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London Letter: The Cool Concubine Of A Chinese War Lord?

...At first glance Maggie looks like a tall Chinese woman, an Eastern princess or the cool concubine of a Chinese warlord. At second glance, and there always was a second glance, you realised that all the guesses were wrong and you were confused. Maggie was a tall American woman with short, dark hair, a wide mouth with perfect teeth and slanting eyes and as American as they come from upstate New York...

Henry Jackson presents another intoxicating mixture of news, poetry and personal experiences from the great city of London.

Boris Johnson, the new Mayor of London, announced the appointment of four new members of his “Cabinet”. One of his earliest decisions is expected to be a ban on alcohol on the London Tube and buses. Ken Livingstone, the departing mayor, is on line to receive a final payment of £69,000, half of his yearly salary.


The first major port development for 150 years is to be built at Stanford-le-Hope, Essex, bringing cargoes from all over the world to the doorsteps of London. It will be built on the site of the former Shell oil refinery at Shell Haven and will be known as “The Gateway Containership Terminal”. The development will cost £1.5bn.


About 200,000 are expected to crowd into London’s East End this week-end to celebrate the Bengali New Year.


Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday will be celebrated by a concert in Hyde Park. on June 27. Guests are expected to include Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, and Bill Clinton, former U.S. President.


Work is being completed on the restoration of an 800-year-old mosaic floor in Westminster Abbey. Its fragile surface has been protected since the 1870s by a carpet but it is hoped to have it back in full view shortly. The mosaic was commissioned by Henry III and contains a coded inscription predicting the end of the world in 19,863 years.


The British National Party, with echoes of extremist political beliefs, has won its first ever seat on the London Assembly.


“East Enders”, the BBC’s prize show, was named as the most popular ”soap” on television. It beat “Coronation Street”, “Hollyoaks” and “Doctors”.


Two thousand jobs have been lost in the City of London following the recent credit crisis. And a further 18.000 jobs are at risk.


Mark Saunders, a wealthy 32-year-old divorce lawyer, was shot dead by an armed police response team after outbursts of gunfire from his flat in the upmarket area of Markham Square, Chelsea. He had been married for a year to another lawyer and they paid £2.2m for their flat in the square. A neighbour said that Saunders had been drinking all day.


A man was killed and two houses destroyed by a gas explosion in Stanley Road, Harrow, North London. Glass from the blast was found in a neighbouring street.


Princess Beatrice, aged 19, started work as a fashion consultant at Selfridges Store in central London’s Oxford Street to get work experience before going on to study at Goldsmith College in the autumn. She is fifth in succession to the Throne.


British Airways will begin to move its long haul flights to Heathrow Terminal Five in June.


John McCarthy, chairman of the House of Fraser Group, gave £1m to the Royal Marsden Cancer Hospital in Kensington in memory of his wife who died in the hospital last April at the age of 47.


Poems with Passion
My Defences Are Down
by Henry Jackson

One by one we demolished our fences
Blending into one person instead of two, Now I am left without defences
After shredding the past to make everything new.

Our love grew slowly and took long to build
With pain and laughter shaping the scene,
Never again will I be more fulfilled
Or forget anything that happened between.

The biggest impact you made on me
Was your fleeting smile, slightly hidden,
Like a shy bird in the heart of a tree,
A real joy but slightly forbidden.

I melt to the sound of your voice
That envelopes me like a shimmering cloud,
Never ceasing to make me rejoice,
Or even offer thanks to Heaven above.

I revel in your soft hazy perfume
That floats like the sound of a distant bell,
From Day One I knew I was not immune And immediately fell under your spell.

I could go on all day and all night
Without stopping, or in spurts,
All I really want to say is
I miss you, darling, it really hurts.


The Women in My Life---4 (Maggie)

At first glance Maggie looks like a tall Chinese woman, an Eastern princess or the cool concubine of a Chinese warlord. At second glance, and there always was a second glance, you realised that all the guesses were wrong and you were confused. Maggie was a tall American woman with short, dark hair, a wide mouth with perfect teeth and slanting eyes and as American as they come from upstate New York.

She was just 50 when we first met and when I looked into her eyes I could not make up my mind if they were sea green, burning yellow, misty brown or velvety violet. Finally I came to the conclusion that they could be any one of them and it depended on her mood, the time of day or the time of the month. She changed like a human chameleon, a tantalising but vivid mixture of emotions. She was always unpredictable and out of reach. I nediscover the real Maggie hidden deep down in the remote recesses of her soul.

Maggie was the daughter of a Presbyterian minister in a comfortable outback of New York State. She went to one of the best private girls’ schools in Boston and spoke English English enlivened occasionally by a French word or phrase or an Arabic word or phrase or a Chinese word or phrase. She smiled reluctantly but when she allowed it to happen it looked like a bright beam or a quivering light in a dark room. But if she was angry, which was often, or if someone or anyone offended her, the smiling eyes became thunderbolts and lightning flashed.

Soon after graduating with honours at an American university Maggie met and married Ted, a rising star in the British Foreign Service, who achieved quiet prominence in the shadowy world of the British Secret service. Together they lived first in Saigon when it was still the glittering Paris of the Far East, then in various parts of Arabia and finally in Hong Kong, the prize appointment, where he was head of the Secret Service.

Ted was tall and handsome in a vaguely Eastern manner and initially was destined to follow in the footsteps of his English father who was the Editor of an English language daily newspaper in Shanghai. He graduated in Peking University but broke with tradition when he left school and spent two years in the saddle in Mongolia helping to look after the vast herds of sheep that had to be moved on all the time to protect the food that grew under their feet especially in the winter because if they stopped in one place at any time they would freeze into solid blocks of ice.

Ted spoke the official and the unofficial Chinese languages plus all the various dialects and in repose looked like an inscrutable Chinese aristocrat. Living close to the Chinese enabled him to think like them, a gift that stood him in good stead in his chosen profession..

Maggie caused several diplomatic incidents in Arabia because she insisted in taking part in all the social events which did not go down well with the sheikhs. At one Arab banquet she sat alone in an adjoining room while the festivities proceeded and on another occasion, when she refused to give way, she sat at a banqueting table with everyone else but was hidden away behind a three sided canvas screen.

When they arrived in Hong Kong there were no barriers and Maggie became a triumphant and popular hostess. With Ted they lived an eventful life and bought a Chinese sailing junk that they used at week-ends. If she and Ted could have lived for ever they would have chosen to live in Hong Kong. They occupied a large house at the top of The Peak which also served as HQ for Ted’s operations and enabled him to keep a constant and watchful eye on China, Japan and the Eastern outposts of Russia.

They came on leave to England every second year and chose to stay in Ide Hill village in Kent where I lived in the largest house in the area that was the centre of local social events. We became great friends and I took a guarded liking to the exotic and enigmatic Maggie. With her husband Ted she often sat down round a big open log fire in my billiards room, exchanged details of experiences in various places all over the world, drank generously, and even sampled the arcane mysteries of Mah Jong.

(Continued next week)


David Cameron’s daughter Nancy has been granted a place at a top State primary school, St Mary Abbots Church of England School in Kensington, two miles from their home.


Famous Quotes

The injuries we suffer and the injuries we do are seldom weighed in the same scales---Aesop

I’ve tried several varieties of sex. The conventional position makes me claustrophobic and the others give me a stiff neck or lockjaw.
Actress Tallulah Bankhead

An Englishman can get along without sex as long as he can pretend it isn’t sex but something else. Arts critic James Agate

All marriages are happy—it’s living together afterwards that is difficult.


Today in History

1469. Italian politician and philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli was born in Florence.

1850. James Barrie, creator of “Peter Pan” was born.

1937. Margaret Mitchell won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction with “Gone With the Wind”.

1945. VE Day.

1961. Alan Shepard took off from Cape Canaveral and became the first American in space.

1979. Margaret Thatcher was elected the first woman English Prime Minister.

1994. The Channel Tunnel opened.



I am 95 years old. I survived 5½ dangerous years in the Navy during the war, lived through three tumultuous marriages and successfully overcame the challenges of starting up my own publishing business. I am also hard of hearing, have sight in only one eye and survived a triple heart by-pass operation. My memory can recall events that happened 70 years ago but not always yesterday. So I am annoyed and even angry when someone pats me on the back and says “Good morning, young man” or something equally inane. So please:

Cut the crap!

I am also a long time soup lover and can create really tasty mouth watering soups ranging from the popular tomato soup, the Italian minestrone soup, onion soup, chicken soup, lentil soup and many others. I got my recipes from the recipe book written by the famous chef Auguste Escoffier and I am sad that in my recent move I lost this guide to perfect soups.

This week I decided to give my new cooker with all its shining equipment
a test and I made tomato soup. It was good but I have made better in the past. I suspect that because I missed out onion it lacked the classic bite for which tomato soup is noted. I will try again.

My well informed friend Avril points out that Boris Johnson was elected Mayor of London and not Lord Mayor of London, as I reported last week. The Lord Mayor is head of the City of London, presides over a court of Aldermen, and holds office for one year. He is based at the Mansion House.


Inner Circle
Friends and family

Polly (Bristol)
The owner of “Marco Polo Travel” returned from a trip to Peru on an inspection tour of the hotels. While sightseeing around Lake Titicaca and other beauty spots she climbed to the top of Huayna Pichu, the iconic peak behind Machu Pichu, the only woman in her group to do it and the oldest.


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