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 Hobbies and Interests of the Famed, Infamous.

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Priscilla
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PostSubject: Hobbies and Interests of the Famed, Infamous.   Thu 06 Nov 2014, 16:53

So folks, what interests did the famous have that we may not know about?  Will we be startled by, say, Stalin, for instance having a passion for painting little water colours? I suspect his interests might have been more dire but who knows? And what fascinated great minds that we know not of? That is suitable for a board such as this, anyway.
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PostSubject: Re: Hobbies and Interests of the Famed, Infamous.   Thu 06 Nov 2014, 22:06

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PostSubject: Re: Hobbies and Interests of the Famed, Infamous.   Thu 06 Nov 2014, 22:22

Hitler's abilities as an artist are well known. However when these were combined with his affection for all things Disney (Goebbels used to buy him Disney memorabilia on birthdays and such) the results were predictable. And yes, these are his ...

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PostSubject: Re: Hobbies and Interests of the Famed, Infamous.   Thu 06 Nov 2014, 23:03

Stalin wasn't known for his etchings. However one particularly strange hobby of his appears to have been writing crude remarks on other artists' sketches of male nudes - mostly derogatory comments concerning one time Soviet comrades he'd had purged and murdered.



Scrawled on this one was "Radek, you ginger bastard, if you hadn't pissed into the wind, if you hadn't been so bad, you'd still be alive". Other pearls of wisdom include "You need to work, not wank. Time for re-education" and "One thinking fool is worse than 10 enemies".

The sketches appeared for sale only recently having been kept by ex-bodyguards for the previous 50 years or so, it is alleged.
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PostSubject: Re: Hobbies and Interests of the Famed, Infamous.   Fri 07 Nov 2014, 08:12

Elizabeth Tudor - no mean horse rider, poet and linguist, all pursuits which she enjoyed immensely as a younger woman, was also a dab hand at the lute. In her day this had become effectively a 12-string guitar (five courses, or pairs of strings, were replaced by six in the 16th century). The instrument was normally played with a plectrum, though according to this 1576 Nicholas Hilliard portrait it appears Lizzie was no mean strummer too.



Unlike her father, who fancied himself as a composer, we have no records of any pieces she might have come up with herself. However we know that she had a copy of John Dowland's "First Booke of Songs" in her library when she died. This collection of ditties to be sung with lute accompaniment was published just four years before her demise so it is nice to think that she was still enthusiastically plucking out the latest hits on her medieval axe right up to the end.
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PostSubject: Re: Hobbies and Interests of the Famed, Infamous.   Fri 07 Nov 2014, 08:48

Nord's mentioned elsewhere that Niels Bohr was goal keeper for his local football team in Denmark, and it is widely known that Einstein taught himself to play the violin, but more quirkily Erwin Schrodinger's hobby was making dollshouse furniture including weaving minature carpets on a tiny loom.

And just for Temp ... both Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes were keen bee-keepers.
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PostSubject: Re: Hobbies and Interests of the Famed, Infamous.   Fri 07 Nov 2014, 12:04

Stamp collecting is a great leveller. King George V of the UK and King Carol II of Romania were avid philatelists. The former's really impressive collection is now owned by the current Madge while Carol's went into exile with him in Portugal and is now being "kept safe" by the Portuguese National Museum while ownership is sorted out. Both would at one time have been competing for the acquisition of rare stamps with Frankin D Roosevelt, an enthusiastic collector but also (and this was probably cheating) not above personally designing special commemorative stamps for the US postal service which gave him not only first dibs but also a say in just how limited the issue should be.

But despite the most impressive stamp collection ever assembled also being in the hands of an aristocrat (Philipp von Ferrary, whose collection was seized by the French and auctioned off as war reparations after WWI), the hobby appeals to all classes. Both Freddy Mercury and John Lennon's stamp collections are now in museums. The controversial author/philosopher Ayn Rand wasn't averse to the double-sided sticky tape fetish either, a childhood passion for the hobby reignited in later life. Former world chess champion Anatoly Karpov has amassed a very nice little collection of stamps commemorating ... well, chess actually. Ronnie Wood, as part of an alcoholic rehabilitation programme, ended up as enthusiastic a philatelist as the rest of them. More recently their ranks have also been swelled with the inclusion of tennis player Maria Shaparova.

However even with such stalwart role models blazing a philately trail the outlook for this hobby is not looking good. In 1990 Kidstamps, a non-profit organisation promoting stamp collecting amongst youngsters, could boast over 100,000 UK members. In 2011 this was down to 1,000. Licking the reverse side of e-mails just doesn't have the same appeal alas ...
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PostSubject: Re: Hobbies and Interests of the Famed, Infamous.   Fri 07 Nov 2014, 12:57

nordmann wrote:
Hitler's abilities as an artist are well known. However when these were combined with his affection for all things Disney (Goebbels used to buy him Disney memorabilia on birthdays and such) the results were predictable. And yes, these are his ...



Winston Churchill was also an avid painter, this is his view of the Moroccan city of Marrakesh;

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PostSubject: Re: Hobbies and Interests of the Famed, Infamous.   Fri 07 Nov 2014, 13:35

As a young man, Abe Lincoln was an accomplished wrestler;

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PostSubject: Re: Hobbies and Interests of the Famed, Infamous.   Fri 07 Nov 2014, 13:51

Meles meles wrote:
Nord's mentioned elsewhere that Niels Bohr was goal keeper for his local football team in Denmark.


Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was also a goalkeeper; with Portsmouth Amateurs ( Not Portsmouth FC as is sometimes claimed) Conan Doyle was also a keen cricketer, playing 10 matches for the MCC, and once taking the wicket of WG Grace. He also liked boxing, golfing and skiing.
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PostSubject: Re: Hobbies and Interests of the Famed, Infamous.   Fri 07 Nov 2014, 16:04

Then there are shell collector nuts:- Peter the Great, Hirohito, Albert1 of Monaco, 'George Elliot,' Sir Thomas Lipton, Ian and Fleming, Fidel Castro - and at the other end of the scale of fame, me. It is said - hm - that the CIA came up with a plot to stuff a rare shell with explosive for Fidel to find when diving at his favourite reef.  Nothing came of that notion - but avid collectors do get  over zealous.
I have been known to leave parties and luncheons when, during very low tides with just 20 mins to  explore, a certain reef was exposed. Posh frock hitched up with plimsolls after a mad dash of many miles and then  a long clamber over wet and sharp rock so I rushed to explore. In later years I never took a live shell but thrilled at just finding rare specimens - and assorted other reef inhabitants. After 40 years of weekly searching there was always something new to wonder at - in fact I made a point of not returning home until I had. Hirohito forbade any one else to own a  rare slit shell found in their reefs. To be honest I never told others about what could be found where I explored. Local collectors would have stripped it in no time.
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PostSubject: Re: Hobbies and Interests of the Famed, Infamous.   Fri 07 Nov 2014, 16:42

Triceratops wrote:
As a young man, Abe Lincoln was an accomplished wrestler;




So was Plato, Trike!! Always thought he was a bit of a bruiser really.

MM - yes they kept bees down here in Devon. She, of course, had to write one of her dreadfully miserable poems about it - The Beekeeper's Daughter. Do you remember how I said Simone de Beauvoir was always telling Jean-Paul to buck up? One probably would have said the same to Sylvia Plath - and then felt terribly guilty at one's insensitivity.

Mary, Queen of Scots, was an accomplished embroiderer: needlepoint was her passion and helped her wile away the hours of English captivity. My favourite of her exquisite pieces is this one - the ginger catte is nasty old Lizzie - and look for the little Scottish mouse. Many of her designs incorporated subtle - and not so subtle - political messages. Of all people, her descendant, the uncrowned king Edward VIII also had a passion for needlepoint.





PS Priscilla - posh luncheons eh? Well I've been invited to a Christmas do at the local Lord of the Manor's house and I'm actually terrified. Apparently they want to meet the "lady who reads so beautifully in Church". Yep, that's me. They've got a Great Hall in the big house which has the arms of that awful Henry VII displayed over the fireplace. I'd better keep my big mouth shut - I don't want to come across like an elderly Miss Bunting out of Downton Abbey.


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PostSubject: Re: Hobbies and Interests of the Famed, Infamous.   Fri 07 Nov 2014, 16:57

Learn this as your "party piece" - comes from Luke's Telling of the Good News, 16:19-31.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9hqJTAQyjQ

or you may prefer this version (the "lute" of Liz Tudor derived from "al oud" as featured here.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9rUXXOnDDM
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PostSubject: Re: Hobbies and Interests of the Famed, Infamous.   Fri 07 Nov 2014, 17:06

Not many things send shivers down my spine these days, Gil, but that did.
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PostSubject: Re: Hobbies and Interests of the Famed, Infamous.   Fri 07 Nov 2014, 17:13

Priscilla wrote:
Then there are shell collector nuts:- Peter the Great, ..... et al.

I seem to remember reading that Peter the Great was also a keen amateur dentist, and not in the secret-police-torture sort of way but genuinely interested in pulling teeth to relieve suffering. Apparently he was, given the standards of the time, actually very competent, but it is still a bit of a weird hobby. As I recall he kept all the teeth he had ever successfully extracted and when he died they were all found in a bag carefully kept in his private appartments. 

Mind you he was a bit odd all round and another candidate ripe for psychoanalysis on your 'good and bad parenting' thread.
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PostSubject: Re: Hobbies and Interests of the Famed, Infamous.   Fri 07 Nov 2014, 17:41

Between Hitler's Snow White dwarfs, Hirohito's jealously hoarded conches and Peter's teeth you'd nearly start to grudgingly like these bastards.

Anthony Quinn was an antiquities collector, and apparently wasn't too fussy how he acquired them. Before the tourist boom in Crete in the late 70s any mention of "Zorba" around Akrotiri near Chania was likely to result in indignant spits, spats and much worse from the locals. Whether the story about the Minoan artefacts which departed from Greece never to return after filming was over are true or not they are definitely oft repeated around those parts. Of course once the tourist boom kicked in then every second business was "Zorba's This" and "Zorba's That" (though locals were always quick to point out that this was a tribute to Nikos Kantzakis, the Cretan author, not that Mexican bastard).

Quinn also collected paintings. In later life his own art work received critical acclaim and now commands a tasty price at auction.

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PostSubject: Re: Hobbies and Interests of the Famed, Infamous.   Fri 07 Nov 2014, 18:48

Another rather rum cove was that Grand Old Man of British politics, William Ewart Gladstone. He was addicted to tea and used to fill his bedtime hot-water bottle with hot tea just in case he got thirsty in the night. He also had a very keen interest in 'fallen women', and though he was Prime Minister (three times) he felt he could better help the city's prostitutes with a more personal 'hands-on' approach rather than through any government legislation. So at night he liked to wander London's streets in search of 'ladies-of-the-night'  ..... but just so he could talk to them to try and persuade them to change their ways. Rolling Eyes

But for relaxation he liked to cut down trees. Prissy gardening he left to his long-suffering wife and their numerous servants ..... he got off on chopping down trees with a big axe:

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PostSubject: Re: Hobbies and Interests of the Famed, Infamous.   Fri 07 Nov 2014, 20:01

I think that your imputation that W.E. Gladstone was just some dirty old man is quite unfair, MM.

Many Victorians were quite sincere in their attempt to help women who, through no real fault of their own, earned money in any way they could. Remember Irene Forsyte of the Forsyte Saga? After the death of her lover, Philip Bosinney, Irene was saved from suicide by an East End whore and, when she was able, Irene repaid that kindness by doing all she could to help women who were utterly desperate.  Galsworthy wasn't writing about some repressed lesbian with a weird hobby - Irene had a genuine desire to help.


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PostSubject: Re: Hobbies and Interests of the Famed, Infamous.   Fri 07 Nov 2014, 21:03

I never said he was a dirty old man, only that he was keen on helping prostitutes directly, face-to-face, rather than through any government initiatives.

But my main thrust was that his hobby, which he freely admitted to, was cutting down trees. 

And I can relate to that ... I heat my house with wood and have to cut trees every year and there is something very satisfying in bringing down a big tree, reducing it to firewood and getting it all stacked and stored ready for next winter. And then in its place planting new trees - which of course will only get to maturity well after one's gone.
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PostSubject: Re: Hobbies and Interests of the Famed, Infamous.   Fri 07 Nov 2014, 22:40

Would have been an interesting event at the Lumberjack Games - W.E.Gladstone v Abe Lincoln in the Cherry Tree Chop!
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PostSubject: Re: Hobbies and Interests of the Famed, Infamous.   Fri 07 Nov 2014, 22:43

King George III of Great Britain was often more interested in agricultural issues relating to his model farm at Windsor than in matters of state, resulting in the nickname 'Farmer George'. No doubt his farms also provided the eggs with which George and Queen Charlotte breakfasted. The King and the Queen both delighted in the perfectly boiled egg (6 minutes?) and commissioned special egg timers and boiling contraptions to this end:



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PostSubject: Re: Hobbies and Interests of the Famed, Infamous.   Fri 07 Nov 2014, 23:57

It was said that winning a croquet victory over Leon Trotsky made him your worst enemy - he also admitted to enjoy playing ninepins. And Dorothy Parker was a ruthless croquet competitor against avid players such  as Harpo Marks and George Sanders.
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PostSubject: Re: Hobbies and Interests of the Famed, Infamous.   Sat 08 Nov 2014, 00:34

Priscilla wrote:
It was said that winning a croquet victory over Leon Trotsky made him your worst enemy - he also admitted to enjoy playing ninepins. And Dorothy Parker was a ruthless croquet competitor against avid players such  as Harpo Marks and George Sanders.
Tautology. ALL croquet players are ruthless - it's about the most vicious game there is!
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PostSubject: Re: Hobbies and Interests of the Famed, Infamous.   Sat 08 Nov 2014, 07:44

I didn't mean to bite your head off last night, MM. It's just I feel a bit sorry for poor old Gladstone - everyone has ago at him about his nocturnal wanderings; but I was unnecessarily grumpy. And yes, Gil's reference to "party piece" does sadly sum it all up.
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PostSubject: Re: Hobbies and Interests of the Famed, Infamous.   Sat 08 Nov 2014, 11:27

When I was doing O-level history, all those many years ago, I too remember feeling rather sorry for Gladstone, but not for the way his nocturnal wanderings were viewed (although dear old Miss Davies did actually mention those to us fifteen year old lads, whilst looking sternly over her half-moon specs just daring us to snigger). Rather it was because the stolid, honourable Gladstone always seemed to be out-manoeuvred by the slimey, tricksey, dashing (and admittedly younger) Disraeli, or, as in 1884 (if memory serves) everything seemed to go wrong throughout the empire whilst Gladstone was on the watch, and although none of it was really his fault, he inevitably lost the following general election.

Unlike Disraeli, charm and flattery were not really Gladstone's forté were they. Queen Victoria loathed him saying he, "addressed her as though she were a public meeting." She was of course charmed off her feet by "Dearest Dizzy".

And talking of Queen Victoria ... she liked to sketch and paint, and was really quite good (although admittedly benefitting from some of the best tutors). She also, at least while Albert was still alive and in contrast to the frumpy, "we are not amused",  image she seems to have acquired since, loved parties, playing the piano, music, dancing, practical jokes, and playing palour games such as charades.
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PostSubject: Re: Hobbies and Interests of the Famed, Infamous.   Sat 08 Nov 2014, 13:39

A feature of our housing schemes and many villages here are doo lofts, many wondrous constructions made from anything to hand, but it seems that pigeon fancying, in the best possible taste, has been a hobby of lots of famous folk.

Royalty figure largely; our own dear royals have had a royal loft since Edward VII. Prince Bernhard flew the doos as do the Belgian royals, they've been at it since the 1870's. Tsar Alexander III kept an impressive loft and Suleiman the Magnificent's pigeons were doubtless magnificent too. The other King, Elvis, was allegedly an aficionado as well.

Picasso was such a fan that he named his daughter after one.
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PostSubject: Re: Hobbies and Interests of the Famed, Infamous.   Sat 08 Nov 2014, 13:46

It's a common misconception that Benjamin was younger than Gladstone. The Earl of Beaconsfield was actually 5 years older than William Ewart.

Another misconception about Dizzy, popular among some in the cycling fraternity, is that (as well as being a novelist) his other pastimes included bicycle mechanics. This stems from the term 'Disraeli gears' which is, however, an anglicisation or malapropism of the French 'derailleur' gears. It's from the same linguistic stable as 'horses hooves' and 'elephant and castle' etc.
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PostSubject: Re: Hobbies and Interests of the Famed, Infamous.   Sat 08 Nov 2014, 14:44

Vizzer wrote:
It's a common misconception that Benjamin was younger than Gladstone. The Earl of Beaconsfield was actually 5 years older than William Ewart.

Blimey, I never realised that, and obviously I'd never looked it up ... That  just goes to show what hard work lumberjacking is compared to writing novels. Seriously though, thanks for correcting me and pointing that out ... I might now view Disraeli in a more benign light.
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PostSubject: Re: Hobbies and Interests of the Famed, Infamous.   Sat 08 Nov 2014, 17:02

I seem to recall a radio prog where the "we are not amused" bit was explained. Apparently, some courtier was telling a rather risque joke and, noticing that unmarried girls were present, Victoria choked him off with this comment. Probably, though, she never said it - at least she denied ever having done so.
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PostSubject: Re: Hobbies and Interests of the Famed, Infamous.   Sat 08 Nov 2014, 19:22

Digging about for this thread I read without surprise that Field Marshall Montgomery had no hobbies or interests whatsoever.
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PostSubject: Re: Hobbies and Interests of the Famed, Infamous.   Sun 09 Nov 2014, 13:55

Poor old Edward II couldn't do anything right. All his hobbies and interests were frowned upon. I can understand all those butch nobles like the thoroughly unpleasant Roger Mortimer sneering at Edward's wanting to spend his free time doing a spot of thatching with Gaveston, but what on earth was wrong with rowing?


As well as probably being homosexual, Edward had an interest in handicrafts of all kinds: woodwork, metal work, thatching, digging ditches, and above all rowing. All of these activities were considered unbecoming, especially the rowing.
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PostSubject: Re: Hobbies and Interests of the Famed, Infamous.   Sun 09 Nov 2014, 15:18

Mortimer might have had a point ... maybe it was wasn't just the size of their cox that Eddy was interested in:

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PostSubject: Re: Hobbies and Interests of the Famed, Infamous.   Sun 09 Nov 2014, 20:01

One whose "hobby" has passed into the language was the painter Ingres, whose talent and predilection for playing violin was so marked that "violon d'Ingres" is a common(ish) French term for a hobby bordering on obsession. Benvenuto Cellini was also a noted musician on cornettino and flute, and became a papal musician at one period.
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PostSubject: Re: Hobbies and Interests of the Famed, Infamous.   Mon 10 Nov 2014, 08:49

And Bill Clinton plays the saxophone. Eistein liked to sail but not swimming. Snap. To avoid swimming I became an adept at keeping a racing dinghy from capsize - the only time we did -partially. was when my husband crewed for me. Just the once.
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PostSubject: Re: Hobbies and Interests of the Famed, Infamous.   Mon 10 Nov 2014, 09:20

I remember reading in Jilly Cooper's Class that the English aristocracy and the English working class have much in common, especially when it comes to leisure time pursuits: the menfolk of both extremes are all addicted to betting on the 'orses, dog-rearing, boozing and violent sports. Nothing changes.


PS Priscilla - re Burns - will try. study
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PostSubject: Re: Hobbies and Interests of the Famed, Infamous.   Mon 10 Nov 2014, 09:43

The poet Emily Dickinson was not regarded as such in her lifetime. Of her thousands of poems only fifteen were published while she was still alive and her reputation extended little further than her Amherst Massachusetts home town. In Amherst however this reputation rested on three aspects to the lady beyond her literary skills.

The first was her almost manic reclusiveness - not quite an agoraphobic disorder however but due rather to an excessively private personality.

The second was her love of botany and her associated gardening skills, a passion she was not private about at all and the extensive knowledge of which she was willing (by letter) to share with anyone who sought her advice. Her garden, though out of bounds to casual visitors, was very much admired in the locality. Her niece later recalled it as "carpets of lily-of-the-valley and pansies, platoons of sweetpeas, hyacinths, enough in May to give all the bees of summer dyspepsia. There were ribbons of peony hedges and drifts of daffodils in season, marigolds to distraction - a butterfly utopia".

Thirdly, and it is for this probably that local children in particular remembered her best, was her love of baking. Emily might not have left "The Homestead" much but the products of her oven did quite frequently. In particular she enjoyed cooking small cakes, tarts and biscuits which she would often lower in a basket to the grateful children of Amherst's less well-off villagers waiting below her window.

A recipe for coconut cake, in Emily's hand:

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PostSubject: Re: Hobbies and Interests of the Famed, Infamous.   Mon 10 Nov 2014, 10:42

Meles meles wrote:
Priscilla wrote:
Then there are shell collector nuts:- Peter the Great, ..... et al.

I seem to remember reading that Peter the Great was also a keen amateur dentist, and not in the secret-police-torture sort of way but genuinely interested in pulling teeth to relieve suffering. Apparently he was, given the standards of the time, actually very competent, but it is still a bit of a weird hobby.


Perhaps not so much a hobby, but of gaining practical experience, Peter also spent some time in a Dutch shipyard learning the basics of ship building.

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PostSubject: Re: Hobbies and Interests of the Famed, Infamous.   Mon 10 Nov 2014, 13:09




Another Roman who was fond of gardening was the ex-Emperor Diocletian. He devoted his retirement to growing cabbages. Roman cabbages were not the same as our cabbages - they were probably more like curly kale, but still very good for the imperial bowels.


From the palace walls, Diocletian watched his garden in Salonae, where what he cultivated with his own hands gave him more satisfaction than when he ruled his huge empire. When Maximinus' ambassador begged Diocletian to become emperor for a second time, he answered, "If you could show the cabbage I planted with my own hands to your emperor, he definitely wouldn't dare suggest I replace the peace and happiness of this place with the storms of a never-satisfied greed." H. Stieglitz, 1845


PS Like the coconut cake recipe. Emily D. was another sane woman in a universe of dangerous maniacs - a sort of Mary Berry, plus poems.

PPS Honestly, MM. Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Hobbies and Interests of the Famed, Infamous.   Fri 14 Nov 2014, 13:26

The following passage appears in Josph Strutt's 1801 work


Glig-Gamena Angel-Deod
Or,
The Sports and Pastimes of the People of England:: Including the Rural and Domestic Recreations, May-games, Mummeries, Pageants, Processions, and Pompous Spectacles, from the Earliest Period to the Present Time: Illustrated by Engravings Selected from Ancient Paintings; in which are Represented Most of the Popular Diversions.




"Most boys are exceedingly delighted with riding either on horses or in carriages and also upon men's shoulders which we find to be a very ancient sport, and I trust there are but few of my readers who have not seen them with a bough or a wand substituted for a horse and pleased in imitating the galloping and prancing of that noble animal. This is an amusement of great antiquity well known in Greece and, if report speaks truth, some of the greatest men have joined in it either to relax the vigour of their own minds for a time or to delight their children."

Strutt's footnotes on the page expanded this point, along with some impressive name dropping:

"The Persian ambassadors found Agesilaus the Lacedemonian monarch employed in this manner.
Plutarch in Apophthegm Laced. et Ælian Var. Hist. lib xii cap 15

Socrates also did the same for which it seems his pupil Alcibiades used to laugh at him.
Val. Max. lib viii cap 8 "

If anyone knows what "Glig-Gamena, Angel-Deod" might have referred to, I'm all ears. Strutt tantalisingly adopted it as his book's title and then studiously avoided referring to it ever again in his otherwise seminal and exhaustive list of traditional English games and pastimes.
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PostSubject: Re: Hobbies and Interests of the Famed, Infamous.   Fri 14 Nov 2014, 13:59

This might explain the *Glig* bit. http://bosworth.ff.cuni.cz/017243

I'll see if I can find anything else. (it's pi**ing down and I'm bored!)


Ah, this is better. *Glig-gamen: glee-pleasure. http://bosworth.ff.cuni.cz/017242

And the second part of the title *of the English people*.  http://bosworth.ff.cuni.cz/finder/3/Angel%C3%BEeod
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PostSubject: Re: Hobbies and Interests of the Famed, Infamous.   Fri 14 Nov 2014, 14:46

So, it's "Glee pleasure of the English people" then. Thanks. I was thinking it was something that children might have recited as part of a game. If it was then that would have been an amazing way of keeping Old English going. But it was just Strutt being clever ...

Strutt had some very set ideas about the Saxons - if you read his book he traces different pastimes back through Tudor times, through Norman times, through Saxon times and then back to Roman times. Anything involving cruelty or fisticuffs he assigned in the main to the Germanic influence in the development of England. Silly simple games he assigned a pedigree going back to "the ancients", and more "noble" stuff of course only arrived with the Normans and later.

Going back to Bessie and her hobbies, Strutt mentions her love of pageantry. Excuse this rather long extract about a reception given to her when she stayed at the Earl of Leicester's gaff but it does give you a rather colourful snapshot of everyday entertainments in the life of a busy queen:

Her majesty came thither on Saturday the ninth of July;
she was met near the castle by a fictitious Sibyl, who promised peace
and prosperity to the country during her reign. Over the first gate of
the castle there stood six gigantic figures with trumpets, 6 real trum-
peters being stationed behind them, who sounded as the queen ap-
proached; upon her entering the gateway, the porter in the character
of Hercules, made an oration, and presented to her the keys. Being
come into the base court, a lady ' came all over the pool, being so
conveyed, that it seemed she had gone upon the water; she was at-
tended by two water nymphs ; and, calling herself the lady of the lake,
she addressed her majesty with a speech prepared for the purpose/
The queen then proceeded to the inner court, and passed the bridge
which was railed on both sides, and the tops of the posts were adorned
with 4 sundry presents and gifts/ as of wine, corn, fruits, fishes, fowls,
instruments of music, and weapons of war/ The meaning of these
emblematical decorations was explained in a Latin speech delivered
by the author of it. Then an excellent band of music began to play
as her majesty entered the inner court, where she alighted from her
horse, and went up stairs to the apartments prepared for her.

On Sunday evening, she was entertained with a grand display of fire-
works, as well in the air, as upon the water.

On Monday, after a great hunting, she was met on her return by
Gascoigne the poet, so disguised as to represent a savage man, who
paid her many high-flown compliments in a kind of dialogue between
himself and an echo.

On Tuesday she was diverted with music, dancing, and an interlude
upon the water.

On Wednesday was another grand hunting.

On Thursday she was amused with a grand bear-beating, to which
were added tumbling and fire-works.

On Friday, the weather being unfavourable, there were no open
shows.

On Saturday there was dancing within the castle, and a country
brideale, with running at the quintain in the castle yard, and a panto-
mimical show called "The Old Coventry Play of Hock Thursday" per-
formed by persons who came from Coventry for that purpose. In the
evening a regular play was acted, succeeded by a banquet and a
masque.

On the Sunday, there was no public spectacle.

On the Monday, there was a hunting in the afternoon, and, on the
queen's return, she was entertained with another show upon the water,
in which appeared a person in the character of Arion, riding upon a
dolphin twenty-four feet in length; and he sung an admirable song,
accompanied with music performed by six musicians concealed in the
belly of the fish. Her majesty, it appears, was much pleased with this
exhibition.

On Tuesday, the Coventry play was repeated because the queen
had not seen the whole of it on Saturday.

On Wednesday, the twentieth of the same month, she departed
from Kenelworth. Various other pastimes were prepared upon this
occasion; but, for want of time and opportunity, they could not be
performed.


I have visions of the poor girl some time early on Wednesday fleeing as fast as her horse could carry her down the M1.
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PostSubject: Re: Hobbies and Interests of the Famed, Infamous.   Fri 14 Nov 2014, 15:03

Heavens, yes, and she was going to have to sit through the whole of the Coventry play, whether she wanted to or not. It's reminiscent of a Tudor holiday camp: you'll enjoy yourself or else. Hail de Hail.
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PostSubject: Re: Hobbies and Interests of the Famed, Infamous.   Sat 22 Nov 2014, 14:19

You probably don't actually want to know this, but ..... when Franz Kafka died they found an incredible amount of pornography stored in his apartment. Pornography seems to have been his hobby. And, at the risk of shocking our more refined readers, his pornographic interests weren't just limited to a stash of girlie mags hidden under the bed, ... rather it was a very comprehensive collection ... boys, girls, in twos, in threes, in fours .... animals ... vegetables, minerals ... it was all there.

It sort of sheds a new light on some of his works, like in 'Metamorphasis':
"Gregor?, it's Mama, and it's now 8 o'clock! Whatever you are doing, you should stop it now . You need to go to work. Gregor?".
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PostSubject: Re: Hobbies and Interests of the Famed, Infamous.   Sun 23 Nov 2014, 07:34

Kafkaesque has now taken on a whole new meaning, MM.

Edith Sitwell said one of her hobbies was silence. After last night that's one I might take up.
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PostSubject: Re: Hobbies and Interests of the Famed, Infamous.   Sun 23 Nov 2014, 14:11

Pornography under its more respectable label of "erotica" (though artistically this term's original meaning has long been misunderstood and Peitho long forgotten) has been a popular hobby for many high profile collectors, even when what was being "collected" would land many people in jail these days.

However none of this applies to Kafka. His so-called "pornography" collection was in fact primarily the collected editions of Amethyst, The Opals, and later Hyperion, private subscription magazines edited by his friend and associate Frans Blei and to which Kafka contributed as author, editor and compiler. These magazines, produced between 1905 and 1909, contained erotica, expressionist prose, modern poetry, and just about any literary or artistic device which the establishment of the day in Germany and Austria-Hungary would find shocking. When I see this now described as "pornography" by the so-called Kafka scholar James Hawes (it was in publicising his recent book about Kafka that this shallow interpretation of the magazines was introduced to modern readers by Hawes and now appears to be an unquestioned truth) it makes me wonder what actually qualifies the failed novelist Hawes as an expert on Kafka at all.
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PostSubject: Re: Hobbies and Interests of the Famed, Infamous.   Mon 24 Nov 2014, 08:08

Philip Larkin enjoyed pornography as a leisure pursuit. If his letters to Kingsley Amis are anything to go by, he didn't go in for the arty stuff: he just liked smut, the dirtier the better.

But did it - does it - matter? I'm sure I don't know anymore. As one feminist critic - an admirer of the man's work, if not of his private hobbies - put it: "Who would have thought the old man had so much poetry in him?"
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PostSubject: Re: Hobbies and Interests of the Famed, Infamous.   Mon 24 Nov 2014, 12:03

An "interest" in pornography hardly matters - for one thing the term subjectively covers such a wide range of interpretations and applications that it is difficult to apply generally in any meaningful way. For another it is surely only applicable anyway in this thread if it led the subject into activities whereby it could be described as a "hobby" or an "interest" of theirs involving something a little bit more than simple prurient obsession or sexual activity, aberrant or otherwise. Gary Glitter's interest in amassing pornographic images, for example, was a symptom of behaviour which led him into criminality and appalling conduct towards his victims - but little else worthy of note, least of all anything that someone less disturbed than him might term "a hobby". Certainly not the basis of anything at all in fact.

The Marquis de Sade, on the other hand, most definitely veered into criminality and abhorrent behaviour towards his victims, but at the same time documented his thoughts and deeds in essay and fictional prose to a degree of cogency and coherency that as late as the 1950s Simone de Beauvoir and others were reassessing his ouvre as primitive expressions of existentialism 150 years ahead of its time. Nihilists and surrealists have also found common roots in his writings. In his case therefore his pornographic tendencies demand to be judged in the context of his other radical pusuits as exemplified by his position and elected office during the Revolution and Reign of Terror, an office he used to increasingly draw criticism down on his more rabid and bloodthirsty National Convention colleagues. Between his first and final imprisonments, both for sexual deviancy, it must be remembered that the intervening incarceration he suffered had not been for his sexual proclivities, novels or essays, but for the heinous crime in immediate post-revolutionary France of being "moderate". Had he been executed during that stint (as he nearly was) we would now be remembering him most likely as a voice of reason against the excesses of revolutionary zeal and, in Britain at least, held up as a martyr for the cause of rationality.

Everything is relative.
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PostSubject: Re: Hobbies and Interests of the Famed, Infamous.   Tue 25 Nov 2014, 08:32

Philip II of Spain's love of "erotica" resulted in some of Titian's greatest - and most disturbing - pictures. I find it hard to believe that at one time people considered that the "poesie" that this artist painted for the Spanish monarch were no more than Philip's private porn collection. But then another of Titian's works - the famous "Venus of Urbino" - was, according to one art critic, regarded in the 19th century simply as "mildly saucy soft porn".

http://www.gardnermuseum.org/collection/artwork/3rd_floor/titian_room/europa


Yet Titian also painted mythological subjects for this most austerely catholic of sovereigns. Known as poesie because their subject matter derived from the works of classical poets such as Ovid, these works were “pagan” both in their depiction of fables of the ancient gods and in their markedly non-Christian character. They are frankly sensuous and erotic, sometimes violent, and seem devised to highlight Titian’s virtuoso treatment of the naked female body in a variety of situations and in a range of different poses. The series of poesie began in 1553 or 1554 with another portrayal of female forbearance in the face of divine rapacity: Danae, followed by Venus and Adonis (both in the Prado, Madrid), Perseus and Andromeda (1554–56, long thought to be the version in the Wallace Collection, London, but possibly lost), Diana and Actaeon, Diana and Callisto (1559, Duke of Sutherland, on loan to the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh), and the Europa, completed in 1562. As Titian told Philip in a letter of that year, the painting of Europa “set the seal” on the series of works he had made for the king.

What would Philip II want with such images? The idea that they were conceived for the king’s private and purely sensual enjoyment is too simple, as is the notion that they provided him with a sexualized allegory of his own masculine authority through images of the dominated female body. Clearly they are not without an element of what one modern commentator has called “political titillation.” Philip was, perhaps inevitably, compared to Jupiter by contemporaries, and stories of the power of gods – Diana or Jupiter – over mortals would have publicized an image of the irresistible mastery and unlimited prerogatives of an absolutist monarch. Yet Titian’s approach to these subjects makes them no more reducible to the ends of propaganda than of pornography. There is always a dark side to his portrayal of the gods and their amorous and imperious ways that indicates a more questioning or ambivalent attitude.

The viewer is allowed no unalloyed erotic pleasure in the image of Europa; eros is there, but the viewer is reminded of the discomfiting proximity of the passions of eros with the perturbations of terror and of physical distress...
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PostSubject: Re: Hobbies and Interests of the Famed, Infamous.   Tue 25 Nov 2014, 08:44

But back to other interests of the rich and powerful.

Cruelty to animals has always been a passion for these people. I've always found it uncomfortable that a woman as intelligent and civilised as Elizabeth Tudor could enjoy something as barbaric as bear-baiting; but she did and she was not alone. She also, like her father, other royals and most of the aristocracy, had a passion for hunting, a passion which amounted almost to an addiction. Pope Leo X was also a great fan of the chase; he loved killing boars in the forests around Rome.

Leo also liked exotic animals: he kept a veritable menagerie at the Vatican - panthers, his famous elephant Hanno and a rhinoceros named Ganda. Ganda unfortunately was dead: she had drowned in a shipwreck en route from Portugal (she was a gift to the Holy Father from Manuel I of Portugal). The body of this unfortunate beast was washed ashore, "rescued", stuffed, and later presented to His Holiness who was apparently delighted with her.
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PostSubject: Re: Hobbies and Interests of the Famed, Infamous.   Tue 25 Nov 2014, 09:22

Perhaps it's belittling Beatrix Potter to say she had an interest in farming and land preservation - really, I suppose, that was her life's work, more than the stories which she is more famous for and which are still beloved by many children and adults.
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