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Monday, 31 October 2011

Albert Street - NW1

So a Prize winning Crystallographer, a peace activist and a storyteller walk in to a bar. Actually they probably don't but they do share one thing - a geograhical proximity to Camden High Street.
M and I visited Camden on Saturady as a breath of fresh air following the completion of my flat sale. We took the tube up to Chalk Farm and walked back through the Stables market without seeing a whole lot that really took our fancy. Yes there was some lovely reconditioned oak furniture but sadly at camden prices and some javanese masks that I would have loved but really need to be bought on the road. The Stables market is nice in that the worst of the tourist hordes dont make it that far from the tube station and lo and behold the closer we got to Camden tube the worse the crush of gawping lollygaggers became. We took a bit a a detour through the new reopened lock markewt and M picked up a new nurses watch complete with silicon holder so her late allergy wouldnt come into play. Once over the lock we headed west down Arlington St and thence on to Albert St one time home to John Desmond Bernal (1901-1971) Peggy Duff (1910-1981) and George MacDonald (1824-1905)interesting charactors al. I know bernal through my previous life with the MRC - portraits of their most prominent alumni peppering the walls but didnt know much of him - a controversial figure and outspoken supporter of Soviet Russia not to mention a Cambridge man he worked with both Aaron Klug and Max Perutz.
Next up at number 11 is Peggy Duffs blue - or rather brown plaque. She was a labour local councillor from 1956 until she resigned from the party in 1967 over Wilson's support for US involvement in Vietnam and their refusal to condemn the Greek colonels choosing to persue her political aims outside the party arena. She became the first secretary-general of CND and Noam Chomsky is and admirer.
Then at number 20 is George MacDonald the storyteller refered to earlier who in the latter half of the 20th centrury began a career that influenced Tolkien, and C.S. Lewis (particularly Lewis), E. Nesbit and Madeleine L'Engle with fairy tales like the Princess and the Goblin. He was as C.S. Lewis or rather Charles Lutwidge Dodgson a christian theologian, he came from a Calvinist background but rejected some of its harsher doctrines.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Joseph T. Clover (1825-1882)

Never heard of him? Nope me neither. His blue plaque is at 3 Cavendish Place at the southern end of Harley Street home of bespoke medical care to the very VERY wealthy.
He was born in Aylsham Norfolk - note to self another plaque to look out for!
He studied at UCL alongside Lister and upon graduation became house surgeon to James Syme and then Resident Medical Officer at the University College Hospital becoming a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1850 before setting up at the Cavendish Place house as a GP. After several years of practice he became interested in the field of anaesthesia possibly inspired by his presence at Listons first anaesthatised operation in December 1846 and became chloroformist to the University College Hospital and the London Dental Hospital, his specialisation helping to fill the vacancy left by the death of John Snow whos story Ill have to recount another time. In 1871 he reported that hed administered chloroform 7000 times and other aneasthetics 4000 times without a fatality and was sought out by the royal family among others for his expertise. He invented several pieces of equipment to aid the process and to make it more controlled some of which lasted well into the 20th century.
As one whos had a couple of procedures involving general anaesthetic a big thank you to anyone involved in the process and gratitude that we dont live in a pre-anaesthetic age.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Long Melford

We took the cross country route to Southwold on Saturday it being the hottest October day since records began - an idea that a fair few others had it should be said.
We passed through Long melford which is a picturesque little Suffolk village which was used as a setting for the Lovejoy TV show.
On the way through the village a blue plaque was spotted. It was dedicated to Admiral William hanwell (1766-1830) who sounds like he had a rather checkered career to say the least. Funny to find an admiral in the Suffolk countryside. He was senior lieutenant of the Sheerness the flagship of Admiral Cornwallis. Cornwallis died of a fever and Lieutenant Hanwell promoted himself two ranks to Post Captain this was sshall we say rather infra dig and would not have been smiled upon if it werent in the backwaters of the Africa station but his promotion was confirmed on his return. He did take a couple of commissions in the dying days of the napoleaonic Wars but his career was in decline and he finished his career in a shore job superintending a prisoner of war depot in Norman Cross and retired as a rear admiral of the blue squadron.
Anyhoo we enjoyed a picnic on the beach and wander around the rather chi chi village again with a nautical plaque commemorating James II stay during the Dutch wars. Sadly no visit to the Adnams brewery as I was driving :o(