Thursday, 21 June 2012

The wanderer returns and Hollyrood Palace and James Tytler

I haven't posted for ages, and I apologise for not responding to many of your posts,  but a few things came up that prevented me doing so.

Firstly, Pat was in hospital for a while, but she's home now and almost fully fit once more. Secondly, as some of you may know,  I'm heavily involved with my granddaughter, Giselle.  I had to teach her at home for a few years when she had health issues, at 14. It got beyond teaching and we jointly wrote plays (and did high-fives when we saw them performed on stage). This year she completed her university degree - BA(Honours) Creative Writing. Her first novel - still a manuscript - is raising a great deal of interest ... watch out for her in the near future. She wants a second degree, English,and wanted me to do it with her for fun (!!!!), we are well into it but some of the assignments are taking a lot of time.

It was also her 21st  birthday, so we went to London and saw the stage show, "Shrek" at the Theatre Royal (the oldest playhouse in the world - Nell Gwyn et. al. ). We also saw "Phantom of the Opera".

Hollyrood Palace is situated in Edinburgh, Scotland. It is the official residence of the Queen when she is in Scotland.

Click on Image to Enlarge
The Fountain at Hollyrood Palace, Edinburgh,
by  John Simlett 2011
Pen & Ink
(Part of a much larger picture)

It was once an Abbey and as such still offered sanctuary in the 19th Century. It was here that James Tytler took refuge from his creditors (think of him as if he were a Charles Dickens like character.) I'm slowly doing a self-illustrated biography of him as he was the first British person to fly.



Tytler could snatch failure out of jaws of success. He built his hot air balloon from a big purpose-made basket covered in tarred-canvas, below which was suspended a platform for him and the boiler. The crowds and the press gathered for the launch, but, as the day wore on they drifted away bored, for, try as he might,  the boiler failed to generate enough heat to raise the balloon. Finally, in anger, he kicked the cast iron boiler and it fell off the platform, whereupon he and the balloon shot a hundred feet into the air and drifted away. The success was reported by the one reporter who had remained behind. Alas, success was reported as failure as he landed in the sewage pools outside Edinburgh - he became the laughing stock!

I could fill a book about him - and am. Finally he fled to America where he became the editor of a newspaper in Salem, Massachusetts. One night returning home after work, drunk - as usual, he fell into a pond and drowned. After his death all his projects that had failed, bore fruit and made fortunes for other people. 

So why do I mention Tytler here? Well, he wrote a long ode to Vincento Lunardi a Neapolitan who flew from London weeks before Tytler (he is the antithesis of Tytler and is the other half of my biography). In his, "Ode to Lunardi," Tytler begins: All my Projects Flutter in the Air. Which, my friends, just about sums up where I am at the moment ... hopefully I won't land in the Mire ... and hope to continue with another York scene next week.


Philatelic First Day Cover of Lunardi's First Flight      by  John Simlett (1984)



32 comments:

  1. I'm glad that Pat is doing better! You are working on some wonderful projects, John! And so is your granddaughter! She obviously inherited her writing talent from her grandfather!

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    1. Thanks Judy. Pat is almost 100% now. Giselle has ended up a much better writer than I am, which is great:it saves me the cost of an editor!

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  2. Dear John,

    Happy to hear all is well with Pat and that you and your granddaugher have such a wonderful interest in writing. Your post and words have inspired me more than you know. God Bless you and your family.

    All the best to you,
    Joan

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    1. My dear Joan - what a lovely message; than you

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  3. John, you have been extemely busy!!! I hope Pat is 100% now. And a belated birthday wish to Giselle [what a beautiful name]. Celebrating in London with "Shrek" must have been such fun! And now the two of you are aiming for a BA in English? ... Bravo! And your drawing of the fountain at Holyrood is fabulous!

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    1. Well you are an expert on busy, Kathryn. Thank you for your kind comments ... I'm glad you liked the fountain

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  4. Hello, John! I hope that all health problems will soon be completely overcome!
    Then I make compliments for BA! Congratulations to you too
    who live and study with your grandaughter!
    Your post is always pleasant and interesting, with a sense of humor that I love very much! And last but not least,i admire your beautiful work in pen and ink ... What chance to have met you on Blogger!(for english translation ...be patient!)
    Warmly,Rita.
    on blogger, Dear John! !

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    1. The odd word gets mixed-up on blogger, Rita, but your message is always clear and interesting. It is nice to have met you too ... we have art and grandchildren in common... and probably a lot more too!

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  5. Errata corrige:delete"on blogger" before Dear John.

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  6. Oh John I do love your history posts accompanied by your wonderful drawings. (The balloon drawings reminded me of Gulliver). You publish that book, I'll be your first customer. It would be my pleasure. Your friend the grounded mermaid.

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    1. Thankee kindly ma'am. I see what you mean about Gulliver :0) Lunardi was a great favourite with the Ladies. I have a collection of the letters he wrote when touring Scotland (where he met Tytler) ... fantastic stuff!

      I'll put you down on the mailing list :0)

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  7. I love coming here to read what you research. How sad for Tytler never to see the results from his inventions. Love your Drawings as usual. So glad your wife is on the mend. Sounds like you live a VERY busy life.

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    1. Over this side of the pond, The "Encyclopaedia Brittanica" was as famous as "Webster's Dictionary" over there. Tytler wrote one edition of it, using a wooden wash tub as his desk. His kids took the copy to the publishers each day, whereupon he spent the fee on booze!
      Glad you enjoyed my ramblings, Cris and thank you for your kind comments.

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  8. I love history and this post is amazing! Thanks for sharing! It sounds like you've been busy and I'm happy to hear your wife is doing better. :)

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    1. Thanks, Heather ... busy is what it's all about :0) - boredom the enemy in waiting

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  9. Great Scott, you are an interesting person! Fabulous drawings--and I loved learning about your Granddaughter and this fellow Tytler. Glad Pat is feeling good and home from the hospital. I have actually been to Hollyrood once (only the outside)..your drawing is gorgeous! Fantastic post! (love "Phantom of the Opera"...another wonderful thing your country has given us, Andrew L Weber! :)

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  10. Thanks Celeste - you really are too kind. Most of the cast of 'Shrek' were American - I wondered how they would perform this 'film' on stage ... it was FANTASTIC!

    Fancy you and Hollyrood!

    We gave you L Weber ... but you guys produced so much more ... I saw so many shows on Broadway (Courtesy of the USO club, Times Square, who treated RAF crews to tickets as if we were USAF)

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  11. What an interesting post and what an interesting life you lead! I'm glad to hear Pat is better and back at home. Congratulations to your granddaughter on her degree and on starting another one - and how fab that you're doing it with her!
    The illustration is amazing and I'd never heard of Tytler before but what an unfortunate character he was!

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    1. Thanks Nicola. Most people know very little of the first aeronauts. As I has a 12 month commission from the Royal Air Force museum in London to research and design the first day covers of Firsts in flight. I learnt all about French/Italian/American/British balloonists. Besides the obvious first flights I also had to do: the first Channel Crossing, first woman, first fatality etc.

      Whilst the European's looked pretty standard, the American looked the spitting image of Johnny Depp :0)

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  12. Hi John, I'm happy that Pat is doing better and that she's at home. Thanks for this post, I didn't know, neither Tytler, nor Lunardi, very interesting story.
    Congratulations for your incredible work of the Fountain at Hollyrood Palace and also for the image of the English stamp dedicated to Lunardi. (by the way i'm a stamp collector since I was a boy). Have a good week end!

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    1. Ciao Tito, thank you for your kind comments

      Lunardi was the secretary to the Neapolitan Ambassador in London - the first person to fly in Britain (Tyler was the first Briton to fly). Unlike Tyler, everything he touched turned to gold. For example, when one balloonist landed in Spain - the peasants thought him a devil and tore the balloon to pieces. When Lunardi Landed there - he was thought to be an Angel!!

      If you want a copy of the Lunardi first day cover I can let you have it as a gift.

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  13. Firstly - big Cyber hugs to Pat! I am sorry to hear she has been unwell and glad to hear she's back at home! Secondly, you shouldn't worry if you don't get a chance to respond! It's easy to spend so much time on the computer that we don't actually get any art done! Thirdly, to Giselle, WOW, WOW, WOW, WOW!!!!! Congratulations!!!!!! What a wonderful achievement! You must all be SO proud!!! And last but totally and utterly far from least is that drawing of the fountain.... Really? You did that??? I am LOST FOR WORDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    1. Thank you, Sandra :0)

      Giselle is a bit special. She moves effortlessly between genius and feather-brain. When she left school she won the Top of English award and also the Miss Blonde Moments awaed for such comments as, "We don't need photosynthesis now that we have digital cameras".... and her famous, Save the African Tiger Campaign.
      When I told her that there were no African tigers she replied, "I thought they were female lions ... because no female would dress in brown all the time"
      The danger of course is that she loves to act dumb and watch the reactions... Her Save the Arctic Monkeys Campaign, didn't last long ... we all knew that she was aware that they were a Pop group (do we still say pop group?)

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  14. I am so glad that Pam is okay John!! That is so scary, and you never need to apologize for not commenting, we all understand that life gets in the way and love you anyway. :)) The drawing is SO fantastic John, just incredible!

    And your Giselle sounds like such an amazing person, and you sound so proud, as you should be. :)) A second degree for fun??!! You like a good bit of challenge for your fun eh??

    Huzzahandaguvnah!!

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    1. Thank you Crystal. She really seems totally better today ... my cooking cures lots of people :0)

      I'm very proud of my granddaughters. I came from the wrong side of the tracks and believe each generation should stand on the shoulders of the previous. The eldest (28) is now a clinical supervisor of postgrads at Manchester University. The second one (the brains) has just graduated in Law from out top university, Cambridge ... and Giselle is ...Giselle, she and 'her Australian' Max, live with Pat and I

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  15. John your drawing talent is immense...I am totally in awe ! Very interesting reading about Tytler, and congratulations to your granddaughter ! So good your wife is back and fit again. Wish you all the best !

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  16. What an interesting history post. Your drawing of the fountain is absolutely incredible!!! Simply amazing. Sorry about Pat's hospitalization. Hope she is completely well soon!

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    1. Thank yo for your kind comments, Minn

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  17. My best wishes to Pat for a complete recovery. Thank you for another fascinating trip through history and for showing us some of your previous work. The small crop of Hollyrood Palace fountain is awe insiring. And I think it is very noble of you to seek the Englsih degree along wth your granddaughter. What fun - and ,no doubt, what hard work! Your fluttering projects will soon be well grounded and I look forward to seeing and hearing about your endeavors!

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  18. Thank you, Susan - Pat is fully recovered, albeit I'm keeping her wrapped in cotton-wool for a while longer. The English course is very time consuming but I enjoy the challenge.

    I loved your latest portrait.

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  19. john ... the detail of the fountain is fantastic ...must be an incredible dwg IRL ..glad pat is recovering well ... you must be proud of your gd .

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