Monday, 31 March 2014

Love Thy Neighbour

The picture above is of neighbours who lived next door to each other for a few years.  At the time one was a well known, highly respected person with a national and international reputation.  His work was admired and in demand by people of all classes and for many gave joy and hope to their lives.

The other is Karl Marx and his wife, Jenny, a lady who was well thought of by those close to her.  He was less well thought of, especially by tradesmen.   Karl had a following among a number of extremists in certain small political factions and the more obscure areas of political philosophy.

One of the great "what if's" of history is what might have happened if Karl had realised that in the new world of the railways and steamships, together with the telegraph and the enabling by education of the lower orders to read with cheap newsprint.

Had he gone around his street and the Hampstead district knocking on doors he might have raised enough capital to start a new daily paper aimed at the masses.  There would be interesting stories about famed music hall artistes and careless royals and aristocrats. 

The crime pages would be full of horrors.  Above all there would be sports; not just racing and field sports but the new ones being introduced for the people to enjoy with spicy stories about the leading names. 

Politics would have been given the edge of sensation and scandal, and if the famed Sir Wilfrid Lawson, 2nd Baronet of Brayton, had been recruited as a leading columnist he could have regaled them with the inside stories of dodgy political deals and policies, notably in wasteful imperialist ventures.

Had Karl had made his fortune he would have had politicians at his beck and call.  By splashing out on popular causes, the right charities and such like Karl could have become a Press Baron and influential man of affairs in the House of Lords.

He would soon have found his way around.  Because on the other side from the neighbour pictured above was Henry Goddard a doorman, probably quite senior, at the House of Lords, still working at 80 in 1881, and a beacon of example to our work force of the present.

The status of the neighbour who is pictured above is illustrated by an event at the end of March in 1871 when there was a state occasion to mark the official opening of the not quite ready yet Royal Albert Hall and one of the press reports is quite revealing. 

It begins with high praise of the huge organ he was involved in building and only further down deals with the eight carriages packed with British and European royalty.

Of the concert itself there is no mention of other performers nor does it say what was performed.  Other text  refers to the cost of the building, the price of the boxes etc. but fails to mention it was put up by the Royal Engineers. 

The pictures of the interior from the time create the impression that the Hall is a vast space centred on the magnificent organ and indeed this does dominate the auditorium. The man above was one of the brothers whose company built and installed the organ. 

He is Edwin Willis, younger brother of Henry Willis, the famed builders of the biggest and best organs in the business.  At the time when there was the great flowering of British music in the second half of the 19th Century and into the early part of the 20th, the Willis brothers organ building firm were leading the way.  The firm are still in business and their web site gives some of the company history.

We  have forgotten or these days prefer to omit the central part played in our culture and society by the chapels, churches, cathedrals, music societies and clubs both as a force for community and for social and intellectual progress.

In the 21st Century we have surrendered to a foreign entertainment industry, a predatory media run by and for oligarchs and a pack of jobbing hired hand politicians willing to sell out our society and culture for short term personal gain.  It is the ideas of Marx and his kind who give them the excuses.

We would have been better off keeping to the world and work of the Willis family and their ilk.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent. I'm sure the culture of the moving image has done an enormous amount of damage.