Tuesday, 18 March 2008

N ~ is for nougat chocolates

Nansen ~ when planning her discourse "A modern Odyssey" outlining her experiences on the Gallagher Bank, Lucia intended to make some illusion inter alia to Nansen who had written long books about his travels. Fridtjof Wedel-Jarlsberg Nansen (1861 - 1930) was a Norwegian explorer, scientist and diplomat.

A noted Arctic explorer he also led the first crossing of Greenland by ski. As well as exploring, he was a noted zoologist, oceanographer, pioneer of neuron theory and also found time to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1922 for his work as a League of Nations High Commissioner. Otherwise, his life was uneventful. Lucia averred that she did not dream of comparing her adventures to his.

Nash, Beau ~ Georgie Pillson engaged in a fleeting Bolshevistic daydream when contemplating the implications of Lucia leaving Riseholme to live in London. The idea was a "live bomb" and at the moment of its explosion, Georgie seemed to see Riseholme fly into a thousand disintegrated fragments. And then faintly through the smoke he seemed to see Riseholme still intact. Somebody, of course, would have to fill the vacant throne and direct its affairs and the thought of Beau Nash at Bath flitted across the distant horizon of his mind. It was a naughty thought, but its vagueness absolved it from treason. He shook it off.    
Born Richard Nash, Beau Nash (1674 - 1761) was a celebrated leader of fashion and legendary dandy, who was Master of Ceremonies in Bath, then at the height of its fame as a spa and subsequently in Tunbridge Wells. As MC, he determined which newcomers might join the select company at the centre of Bath society and did everything to oil its wheels, from matching dance partners to engaging musicians, brokering marriages and regulating gambling. In Bath, he also stimulated a developing informality in manners and lowering of divisive class barriers. Georgie's role in Riseholme was less obvious, but he played a similar part in lubricating its social cogs. Unlike Beau Nash, however, Georgie most certainly did not keep a string of mistresses.  
National Gallery ~ when considering why Lucia had not arrived at her home at "The Hurst" in Riseholme in the fly with her maid following a visit to London, Georgie Pillson wondered if, oblivious to the passage of time she was spending her last half hour in contemplation of the Italian masterpieces at the National Gallery.

Founded in 1824, the National Gallery is an art museum on Trafalgar Square, housing a collection of over 2,300 paintings dating from the mid-13th century.   All major traditions of Western European painting are represented from the artists of late medieval and Renaissance Italy to the French Impressionists.     
Nebuchadnezzar, King  ~  whilst in London, Georgie Pillson was updating Lucia on events in Riseholme in her absence. He explained that Daisy Quantock had been having some most remarkable experiences."She got a ouija board and a planchette - we use the planchette most - and very soon it was quite clear that messages were coming through from a guide."   
Lucia laughed with a shrill metallic note of rather hostile timbre saying, "Dear Daisy. If only she would take commonsense as her guide. I suppose the guide is a Chaldean astrologer or King Nebuchadnezzar."   
Featured in the Book of Daniel and several other books of the Bible, Nebuchadnezzar  II (c.634 - 562 BC) became king of the Neo-Babylonian empire on the death of his father in 604BC. He rebuilt Babylon's major cities lavishly and is credited with construction of the hanging gardens of Babylon and the destruction of the first Temple. He conducted successful military campaigns in Aramea, Phoenecia and Asia Minor and forced tribute from Tyre, Damascus and Sidon. In 599BC he invaded Arabia and routed the Arabs at Qedar and in 587BC captured Jerusalem, after a siege of 18 months and sent the Jews into exile. By 572 BC he controlled Mesopotamia, Syria, Phoenecia, Israel , Philistinia, northern Arabia and parts of Asia Minor. An able ruler and no doubt so adept at multi-tasking as to make being spirit guide to Daisy Quantock well within his compass. Despite Lucia's sarcastic suggestion, there is however no indication that he did so and it appears that Mrs Quantock was happy to make do with the services of her Egyptian, Abfou.  See Abfou, Daisy Quantock and Chaldean Astrologer.      
Necromancy ~ much talk arose in Tilling about the change noted in Susan Wyse following the tragic death (by crushing, when accidentally sat upon by his Juno-esque mistress) of the budgerigar, Blue Birdie. Georgie remarked, "She's hardly ever seen now. She never plays bridge, nor comes to diva's for tea, and Algernon usually does her marketing." Lucia responded that she must really go to one of Susan's seances, "But my visit must be quite private. It would never do if it was known that the Mayor attended seances which seem alien to necromancy. Necromancy, as you may know, is divining through the medium of a corpse."

Necromancy (derived from the Greek, Nekros - corpse) is a form of magic in which the practitioner seeks to summon the spirit of a deceased person, either as an apparition or ghost, or to raise them bodily for the purpose of divination to obtain knowledge of the future. There do not appear to be many recorded cases involving budgerigars. See Blue Birdie.

Nelson, Lord Horatio  ~  After a morning in the public gallery at the Divorce Court observing the notorious Shyton divorce case, Lucia returned to 25 Brompton Square to give Adele Brixton lunch. Lucia chatted animatedly about the case and sided wholly with Babs Shyton and Lord Middlesex, affectionately known as "Woof-dog." Lucia suggested that it was "a pure and beautiful affection between Babs and Woof-dog, such as any woman, even if she was happily married might be proud to enjoy. There can be no doubt of Lord Middlesex's devotion to her, and really - I hope this does not shock you - what their relations were concerns nobody but them. George Sands and Chopin, you know. Nelson and Lady Hamilton."

National hero, Horatio Nelson,, 1st Viscount Nelson, 1st Duke of Bronte (1758-1805) was noted for his inspirational leadership and brilliant strategic and tactical grasp, which brought about notable naval victories such as the Battles of the Nile, Copenhagen and Trafalgar. He was wounded in combat several times losing an arm and eye and ultimately losing his life at Trafalgar. Nelson undertook a famously public and  lengthy affair with Emma, the wife of Sir William Hamilton, even engaging in a well publicised menage a trois for a period but was never in a position to marry her. After Nelson's heroic death Emma soon exhausted the small pension left to her by Sir William and later died, impoverished in Calais. The reader is not made aware of the outcome of the alleged romance between Babs and her Woof-dog, but despite its short-lived notoriety,  it does not seem to have impinged upon the national consciousness to the same extent as the iconic love affair between Nelson and Lady Hamilton. See Babs Shyton, Lord Middlesex,  Lady Hamilton, George Sands, Frederic Chopin.

Nemesis  ~ Nemesis reared its portentous head remarkably often in the daily life of Lucia. This may owe something to the classical education and mindset of E.F.Benson or his interest in the impact of hubris or arrogance before the gods in classical and Shakespearean drama and human affairs generally - and even those of Lucia.

Thus, when Pepino had been ordered to bed and was unable to attend the house party of Adele Brixton, leaving Lucia free to contemplate the opportunities implicit in attendance alone, "At the moment of that vainglorious thought, it is probable that Nemesis fixed her inexorable eye on Lucia."

Similarly, when Lucia was daringly arranging to drive down to Lady Brixton's house in Essex with her "faux lover" Stephen Merriall, instead of the temporarily bedridden Pepino, "it is probable that Nemesis at that precise moment licked her dry lips.'Fun!' thought Nemesis."   
Later, when at the house party Lucia committed one gaffe after another, involving many of the great and good, from Greatorex, the pianist, to Professor Bonstetter, the psycho-analyst, she escaped each disastrous situation by her quick wit. There was Nemesis, you would have thought, dealing thrusts at her, but Nemesis was no match for her amazing quickness. She parried and thrust again and emerged unscathed...Great was Lucia!  

The morning after Lucia's unsolicited and very unwelcome entry into the bedroom of her faux lover late at night, by one of those malignant strokes which are rained on those whom Nemesis desires to chastise, they came out of their rooms at precisely the same moment, they each had to walk downstairs together, coldly congratulating each other on the beauty of the morning.     

Nemesis (related to the Greek nemein, to give what is due) was the spirit of divine retribution against those who succumb to hubris. Vengeful fate was often personified as the remorseless goddess Nemesis, also called Rhamnousia, whose sanctuary was at Rhamnous, north of Marathon.  See Adele Brixton, Stephen Merriall, Professor Bonstetter and Eric Greatorex.

Neopolitan Narcissus, the  ~  one window of "Mallards Cottage", the home of Georgie Pillson in Tilling, looked onto the street, the other onto a tiny square of flower garden with a patch of crazy pavement surrounding a brick pillar on the top of which stood a replica of the Neopolitan Narcissus. Georgie once told Lucia that he had just that figure when he was a boy, and with her usual tact she had assured him he had it still...     

The original of the Narcissus was discovered in 1862, in what has been described as a "non-descript house in Pompeii" and was perhaps the last antique statue from Italy to enjoy considerable fame, or at least sufficient to merit replication in a garden in Tilling in Sussex. The Hellenistic figure was reported to have been described by  the Secretary of the Museo Nazionale in Naples as the most beautiful bronze ever to have been discovered in Pompeii.

New American President ~ Lucia advised Georgie that she had decided to take the profits of her tobacco shares and stop her financial career for the present. She cited the continual strain and found it absorbed her too much: "it keeps me on the stretch to be always watching the markets and estimating the effect of political disturbances. The Polish Corridor, Hitler, Geneva , the new American President. I shall close my ledgers."

It seems Lucia was referring to Herbert Clark Hoover (1874 - 1964), the 31st. President of the United States. A trained engineer, Hoover believed in economic modernization and the Efficiency Movement. The Wall Street Crash in 1929 took place less than eight months after he took office and he tried to combat the ensuing Great Depression with volunteer efforts, none of which produced economic recovery during his term and played a great part in his loss of the 1932 election. See The Polish Corridor, Hitler and Geneva.     
Newton  ~  when Elizabeth Mapp had teased Diva Plaistow over the issues of hoarding coal and food in revenge for the perceived slight of Diva's purchase of "her rose madder worsted"from Heynes the wool shop, Diva's inquiry of Mr Wootten the coal merchant showed that Mis Mapp was more than amply stocked herself.  "Diva's mind blazed with conjecture that Elizabeth was hoarding food as well.  
Luck ever attends the bold and constructive thinker: the apple for instance , fell far from the tree precisely when Newton's mind was groping after the law of gravity...."   
In 1687, Physicist and second Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University,  Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) published "Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica" which laid the foundations for most of classical mechanics and formulated the laws of motion and universal gravitation. By deriving Kepler's laws of planetary motion from his mathematical dsecriptions of gravity, he removed the last doubts about  the heliocentric model of the cosmos. Amongst many other achievements, he also made seminal contributions to optics.  The soft biscuit filled with fig jam, known as the "Fig Newton," is named after the town of Newton in Massachusetts....         
Nicostratus ~ spirit guide of Mrs Antrobus. The connection began during the visit of so-called psychic medium Princess Popoffski to Daisy Quantock whilst spiritualism and automatic writing were popular in Riseholme. See Abfou, Annabel and Jamifleg.  
Nietzche ~ on returning from London to "The Hurst", her home in Riseholme, Lucia asked her husband Peppino/Pepino to keep her letters from her until after lunch - and not to give them to her,"however much I beg." Then she would get into the saddle again, such a dear saddle too, and tackle them. Proposing instead to have a stroll in the garden until the bell rang, she inquired," What is it that Nietzche says about the necessity  to Mediterranizer yourself ,every now and then I must Riseholmer my self."

Pepino silently remembered the quotation, which had occurred in a review of some work of that celebrated author, where Lucia had also seen it.

The celebrated classical philologist, composer, philosopher and poet,  Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzche (1844 - 1900), wrote critical texts on a wide range of subjects, including religion, morality, contemporary culture, science and philosophy, influencing existentialism, nihilism and postmodernism well into the following century. Like Lucia, his work displayed a fondness for metaphor, irony and aphorism. Unlike her (so far as we are aware)  his key ideas included the questioning of the value of objectivity and truth, the death of God, perspectivism, the Ubermensch, the will to power and life affirmation  and questioning all doctrines, however socially prevalent, that drain life's expansive energies. Nietzche's work has been associated with the Hitlerian Reich, although authorities are unclear if Hitler actually ever read his writings in detail. Similarly, it is unclear whether Lucia's reading extended to works such as "Thus spake Zarathrustra" or, as Pepino was quietly conscious, was limited to reviews in the press.

"No" ~ the simple word "No" connoted a great deal in Riseholme vernacular. It was used as a mere negative without emphasis. Weight was added by the addition of "Certainly not."

Used with emphasis "No" was not a negative at all and its signification briefly put was "I never heard anything so marvellous and it thrills me through and through. Please go on at once and tell me a great deal more, and then let us talk it all over."

Noel Coward ~ see Coward, Noel.   
"Non e vero carissimo"  ~  Lucia was discussing her pending move to London over dinner with Georgie Pillson, Olga Blakely and the Quantocks," Pepino and I have talked it over- non e vero carissimo -and we feel that htere isa sort of call for us to go to London."
"Non e vero  carissimo" means "Isnt'that true dearest?"  In some ways it echoes the well known Italian saying "Si non e vero e ben trovato" - "Even if it is not true, it is well conceived."    
"Non semper arcum tendit Apollo" ~ meaning "Apollo does not always keep a bent bow". See Horace.

Norman, Mr Montagu ~ when Georgie had withdrawn from public life in Tilling during his attack of shingles, he was seen in the back of Lucia's motor car by an inquisitive Diva Plaistow, who did not recognise him because of his new, snowy white beard. Sarcastically referring to Lucia's growing reputation for financial acumen following her shrewd speculation in Siriami shares, Elizabeth Mapp made the brilliant suggestion that the puzzling apparition at the window of the car was Mr Montagu Norman who had come down to consult Lucia to the right policy of the Bank of England in this world crisis.

Montagu Collet Norman, First Baron Norman (1871 - 1950) was governor of the Bank of England between 1920 and 1944, a demanding period in British economic history. Although noted for his "raffish and arty appearance," Montagu Norman should not be confused with his near contemporary Montagu Burton (1885 - 1952) the popular natty gents outfitter, whose name possibly formed the origin of the expression The Full Monty.

Nougat chocolates ~ a weakness of Diva Plaistow - particularly sweet and filling - often served at Tilling bridge parties.

"Numberless laughter of ocean..."  ~  See Aeschylus.

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