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London Letter:

There are many good reasons for getting married. Like liking someone so much that you can’t bear being parted. Like being compatible. Like working in the same company. Like belonging to the same church. Like being in love. All good reasons but I married Copper because I was lonely and she made wonderful tomato soup.

Ninetyfive-year-old Henry Jackson, Britain's oldest columnist, serves up another tasty helping of news, poetry and personal experiences

Plans have been lodged with Westminster Council to turn the site of the former Chelsea Barracks into one of the finest and most desirable housing estates in the world. It will consist of 639 units with every modern luxury aimed at wealthy people who want to make London their home. The site will include landscaped grounds with 200 new trees that will be available to the public and a private s reserved for tenants. There will also be a boutique hotel with two restaurants, shops and a community hall plus a sports centre complete with a 25 metre pool. The site is owned by the Qatari Government and the two billionaire Candy brothers, both Londoners.
Comment: The cost of a flat will run into million


A power failure brought the Jubilee Underground Line to a halt for three hours causing fear and delay to 4,000 passengers. They were led to safety along tracks between Canary Wharf and Canada Water, Bermondsey and London Bridge and Green Park and Westminster. Up to 700 were on each train. Commuters were moved out through the driver’s cabin at the end of the train. The crisis started at Neasden Control when a transformer blew sparking the power failure.
Comment: Passengers said they feared that a terrorist attack was under way.


Four people were taken to hospital after fire broke out at the Algerian Embassy in Holland Park, West London. Firemen had to use a turntable fire ladder to rescue two people stranded on the second floor.


London galleries and museums are offering late night opening from May 16 to 18. And the Science Museum in South Kensington will stay open all night.
Comment: It’s a week-end treat.


The Olympic Flame arrived in London on Sunday and there were disturbances all along the route from groups protesting against China’s actions in Tibet. Thirty seven protesters were arrested but released the next day.
Comment: The Prime Minister said that he would not be going to the opening of the Olympic Games in Beijing.


British Waterways have begun construction work that will change East London tidal creeks into a major freight route. They will be used to carry up to 1.75 million tonnes of construction material to the Olympic site.
Comment: Planners are describing it as “a new Amsterdam”.


Sea horses, small sea snails that thrive in the warm seas around Italy, the Canary Islands and the Pacific, have been discovered living and breeding in the lower reaches of the River Thames.
Comment: A sign that the quality of Thames water is improving.


David Hockney, the artist, has given his largest painting to the London Tate Gallery. It measures 40ft x 15ft and is entitled “Bigger Trees near Warter” and is a typical Yorkshire landscape. It is made up of a grid of 50 smaller canvases. Hockney now lives in Los Angeles.


Work will start this summer on a £4m facelift for Tower Bridge, one of England’s most famous bridges, which will be repainted blue and white. During the operation bridge sections will be wrapped in scaffolding to catch old paintwork as it falls to protect life in the River Thames. And next week work will start on the nearby Southwark Bridge that will be repainted green and yellow.
Comment: Tower Bridge is crossed every day by 44,000 motorists and pedestrians.


Office lettings in central London fell by almost a third in the last six months as companies scaled back staffing needs and froze office searches because of economic uncertainty.


Bizet’s opera “Carmen”, the story of a wilful gypsy, will be performed at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden on April 17.
Comment: Olga Borodino, the mezzo soprano, takes the lead.


The cost of the London 2012 Olympic Aquatics Centre has increased more than three times the original estimate. The latest figure puts the figure at £242m, up from £75m.
Comment: Officials stated that the overall cost of the stadium will not increase above the estimate of £75bn but this denial is in doubt.


London’s East End Film Festival is being held from April 17-24 and will be spread across 10 venues with 26 feature and 84 short films. It opens on April 17 with the London premier of “Waiting Room” starring Ann Marie Duff and Ralf Little.


Poems for Posterity

Home Sweet Home
by Henry Jackson

When I was selling my house
I generally met husband and spouse,
But in this strange Society
Buyers came in rich variety,
The Addisons were first of all
She was white, he black as coal,
Her accent was soft and Kerry
His was deep, rich and merry,
They could not keep their hands apart
Right from the very start,
Then there were the Robert Dales
She from Sydney, he from Wales,
He was worried by the rates
She wanted to be near her mates,
There was an invasion of Patels
Together with children, mostly girls,
And then the smiling family Wong
Recently arrived from Hong Kong,
There were also single girls
Clutching lists and demanding bills,
One tall girl came by Porsche
Invited me for home-made Borsche,
I remember well the laughing mum
With a 38 bust and a 48 bum,
A girl from Guildford tried my bed
Wonder where that could have led?
Another swept in drowned in Joy
Not at all shy, not even coy,
And, of course, those sharp young men
Offering cash including yen,
But not one, alas, after all this time
Has signed upon the dotted line.
September 1985


Today in History

1817. The German Baron von Drais rode the first modern cycle while collecting taxes.

1843. Queen Victoria proclaimed Hong Kong a British colony.

1896. The Olympic Games were revived in Athens 1500 years after being banned by the Roman Empire.


Famous Quotes

The price of greatness is responsibility—Winston Churchill.

Marriage is like banking---You put in, your take out, you lose interest. ---Irwin Corey

No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted---Aesop.

You don’t swing where you sleep---Sammy Davis Jr.


Looking Back
The Women in My Life (4)---Copper

There are many good reasons for getting married. Like liking someone so much that you can’t bear being parted. Like being compatible. Like working in the same company. Like belonging to the same church. Like being in love. All good reasons but I married Copper because I was lonely and she made wonderful tomato soup.

At the time it seemed like a good reason for another serious step into territory I had explored before. But in the final analysis it turned out to be the wrong recipe for a long time banquet. We drifted apart and became strangers in the same house and parted after a so-called amicable divorce that cost me heartache, disappointment, disenchantment and a big chunk of my life’s savings.

Copper’s real name was Mildred which she automatically rejected and adopted her father’s inspired suggestion that reflected the colour of her hair and her burning desire for personal approval and desire to collect the jackpot at the foot of the rainbow. She came from the Gorbals, a tough part of Glasgow, where immigrants from Eastern Europe mingled uneasily with local razor gangs, criminals and prostitutes. Her parents were honest but modest citizens intellectually rich but financially poor and when her overworked and underloved father died in his early 40s her mother married a rich timber merchant who also died soon afterward to leave her a widow for the second time on a tiny allowance in contrast to the generous funds he provided for his children.

However, she put a large part of her meagre savings into medical training for her daughter but Copper gave up after three years because she could not bear the sight of blood and the stress of attending the constant stream of syphilitic patients that overwhelmed the hospital clinic where she did part of her medical training.

She was a brilliant and intelligent young woman but too bright to accept the restraints of living in the second city of the British Isles so she moved to London where she was a stranger but quickly capitalised on her extraordinary skill in writing memorable words, memorable music and catchy lyrics. There was only one place to go, an advertising agency, and that is where she went. Her work was outstanding and she quickly rose to become head of television services of one of the biggest agencies in the business.

She acquired the veneer of arrogance and lashing repartee essential for survival in the advertising jungle and made friends with the elite but secretive core of the hard, flashy dictators who lurked in plush offices in Soho and Mayfair where she worked long hours six days a week, and sometimes seven, to feed the unsatiated hunger of the multinational big spenders of the media world.

It was early days in television but she was a successful pioneer and created advertising history. In the process she broke a few of the unspoken rules that broke you if you broke them. She spoke her mind, a very unpopular habit, she did not always agree with the boss, a fatal flaw, and she did not believe that the client was always right, incredible. But most of all she did not succumb to clumsy advances from immature men whose gods were Persil, Players, Fairy Liquid or Walls Sausages.

In a world where the spoken word was often blunt, crude, obscene or inadequate she shone with a soft Scottish clarity that claimed instant attention and grudging approval. But when she was angry her words cut down everyone in sight including the boss, or any boss. Her words inflicted deep wounds that were never forgotten and she left the company after a bitter dispute with a flourish of searing phrases borrowed for the occasion from Winston Churchill and Robbie Burns. And without compensation. It was a temporary setback for her because in the next two months she started up her own agency. But the powerful men at the top never forgave her for walking out and spread the poison and the work for which she was amply qualified and had no equal began to dry up.

I met Copper in the troubled period of her professional rejection. I lived in a ground floor flat in Elm Park Gardens, Chelsea, and she lived on the second floor. It was Chelsea SW10, Chelsea Mark Two, the home of actresses who inherited famous names but not talent, home to sports writers whose headlines were bigger than their brains, home to lesser academics. home to Back Bench MP’s one of whom made sycophantic speeches about the monarchy, and home to exhausted doctors on constant call from Brompton Hospital, St Stephens or the Marsden. It never reached the lofty eminence of Chelsea SW3, home of the great and the powerful, and it never gained the approval of envious admirers from overseas. Even the local pubs had succumbed to the glib, soft-voiced invaders from Ireland and the Pom-baiters who preferred to drink beer from cans and not glasses.

Copper lived anonymously on the second floor. She worked long and she worked late and her companions were two Siamese cats appropriately named Jingle and Script and one day Script fell two floors from a window to the pavement but survived.

(More next week)


Big Ben, Westminster’s world famous chimes, was 150 year old yesterday. It was cast at the Whitechapell Bell Foundry in East London in 1838 and cost £572.


Chaos continued on a reduced scale at Heathrow Terminal Five this week but for the first time no baggage was lost yesterday. People who took part in pre-opening trials a month ago went on record to state that so many problems were revealed that it was inevitable that the chaos that happened was inevitable.



Michael Jackson RIP
Born April 8 1937 Died June 19 1999

He has gone---
The man who fought the world
And took no prisoners,
The man who beat the City,
Won racing’s greatest prizes,
Created great gardens,
Made a fortune,
And achieved everything
Except happiness,
The man---
My son, my son,
` Who faced up to all the fears
But lost the last fight
And left my world in tears.


We had a blizzard on Sunday morning that came down from a black sky in thick flakes and covered hedges, trees and cars with a frosty white blanket.

It was the heaviest April snowfall for 20 years and although it did not last it is a reminder that whatever the calendar may register winter is still with us.


Inner Circle
(Keeping friends in touch)

Lorraine (East Ham). Her mother Mavis returned from a holiday in Hawaii.
Shirley (Croydon) told me that friends who arrived at Heathrow recently took a black cab into central London and the cost was a staggering £70.

Aya (Tokyo) had a birthday this week and I sent her flowers.

Gillian (Totnes. Devon). Her twin 10-year-old boys, Sean and Lewis, entered the regional Cub Scouts football tournament last Sunday. Lewis played in the A team and Sean was in the B team. After a long afternoon of football against all the other Cub packs the final was announced. Totnes A team versus Totnes B team. Lewis’ team took the championship but they both came home with a medal and big smiles on their faces.

Ariane (Olhao, Portugal). Coping with the worst storms in southern Portugal for 20 years but their catamaran “Papricat” that took them across the Mediterranean last year is safe.

Paula (Palm Desert, Cal). Elmer continues to surprise everyone with his rapid progress after his hip replacement on March 17. He and Paula are back in their normal routine of going out to breakfast and on Wednesday he attended a Marine Corps League lunch and surprised all his fellow marines when he walked in since at 89 he is the oldest in the group. He is using a walker because his doctor says that at this stage a fall could be a disaster. Paula continues to keep him on track and is catching up on paperwork. Palm Desert weather is like Heaven!



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