Docklands – Diner, Dido, Duncan

A rare foray on a glorious winter day into Docklands. We were too late to eat in Docklands Diner, but it was delightful to stumble across an old-fashioned “working mens cafe” – the owner (below) took umbrage when I called it a greasy spoon. Docklands Diner

Located in the historic Cannon Workshops of 1824-5 by Rennie, it has been there for thirty years. She was not very happy about restrictions imposed on her by the landlord (and/or English Heritage?) as far as putting up signs etc was concerned.

Then visited The Museum of Docklands, housed in a Grade I listed warehouse of 1802-3. Saw a painting by Duncan Grant, a member of the Bloomsbury Group, which reminded me of this work by my mum which she almost certainly did whilst studying at Toynbee Hall.

Docklands by mum

Unfortunately, the condition has markedly deteriorated – it was (based on dim recollection of family conversations), executed quickly on cheap backing material whilst “on location” at the docks.

This is one of my dad. He was always proud to point out to visitors that my mum did this oil painting in just fifteen minutes on our kitchen table, again using a cheap substitute for canvas.

dad by mum

The Museum of London Docklands was the third museum/gallery in as many days where my wife and I were the last to leave. We had been talking to the staff about my mum’s painting and also their misleading interpretation of Dido’s status at Kenwood.

The day before we had gone to Cambridge to see the Vermeer exhibition. Whilst in the city we went to The Live and Let Live pub which they say has arguably the largest selection of rums in the county (my emphasis – it seems a modest claim). Of course, I’d chosen this pub for its real ale reputation, so it was a tad amusing that the next day we were in a museum whose adjacent Rum and Sugar Restaurant/Bar boasts one of London’s most extensive selections of rum.

The day before that, our Edinburgh trip ended with a visit to the  National Galleries of Scotland.  Our need to retrieve our bags from the coin lockers at The Royal Scottish Academy at the other end of William Henry Playfair’s magnificent landmark building on The Mound meant the staff having to deactivate the alarm system to let us out!


Sentimental books

My father was a voracious reader throughout his life. He amassed a large and eclectic library.  He was not, though, a collector for the sake of collecting. Books were for reading for pleasure, for knowledge; or for their practical use in translating, writing articles, teaching and so on. Since my parents died, nearly all of these books have been disposed of. Here I highlight a few that have a special point of interest.
Inscribed in a rear endpaper, this is the signature, presumably, of Israel Witriol, my father’s father. I cannot decipher the word on the second line, but his wife was Yetta Balin and his sister married Frank Wagreich.

Inscription by Israel Witriol

This is the frontispiece of the book itself

Gothic Goethe

Apart from a letter to Yetta, this is the only extant example of his handwriting – he died at 48 when my dad was 12.

My father added this sentimental note to a book

The Armenian Crisis in Turkey

I wonder why this, dafke, was one of the handful of books they had? Chapter VIII is even more apposite today – see also this piece

A Politico-Religious System

This is the book’s title page – I think it must be a scarce item now. The Armenian Crisis in Turkey

From an early age, dad excelled at English as this bookplate testifiesSchool prize

As for the book itself, in his unpublished ‘Autobiography of a Failure’  he said

 [I]…could never get into it. May have had something to do with the small print.Lorna Doone

Maggs is one of London’s most venerable, yet relatively unstuffy, antiquarian booksellers. Their website, like their Berkeley Square shop, is well worth visiting. In this catalogue

Maggs Bros catalogue

I happened to see one of my dad’s two major translated works!Yehudi Menuhin catalogue