“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”
— Mark Twain

Another Memory of L’Orient in St. Giles – Maclaren-Ross and Tambimuttu Go for Horsemeat Curry in 1943

Posted: August 18th, 2016 | No Comments »

Talking about Julian Maclaren-Ross’s Memoirs of the Forties yesterday (in relation to Dylan Thomas and the Free Japan movement) I also noted that Maclaren-Ross makes mention of dining at L’Orient in St. Giles. I happened to blog about the old L’Orient Restaurant on London’s St. Giles High Street last year (here). It was of interest to me as once being a stalwart of the capital’s interwar and post-war Chinese restaurant scene (I have a long article on the city’s 1930s and wartime Chinese restaurant scene coming in the September edition of The Cleaver Quarterly magazine, by the way). The establishment is sadly long gone, as is the majority of St. Giles High Street, under what is now the Centre Point tower block. Here’s the only picture I have of the place…and it’s just a street scene with the sign…

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Anyway, Maclaren-Ross remembers dining there during the war, around 1943, with the Sri Lankan poet (famous at the time) Tambimuttu. He recalls that it stayed open late – they dined there after a pub crawl of Fitzrovia. I believe that due to the wartime restrictions and shortages of meat this was the time, Maclaren-Ross also refers to, when they dined on L’Orient’s horsemeat curry!

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“Free Japan” in World War Two London

Posted: August 17th, 2016 | No Comments »

Re-reading Julian Maclaren-Ross’s Memoirs of the Forties it jogged my memory that he mentions the Free Japanese movement in London. I know next to nothing about the Free Japanese movement in World War Two and so can echo the words of Dylan Thomas (who Maclaren-Ross was working with at the time) – “he had heard of Free French, Free Poles, Free Dutch, Free Italians and if not actually Free Germans at any rate Free German-speaking people, but never, no never Free Japanese.” Me neither (though I could add the Shanghai chapter of the Free Austrians to the list, about who I blogged here). So, a bit of a hunt….

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So here’s how they crop up:

  • It’s 1943 and Maclaren-Ross has wangled a job out of the forces and with Strand Films as a scriptwriter on propaganda productions;
  • Working at Strand with him is the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas;
  • Strand was based at No.1 Golden Square in Soho (picture of that building, now Bauer Media, as it is today below) – in the same building Maclaren-Ross and Thomas notice a sign for “Free-Japanese Lampshades”;
  • Certainly there had been Japanese lampshade manufacturers in London, not that far away from Golden Square, in London’s pre-war “Little Tokyo” of Denmark Street (see Keiko Itoh’s The Japanese Community in Pre-War Britain for more on that community, now mostly forgotten) but they all shut down by 1941.
  • According to Itoh, above, Japanese were all either repatriated or interned by 1943.

I’m afraid I know little about the Free Japanese beyond a Wikipedia entry that deals with Japanese Communist Party members who were in Yenan with the Chinese communists during the war. However, no references (including in Itoh’s book) to London and Free Japanese, except Messrs Maclaren-Ross and Thomas.

Anyone know anything?

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A Little More Monsieur Paul – Shingling, perms, waves, tints & shampoos in Old Shanghai

Posted: August 16th, 2016 | No Comments »

Following on from yesterday’s post….(thanks to Doug Clarke of Gunboat Justice for a few more Paul’s Beauty Parolurs ads)

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Paul’s Beauty Parlours of Old Shanghai

Posted: August 15th, 2016 | No Comments »

What can I tell you about Paul’s Beauty Parlours? Not much I’m afraid apart from what’s in the advert. Prestige addresses on Nanking and Bubbling Well Road (Nanjing and Nanjing West Roads). The claim to be oldest might be disputed (this advert from the early 1930s). I think (and if anyone knows different do let me know) the chain was owned by a White Russian in Shanghai (Paul was, I think, the surname and not the forename). There was competition – that stretch of Nanking Road was home to a host of beauticians from the mid-1920s. The Nanking Road branch was a shared premises with other businesses including the Josefo Photo Studios (who I must get round to posting about one day).

Pauls Beauty Parlours - Nanking Rd - 1930

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Jean Lindsay of 22 Nanking Road

Posted: August 14th, 2016 | No Comments »

So, this advert from 1930 talks of Jean Lindsay selling ivory and bronze – Unusual “Things Chinese”. This is interesting as I had always associated Jean Lindsay with tapestries, brocades, dresses and bags rather than curio items. Jean Lindsay was always at 22 Nanking Road, on the third floor of the Kelly & Walsh Building (after the famous Shanghai publishers). I’ve put a few examples of Jean Lindsay items below, but simply do a google image search and you’ll come up with loads – most bags, dresses and accessories.

Jean Lindsay was really a ladies accessories shop and so I suppose the sideline of ivories and bronzes was just that, a sideline to the main business. It makes sense – Lindsay had a high end Shanghailander and rich Chinese clientele and, it seems, 1930s Shanghai (with it ocean liners of sojourners arriving daily) just couldn’t get enough of curio and antique shops. I believe the curios were kept in a “Studio” adjacent to the main store. The Studio had regular exhibitions – for instance in 1935 the Studio hosted “Brass Ornaments of the Ming and K’ang Hsi Periods”.

Jean Lindsay items can be partly (but not wholly – there were, you’ll not be surprised to hear, fakes out there) identified by a label stating:  ‘Jean Lindsay, 22 Nanking Road, Shanghai’.

I’m afraid I don’t know much about Jean Lindsay – beyond she must have been a woman of taste given the items below. I believe she was interned during the war though was married to a Chinese man called Yu. Anymore information of course greatly appreciated….

Jean Lindsey curios - Nanking Rd - 1930

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Hand bag - Rectangular beaded hand bag (evening) in silver gold and green small glass beads. Twisted bead fringe. Gilt frame and chain. Label inside brown sateen lining 'Jean Lindsay, 22 Nanking Road, Shanghai'. 1920 (circa)

Hand bag – Rectangular beaded hand bag (evening) in silver gold and green small glass beads. Twisted bead fringe. Gilt frame and chain. Label inside brown sateen lining ‘Jean Lindsay, 22 Nanking Road, Shanghai’. 1920 (circa)

 

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Eastman-Kodak Shanghai Head Office, 1930

Posted: August 13th, 2016 | No Comments »

I’ve posted various 1930s ads for Kodak in the past – here for their cine camera and here for the 1940 model Kodak 35 camera. Kodak were pretty much always at the same address in Shanghai – 24 Yuen Ming Yuen Road (Yuanmingyuan Road now), back behind the Bund (and, by the way, handily close to their ad agency in China, Carl Crow of course, on Jinkee/Dianchi Road).

Eastman Kodak - Yuen Ming Yuen Rd - 1930

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A Tradition Worth Reestablishing – Shanghai Jazz Funerals

Posted: August 12th, 2016 | No Comments »

Planning to die in Shanghai? Perhaps it’s time to resuscitate the tradition of the “Jazz Funeral”. 1934…and a prominent Chinese merchant gets a majorly face giving jazz funeral – wireless sets with loud speakers blasting American jazz. What a way to go – you can keep your paper Louis Vuitton bags! Classy as our 1934 merchant was – he wasn’t original.

Carl Crow recalled, in the 1920s, the noisy funeral processions that made their way through Shanghai playing such strange Western standards as Ta-ra-ra, Boom-de-aye and There’ll Be A Hot Time In The Old Town Tonight.

 

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Bigger than Coke in old Shanghai – Green Spot Orangeade

Posted: August 11th, 2016 | 1 Comment »

Coca-Cola was of course available in old Shanghai, but it wasn’t the most popular soft drink – that was Green Spot. Green Spot was a brand of bottled non-carbonated orangeade. It was developed in the US in 1934 but became phenomenally popular in Asia in the late 1930s and throughout World War Two. By the late 1930s it was already being bottled in Shanghai under license by a Cantonese called Lau Bong.

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