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London Letter: Quinine - Or The Alternative

...An Australian nurse was in charge and like most Australians she was blunt and to the point. She came into the room holding two bottles, held up the first and said: “This is Cure Number One---Quinine. I know it has a foul taste but take a swig out of the bottle at least three times a day---it can work miracles.’’

Then she held up the second bottle and continued: “This is Cure Number Two---old fashioned Scotch whisky. Take a swig as often as you can every day. And if you get drunk so much the better!” And she left with a big chuckle...

The astonishing Henry Jackson recalls his days in Walvis Bay.

Henry, who at 96 is Britain’s oldest weekly columnist, also brings the news from the great city of London, along with a poem and a small slice of history.

Property market grinds to halt

The London property market has almost come to a standstill. Some idea of the drop in sales may be measured by the offer of one chain of London estate agents that has agreed to waive fees on any properties they sell between now and the end of the year in return for a one-off booking fee of £999.


More problems

Hill House, a block of riverside flats overlooking Canary Wharf in the heart of the City of London has had 82 out of 84 flats repossessed because the owners could not keep up the repayments. The 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom flats sold originally for £250,000 and are now valued at £115,000.


Sharp drop in hotel bookings

And the London hotel industry has been hit by a sharp fall in bookings compared with last year. Five-star hotels including the Mandarin, the Dorchester and the Four Seasons experienced a 17% decrease in bookings compared with September last year. Four-star hotels experienced a 4% decline and three star hotels saw a 5% decrease in the same period. In August, at the height of the holiday season, the number of bookings made in five-star hotels dropped by 9%. Every month so far this year, apart from April, has seen a downturn in the number of people checking into London hotels.


CCTV check on the buses

London Transport this week began a six months experiment with live screening of CCTV on London buses in an effort to improve security on the system. They are using technology pioneered by the American military that allows CCTV footage to be beamed via secure mobile networks from the buses to the central police and bus control room. Officials can see what is happening on the top deck of buses helping them to clamp down on anti social behaviour.


Moorgate Station is closing

The Thameslink branch line into Moorgate will close next March. It is the first closure of a main line into London in memory and will cause hundreds of commuters heading in and out of the Square Mile to switch to the Tube, a bus or a walk from Faringdon Station. The change will also affect passengers using Barbican Station between Farringdon and Moorgate.


Thieves steal £7,000 perfume

A delivery driver was held at knifepoint in St. John Street, Finsbury, North London, while two robbers stole perfumes worth £7,000 from his vehicle. The eight boxes that were taken contained 227 bottles of various fragrances by Frederic Malle including perfumes in a new range called Dans Tes Bras.


Bow Street Tally--ho! tel

Bow Street Magistrates Court in Covent Garden is to be transformed into a 76 room hotel with 16 sleepover cells that will be improved but will contain most of the original features including the toilets. The building that also contained the former Bow Street Police Station will include a museum section recounting the history of the site and telling stories about some of the former famous prisoners including Oscar Wilde, Casanova and Jeffrey Archer.

Cap camera train patrols

Officers wearing headgear with cameras are to begin patrolling trains between London Liverpool Street Station and Shenley in Essex. They will be looking for signs of anti social behaviour and people trying to avoid paying fares. The cameras will provide footage similar to CCTV and will act as a visible deterrent of bad behaviour, explained the rail company National Express.


New Fast Food shop controls

Waltham Forest Council in East London is considering placing a ban on new fast food shops opening close to schools, parks and youth centres. It is also thinking of restricting the number of fast food shops in town centres and residential areas. The Council said that the moves were meant to tackle child obesity and the spread of litter.


Black cabs sales drop 37%

Manganese Bronze, the makers of London black cabs, announced that sales have fallen by 37% to 1628 in the nine months to September 2008. They blamed the rise in petrol costs and the meltdown in financial markets. The company, which has announced a cut of 60 in its 400 workforce, has also been hit by a recall of its new TX4 vehicles after 12 bonnet fires were reported by drivers. The total cost of the recall, including modifications, is expected to reach £4m.


700 new Routemaster designs

A competition to find a design for a new Routemaster bus has attracted 700 entries. The winner will be announced in the middle of November and will receive a prize of £25,000. The original Routemaster was withdrawn from service in November 2005 because it was not accessible to pushchairs and wheelchairs. It was replaced by “bendy” buses but the Mayor of London said that these were never suitable for London’s roads.


Goldman shedding 600 staff

New York investment bank Goldman Sachs is sacking 600 staff in London because of the recession.


Knife crime falls 10 per cent

Knife crime in London fell last year following increased use of stop and search procedures, the Met announced. In the 12 months to the end of September 6429 offences were registered compared with 7167 a year earlier, a fall of nearly 10.2%. Figures for September show an even steeper decline with 198 offences, a drop of nearly 18%. The new measures were introduced in response to a wave of stabbings that led to the death of more than 50 teenagers since the start of last year.


Jerusalem is Pub of the Year

The Jerusalem Tavern in Britton Street, Finsbury, North London, has been voted Town Pub of the Year 2009 by the Good Pub Guide. All its beer comes from a Suffolk brewery and it concentrates on good, old-fashioned, home-cooked food. And---it has banned all music.


This Wonderful World---7
Walvis Bay

Half way down the coast of West Africa is one of the world’s most famous former whaling stations, Walvis Bay, in what was formerly known as German South-West Africa. It was a little paradise situated on the edge of the Kalahari Desert and when I arrived there in the summer of 1941 it was inhabited by a giant race of blond Dutch Boers who spoke Afrikaans, worked hard, produced their own food and were at peace with the world. The houses were neat, tidy and well kept and the inhabitants fought a constant battle with the wind that whistled 24 hours a day and piled up the sand into their back gardens and had to be dug out every morning.

I arrived in HMS Auricula on its way from Lagos to Cape Town and 90 per cent of the crew including me had developed malaria and needed urgent treatment. It was provided without hesitation and I was whisked off to a little cottage hospital in a cluster of trees in the picturesque Bay area. The room that I shared with another member of the crew had large windows with heavy blinds and I could see the palm trees swaying constantly in the high wind.

An Australian nurse was in charge and like most Australians she was blunt and to the point. She came into the room holding two bottles, held up the first and said: “This is Cure Number One---Quinine. I know it has a foul taste but take a swig out of the bottle at least three times a day---it can work miracles.’’

Then she held up the second bottle and continued: “This is Cure Number Two---old fashioned Scotch whisky. Take a swig as often as you can every day. And if you get drunk so much the better!” And she left with a big chuckle.

I did as I was told. I did get drunk and I thrashed around in the bed and perspired so much that they had to change the bedclothes three times a day. But the miracle worked. In 10 days the malaria had gone.

I rejoined my ship two weeks later.


Poems for Posterity


She took me to lunch,
“Took you to lunch?”
Yes, in a village bistro
On the edge of the green
Where windows with linen curtains
Keep outsiders from peering in.
Footsteps scraped on wooden floors,
On the walls were prints and books
About Italy and sunny places
Just where we hanged coats on hooks.
The menu was short and to the point
In fact quite up to muster,
Not a mention, of course, of a roast joint
Just pasta, pasta and pasta.
It was just after Spaghetti Pomidoro
That I had an urgent need
To kiss this beautiful girl
Sitting opposite and glowing gold
With the utmost speed,
But how do you in a public place
Give way to inner feelings
And tell someone you care
When she is not yet 30
And you are twice that
With more to spare?
So I resisted the temptation
To shock the little talking clusters
Then drained the capuccino
And started a filibuster
To stifle what comes from Heaven above---
Some people call it love.

February 13 1993


Today in History

1968. Jackie Kennedy, widow of the former president, married the Greek millionaire Aristotle Onassis.

1973. Sydney Opera House, one of the most distinctive buildings in the world, opened on the banks of Sydney Harbour.

2007. One of the biggest and deadliest fires in U.S. history destroyed 400,000 acres and 2,000 homes in Southern California.

Famous quotes

Marriage is like a casserole, only those who originated it know what goes in it---Anonymous

Adventure is just bad planning---Explorer Roald Amundsen

Every path hath its puddle---English proverb



The Stockmarket was in meltdown today but I ended down only 21 and I am pleased but admit that sometimes it gets a bit scary.

The Day Centre that I attend twice a week put on a birthday party for one of its visitors aged 98. We drank her health in lemonade!


Friends & Family

Lorraine left today for a three day break in Amsterdam with a little group of girlfriends she met in former jobs. There was a last minute bomb scare at City Airport but it was cleared up before she arrived.

Gillian (Totnes)
Gillian and Alan have been entertaining family on a big scale—they had 17 round the table for lunch on Sunday. Gillian is also beginning to dabble in water colours. I am sure she will make a colourful splash.


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