“The national-security adviser regularly ridiculed his chief’s intellect and ability. ‘You tell our meatball President I’ll be there in a few minutes,’ he once snapped to a secretary who had summoned him to a meeting with Nixon. ‘Wasn’t our leader magnificent on that,’ Kissinger said sarcastically of Nixon’s early public statements on the war in Vietnam. The President deserved a B-plus or a C or even a C-minus, he would say. But to the President’s face Kissinger offered only high praise.
He instructed one of his National Security Council aides, John Cort, to prepare a briefing book on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization for the President. When he received it, Kissinger said that it was brilliant, but that it must be simplified because Nixon wouldn’t understand it. ‘Don’t ever write anything more complicated than a Reader’s Digest article for Nixon,’ he directed.”
The Final Days, Bob Woodward & Carl Bernstein, Martin Secker & Warburg Limited, 1976.
“… I avoided all contact with others and in particular preferred not to become over-familiar with people of our own profession; remember I did the same in Italy. I made the acquaintance and sought out the friendship only of people of a higher social class– and among these only mature people, not young lads, not even if they were of the foremost rank. I never invited anyone to visit me regularly in my rooms in order to be able to maintain my freedom, and I always considered it more sensible to visit others at my convenience. If I don’t like a person or if I’m working or have business to attend to, I can then stay away. –Conversely, if people come to me and behave badly, I don’t know how to get rid of them, and even a person who is otherwise not unwelcome may prevent me from getting on with some important work. You’re a young man of 22; and so you don’t have the earnestness of old age that could deter a young lad of whatever social class, be he an adventurer, a joker or fraud and be he young or old, from seeking out your acquaintance and friendship and drawing you into his company and then gradually into his plans. One is drawn imperceptibly into this and cannot then escape. I shan’t even mention women, for here one needs the greatest restraint and reason, as nature herself is our enemy, and the man who does not apply his whole reason and show the necessary restrain will later do so in vain in his attempt to escape the labyrinth, a misfortune that mostly ends only in death.”
Leopold Mozart to his son, 5 February 1778, Salzburg
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, My Dearest Father, translated by Stewart Spencer, Penguin Books.
“A week of air raids. Our ears have grown sharp for the sounds of danger– the humming menace that sweeps from the sky, the long whistle like an indrawn breath as the bomb falls. We are as continually alive to danger as animals in the jungle.
During a raid the empty streets wait for the shock like ‘a patient etherised upon a table’. The taxis race along carrying their fares to the shelters. A few pedestrians caught out in the streets make their way with as much restraint as possible to the nearest shelter, keeping an eye open for protection–for friendly archways. They try to saunter but long to run.
In the parks the fallen leaves lie thick upon the paths. No one has time to collect them into bonfires and burn them. The paint is beginning to peel off the great cream coloured houses in Carlton House Terrace and the grand London squares. The owners will do nothing about it until ‘after the war’. London is beginning to look down-at-heel and a bit battered. Every now and then one comes upon a gap in a row of houses or a façade of shops. In the gap is a pile of rubble where the bomb has hit. I suppose gradually there will be more and more such gaps until the face of London is pitted and furrowed with them.
The other night I was caught on my way home from Chelsea in a heavy barrage with falling shrapnel and turned into a public shelter to wait until things were quieter. There were half a dozen old women of the Belcher charwoman variety, two conversational old men in battered bowlers and a drunken Irish maid-servant who kept mocking the English for their credulity and stupidity. ‘You English, sure you’re the dumbest nation on earth. Now do you believe all this you read in the papers about how many German planes were shot down. Don’t you see it is all propaganda now.’ Her haranges were greeted with sardonic amusement. These people were all cold and all sleepless. They had spent three nights in this shelter and outside was the recurrent roar of the barrage. Their homes in Chelsea have been badly pasted. The shelter itself was a feeble affair giving no protection from the bombs. But their stolidity was unshaken. Their retort was the Englishman’s immemorial reply to danger–irony. The kind of joke which hinges on the thought, ‘Well it ain’t the Ritz exactly.’ They were not afraid but they did want one thing–‘a cup of tea’.”
Charles Ritchie served as Second Secretary at the Canadian High Commission in wartime England.
The Siren Years 1937-1945, Charles Ritchie, Macmillan of Canada, 1974.
Photo: A North London air raid shelter, 1940. Ministry of Information Photo Division Photographer
The names of restaurants in some ways remain unchanged; Samuel Pepys caroused at The Swan Hotel and enjoyed fish dinners at The Dolphin in Restoration-era London, and the television detective Jim Rockwell met clients at The Owl and Turtle in 1970s Los Angeles. A one-hour long detective series, The Rockford Files aired between 1974-1980, and the cars, costumes, and locations are a historic preservation of the place and time.
Tail o’ the Pup Actual hot dog stand at La Cienega and Beverly boulevards 1946-2005.
The Owl and Turtle
The Sand Castle Near Jim’s trailer on the beach.
Bay Bitty Motel In Bay City.
Fred Harvey’s Actual chain.
Marks Chic club run by guest star Sharon Gless’ criminal fiance Mark.
Trattoria Steakhouse “Out by the airport.”
Sea Cliff (Almeria) “The best restaurant in town.”
Restaurant Seacrest Motel
Oscar’s “If you could make soup like you negotiate this place would be packed.”
Jacks at the Beach
Buena Vista Inn: “Food Dancing Rooms”
White Owl Lounge: “Ten miles south of the marina on the Coast Highway.”