Wednesday, May 31, 2017
A final comment about Diana Dors:
The unveiling of the controversial Allison Lapper statue in London in 2005 inspired Germaine Greer to comment “Britain has almost no proper statues of women. Is Swindon's Diana Dors the best we've got?” She makes a valid point, part of a debate that has been ongoing for some time.
- As early s 1952, a letter to the Times raised the issue of the lack of gender equality in Britain’s statues. Another letter to the Times in 2016 continued this discussion, pointing out that there had been little change since 1952 and that the campaign to have a statue erected to Emmeline Pankhurst remains a challenge. That writer also quoted a ratio of 16 to 1 male to female ratio of civic statues.
- Germaine Greer’s Guardian article in 2008 described the statue of Diana Dors as ”Britain's one undeniably monumental female sculpture . . . entirely recognisable as a flesh-and-blood woman.”
- Greer writes that when Marc Quinn’s sculpture of a pregnant Alison Lapper was unveiled in Trafalgar Square in 2005, Ken Livingstone observed that her life was "a struggle over much greater difficulties than the men who are celebrated here", referring to Nelson atop his column, George IV, Sir Henry Havelock and Sir Charles Napier.
- Allison Lapper was born without arms and with shortened legs, a condition called phocomelia. She has overcome family rejection, institutionalisation and physical challenges to have a family and to become an artist, using her art to question physical normality and beauty.
- Quinn’s marble sculpture of her was on display is Trafalgar Square between 2005 and 2007:
- A large replica of the statue featured in the 2012 Summer Paralympics opening ceremony:
- Greer went on to comment that there is a lack of statuary honouring women in the way that men of note are honoured.
- A website called inVISIBLE women, at:
looks at the situation and efforts since then. It states
Using the database of the Public Monuments & Sculpture Association Caroline Criado Perez estimates that only 2.7% of civic statues in the UK are actual, historical non-royal women. She concludes that if you are a woman “your best chance of becoming a statue is to be a mythical or allegorical figure, a famous virgin, royal or nude.”
- That same site notes, as an example, that in the Leeds’ City Square, a statue of The Black Prince astride a horse is surrounded by statues of 4 men of note and 8 statues of women:
The Black Prince, Leeds, by Sir Thomas Brock
James Watt, Leeds, one of the 4 historical male figures depicted.
The 8 statues of women surrounding The Black Prince are of eight nameless, symbolic women portraying ‘Times of Day’; dawn, midday, evening etc.
Puts the Diana Dors' statue in a different light, eh what?
Tuesday, May 30, 2017
This started off as a post about invisibility humor but growed like Topsy into superhero funnies.
Caution: risque content.
Which brings to mind an oldie . . .
The Flash is patrolling Central City, travelling so fast that he is not even visible, hence his name: The Flash.
As he passes Wonder Woman’s apartment he looks in her window, stops a little bit and backs up, looks again. Lying on her bed is Wonder Woman, sans clothes with her legs apart.
Overcome by lust he has his way with her at supersonic speed and is out of there. “What was that?” asks Wonder Woman.
“I don't know,” responds The Invisible Man, "but damn, it hurt."
The superheroes when not fighting crime . . .
Monday, May 29, 2017
“Tradition is a set of solutions for which we have forgotten the problems. Throw away the solution and you get the problem back. Sometimes the problem has mutated or disappeared. Often it is still there as strong as it ever was.”
- Donald Kingsbury, Courtship Rite
Donald Kingsbury (1929 – ) is an American–Canadian science fiction author. Kingsbury taught mathematics at McGill University, Montreal, from 1956 until his retirement in 1986.
Courtship Rite is a science fiction novel.
Yesterday I posted a story about Diana Dors (1931-1984), born Diana Fluck, an English busty, blond sex symbol of the latter half of the 20th century.
Byter Steve M sent me a lengthy email about his meeting with Diana Dors and I set it out in full below. Following that email is a bit of miscellany about Diana Dors and an idea for a new ongoing series of posts.
Good morning Otto,
I just got back from my usual Sunday round of visits to the Church, the Synagogue, the Mosque and the Temple (I am not taking any chances!) and there in my Bytes was an article about Swindon and Diana Fluck-Dors!
I spent my formative years living in Stratton St. Margaret, just outside Swindon, and I did in fact have a brush with fame, meeting Diana Dors personally! Sadly, she was in the twilight years of her career, but we locals were spellbound at being in her presence, and when she was invited to open a fete (not the one mentioned in your Bytes) in Stratton St(Saint, not street) Margaret we turned up in droves. It was a great occasion and as I recall, a beautiful day. Ms Dors arrived modestly and somewhat incongruously, in a pink left-hand drive open topped Cadillac along with her long time beau, Alan Lake and two body guards. They did a lap of the field in the car, then stopped near a small stage where Diana made a speech and cut the ribbon. I remember that everyone stared, open mouthed at the glamorous big bosomed blonde, as we had only seen the likes of her in film and on television. To see her live and in the flesh, as it were, was a very impactful experience. I remember she had a fur stole, a very glamorous sparkly dress and a neckline that seemed to plunge to her knees! Her make-up was impeccable, as indeed were her bosoms, and whilst everyone gawped at her clothes and her sparkling jewellery I stared elsewhere and have not stopped staring in that general direction ever since!
At the request of the local Vicar, Diana agreed to sign a few autographs, so we all queued up nervously, waiting for our moment to actually meet some real Hollywood glamour. My time came and Diana scribbled on the scruffy piece of paper I shoved in front of her. I remember standing there, gobsmacked, shaking at the knees, staring at her chest. I suppose she was waiting for me to move on, but I was going nowhere! She handed me the piece of paper back and spoke in that husky voice of hers, “Well, is that what you wanted?”
The moment froze, everyone seemed to stare at me. All my mates, the crowd behind us, the two burly bodyguards and Alan Lake. To this day I don’t know why, but I continued to stare at her chest and replied, “No. I want something else.” There was a sharp intake of breath all around, and Alan Lake gave me a killer stare. Diana huffed and said “So, what is it that you want, sonny?”
“I want a kiss.” I replied.
Those who know me well will be the first to admit that I am a quiet, shy wall-flower and don’t have an impertinent bone in my body, so where such an impudent request came from, I will never know. Diana burst out laughing, reached forward and placed an arm on each of my shoulders, stared into my eyes, fluttered her eyelids and said “You cheeky little sod!” Everyone roared with laughter and she gave me a smacker of a kiss on the cheek! She wore bright red lipstick and the imprint of the kiss became visible several minutes later when my blush subsided.
That meeting led to two things. My first sexual experience (I was on my own and it was ten minutes after that kiss, - I just could not get the vision of those beautiful bosoms out of my mind) and a fascination with famous people and the effect they have on mere mortals, like me.
Swindon is a working class old railway town, and it has produced its fair share of celebrities over the years. From my childhood, I recall Justin Hayward from the Moody Blues, Rick Davies from Supertramp, the wonderful Gilbert O’Sullivan (I witnessed his rise to fame through his brother Kevin, a sort of acquaintance more than a friend, who used to drive around in gold Mercedes limousine while we all had beat-up Ford Escorts!) and the eccentric and very funny Julian Clary. Also the world renowned zoologist Desmond Morris, and the rock band XTC. Sports wise, one of the best right-wingers in football, Don Rogers (unknown outside the UK but a God in English soccer circles, and I grew up just one street away from him. All our dad’s drove Hillman Minx’s and Ford Cortina’s but Don swanked around Stratton in a massive Jaguar XJ12.
Ah, Swindon. I still have links through a close family connection who moved out here and rekindled our relationship and many years, and on our property we have a games/party room with a sign near the door naming it the Swindon Outback Pub.
Seeing Diana Dors in your Bytes brought back many memories... good times mostly... ah... Swindon. Thank you Otto!
A 2 minute Diana Dors bio:
Diana Mary Fluck was born in Swindon, England, in 1931, a fact which Swindon honoured her in 1991 with a statue of her (notwithstanding that the then Mayor of Swindon in 1960 denounced her for “bringing shame on the town”):
Dors first came to public notice as a Marilyn Monroe-style blonde bombshell, promoted by her first husband Dennis Hamilton, mostly via sex film-comedies and risqué modelling. She also became known for the adult parties reportedly held at her house, it later being revealed that she secretly filmed her celebrity guests having sex with men and women provided by her and hubby. She liked to watch the films and kept an archive of the best ones. It inspired the Archbishop of Canterbury to refer to her in a sermon as a “wayward hussy”.
In her later years she showed a genuine talent for TV, recordings and cabaret, and gained new popularity as a regular chat-show guest.
Dors died in 1931 of ovarian cancer, aged 52.
She claimed to have left a large fortune to her son in her will, via a secret code in the possession of her third husband actor Alan Lake. But after Lake’s suicide, this code was never found, and the whereabouts of the fortune remains a mystery.
"I was the first home-grown sex symbol, rather like Britain`s naughty seaside postcards. When Marilyn Monroe`s first film was shown here [The Asphalt Jungle (1950)], a columnist actually wrote: `How much like our Diana Dors she is`."
Diana Dors to husband Alan Lake: “Will you still love me when I’m old and fat?”
Alan Lake: “I do.”
“I said to this priest, ‘Am I expected to believe that if I went out and had an affair that God was really going to be upset? Okay, thou shalt not kill... steal... but thou shalt not commit adultery? If no one is any the wiser, what the hell difference does it make?’. He was lovely. He told me the Commandments were laid down for a lot of guys living in the desert.”
“The figure was fabulous, but my face was never much, little eyes and lips like rubber tires, I did well because I was the first and only British blonde bombshell.”
Diana Dors appears on the Sgt Pepper album cover:
Which gives rise to an announcement, new Bytes series: The Sgt Pepper Cover.
It will be a look at the making of the cover and a Who's Who of the people on it.
It starts this coming weekend.
Sunday, May 28, 2017
Some items from . . .
Caution: some risque content.
Least Convincing Psychic Act: Runner-Up
Eduard Frenkel was one of several self-proclaimed psychic healers operating in Russia during the 1980s. He appeared on the local State-run TV several times with claim of supernatural powers, drawing huge audiences and receiving thousands of letters requesting help.
Frenkel claimed to have successfully used his psychic powers to stop moving vehicles, including bicycles and cars. In October 1989, he decided he was ready for something bigger; he stepped in front of a freight train near the southern city of Astrakhan, according to the train driver, with “his arms raised, his head lowered and his body tensed”.
Associated Press reported that Mr Frenkel died from his injuries.
Least Successful Eulogy
Rolling Stones fans were devastated in July 1969 when the band’s founder member Brian Jones died in a tragic swimming pool accident. But for the Stones, the show had to go on.
During the band’s tour of Denmark shortly afterwards, Mick Jagger, dressed in a white frock, announced on stage, “This one’s for Brian.” Then, after touching a faulty microphone stand, he was hurled backwards by an electric shock, landing on top of Bill Wyman, knocking his bass player unconscious.
Least Successful Display of Impartiality by a Juror
In 1997at Luton Crown Court, Judge Alan Wilkie QC ordered a retrial for a man accused of smuggling crack cocaine. During the original trial, a juror, Shane Smyth, had shouted at the defendant, “Why don’t you plead guilty. You are fucking guilty!”
Least Successful Courtroom Defence
In 1985, Dennis Newton stood trial for entering a convenience store in Oklahoma City, raising a gun to the store manager’s head and demanding money. The prosecuting attorney asked the chief witness, the store manager, if she could identify the culprit. When she pointed to Newton, he stood up an shouted, “Liar . . . I should have blown your fucking head off!” After a few moments of reflection, he added, “ . . . if I’d been the one that was there.”
Newton was jailed for thirty years.
(Back in 2015 I posted an item from the Oxford Times concerning Dian Dors. The link for the Oxford Times article is:
The story also appears in The Mammoth Book of Losers, reprinted below.)
Least Successful Stage Introduction
The actress Diana Dors was a blond bombshell known as “the British Marilyn Monroe”. Her real name was Diana Fluck. The dangers posed by a missed consonant led to a rapid change of name when she was spotted at the age of fourteen by a talent scout at the London Academy of Music and Drama.
When she returned to her home town of Swindon to open a fete in 1950, a local alderman insisted upon introducing her by her real name. He stepped forward and announced, “Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome our very own Miss Diana Clunt . . . “
Saturday, May 27, 2017
38 kilometres north of the Sydney central business district, in the local government area of Hornsby Shire. Berowra is south-east of the suburbs of Berowra Heights and east of Berowra Waters.
Berowra is an Aboriginal word that means place of many winds. The Berowra area has many Aboriginal carvings and is the site of the world’s oldest living amphibian fossil.
- Population in 2011: 4,623
- Berowra contains large areas of recent suburban expansion.
- Products/industries of the area include fishing and oyster farming from the Hawkesbury River area. There are also retail, service and various small industries including hobby farming, citrus fruit orchards, poultry farming, horticulture, and tourism.
- The first land owner in Berowra was Mary Wall, whose land was gazetted in 1879. Under the terms of her grant, she had to be at the property and work it at least once per week. So, once a week, she walked from Sydney to Berowra at night, worked the next day on her land, then walked back to Sydney. Onya Mary.
Berowra Station, steam train on the right.
Berowra Village shopping centre, 1971
“The Squirt”, a railmotor used before the electrification of the line, at Berowra Railway Station
Off to Berowra Creek, now known as Berowra waters, c 1922
Berowra Station, 1960. The train shown were the standard trains of those days and were known as “Red Rattlers" because they were red and because . . .
The punt, Berowra Waters, 1964.
Years 1, 2 and 3, Berowra Public School, 1929
Berowra Public School, Class 1, 2 & 3, 1936
Berowra Public School, Classes 4, 5 and 6, 1937
Berowra Waters, 2012
Daytrippers to Berowra Waters, 1920’s
Caravanning, Berowra, 1940
Berrilee is a semi-rural suburb about five kilometres west of Berowra
The name Berrilee goes back to 1840, and is taken from a Dharug word, 'burra', probably meaning 'place of kangaroos'.
There are alternative origin explanations:
- that the village was named for the local Aboriginal word for pig. Pigs were kept by some of the early European settlers in the area and the Aboriginals were said to have called sows and piglets 'Birra Birra', which later became Berrilee;
- that the name is derived from an Aboriginal word 'Buraillee' possibly having something to do with mouth or food
- Population 2011: 235