Monday, November 30, 2015

Music Monday ~ Miles and Miles of Miles

Over the weekend, on our TV music channel, I heard Miles Davis' full version of Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez, featured on the Davis album Sketches of Spain - volume was immediately turned up! I decided it's time to give an old post of mine a re-airing. There was some nice commentary conversation with the 2009 post, so...what the heck...I've copied the old comments too.

Husband introduced me to Sketches of Spain way back when he stayed with me in England in 2004. I loved it then and have loved it ever since. It was my introduction to jazz, but I also love all versions of the piece, classical, standard - any. There's also a 2010 post about Rodrigo and his composition: HERE.

Miles Davis's musicianship, trumpet playing and composing is part of jazz history - he is almost universally revered, yet is said to have had a difficult and strange personality. His music, then, must have been exceptionally brilliant to overcome that drawback.

Sketches of Spain has entranced me from the first time I heard it. I can hardly call myself a jazz fan, yet I can appreciate some pieces, especially those with a semi-classical base.

Miles Davis was born on 26 May 1926 in Alton, Illinois, at 5 am according to Astrodatabank. Some sources have his birthday as 25 May, but Astrodatabank gives 26th and 5am an AA rating - I'm going with that.

Here's an excerpt from an on-line biography. My comments on related astrology follow.
For the last two decades of Davis's career he became more of a jazz curiosity than a musician to be taken seriously. A good part of his fame owed less to his considerable musicianship than to his strange personality. Davis gained a poor reputation in performance for turning his back on audiences, for expressing racial hostility toward whites, for dressing poorly early in his career and wildly later—all of which contributed to his mysterious image.

Davis was a complex man with strengths and weaknesses that would ultimately destroy him. Himself the victim of a policeman's clubbing (reportedly, racially inspired), he had the fairness and courage in the late 1950s to challenge black jazzmen's expectations by filling a piano vacancy with a white player, Bill Evans (1929–1980); but then, by all accounts, Davis often racially taunted him. A physical fitness enthusiast (with his own private gym), he nevertheless took vast amounts of drugs (sometimes, but not always, for pain). Oftentimes unfriendly, he was also capable of acts of generosity toward struggling musicians, both black and white.

Davis was married three times—to dancer Frances Taylor, singer Betty Mabry, and actress Cicely Tyson. All three marriages ended in divorce. He had, in all, three sons, a daughter, and seven grandchildren. He died on September 28, 1991, in Santa Monica, California, of pneumonia, respiratory failure, and a stroke

Gemini Sun in Davis's natal chart links closely to very little - it lay within a few degrees of the ascendant, but in 12th house, which astrologers consider to be an area of withdrawal. I think this might account in part for his strange personality - turning his back on the audience, for instance, might be a reflection of this.

There's a Grand Trine in emotional, creative and sensitive Water signs in his chart. It links Moon/Saturn in Scorpio to Uranus in Pisces and Pluto in Cancer. While Water signs are generally emotionally driven, and a Grand Trine is a helpful circuit between signs of the same element, the inclusion of Saturn, Uranus and Pluto in this particular Watery circuit bring in a touch of negativity and some bloody-mindedness.

The other main configuration in this chart is a Grand Cross (shown right), involving Moon/Saturn, Mercury, Jupiter and Neptune - made up of square aspects and oppositions - all challenging in different ways, often resulting in a few difficult personality traits. Davis had many challenges to overcome in his life - racial prejudice, addiction and ill health being high on the list. The planets involved in this Grand Cross relate to communication (Mercury) publication and expansion (Jupiter), creativity and addiction (Neptune) and Inner self (Moon)/rigidity and discipline (Saturn). One integrated opposition: Mercury and Moon/Saturn is especially notable here, involving, as it does, Mercury the communications planet opposed by Moon/Saturn a kind of inner self policed by Saturn push-pulling with a need to communicate.

On the positive side, his art - his musicianship - is underlined by Venus, planet of the arts, in go-getting Aries forming a helpful trine to Neptune, planet of creativity in Leo. In addition to his talent in music, I ought to mention that Miles Davis was quite an accomplished painter, it was something he enjoyed in his later years.

More about Miles and his music at Jazz Profiles from NPR

Comments from 2009

Ron Southern (an old friend of this blog, who very sadly died of cancer some years ago) said...
I can dig it. As usual, you have good taste in celebrities. As for his strange personality, I guess it'd be a circle jerk to figure out if it was the personality or the heroin that came into conflict with the world first. I like his music, but don't feel inclined to sign any blank checks!

Ah, the tortured genius. I love his talent, T. But in the way of all such gifted people, never quite fitting in to the cookie cutter mold.

Ron Southern said...
I wonder, though, who would ever admit to fitting the cookie cutter mold? Almost everyone I meet considers him/her self to be quite unique, no matter what. Someone must be mistaken!

Nick Dagan Best said...
Thanks for that! For anyone interested, I posted an astrology blog about Miles a few years ago [updated link added] a biographical study combined with the charts of Marilyn Monroe and Allen Ginsberg, who were born the same week as Miles.

Twilight said...
Ron Southern ~~~ Well, I suppose his personality led him to the drug use, and I haven't studies his life story closely enough to discover whether he was difficult before he started taking drugs - but he certainly had a lot to put up with in the USA of his youth. It'd be enough to make anybody difficult, and only the very strong could survive without assistance I guess.

But, as you say, it's likely his addiction played a big part of the strangeness people saw in him.

WWW ~~~ His gift lifted him above the crowd, yet he still had to live with that dreadful ugly racial prejudice. Musicians are some of those who came through it, helped by their talent - but not unscathed.

Ron S ~~~ We're all unique - astrologically and physically, so you're right in one way. I guess it comes down to the way in which we are unique that governs whether our uniqueness is appreciated by the world - or just by our families and friends. :-)

Nick Dagan Best ~~ Hello!
Thanks for the visit and for the link to your post. I took a quick look just now, and will certainly be back to study it more closely, as there's so much there to take in. Some of it will no doubt go over my head, as profections haven't been in my repertoire up to now. I love to learn though.

Adele Aldridge
Thanks for the post about one of my favorite musicians. Besides enjoying Miles Davis's music I find his face mesmerizing. No way I can totally explain that.

Twilight said...
Hi there! He did have a beautiful face, I can understand your attraction. His eyes are central to his beauty and seem to draw the viewer in, yet push them away at the same time - in some photographs anyway.

Ron Southern said...
I don't suppose it's knowable in most cases whether things like that are causative or merely symptoms. We all have our predispositions, not all of which are well known to others.

anyjazz (my husband) said...
Miles Davis has been the signpost for many jazz converts. Even for those who are stuck in the CW or Disco or Classical mode, Davis has been the converting catalyst. I have met many who have said without reservation that they “don’t like jazz.” Miles Davis changes their minds.

There is something primal and penetrating and indelible about many of the Miles Davis recordings, especially the collaborations with Gil Evans. Even the most convinced of the jazz-haters hear something that attracts them to the music Davis created.

Listening to a musician play jazz is like watching a painter paint. You are there, watching creativity, watching art being born.

Twilight said...
I can (kind of) see why that's the case, having previously been someone who viewed jazz with a very jaundiced eye - I mean ear.

Miles Davis seems to have something some other jazz musicians lack - maybe he reaches beyond the simple need to improvise, which I still find a wee bit annoying, to be honest.

I'll never be a true jazz fan, I love melody and lyrics too much. But from the work of Davis and Ben Webster, and one or two others I can at least enjoy a taste of it - now and then.

Nick Dagan Best said...
Miles didn't start using drugs until about May 1949, when he turned 23. Before that, he was a clean-cut, middle class kid, the son of a dentist, who moved to NYC from East St. Louis, ostensibly to study music at Julliard, but ultimately to meet up and play with Charlie Parker, a habitual junkie.

Miles went through a few years exposure to the drug life without being tempted, but finally began after getting depressed following a trip to Europe, where he had had a whirlwind romance with Juliette Greco.

He finally kicked heroin in late 1953-early 1954, but was known to use cocaine in the years that followed, particularly during the 1970s, when his health prevented him from playing as much as he used to.

Twilight said...
Many thanks for the additional information.

On balance, I think Miles Davis was naturally inclined to be a bit socially obtuse (or more aptly, the way Americans put it "ornery").
That's supposed to be unusual for Sun Gemini types, even with Sun in 12th house (which sometimes relates to a writer's need for solitude and withdrawal). His Moon/Saturn combination probably had a lot to answer for, in my opinion.
Drug use was bound to play some part in how he was perceived by the public too, but if he'd been a warm gregarious type to start with he'd either have not got into drugs in any serious way, or if he had, then they wouldn't have suddenly changed his personality so radically.

I'm guessing there though, because I have no experience of drugs or drug users - I might be barking up the wrong tree entirely. :-)

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Self-indulgent Saturday-Sunday #4

This fourth episode covers just 3 years, 1967-1970. Previous episodes are at #1 and #2 #3).
I returned to work in the County Record Office older, wiser and I'd like to think a tad more... erm..sophisticated. By this time my parents had left Yorkshire and were in the midst of their own itchy feet expeditions, almost as mixed and muddled as my own. I found a decent furnished apartment above a hairdresser's shop in Beverley's market place (top floor of building on left of photo) - it was a short walk to work. I had no telephone, but there was a phone box in the market place opposite; no fridge, no TV for a couple of years, just a record player and a transistor radio. Beverley is a lovely old town, some picturesque streets and beautiful Minster church.

 View of  Beverley Bar (ancient gateway)
The next three years proceeded in a much calmer steadier mode than the previous twelve. I took on extra work at the weekends, at home, to make a little extra cash.
Mr H was doing some extra work himself, on the archives of ancient Trades Guilds in London and I agreed to type and index for him. Later a friend of Mr H, a child psychologist, had some reports and data to type up, which I took on. The extra cash went towards cost of an annual vacation.

One vacation during this time was a trip to the Loire Valley in France - alone, by train and ferry across the English channel - all very adventurous! Stayed in a tiny hotel in Tours, a town with easy access to the many famous chateaux (castles) in the area. I treated myself to a couple of trips around the region by coach, tried out my schoolgirl French - it was just about enough to get me where I needed to be.

The following year I wandered back south-west to Devonshire for my vacation. While walking along the sea front early one evening a guy came up and walked beside me, asked if I knew...don't recall what exactly - the time? The way to....? Something. Hmm - is this a pick-up was my question! We chatted a while, both lonely it seemed. He suggested going for a drink . He took me to a bar in what was probably the poshest hotel in town. This fellow was quite "posh" himself it seemed to me from his accent - not one of my usual rag, tag and bobtail suitors.
I'll call him Hal, he was in town selling pet-related products to pet stores and supermarkets, a job he didn't much like but had been more or less forced to take, for reasons I could only guess at - perhaps divorce and loss of whatever. He had previously been a lion keeper, had been employed at Longleat Safari Park on the estate of the then Marquess of Bath. (Off topic - the current Marquess of Bath, by the way, is a character and a half).

I'd met a diverse bunch of people in my travels, but never a lion keeper! We got on well, but once his work was done in town he had to move on and so did I as my vacation ended. Hal wrote to me several times (always drew a little lion as part of his signature) suggested coming up to Yorkshire...then, I don't recall exactly what happened to stop him - maybe lines became crossed and several things happened at the same time.

 With Dad c. 1969
During this three years my Dad had a health scare - it turned out to be less serious than first thought, but still meant a week in hospital for him and some surgery. It was the first time I'd encountered any such serious worry about someone close, and came as a nasty shock to the system for us all. But in that instance all was well....what's the expression: Dad "dodged a bullet", and so did we. There would be many more bullets to dodge (or not) as years went by, but this first one taught us never to panic too soon.

I had few opportunities to meet people outside work so decided to try joining an amateur dramatics class planned locally. I turned up but was one of only two individuals who showed interest, so it was ditched. I was happy at work but increasingly lonely at home. I'd occasionally spend time at weekends with my grandparents - 2 bus rides away, or  go to see my parents, who were flitting around a lot back then - I think during this time they were in the midst of a move, but my memory's blurred on detail.  They did actually come to stay with me for a  short time, between moves.

There's a follow-up to a story from episode #3: the once apple of my eye, "O", who had disappeared, was eventually sighted again. His sister had promised to let me know if she had news of her brother, she wrote to me, told me that "O" was in a military hospital in North Yorkshire, suffering from TB, but recovering well. I arranged a visit, took the fairly long bus trip up to North Yorkshire and saw him once again - albeit with me wearing a mask and gown! The sparkle had gone out of my eyes - and heart - sadly, but it was still good to see him again. Once fit, out of hospital, and eventually out of the military he wrote to me, asked if I'd go to London with him. I had a bad feeling about it and gracefully declined. I was lonely, but that inner antenna was sending out warning signals that this would be a mistake. I was learning - well...kind of.

Separated but not divorced; outside of work this was an unpleasant limbo time, and was to continue for quite a while longer. Divorce was very difficult back then, especially from a Roman Catholic who made it his business to disappear, whenever it suited his purpose. It was years before I was free and single once more. I swore to myself that I'd never marry again - not ever!

Roads not taken, roads taken and reversed, roads still to be taken....
To be continued

Friday, November 27, 2015

Arty Farty Friday ~ Some Wild Exaggeration

The Sun has recently begun its journey, for this year, through zodiac sign Sagittarius, one of Sagittarius' keywords is exaggeration (courtesy of ruling planet Jupiter). My husband, coincidentally, brought my attention the other day to a photographer who made his name, and his fortune from exaggeration - one W.H. Martin. Husband had been researching for information to add to his list of 19th century and early 20th century photographers (See Lost Gallery HERE), whose names and occasionally addresses often appear at the foot of old cabinet cards. He had searched in connection with "Martin", one half of Gilkey and Martin.

As husband noted:
"It appears that the Martin of “Gilkey and Martin” was actually William H. “Dad” Martin who began the “Tall Tales” postcard business. These were cards depicting giant grasshoppers, rabbits, cabbages or onions, promoting some exaggerated comical tall tale.

Martin took over the photograph studio from Gilkey in 1894 and began making his photo-montage comic cards. He sold the photography studio the next year in 1895, to work full time on his post card business.

He became very wealthy and sold the postcard business in 1912. He then started the National Sign Company."

W.H.Martin was born in 1865 in Illinois. One census return accessible at gives his birth date as "Feb. 1865" - that's the only clue available. I'd hazard a guess that he was born in later February, with Sun in Pisces, ruled by Jupiter (exaggeration) and Neptune(fantasy). He'd likely have had some Sagittarius input too, inspiring him to portray these fantasies of exaggeration.

From Photography Museum website
Tall Tales have an honored place in American culture. From Paul Bunyan and King Kong to the legions of fishermen boasting about "the one that got away," there is something about exaggeration that appeals to our sense of national grandeur. Perhaps it's also our view that in the modern world, anything is possible. Giant hybrid crops? Sure. Rabbits the size of Buicks? Well--maybe.

Exactly this formula proved the key to oversize wealth and success for a photographer named William H. "Dad" Martin. In 1894, he took over a studio in Ottawa, Kansas. Martin began using trick photography in 1908, producing a series of wildly exaggerated post cards. These were so popular that he sold his studio the next year to concentrate on the post card business.

Within three years, Martin's trick photos earned him a fortune. Demand was so strong that his firm reportedly purchased photographic emulsion by the railroad tank car-full (or was that another tall tale?) Martin sold the business in 1912 and founded the National Sign Company. So far as we know, he never again ventured into the darkroom. But during his brief career as a post card photographer, "Dad" Martin tapped into the national psyche with his own imaginative brand of homespun surrealism.

From In the Inbetween
Martin’s technique was one which many photo-montage artists continue to use today: first, each element of the scene was photographed, then elements from multiple photographs were cut and pasted together, and finally the resulting montage was re-photographed, creating a seamless effect. This aesthetic of the “believably unbelievable” remains extremely popular even in modern photo-montage. Martin’s photographs were so well made and in such high demand that many of them were plagiarized and sold under other names.


Clicking on the images will bring up clearer pictures.

 Our Barn is Full

 Great Sport Fishing Here

 Harvesting a Profitable Crop of Onions

 A Pair of Hungry Pike

 Carving One of Our Watermelons

 Angling for Bull-Frogs

Thursday, November 26, 2015


I continue to look on Thanksgiving as a simple harvest festival, rather than pretending to celebrate something connected with a group of people whose attitudes I consider odious. I'll feel thankful for all that Mother Nature offers us, every day, in spite of our careless mistreatment of her.

The Puritans who travelled, under great difficulty, to these shores from my own old homeland, England, were not a set of people I'd feel comfortable with. I pity the Native tribes who first encountered them. The English Puritans were religious fundamentalists of the worst sort. They disagreed with the rituals of the Church of England , and were victims of bigotry themselves, in their own homeland. But as abuse begets abuse, so bigotry begets bigotry, and they became, if possible even worse bigots than their abusers.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Fixed Stars in Zodiac Sign Sagittarius

Continuing the series of monthly posts on Fixed Stars in each tropical zodiac sign, a look at the list for Sagittarius.

Data comes from Astroweb (HERE), showing star positions in 1900 in the left-hand column and in 2000 on the right.

Astrological interpretations for some of those stars, if found to be tightly conjunct a natal personal planet, or important point, are available online. A good, all-encompassing website to investigate for this is Constellation of Words.

 Hat-tip here for graphic

The ecliptic, apparent path of the Sun, shown as a faint dotted red line in the image above, is a circular "track" around the celestial sphere; the zodiacal belt is a region circling the celestial sphere. The circle of the ecliptic passes through the middle of the zodiacal belt. It can seem a tad confusing that some stars in our tropical zodiac sign Sagittarius are actually within the constellation of Scorpio. Modern Tropical astrological divisions of the ecliptic into 12 equal segments throws up this peculiarity. It's best, for me, just to accept it, the alternative being a move into sidereal astrology, and that would confuse the grey matter terribly!

I mentioned the Scorpio/Sagittarius confusion because the brightest star from the Sagittarius list, the one I'll scribble on about, Antares, is actually located in the constellation of Scorpio - right at the Scorpion's heart in fact! The Sagittarius Archer's arrow (and star Alnasi) points directly at Antares, and heart of the Scorpion.

Antares is a giant red star, famous as being one of the four Royal Stars of Persia(see my archived post HERE). In ancient Egypt and Greece temples were erected in ways to coincide with the star's cycles. It's thought that the star's name comes from the term Anti-Ares, i.e. similar to, or rival of Ares/Mars, possibly due to its red colour or the fact that Mars was traditionally the ruler of Scorpio.

From Skyscript
[Antares] A Royal star, likened to the influence of Mars and Jupiter, Antares offers extremes of success, good fortune, danger and malevolence. It clearly indicates the potential for great power, but where this is simply 'power of will' without integrity or wisdom, it carries the threat of ruination. Lilly warns that it can indicate a rash, head-strong person who is destructive to himself by his own obstinacy. The direction of the luminaries to this star usually indicates great honour and advancement, but always there is a warning not to fall victim to its ruthless energies. Of the Sun directed to this star Lilly writes:

It discerns many honours, if the native be careful, and be not deceived by soldiers. It doth many times produce a burning fever, or some violent act, and prejudice the right eye.

I enjoyed this relevant piece by astrologer Boots Hart at astroPPM

My single natal planet in Sagittarius is Venus at 20 degrees, conjunct Atria and Ras AlHague. What has Constellation of Words website to tell me?
Nothing for Atria: No myths or astrological interpretations are linked to these stars because Triangulum Australis was not visible to the ancients in the northern hemisphere.

For Ras Alhague ("a sapphire star on the head of the Snake Charmer" in constellation Ophiuchus) --- With Venus: Quick mind, well educated, cautious, secretive, suspicious. [Robson*, p.193.]

Anyone else have links to the Sagittarius stars?

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Any Answers?

Last week commenter "Audrey" posed a question under a 2010 post titled
Jupiter's Children (Sagittarius and Pisces).
Her question:

Sun in Pisces, Sagittarius rising is a very Jupiter ruled combination, right? How do others view a person with this combination and what are people's first impression upon meeting someone with these placements?
Anyone care to kick in with an answer?

Monday, November 23, 2015

Music Monday ~ Welcoming the Travellin' Centaur

Sun moves into Sagittarius today for a month.

Sagittarius - what's not to like!?

 Sagittarius by Erté

This is a favourite sign of mine, not least because it's a travellin' sign and I've always had itchy feet, blamed on natal Venus in Sagittarius.

A favourite song or two to welcome in the travellin' Centaur:






Saturday, November 21, 2015

Self-indulgent Saturday-Sunday #3

This third episode covers around 12 years between 1955 & 1967, following my leaving Bridlington High School (previous posts are at #1 and #2 ).
 Posing! c.1955
I coulda stayed in school for two more years, coulda then gone to university or teacher training college - coulda but didn't wanna. I wanted to earn money, see life, learn from experience, get away from regimentation, exploit my independence.

A youthful dream was to be a newspaper reporter, but living where we did, that was a forlorn hope. Second choice, and one with more chance of success: work in a library aiming to become a fully fledged librarian. I was interviewed at our County Library in Beverley, some 14 miles from home, but was unsuccessful, mainly due to my lack of work experience - my GCE academic exam qualifications well exceeded what was required. That interview did lead to another opening, and one almost tailor made for me at that time : general assistant to the County Archivist, in the County Record Office, also in Beverley. It turned out to be a fascinating job which I grew to love.

I travelled to Beverley from home by train, 5 and a half days a week. I'd been learning to type and trying to learn shorthand in evening classes and spare time for a few months. My new job wasn't simply as a typist though, that was a side-requirement. The County Archivist, Mr H. had established the County Record Office a few years earlier and was still deep in process of persuading local gentry and minor aristocracy, of which there was a goodly number in East Yorkshire, to deposit their family archives in the Record Office for safe keeping, and to be catalogued and used for research by historians and genealogists.

Mr H. was a delightful guy, I wish I had a photograph of him to share, but any I owned were lost in what I call the Great Fire of 1996. I can find no photo of him online, but did unearth a list of reference numbers to archive documents since transferred from the Beverley Record Office to the History Centre of Hull University. I noticed, with glee, that all those in second half of the list - those with prefix double D ("DD..") were those I helped to sort, catalogue, index etc. so many years ago. (See here).

Mr H's powers of persuasion worked well, our three large strongrooms soon filled with lots of valuable materials - stuff crying out for investigation and interpretation. The documents, on receipt, were often absolutely filthy, having been stored in dusty attics, or dank, musty cellars, for centuries. Our first job was to clean and sort, then Mr H. would draft entries for detailed catalogues which I would type, then stamp and number the documents, store them carefully in specially-made labelled boxes, then index and cross-index a large card index system (steam version of Google!) After the first year or so I was allowed to actually catalogue many of the later documents myself.

We had visitors to the office daily, asking to see particular documents, some were staff from County Hall - we stored all the County Council's ancient and modern records too, relating to education, highways and bridges, council meeting minutes, court records, etc etc etc. Quite frequent also were visits from out of town students, historians, and the occasional person looking for family history clues. It was part of my job to locate required documents and either log them out (modern council records) or pass them over to the researcher who would study them in an outer office.

In preparing this post I searched online for a photograph of the Record Office building, which stood next door to County Hall. To my dismay I find it has been demosished and a fancy new "Treasure House" replaces it. The old building was a single story affair, with pillared doorway (looked a bit Grecian). A corner of it can be seen on the far left in the photo of County Hall below.

The new structure is shown in an article HERE, A Diamond Anniversary for the East Riding Archives and Local Studies Service which also tells that:
There is a display in the Treasure House featuring photographs of some of the buildings the archives have been stored in and some of the staff who have helped build the service up over the years.
I doubt my photograph was there, don't recall ever having had photograph taken at work, maybe I was named as one of the early staff, there were so few of us: Mr H + one general assistant; I was that one for two separate periods of 3 years: 1955-8 and 1967-70.

After 3 happy years in the County Record Office, in 1958 my itchy feet began to tingle. I loved and respected Mr H, he'd taught me such a lot, not only about history and local history, but about poetry and politics and ....well life in general beyond what I'd experienced in my own family circle. Even so, East Yorkshire was somewhat isolated, I wanted more, began to feel trapped. Once those itchy feet began to tingle something had to give.

I don't recall what propelled me into the life of a live-in hotel receptionist, I really don't. Looking back, it seemed an unlikely next step. Perhaps, at age 19, it was the only way I could find to leave home but still have a place to live and be fed. I found an advert in some publication for a job in a North Yorkshire hotel office, was interviewed, and to my surprise was successful. The hotel was a lovely old coaching inn in a picturesque area close to the border of North Yorkshire and County Durham. From what I can glean online that hotel is now quite different in atmosphere from the Morritt Arms I knew back in the late 1950s. I guess it has been 21st-centurised, maybe now owned by an offshoot of some hotel corporation or other. There's a piece mentioning it HERE.

 As was

I spent the summer there, fell in love, for the very first time, but after a few months the object of my affection disappeared one night without any warning to me, or to the hotel owners or other staff members. A mystery! Owen was his name, he was working as general hotel dogsbody and hall porter, but really didn't seem to fit that role. He befriended me immediately, we "clicked" right away. His disappearance haunted me for years. Later on I learned, from his sister, that at the time he disappeared he had been AWOL from the RAF and had either been apprehended by the authorities, or had gone "on the run". I did, eventually, meet him again, just once - that'll likely be mentioned in #4.

 Married 1962, his pic gone.  With my  parents
The years following were filled with seasonal work in the offices of 10 different hotels around the UK - north, south, east and west. Checking around the internet for photographs of said hotels told me that all have changed almost beyond recognition. One has been taken over by Best Western, others have been tarted up to the eyeballs, extended, modernised. Inevitable, I guess. There were intervals, too, as cashier in a city restaurant, secretarial work in a Rolls Royce Gas Turbine factory, assistant in the Devonshire public transport accounts offices.

In 1960/1 I met first husband, married in 1962, separated in 1963. Tried again a little later - still didn't work. I ought not to speak ill of the dead (if he is ). I'll say only that it was because of him I got to experience Rome, twice, for several weeks; for that, and perhaps for introducing me to Sinatra's genius I have to thank him. He, Val, was Italian, sometime head waiter, sometime ordinary waiter, sometime gambler, philanderer....Enough said, for now. He was removed from the wedding photo (right) it came from my mother's collection, any photos of Val I had in my own collection were destroyed in the Great Fire.

Life as a hotel receptionist, more accurately in those days described as book-keeper/receptionist, because we had to keep "the books" - detailed account ledgers as well as the usual booking records. The luxury of computers to do much of the work for us was non-existent back then. It was from learning how to keep a ledger that I taught myself, through constant practice, to add very long columns of figures (L-S-D: pounds, shillings and pence) without the aid of a calculator. I can still do that, amazingly! We answered correspondence, phone enquiries, typed menus, and in some hotels I was also responsible for making up wage packets for the staff, and dealing with related tax and National Insurance issues. We worked in shifts, very early morning to mid afternoon, or mid-afternoon to late night. We were expected to wear black - navy blue might be tolerated, though not always. I could usually eat in the hotels' dining rooms, choosing from the full menu, or sometimes from a limited list. It was politic, of course, to always cultivate a pleasant relationship with the hotels' chefs - and waiters! Occasionally office staff would be asked to do a shift in one of the bars, or assist at a wedding or banquet - that was fun! Live-in staff were sometimes allocated a room in the hotel itself - top floor or at the back; occasionally there'd be a designated staff house nearby.

Before meeting first husband there had been some boyfriends. Two of the longer lasting ones were Douglas in Devon, who loved big cars (his Jaguar in photo) and dreamed great plans for the future - I hope they transpired; and Ronnie in Lancashire who loved his pint of beer and a game of soccer. Neither ticked all my boxes, but both were good friends. Dang - but I was picky, falling in love again was not easy! There were lots of short term friendships with hotel staff members. Pam, a fellow receptionist in a Lancashire hotel, who was also training as a fashion model, comes to mind. I have her to thank for teaching me how to put on makeup properly, and how to style my hair. Pam was another friend with a birthday close to mine; it's odd how that kept happening.

I have especially nice memories of a pair of travelling representatives for tobacco firms who used to co-ordinate their visits to a North Devon hotel where I worked for one summer and an autumn in the mid-1960s. These two, Tony and Bill, were great buddies, witty, easy-going, well-read, and amazingly they befriended yours truly whenever they were in town. I loved 'em - quite innocently, like brothers I guess...they were both happily married. I often wonder if I was always looking for the brother(s) I never had. Another visitor, to the same hotel, a relief bank manager, Mr S. asked me out regularly for a meal during the time he was seconded to the area. He was a sweetie, middle-aged bachelor, rather old fashioned. I could've, probably should've....but I didn't. When he left, after a month or so, he sent me a huge bunch of wonderful long stemmed bronze chrysanthemums (because I'd told him how I loved the scent).

Mid 1960s, with Mum and Grandparents
It had all been a big adventure for me, hotel life became addictive for a time, even though in retrospect this period of my life was a chaotic patchwork of good, bad and indifferent experiences, lots of movement, not much real progress. Eventually the novelty and addiction wore off, it became tiresome, I began to long for stability.

By 1967, working in a non-hotel environment in Devon, living in a tiny rented apartment, I received a letter one January day, from Mr H, the County Archivist in East Yorkshire, my first boss. Mr H. and I had kept in touch by letter occasionally all through this chaotic patchwork time of my life. He told me that my successor, his assistant, was leaving, would I like to go back to my old job? I decided to take him up on his offer, it was a damp and cold January in Devon, I was lonely, and my feet had stopped itching.
To be continued....

Friday, November 20, 2015

Arty Farty-ish Friday ~ Modern Art & Logos

A change from looking at painters, their work and their natal charts today. First a very good cartoon on the topic of modern art styles. I hope Canadian cartoonist, John Atkinson whose website Wrong Hands never fails to provide me with an admiring chuckle or two, will not mind my borrowing it today (if he does, and lets me know, I shall remove it at once).

I found this piece about well-known logos (a type of art, I suppose) interesting:

10 Famous Logos That Have A Hidden Meaning

A few samples follow. Commentary under the article argues with interpretation of some logos, especially those of BMW and Apple, as outlined.

BMW = either a tribute to the company’s history in aviation, showing a propeller in motion with the blue part representing the sky, said to be due to the company’s role of building aircraft engines for the German military during World War II...alternatively (and I think far more likely) a representation of the Bavarian blue and white flag - honouring the company's original HQ in Bavaria.

Apple could = derivation from the story of Adam and Eve in the Bible - bitten apple represents the fruit from the “Tree of Knowledge”.....or Isaac Newton's fallen apple - with a bite (byte?) because without it Steve Jobs thought it looked like a cherry....or a reference to Alan Turing, one of the fathers of computing. He was prosecuted for homosexuality in 1952, and after being subjected to estrogen treatments as an alternative to prison, was found dead from a cyanide overdose in 1954 with a half-eaten apple next to him (which wasn’t tested, but is suspected of being the source of the poison). One of the early Apple logos is in rainbow colours, similar to the homosexual flag. Take your pick!

The FedEx logo is so simple yet so good, hiding in plain sight. I had to squint before I saw the arrow between the bottom half of the "E" and the left-hand side of the "X".

The article proposes: The white lines passing through give the appearance of the equal sign in the lower right corner, representing equality. I don't agree. I immediately saw this IBM logo as representing that old green and white horizontal striped computer paper of long ago. One commenter had thought the same, while most were probably too young to remember that paper. I actually once, briefly, worked for a company who manufactured it in the UK, so remember it well.

The well-known Chevrolet logo wasn't mentioned in the article linked above, but I'd already researched that one for myself, when preparing a post about Louis Chevrolet some years ago. Here's what I came up with:

The Chevy logo, now so well-known, came into being in 1913. Stories of its source have become muddled through time. Take your pick: it was copied from a wallpaper design in a Paris hotel room; it was copied from a newspaper advert for Coalettes; it was drawn on a dinner napkin in a restaurant by Durant [Buick owner William C. Durant, founder of General Motors]; or... it's a stylised version of the cross from a Swiss flag (reflecting the name Chevrolet's origins).

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Fuzzed Up Scorpio

Before the Sun makes its exit from zodiac sign Scorpio in a few days' time, here's a little something I dug out of the November 2007 archives. Readers with strong Scorpio flavour in their natal charts should prepare to be offended or amused - or both, or neither.

Stopping off at a second-hand book shop one day, I headed towards the back of the shop, the most hidden recesses and, sure enough, there so as not to embarrass the shop owner was a small section of books devoted to "weird subjects". I was surprised to find quite a collection of secondhand books on witchcraft and Wicca here. Is there more going on in Oklahoma than meets the eye?

There were only two books on astrology, An Idiot's Guide to Astrology and You Were Born On a Rotten Day. Now, idiot I may be, but I avoid advertising the fact more than is necessary - although passing readers may think differently! "Idiot's Guide" would not look good on my bookshelf. The co-authors of the second slim volume had certainly written their book on a rotten day - rotten for astrology that is. I had to chuckle over a few of their quips though, so bought the book for the knock-down price of a dollar.

You Were Born on a Rotten Day ("The unofficial horoscope guide that tells it like it really is.....A book that comes to you after years of painful guesswork") was written by Jim Critchfield and Jerry Hopkins, first printed 1969 in Los Angeles. (I should mention that it is not the same as a later book with a similar title, "Born on a Rotten Day", that one is by different authors.)

A collection of spoof Sun Sign interpretations - I suspect the same idea has been better done and with more wit and zing in recent years, but this early attempt at astrological humour is kind of sweet.

"Men and women born under the Sign of Scorpio have very active minds, bodies and police records.

This sign is all fuzzed up with mythological happenings about a pretty lady who gave a nice man a scorpion which promptly bit him and gave him such a lump he never got over it.

Much of life is like that for Scorpios.....they never get over it, or in it, or anything about it. Tragic, painfully tragic.

To begin with, Mercury rules the pelvis of each Scorpio. (You can just imagine what that causes when the lights are out). Due to this pelvic problem Scorpio has a thing about love. Crying out for love, but shoving it away when it comes. (Doesn't this one choke you up?)

Scorpio women are very giving by nature, which always makes them sought after by men who throw certain kinds of parties.

Scorpio men, on the other hand, find happiness in the Armed Services, since they are the simply marvelous cheaters at poker and craps. The Scorpio born should try to direct their emotions toward more healthy organising waterfalls...or sending gift packages to needy Admirals.

If you are a Scorpio, never play with your yo-yo in public. (Note from me: Now that IS wise advice, Scorpios!)

Your Lucky Color is fading, and your Lucky Day is worse than most.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Scorpio x 2 ~ Lightfoot's Darker Songs, Brice's Funny Frolics

On 10 November 1975 an ore carrier, the Edmund Fitzgerald sank in Lake Superior during a November storm, taking the lives of all 29 crew members. Later that month, Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot, inspired by an article in Newsweek Magazine, wrote Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald.

Gordon Lightfoot, born 17 November 1938 in Orillia, Ontario, Canada with Sun in Scorpio, along with Venus, and Scorpio rising must have felt immediately drawn to the tragic story of death in water. Scorpio is the Fixed Water sign of the zodiac, and with its ruler, Pluto, links to death and darkness.

Even in If You Could Read My Mind (this one I like) he writes of ghosts and chains and darkness - more Scorpionic symbolism!

And ....Ribbon of Darkness - still more dark Scorpio-ness

As far as I know Gordon Lightfoot is still around, and in his mid-70s.

Another side of Scorpio Sun, from a different generation, can be seen in Fanny Brice. Fanny was born in New York on 29 October 1891 at 12.03am (

Her name is familiar, these days, mainly because of two movies, Funny Girl and Funny Lady starring Barbra Streisand, and based (albeit loosely and with liberties taken) on Fanny Brice's life story.

Fanny's forté was her talent to entertain, and the ability to integrate humor into music.
The daughter of immigrant Jewish saloon owners in New York, Fanny was drawn to a life on stage early on. She appeared in burlesque revues and the Ziegfield Follies, honing her craft, developing her humor. Later, from 1930 onward her radio portrayal of the character Baby Snooks, "a bratty toddler" brought her national fame.
An archived post of mine looks at Fanny Brice and her natal chart in more detail

A few astro notes:

I've borrowed natal planetary position lists for these two artists from
Fanny Brice had benefit of sunny Leo rising and erratic Uranus close to her natal Sun.
Lightfoot's Scorpio rising with Sun just 4 degrees away in his First House of self is possibly why Scorpio's traditional darkness filters through more clearly in his work.

Generational differences figure in too, I think. Fanny Brice's generation had the Neptune/Pluto conjunction in Airy Gemini, as mentioned in my earlier post linked above: "Pluto and Neptune, two generational planets were exactly conjoined in Gemini when Fanny was born. People in her age group had a creative powerhouse to draw upon, especially if their personal planets linked to these two outer planets; in Fanny's case Mars, planet of energetic drive, was in helpful trine from Libra."

Lightfoot's generation (myself included), with Uranus in Taurus, Neptune in Virgo and Pluto in Leo were born into a more Earthy astro atmosphere, though with Pluto just inching into Leo.
Neptune sextiled Lightfoot's Sun and Venus, while Pluto sextiled his Libra Moon