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

Victorian Schoolgirls with Chinese Parasols

Posted: February 10th, 2020 | No Comments »

Regular readers will know I do like posting shots of Chinese parasols in various settings – the search box will bring them all up. Here some Victorian schoolgirls in Hastings with their teacher display their parasols, for some long lost reason….

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Old Shanghai Taxi Dancers as Dance Teachers…

Posted: February 7th, 2020 | No Comments »

A few years ago a newspaper (which shall remain nameless to spare their blushes) ran a review of a book by me and showed a picture of a line of old Shanghai taxi dancers waiting for partners in a dancehall – probably in the early 1930s. The Picture Editor simply captioned the photograph ‘Shanghai Prostitutes’. Those poor women must have been spinning in their graves…

Except of course the ones who did a little off-the-books work. That’s the thing about old Shanghai taxi dancers – they come in many forms. Some did arange liaisons with dance partners for later and money was exchanged. But most were simply dance partners for hire and many (not just in Shanghai of course, but globally) also gave dance lessons or dance exhibitions with male partner, either privately for arranged by the nightclub or ballroom. If men couldn’t dance then ballrooms would pretty quickly go out of business.

And so here, from 1927, is a Shanghai taxi dancer giving a lesson to a customer (who is a rather dapper chap and perhaps also an exhibition danceron) of the foxtrot…

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The United Press War in the Pacific Map, 1941

Posted: February 6th, 2020 | No Comments »

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The Scale of the War in 1937 Shanghai…

Posted: February 4th, 2020 | No Comments »

I write a lot about the Sino-Japanese War in Shanghai but I found this stat from truly mind blowing in its enormity – it really brings home the scale of the Japanese attack on the city….and remember this is December 1937 and at this point only the Chinese-controlled portions of the city have been attacked. Effectivaly from Bloody Saturday (August 14th 1937) to the end of the year over 40,000 war-related deaths were recorded.

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Some Interesting Old Macao Graves…

Posted: February 4th, 2020 | 1 Comment »

From a trip a while ago to the old Protestant Cemetery in Macao….

Chinnery’s grave – 1774-1852
Lord Henry John Spencer-Churchill (1797–1840)
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Jack Holt & Dorothy Revier in The Warning, 1927

Posted: January 31st, 2020 | No Comments »

A story of the British Silent Service operating on the coast of China finds Tom Fellows, captain of an opium-smuggling ship, going into a notorious Chinese joint called “The House of a Thousand Delights,” where he finds a beautiful girl, Mary Blake, bound and captive. He starts a brawl, rescues Mary in the mêlée that follows, and then loses her when she flees to a hotel. He follows her and finds she is mixed up in some mysterious activity. However, he knows more about her than she does him (because he isn’t what he is supposed to be – and she isn’t, either), he stays close by, even to the point of using a machine-gun to dispel a mob at a Chinese temple.

A few stils from the movie and a contemporary review below…

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Spark to fire – Mekong Review

Posted: January 30th, 2020 | No Comments »

A bit of my review in the Mekong Review of Jeffrey Wasserstrom’s new book on HK, Vigil, is up online, but to read it all you’ll need to subscribe which, if you are interested in matters Asia, would be a smart thing to do anyway….

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Japan and its Neighbours (and their valuable assets!), 1941

Posted: January 29th, 2020 | No Comments »

An excellent National Geographic Society map from 1941 indicating exactly what commodities Japan was able to snaffle up as its expansion across the Asia-Pacific region continued…..

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