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 To the Crabtree Club.

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Temperance
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PostSubject: To the Crabtree Club.   Mon 08 Dec 2014, 12:47

At the moment I'm sitting looking at an illustration by Dorothea St-John George for a book published in 1926: London's Latin Quarter by Kenneth Hare. It shows, from behind, two men and two women walking down a gas-lit street in London: the picture is called To the Crabtree Club.

Wiki tells us this:

The Crab Tree Club was a nightclub in Greek Street, Soho, London, that was established by the painter Augustus John in April 1914 with the financial support of Thomas Scott-Ellis (Lord Howard de Walden). John wrote to his friend John Quinn, "We are starting a new club in town called the 'Crab-tree' for artists, poets and musicians... It ought to be amusing and useful at times". The club was a popular meeting place for London bohemians immediately before the First World War who would descend en-masse on the Crab Tree after the Café Royal closed for the night.


My picture is reproduced in a biography of Jean Rhys which I am devouring at the moment. Jean was there the first night the Crabtree opened and, according to Wiki, she more or less "lived there". It sounds like the sort of place we all liked to hang out in when we were young, pretending to be part of the demimonde when, in fact, we were nothing of the sort. Jean Rhys, however, was the real thing. Here's what Carole Angier, Rhys's biographer, has to say:

"Anything went at the Crabtree...(it) was a raffishly intellectual place, where you could talk and argue until dawn. And it was a glamorously, self-mockingly decadent place, 'full of weedy youths drinking absinthe,' Jean said, 'trying hard to be vicious and hoping they looked French - girls in trousers, you see the place - .' If people arrived in evening clothes they were taxed a shilling. One young artist strode around in dancing pumps and exquisite clothes, fixing everyone with burning eyes and offering them a pinch of his cocaine."


That's 1914, not 1985 - or even 1925!

Made me wonder about the history of other London clubs - not just the arty, bohemian places like the Crabtree, but also the famous "gentlemen's clubs" that are still going today - and which are still (I believe) bastions of snobbery and privilege. I've just read in "The Forsyte Saga" how old Jolyon Forsyte was refused membership of "the Hotch Potch" because, although he had become an immensely wealthy man, his money had been earned "in trade".

"As if he were not as good as any of them! He naturally despised* the Club that did take him. The members were a poor lot, many of them in the City - stockbrokers, solicitors, auctioneers, what not!"

Ironically the Hotch Potch was perfectly happy to admit young Jolyon, old Jolyon's son: he of course was a "gentleman", having been educated at Eton and Cambridge (even if the profits from his father's tea business had paid the fees).

*Shades of Groucho Marx there.

"I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member."


Last edited by Temperance on Mon 08 Dec 2014, 13:02; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : dodgy inverted commas.)
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PostSubject: Re: To the Crabtree Club.   Mon 08 Dec 2014, 13:39

Founded in 1837, originally as a club for Army officers, however when the Duke of Wellington was asked to be a patron, he refused unless Royal Navy and Royal Marine officers were included as well, and so became the Army and Navy Club:

http://www.therag.co.uk/
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PostSubject: Re: To the Crabtree Club.   Mon 08 Dec 2014, 19:20

Looks very nice, Trike, but I thought I'd join Boodle's Club (joke) - except ladies have to go in by a back entrance (not a joke).

How much do these places cost, I wonder? Nothing so vulgar as prices given in the "online brochures".

http://www.boodles.org/location/

Ladies' Side and Chambers

27 St. James's Street,
London,
SW1A 1HJ

The entrance is located directly behind the Club building and is accessed through the Economist Plaza.


Rolling Eyes

The politics of the gentlemen's clubs has always baffled me. Which are/were Tory; which the great Whig hang outs? If you "crossed the floor", did you also change your club?

I think I'll stick with the Crabtree!
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PostSubject: Re: To the Crabtree Club.   Tue 16 Dec 2014, 15:00

Here's one Temp, founded 1831, a Literary and Theatrical Club;

http://www.garrickclub.co.uk/
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PostSubject: Re: To the Crabtree Club.   Wed 17 Dec 2014, 00:48

Main Tory - Carlton club.
Main Whig - Reform club, later supplemented/supplanted by National Liberal which was the first to admit women as full members. Apparently the secretary assumed a candidate for membership called "Hilary" was male, and having elected "him" they felt it would be thought illiberal to chuck her out. Or so the story goes ....
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PostSubject: Re: To the Crabtree Club.   Wed 17 Dec 2014, 10:12

Brooks's Club in St James was another Whig club.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brooks%27s
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PostSubject: Re: To the Crabtree Club.   Thu 18 Dec 2014, 05:47

These gentlemen's clubs seem to have been posh versions of the Working Men's Clubs up north: somewhere you could go to get away from the women, eat in comfort, drink to excess, argue about politics and play billiards. Was gambling (cards?) allowed, or did you have to go elsewhere for that? The so-called "clubs" today seem more like small, exclusive London hotels.

What about the raffish nightclubs of the 20s and 30s? I believe the goings-on in these places - often frequented by the likes of Edward VIII and his set -  made the clubs favoured by later generations look like kindergartens. My generation certainly went to the trendy places simply for the excellent music (most of the time).
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PostSubject: Re: To the Crabtree Club.   Thu 18 Dec 2014, 08:43

By the 20th century the London "club scene" was already well on the degenerative road more or less to what the term implies today. Google "London gentlemen's clubs" in this day and age and be prepared to encounter thousands of results inviting you to attend, join, read about and look at a seemingly endless variety of laps, poles, tassles, g-strings, nipples, flesh and all the other paraphernalia of what being a gentleman apparently is all about these days.

What a far cry this all is from the first flourish of gentlemen's clubs in England's capital. As far back as 1705 one could assume membership in the marvellously named "Sublime Society of Beefsteaks" (one of several "Beefsteak Clubs" operating at the time which, if truth be told, were simply men meeting for dinner on a regular basis). A little later one could enrol in any number of "Eccentric Society" variations, or if one could not wait for the establishment of what we now call dating agencies one could join the "Outinian Society" - a fantastic name derived from a passage in Homer's Odyssey (the odyssey in question here being a young man's pursuit of a suitable wife) which not only invited ladies to occasional meetings (single ladies of course) but then lectured them on the virtues and skills the gentlemen members expected of them as prospective spouses to ensure "final discontinuance ... of those hasty, unpremeditated marriages which (cause) unhappiness." Perhaps unsurprisingly its founder, John Penn, outlived his club by ten years and died a bachelor.

"The Benevolent Whip Club" was another alternative if one had already embarked on premeditated marriage, one of several "Four in Hand Clubs" which, despite the fact that its name might still be considered apt for some of its more modern Soho counterparts, was in fact a society of coach owners whose functions and meetings were devoted to raising funds for impoverished coach drivers and the families of imprisoned members of that profession.

The good news is that only recently, having staggered through two hundred years of existence only to have finally fizzled out in the 1980s, the Eccentric Club has been gloriously resurrected by some ex-members and, since 2008 in its reconstituted form, is proud to have again as patron the same figurehead who had already served that role so nobly prior to the club's tragic demise.

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PostSubject: Re: To the Crabtree Club.   Thu 18 Dec 2014, 11:33

Very Happy

Good post, Supreme Leader.

This club is very impressive.

http://www.eastindiaclub.co.uk/

The East India Club, in the heart of London's clubland, has a long tradition as a gentlemen's home from home.

Founded in the middle of the 19th century, its original members were 'the servants of the East India Company and Commissioned Officers of Her Majesty's Army and Navy'. The legacy of those early members, home on furlough from far flung lands, continues today. As a private club, only open to members and their guests, the club still provides a refuge and meeting place for busy young men and their more seasoned seniors.

Since those early days, the club has amalgamated with the Devonshire, the Sports and the Public Schools clubs, and also welcomed members of the Eccentric Club. The amalgam has been a happy one, possibly because together, as their titles suggest, the component parts reflect the very best diversity of English tradition. The club retains its international dimension through its reciprocal arrangements with similar clubs throughout the world.




That said, they have a "shop" online where you can buy a box of choccy mints for eight quid. I bet the old members from the 19th century would be appalled - but then perhaps not. The East India Company was all about flogging fancy stuff at a profit after all. Reminds me of that bit from I, Claudius:

Claudius: Yes. It's a v-v-vase. From India.
Livia: How very pretty. And from such a distant place. It's a pity we never got that far. So many fine things we could have picked up cheap.
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PostSubject: Re: To the Crabtree Club.   Thu 18 Dec 2014, 12:31

The great grand-daddy of all these clubs and societies could probably be said to have been The Philosophical Society of Oxford (whose constitution not only led later to the Royal Society, Britain's oldest society with royal imprimatur, but is still that by which the Bodleian Library society abides). Back in the early 17th century however it would have been difficult to discern quite the academic trajectory which it and its successors would take. The term "philosophy" covered just about every thinking pursuit, which included therefore political ideology, making the PSoO's meetings in the run-up to the Civil War a microcosm often of the carnage that was to come. By the 1680s however everything had settled down again and the society's meetings, often held in local taverns and attended by eager spectators who never quite knew what to expect, began to assume a more scientific character. However that is not to say they were dull. One tavern exploded during a meeting in which the members experimented with saltpetre - as a food preservative!

Unfortunately, if quite understandably, the minutes for that particular meeting have not survived. One set of minutes from 1684 did survive however, and given that the author cites an attendance of "several hundred souls" they provide a great insight into the seemingly unslakeable thirst of 17th century citizens for education, as well of course as providing proof that cutting things open, especially members of the animal kingdom, will always draw a crowd:

"The Society being met, the following experiments
were tried, by Mr.Musgrave.
Part of a mucous substance taken out of the
Stomach of a Jack, near the Pylorus, and mixt
with solution of sublimate, became much whiter than it was before.
Another part of it, mixt with Syrup Of Violets, turned
Green.
The same person has observed like effects, by mixing a
Liquor, found in the stomach of a hedgehog, with Syrup
of Violets
, and with solution of sublimate.
These experiments are urg'd as an argument against
the existence of an Acid Ferment in the stomach: It seems
probable, that the great work of Digestion proceeds from a
Volatile Alcali. "

Mr. Musgrave went down a storm (even if his findings were subsequently demonstrated to be diametrically opposed to what we now know). The minutes conclude with the comment that he was carried out on the shoulders of appreciative fellows and members of the audience. There is no mention of whether they ever bothered to carry him back.

Strip clubs indeed! In the 17th century they knew what a good time was!
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PostSubject: Re: To the Crabtree Club.   Thu 18 Dec 2014, 13:11

Though in the 18th Century, they did have the Hellfire Club;

http://www.hellfirecaves.co.uk/history/hellfire-club/
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PostSubject: Re: To the Crabtree Club.   Sat 20 Dec 2014, 13:50

The original London Kit-Kat must have been an amazing place. No women allowed, but you could aspire to be the "toast of the Kit-Kat"!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kit-Cat_Club

The Kit-Cat Club (sometimes Kit-Kat Club) was an early 18th-century English club in London with strong political and literary associations, committed to the furtherance of Whig objectives, meeting at the Trumpet tavern in London, and at Water Oakley in the Berkshire countryside.

The first meetings were held at a tavern in Shire Lane (parallel with Bell Yard and now covered by the Royal Courts of Justice) run by an innkeeper called Christopher Catt. He gave his name to the mutton pies known as "Kit Cats" from which the name of the club is derived...


The toasts of the Kit-Kat Club were famous at the time, and drunk to the honour of a reigning beauty, or lady to whom the Club wished to do particular honour. We know by name some of those who were toasted: Lady Mary Wortley Montagu; Lady Godolphin, Lady Sunderland, Lady Bridgewater, and Lady Monthermer, all daughters of John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, except Lady Mary Wortley Montagu who was the daughter of Evelyn Pierrepont, 5th Earl of Kingston-upon-Hull and but 8 years old when toasted; the Duchess of Bolton, the Duchess of Beaufort, the Duchess of St. Albans; Anne Long, a daughter of Sir James Long, 2nd Baronet and friend of Jonathan Swift; Catherine Barton, Newton's niece and Charles Montagu's mistress; Mrs. Brudenell and Lady Wharton, Lady Carlisle and Mrs. Kirk and Mademoiselle Spanheim, among them.
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PostSubject: Re: To the Crabtree Club.   Sat 20 Dec 2014, 14:09

Is this the same KitKat Club, I wonder?? This is a glimpse of 1926 - the film does start eventually:


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PostSubject: Re: To the Crabtree Club.   Sat 20 Dec 2014, 14:32

No, didn't think it was! The 1920s Kit Cat Club was in the Haymarket and was built as a nightclub. The rich danced the nights away there during the General Strike.

http://www.jazzageclub.com/venues/the-kit-cat-club/
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PostSubject: Re: To the Crabtree Club.   Sun 21 Dec 2014, 11:53

Ah - London clubs. For many years the Royal Commonwealth Society club by Trafalgar square was a life saver for me when in UK both visiting and for work. sadly that closed recently but we have visiting rights to some places mentioned here because of the clubs we belong to abroad if we remember to get the paperwork done when we are abroad. Having spent 50 plus years of club life in the east - several clubs at that, I can only say that it was a always - and is - a great pleasure to relax in familiar surrounds. Spoiled by this perhaps that's why I dislike hotels - and the more stars they twinkle through the worse they seem. B&B seems closer to the informality of clubs - and often more caring than any hotel. True there are club dress codes but reasonable and with mobile phones outlawed as are unsuitable guests - that needs fine tuning when taking visitors, I enjoy the places no end. They are rarely state of the art in finishing touches but familiar staff, small idiosyncratic muddles and rules make it all pleasurable. The tea planters club in the highlands of Sri Lanka when last visited had chintz sofa covers and everywhere smelled of over cooked cabbage  but the members seemed very at home though I am pretty sure their real homes are very smart and efficient.
In some clubs parts are off limits to ladies - with stern notices to that effect - one also once barred dogs but now the dogs are in even if the ladies are not. OMG, there is nothing like a club bore, is there?


Not sure if it still runs but the Carlton Club was the home of many posh young ladies during WW2 who  met frequently well into old age  - one did not venture near they lounge when they took over. They can't all have been called Bunty but that was a name I  often heard yelled in strident shire voices
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PostSubject: Re: To the Crabtree Club.   Mon 29 Dec 2014, 11:46

Out of Africa was on TV yesterday - I saw it years ago and will watch it again later today. I remember there was a club  - was it the Muthaiga Club in Nairobi? - that did not admit women in the members' bar. After Blixen's remarkable show of courage where she helped fight off lions attacking a convoy (was it horses for the war effort - can't remember) she was admitted as a sort of honorary man. A great honour.

Apparently the club is still going and women are still not allowed in the bar after 7.30pm. The expats' world was/is indeed another world, but a fascinating one.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/africaandindianocean/kenya/10759905/Kenya-safari-100-years-of-Nairobis-Muthaiga-Club.html

No one has mentioned the great music clubs in London. Ronnie Scott's? The Marquee?

http://www.themarqueeclub.net/
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PostSubject: Re: To the Crabtree Club.   Mon 29 Dec 2014, 18:53

Now something for us women even if not quite the same as the clubs aforementioned but more of an association - The Fair Intellectual Club (Ah, but would they let you in? ed.).

Set up in Edinburgh around 1718 by three very young women, it was an attempt to allow women to discus and debate those areas usually
reserved for men (BOO HISS!) in societies like the Athenian. It comprised of nine members who held weekly 'harangs' on a wide range of
topics to show that "We are capable of a great many Arts and Virtues" and to "refute these scandalous aspersions cast upon our sex, that
we are made up of pride, affectation, inconstancy, falsehood, treachery, tyranny, lust, ambition, wantonness, levity, disguise, coquetry,
and the like ill things, so often in the mouths and writings of men".

Sadly, it's not known what became of these pioneering sisters but last Festival there was a very successful play produced based on their story.

http://tinyurl.com/nasyvw9


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PostSubject: Re: To the Crabtree Club.   Mon 29 Dec 2014, 23:12

@Temperance wrote:


No one has mentioned the great music clubs in London. Ronnie Scott's? The Marquee?

http://www.themarqueeclub.net/
Not sure that sort of "proprietory" club compares to such as http://www.ootacamundclub.com/

I'm sure at least one of Somerset Maugham's stories features a colonial club, and admission of "natives", Dr Veraswami in particular, is crucial to the plot of "Burmese Days" by George Orwell
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PostSubject: Re: To the Crabtree Club.   Tue 30 Dec 2014, 08:38

@Gilgamesh of Uruk wrote:


@Temperance wrote:


No one has mentioned the great music clubs in London. Ronnie Scott's? The Marquee?

http://www.themarqueeclub.net/
Not sure that sort of "proprietory" club compares to such as http://www.ootacamundclub.com/  



No - the original Crabtree Club of the thread title didn't either. I'm deliberately thinking of quite different "clubs" which catered for the members of quite different worlds: the world of the bohemian set who wanted stimulation and entertainment and who, from Edwardian times to our times reflected/influenced so much in terms of the zeitgeist, and that of the wealthy, political classes - the establishment elite -  who wanted a comfortable and elegant sanctuary, a  "home from home", in London or abroad. Even now wealth is not enough ensure membership in such places - would the likes of Sir Mick Jagger (who started on his path to a knighthood performing at the Marquee) ever be admitted to one of the great establishment clubs even in 2015? I really have no idea. Perhaps Jagger would be - but other wealthy "celebrities"?

Do the French, the Germans, the Spanish have such exclusive places, I wonder, where old blood, rather than new money, is the principal criterion for admission?


PS I do like the idea of the club for Scottish ladies to have their weekly "harangs" (sic), ferval. I was surprised by the date - 1718 - I should have thought such a club would have started a century or so later. I wonder if they began each meeting with a toast to John Knox?
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PostSubject: Re: To the Crabtree Club.   Tue 30 Dec 2014, 11:07

@Temperance wrote:
Do the French, the Germans, the Spanish have such exclusive places, I wonder, where old blood, rather than new money, is the principal criterion for admission?

There's the Anglo-Belgium Club (formerly the Royal Anglo-Belgium Club) currently located in Northumberland Avenue. This traces it origin directly from the Belgian Institute, set up in 1942 by the Belgian government in exile to promote Belgian culture.

Then there's The Danish Club (Den Danske Klub) formed in 1865 and currently situated in Northumberland House on Trafalgar Square. There's also The Norwegian Club (Den Norske Klub) founded in 1887. This started when a group of norwegian friends drinking in a London pub were told they were only allowed to drink after hours if they were a club - and they had the presence of mind to promptly form one. It now meets at 4 St James Square in premises shared with The Naval and Military club.

In South Kensington there's the Institute Française du Royaume-Unis and the Goethe-Institut (German) which both have splendid dining facilities in grand old buildings (which, as I recall, were only accessible if one had been signed in by a member), but unlike the Danish, Norwegian and Belgian Clubs, these are both partly government supported and operate more like cultural institutes (a bit similar to the British Council). I wonder if the presence of certain foreign clubs in London is a function of whether the home country is a monarchy? (As you say Temp, "old blood rather than new money"). The Belgian, Danish and Norwegian clubs in their time have all had members of their respective royal families as members, most notably in WW2 when their governments in exile were located in London.
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PostSubject: Re: To the Crabtree Club.   Mon 27 Mar 2017, 13:09

I've started re-reading the Flashman stories of G M Fraser, and at the start of the second book, Royal Flash, our hero gets caught up in a police raid on a gaming club in St James.

These clubs, aka "gaming hells" were a common feature of the Regency period. At the time the book is set,1842, the days of Bucks and Blades were  coming to an end. The Police Act of 1839, had given the Police power to raid these establishments. The clubs retaliated by having a series of lookouts to warn of any potential raids, as the Police had to catch them in the act of gaming. Everyone knew what was going on but a few minutes was all that was required to disguise the gaming tables.

Some more about the Regency hells:
Regency Gambling

Crockford's
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PostSubject: Re: To the Crabtree Club.   Mon 27 Mar 2017, 14:16

Flashman's club is heavily based on Watier's, on the corner of Bolton Street and Picadilly, and which enjoyed a brief but spectacularly hedonistic existence between 1807 and 1819. Even with royal patronage, and long before the attentions of any Peelers, Watier's was twice "raided", not by the police but by rent-a-mobs (hired by disgruntled gamblers who had lost fortunes there to an in-house "banking" scam), and set fire to on several more occasions.

It had all started innocently enough - a club for men who liked to sing in harmony, no less - but quickly took a turn to the degenerate when the Prince of Wales  (who hadn't a note in his head) became a member, hired the eponymous master chef after whom the place's name was coined, and then invited his mates around for a spot of gambling. It was consequently a favourite haunt of Beau Brummel, and many of the most notorious stories about this larger than life dandy were set within its walls. One which paints a rather more generous image of the man than most however, also set at Watier's, was the bailing out of Tom Sheridan:

Tom Sheridan once came into the club, and although not a habitual gambler, laid £10 at macao*. Brummell happened to drop in from the opera at that moment and proposed that he take Sheridan's place, promising to go half-shares with him in any winnings he might receive. This being agreed to as Brummell's luck at this particular game was notoriously phenomenal, the beau added £200 to his friend's modest stakes, and in ten minutes had won £1,500. Here, he stopped, and handing £750 to Sheridan remarked, 'There, Tom, now go home and give your wife and brats a supper and never play again.'

*Macao - a forerunner of Baccarat

PS: Sad postscript - this is Watier's nowadays:

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PostSubject: Re: To the Crabtree Club.   Mon 27 Mar 2017, 15:09

There were some serious addicts (and losses)

The politician Charles Fox, able to play for long periods without sleep, lost his fortune at the gaming tables. Horace Walpole described one of Fox’s marathon gambling sessions:


He had sat up playing Hazard at Almack’s from Tuesday evening, 4th February [1778], till five in the afternoon of Wednesday 5th. An hour before he had recovered £12,000 that he had lost, and by dinner, which was at five o’clock, he had ended losing £11,000. On Thursday he spoke, went to dinner at past eleven at night; from thence to White’s, where he drank till seven the next morning; thence to Almack’s, where he won £6,000; and between three and four in the afternoon he set out for Newmarket. His brother Stephen lost £11,000 two nights after, and Charles £10,000 more on the 13th; so that in three nights the two brothers, the eldest not twenty-five, lost £32,000. – Lowe, p 129.


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