www.tinyurl.com/letsdoitforvictoria

(*) Victoria Wood Comedy Genius - her life and work by Chris Foote Wood is published by The Memoir Club at £12. It will be available through bookshops and Amazon etc. Advance copies can be ordered via email memoirclub@msn.com or telephone 0191 419 2288.



For further comment and book signing events contact the Author: Chris Foote Wood (Northern Writers/Three Kings Productions) “Prestbury” 30 Brook Terrace Darlington Co. Durham DL3 6PJ Tel: 01325 483 660 Mob: 07984 060615 Email: footewood@btconnect.com web: www.writersinc.biz

Friday, 10 June 2016

The Carnock Letters by A L Bryan Nicolson of TARANSAY Hon.DLitt, FSA Scot, G.C.E.Tr.




The Carnock Letters, a series of letters sent to A. L. Bryan Nicolson, this led to the ultimate and final conclusion that Lord Carnock would succeed to the Chiefship of ‘The Clan Nicolson’ the first 
Nicolson Chief for over three hundred years.

This book is a companion to              FOR THE ANCIENT RACE
THE CLAN NICOLSON

MACNEACAIL
OF SCOTLAND
AND SEPTS
also written by A L Bryan Nicolson
PRICE: £7.50  available from The Memoir Club, Jasprint, 12 Tower Road, Washington. NE37 2SH Tel 0191 4192288 or email memoirclub@msn.com







The Right Hon. David Henry Arthur Nicolson    
The 4th Baron Carnock
Baronet of Carnock
Baronet of Lasswade
The Chief of Clan Nicolson



AUTHOR: A L Bryan Nicolson of TARANSAY 
           Hon.DLitt, FSA Scot, G.C.E.Tr.

I first came to my Scottish Ancestry when I was about eight years old, although there was not anyone in my immediate family who wore a kilt, played a bagpipe or spoke the Gaelic language. All this would fall to me being taught to play the bagpipe from the age of eleven years. At this time a Pipeband was formed at Sunderland in 1957. Fortunately for me the place where members held their first weekly practices was in the village where I lived at the time. When I was two years old I had heard a Pipeband play at Durham, and this was my first hearing of the bagpipe, something must have stirred in me and consciousness, and has never left me. The science of heraldry came to me when I was on a visit to Durham Cathedral with my parents, when I was eight years old, and has been with me from that time. I find heraldry a most fascinating subject, especially the artwork and its coming together and final construction.
I knew that we were of Scottish descent, but not much more and at the earliest time did not know we were one of the most ancient of the Scottish Clans.
I hope what I have put together and correlated what will be regarded as a working tool on the subject, and all who come to it will find the work to be of great interest.
I send my best wishes to all those of the Clan Nicolson and to those who are a Sept of the name, you are a welcome part of the family.

SIOL NICAIL 



It is with great pleasure, at long last, that I have set down these letters received from David Nicolson the 4th Lord Carnock, over a span of many years. Dealing with the Chiefship of Clan Nicolson and other matters of Nicolson history and Heraldry, and with reference to family genealogy. The final and deciding matter of the Nicolson Chiefship, would come to Lord Carnock recognised at the Court of the Lord Lyon 3rd Sept 1983. Lord Carnock died on Boxing Day, 2008. The Chiefship would now fall to his cousin, Adam Nicolson, the 5th Lord Carnock, with the Chiefship would be the baronetcy denominated Lasswade, which is an additional baronetcy for the Carnock family. Further to that is the Chiefly Arms of Nicolson. David Nicolson 4th Lord Carnock, would be the first Nicolson Chief in over three hundred years.
                                                                                                                                A. L. Bryan Nicolson




Friday, 20 May 2016

General Sir Brian Kimmins - At Your Service

At Your Service A Belated Autobiography of Lieutenant General Sir Brian Kimmins KBE CB DL
augumented by Malcolm Kimmins. Foreword by Field Marshal the Lord Guthrie of Craigiebank GCB LVO OBE DL.
PRICE:  Softback £10.00 + £3.75 UK postage  - Hardback £15.00 P & P £4.50 UK 
Buy from The Memoir Club by email memoirclub@msn.com   or tel 0191 4192288

Book launch
Edited by Malcolm Kimmins and Biddy Chittenden

It is unusual for a soldier to achieve forty years of unbroken service. That Brian Kimmins reached this milestone is testimony to his commitment, loyalty and devotion to duty in the defence of our country and our values. This span included two World Wars which makes the story yet more remarkable.



There are added dimensions. Letters from his preparatory school, a World War One Diary and some marvellous photographs all make for a  captivating record of a life of exploration and adventure, lived to the full.  

This is a story that could so easily have never seen the light of day.

The General was persuaded, with some difficulty, to put pencil to paper on his retirement from the Army at the age of sixty. There was no thought that it might be of interest beyond his immediate family, let alone be worthy of publication to a wider audience.

The manuscript, such as it was, moved from house to house, from cupboard to cupboard, until a grandchild used it for a school project and another was persuaded to type it out in some sort of order. From such a modest concept we now have a fascinating insight into what was truly a life spent ‘At Your Service’.

REVIEWS
JP McManus gave a number of copies of At Your Service to friends as Christmas presents.
He wrote to Mr Kimmins afterwards with the following acknowledgement:

I have recently read and greatly enjoyed At Your Service the belated autobiography of Lieutenant General Sir Brian Kimmins.

The dedication of a generation that fought in two world wars and served with distinction for their country around the world is humbling in the extreme.

The General's early army life was greatly influenced by the horse and this book is a timely reminder of the role those brave, uncomplaining friends played in World War One with such a catastrophic loss of life to man and horse alike.

Quotes from letters
beautifully produced
found the letters particularly interesting and moving
that charming book
a lovely fascinating book - a look into the past
a wonderful read
I enjoyed the book so much that I read it in one sitting
the book is a fascinating reflection and description of an officers life in the age of the Empire
did any other child write such letters?
what an extraordinary man, what a hero and what a very funny schoolboy
I much enjoyed the book. I had no idea he was swimming for his life at Dunkirk. It was a horrific time.

FOREWORD
Brian Kimmins had an Army career of forty years spanning both World Wars. His name may not be as well-known as some senior British soldiers but his contribution to the country’s war efforts was immense.

It is fortunate that he kept a World War One diary and recently the memoirs of his much admired and inspiring Battery Commander, Major Dick Archer Houblon, were rediscovered. Extracts from both add greatly when it comes to describing the fear and horror that the nineteen year old must have had to overcome as a very junior officer.

Kimmins clearly had a happy childhood and a loving and supportive family. From Orley Farm, with the help of a scholarship, he went on to Harrow. He was academically bright and well prepared to cope with officer training and the rigours of RMA Woolwich. If it had not been for the war he would almost certainly have gone up to Cambridge to read Classics.

World War One did much to shape his character. He put into practice all he had learnt on training and leading frightened men who would have preferred to be anywhere but where they were. Although Kimmins only arrived in France in August 1918 he was soon in action and quickly saw just how ghastly war can be.

In 1919 he was posted abroad to begin ten years of Foreign Service and a love affair with India and Egypt. He took every opportunity to hunt and fish, to play polo, to enjoy pigsticking and to travel widely in the subcontinent. In 1928 Kimmins, who had moved to Egypt with his regiment, was invited to be an ADC to the High Commissioner to Egypt and Sudan. This was very different from regimental life and gave him experience of the political and diplomatic life which would prove invaluable later in his career. On his return to England he made steady progress in an Army which knew sooner or later it would have to fight the Germans again.

On 3rd September 1939 war was declared and six days later he was in Cherbourg with the leading elements of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF). Eventually the impossible position of the BEF became apparent and Kimmins, who had spent much time liaising with formation commanders including Montgomery, was ordered to Dunkirk. On 1st June 1940 he embarked on the destroyer Keith which immediately came under attack and was sunk. He was bombed and machine gunned in the water before being picked up and brought to England and safety.

His ability was widely recognised and he was given increasingly important posts on the staff. At the beginning of the war he was a Major, by the end a Major General. The posts in which he was most influential were in South East Asia and in the war against Japan. Lord Mountbatten liked and trusted him and Kimmins reciprocated. Much of his time was spent visiting Headquarters throughout this vast command in India, Burma, China and the USA. His schedule was punishing and meetings required all his diplomatic skills, as the Allies had different views as to how the war should be fought and what should be the outcome once the Japanese were defeated. He arranged the Japanese Surrender Ceremony and remained for a time to help locate prisoners and internees who were scattered throughout the Far East.

On coming home he held a number of appointments including Director of the TA, Head of the British Military Mission to Paris to observe on the European Defence Community conference and finally the testing Command of all troops in Northern Ireland as a Lieutenant General.

Brian Kimmins had a remarkable career in the Army. He was an extrovert, clever and able to communicate with the great war leaders, Alanbrooke, Montgomery, Slim and Mountbatten, and with Churchill and Stalin. From early in his Army life he developed the skills required to become a superb strategic planner at the highest level.

The story is well written and edited and tells us much about the British Army both at war and at peace in the first half of the twentieth century.
Field Marshal Lord Guthrie GCB LVO OBE DL

Quotes taken from the book:

We were rather frightened of our headmaster Mr Hopkins - 1907

Resplendent in my Sam Browne belt I felt a real pride in myself - 1917

I saw my first battlefield, dead men hanging grotesquely on the wire - 1918

I nearly got mauled by a large black bear which attacked me downhill - 1924

One very senior lady always arrived tight - 1928

Not realizing the date a complete April fool was made of me - 1930

We saw one bomb released at us from low altitude - 1940

Stalin, in what looked like a butcher’s coat, made a dramatic entrance - 1945

The family found it oppressive to be guarded day and night - 1956









Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Brian Greenwood - Use It Or Lose IT

Contact The Memoir Club, Jasprint, 12 Tower Road, Washington. NE37 2SH 0191 4192288 or email memoirclub@msn.com.

PRICE £7.95 or 3 copies for £20  includes UK POSTAGE

USE IT OR LOSE IT - HOW TO LIVE LONGER AND HAPPIER
Brian Greenwood


BRIAN GREENWOOD 

USE IT OR LOSE IT may very well add many years to your life!  Following the common sense advice, with which it is packed, will certainly increase your happiness in the latter part of your life.
 This book is unusual in that its author is not a young man expounding a theory but is in fact a man of eighty-seven who practices what he preaches and is able to draw on all the varied experiences of a long life.
 That experience has been backed up by careful research and the result is this guide, which Lord Norman Tebbit describes as ‘This excellent book’.
 Similarly an eminent Cardiologist says ‘This book will help in great measure to provide crystal-clear lifestyle guidance’ and a widely experienced General Practitioner confirms – ‘This book gives examples of how advancing old age can be challenged’.
 The Headmaster of one of the North’s leading independent schools describes ‘Use it or Lose it’ as ‘Homespun wisdom grounded in careful research and sound common sense’.
 This is a book for everyone aged forty and over and younger people also will do well to read it with either an eye to the future, or with a view to giving good advice to an older generation. It is, of course, an ideal small gift for an older person – man or woman – about whose future you care. 

Read it – you will not be disappointed!

REVIEWS

Lord Tebbit CH
This excellent book.
This splendidly comprehensive manual of how to maintain a healthy mind in a healthy body.

Paul Silverton MDFRCP Consulatant Cardiologist
An entertaining and highly informative treatise. This book will help in great measure to provide crystal clear lifestyle guidance.

David Humphreys Headmaster Woodhouse Grove School
This is not a guide for mere survival but a series of timely remindes about making the most of your life and living life to the full.

Dr Georgina Haslam Ret GP
This book gives examples of how advancing old age can be challenged. Use this book as a springboard.