Archive for November, 2010
Step right up, sit right down, you fair ladies and dashing gentlemen! Welcome to John Silvester’s Circus of Legal Absurdities! Don’t trust your eyes, don’t rely on your ears, and don’t trust Dr Graham’s Celestial Bed to improve your performance between the sheets!
And because I know my readers: James Graham headed from Scotland and was one of the first “sexologists”; notorious and famous alike, he was a rather colourful character who mixed science with spectacle. His most famous (and notorious) invention was probably the “Celestial Bed”. To quote Wikipedia:
“His “wonder-working edifice” was 12 by 9 feet (37 by 27 dm), and canopied by a dome covered in musical automata, fresh flowers, and a pair of live turtle doves. Stimulating oriental fragrances and “aethereal” gases were released from a reservoir inside the dome. A tilting inner frame put couples in the best position to conceive, and their movements set off music from organ pipes which breathed out “celestial sounds”, whose intensity increased with the ardour of the bed’s occupants. The electrified, magnetic creation was insulated by 40 cut glass pillars.
For more information, I recommend this book.
But back to Mr. Silvester (Aidan McArdle) and Mr. Garrow (Andrew Buchan). We’re off to a great start, and Mr. Silvester is enjoying himself far too much with the case of the Celestial Bed. So many opportunities for suggestive questions and salacious comments (not only about the case, but also about the scandal of the looming process against Garrow), so little time…
Before the preview for this Sunday’s episode, a couple of answers and comments concerning the last. The New Sherlock Holmes community has been very busy and they’ve revealed my pro-Garrow-bias. Mea culpa – guilty as charged.
“Please could you post a picture of Mrs. Southouse’s shoes, please?”
Your wish is my command:
“You only talked about Moriaty and didnt say anything nice about Matthew McNulty! Their both important and thats not fair he’s my favourit actor and he’s amazing! >____<“
My apologies. Of course Mr. McNulty did a very good job as well and is also a rather dashing gentleman. May I hope for your forgiveness and post an additional screencap as a sign of my goodwill?
“Will the bastard make it out of the pool? – SH”
Please ask Sir Arthur Hill, I heard the case has been assigned to him.
(If he shouldn’t be in series 2, there will be a situation!)
“Could you post more pictures of Andrew Scott?”
Will two do?
“Did you see Garrow’s iPhone?”
Heh! No, I didn’t! Some people insist one can see an iPhone in the pocket of Garrow’s waistcoat, but nobody could tell me which scene this was supposed to be. Does anybody know more here?
“What was wrong with Garrow saying that Southouse was a Macaroni?”
Macaronis, though the term was often used for gay men as well, were basically men who dressed and even spoke in an outlandishly affected and epicene manner. If you look at the illustrations, you’ll know why it’s not very likely anybody could have thought Southouse to be a Macaroni…!
Being a Macaroni was a fashion statement, a lifestyle choice. Being homosexual wasn’t, isn’t and never will be a choice, despite contrary claims by groups consisting of hopeless blockheads.
“What episode will Sam West be in, and what part will he play?”
Major Edrington Samuel West will be in the last episode of “Garrow’s Law”, and he’ll play Thomas Erskine, the prosecuting barrister in the case brought by Sir Arthur Hill against William Garrow and Lady Sarah Hill.
So, and now on to the preview for tomorrow’s episode!
Returning from war, weary and wounded, British sailors are treated with contempt and abuse at the Greenwich Hospital. One man bravely exposes the corruption, and finds himself in a Newgate cell. Southouse accuses Garrow of mixed motives as his uses the case to attack The Admiralty – and in particular its Under Secretary, Sir Arthur Hill.
It goes without saying that I’m looking very much forward to this; after all a good part of “The Joyful Molly” is dedicated to the history of the Royal Navy in the 18th century. While I usually write about the good men like Admiral Collingwood rather than the rotten apples, I’m very interested to learn more about the other side of the coin.
And because I’m shallow: Wheee! NAVY UNIFORMS!
I said I’d post two, didn’t I? 😉
“Oh my God – you’ll be a romantic at the Old Bailey! Heaven help us all!”
And heaven help me – at the rate I’m going through tissues watching this series, I’ll be broke by the end of the month.
That most detestable sin…
… no, not that one.
This being “The Joyful Molly“, we’ve had countless discussions through the years about Article 28 of the Royal Navy’s Articles of War (1757 edition) and its consequences; the article which reflects the attitude of the 18th century towards homosexuality:
If any person in the fleet shall commit the unnatural and detestable sin of buggery and sodomy with man or beast, he shall be punished with death by the sentence of a court martial.
And what was true for the navy was just as true – or maybe even more so – for British society as a whole. So I’m very curious to see how “Garrow’s Law” will deal with the issue tomorrow:
Garrow defends a man accused of sodomy, a capital offence in Georgian England. But Garrow is embroiled in a simmering sexual scandal of his own – Sir Arthur Hill has accused him of adultery with his wife. In representing an accused homosexual, Garrow risks gossip and humiliation. And, it turns out, he must also perpetuate a lie.
For those interested: homosexuality in 18th century and the devastating legal consequences have also been dealt with in episode two of Channel 4’s excellent drama TV series “City of Vice”.
You can also find examples for the way some officers dealt with cases of homosexuality aboard their ships here:
The review for episode two should be up by Monday evening.
Emma Collingwood: “The Radiant Boy – Four Ghost Stories from the Age of Sail” now available on Amazon / Preview online!
Finally! The second book in the “Penny, Dreadful & Tarbottom” series is now available on Amazon Germany!
Or make your local bookshop happy and place your order there; you can find the ISBN number of the book below.
“THE RADIANT BOY”
Four Ghost Stories from the Age of Sail
Written by Emma Collingwood
Illustrations by Amandine de Villeneuve
Edited by Timothy T. Tarbottom
At the annual meeting of the “Young Bucks Club”, four officers serving in the Royal Navy during the Age of Sail share ghostly naval tales.The second book in Emma Collingwood’s and Amandine de Villeneuve’s “Penny, Dreadful and Tarbottom”-series, “The Radiant Boy” is an eerie and touching tribute to the classic English ghost story and the Royal Navy.
- “THE RADIANT BOY”
- “CRAWFORD’S CASKET”
- “THE LAST JOURNEY OF HMS DOVER”
- “LAST SERVICE” (a tribute to Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood)
The book contains four stories, one b/w sketch and 10 colour drawings by the wonderful Amandine de Villeneuve, “Author’s Notes for the Curious” plus a book curse. The latter is included for free.
Amazon provides a preview, so if you’d like “trial read” and have a look at some of the illustrations, please click the picture below:
If you don’t want to wait for the book to become available through the official website (which will be in about two to three weeks), you can place your order on Amazon even if you don’t live in Germany.
“But I don’t speak German!” Don’t worry – Google can help!
“The Radiant Boy” has 100 pages and costs EUR 9.90 (about £ 8.40 / $ 13.00). I’m aware that this is a high price (due to small edition and colour pages), and ordering through the official website will be more expensive, as Amazon offers cheaper shipping. So ordering through Amazon will save you money.
I’m very happy with the final product; Amandine de Villeneuve’s illustrations are absolutely delightful, and I don’t think I’ve done too bad on the writing front, either (if I may say so).
Happy buying, happy reading!
Journalists wondering how “Garrow’s Law” could possibly compete with “I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here” might as well ponder whether a triple layer extra moist chocolate cake with whipped cream and almonds has any chance in a competition with a cowpat. Such comparisons only make sense for those who believe that quality is determined by the number of flies attracted. So get your dessert plates and pastry forks, dear readers – William Garrow is back!
Mr. Garrow (Andrew Buchan) has spent the last months “up north” and returns to find newly-widowed Mr. Southouse (Alun Armstrong) despaired, dishevelled and drowning his sorrows.
With the grating cheerfulness of a used car salesman, Garrow quickly figures out that all his fatherly friend needs to stop mourning the loss of his wife is a shave, a cup of coffee and an interesting court case.
Yes, our hero hasn’t changed one bit; if anything, he’s even more tactless than in series one, and while we sit in awe of Southouse’s self-control – he didn’t hit Garrow on the head with his carafe, imagine! – we notice that, along with highlights and a bigger hat, Mr. Garrow also got a different voice. Clearly, the bread in the north must have been laced with lots of chalk! That, or he’s right in the middle of his voice change; this would explain his juvenile behaviour in presence of Lady Sarah Hill (Lyndsey Marshal). But I digress.
Lady Sarah Hill and her husband, Sir Arthur Hill (Rupert Graves), are now proud parents of a baby boy, Samuel.
Well, Lady Sarah is proud; as far as Sir Arthur is concerned, things aren’t quite as clear. For now, let’s just say that I wouldn’t hire him as a babysitter.
Having left her baby with her husband, Lady Sarah heads for the Old Bailey to speak for a former cutlery maid of hers who’s standing trial. She’s not aware Mr. Garrow, never one to miss an opportunity to puff and ruffle his feathers in court, has jumped in to help the damsel in distress. So it comes to an unexpected encounter between Lady Sarah and her admirer, who shows all the maturity, dignity and composure of a fanboy meeting Lady Gaga.
The audience in court is howling with laughter upon watching blushing William Garrow’s amusing antics. Mr. Silvester (Aidan McArdle), on the other hand, feels a headache coming up.
Later on, representatives of the Liverpool Insurance Company engage Southouse and Garrow in a case concerning insurance fraud. One Captain Collingwood (Jasper Briton) – who is not, I repeat it again, not identical with our dear, beloved admiral! – ordered to have cargo jettisoned overboard in the middle of the Ocean, claiming that it was necessary to do so to save the crew of his ship, the Zong.
All this is nothing out of the ordinary until we learn that the Zong was a slaver and the “cargo” in question – people. 133 children, women and men; slaves who were thrown overboard alive, apparently because there weren’t enough water supplies available. The monstrosity of it all takes some time to sink in, even more so when we are confronted with a society which can find no wrong in this act that we’d consider mass murder. After all, as is mentioned several times during the trial, “it’s like throwing horses overboard” – and business is business.
Mr. Southouse, while not without compassion, has no qualms about the whole affair, unlike Mr. Garrow, who slowly realises that, no matter which side he’ll be on in this court case, it will be the wrong one.
Eventually, he’s approached by the freedman Gustavus Vassa (outstanding: Danny Sapani), who wants to see Captain Collingwood prosecuted for murder. He tells Garrow of his own experiences, the atrocious conditions aboard a hulk ship, and hopes to win Garrow for his case.
Southouse explains that such an approach would be impossible, as “cargo can’t be murdered, there’s no difference to other property like cattle or horses”. Because “maritime cargo is inanimate”.
Age of Enlightment, my arse…
While Garrow is sympathetic, he also tries to be realistic. If he can convince jury and judge to find Captain Collingwood guilty of insurance fraud, the consequence would be a slight improvement of the transport conditions of slaves. For Vassa, this is too small a step; he accuses Garrow of “inching towards justice, not demanding it”. Garrow, however, feels that winning this case would eventually save the lives of slaves, and that this outcome was the best they could hope for at this point in time.
Southouse sets off to Liverpool to interview James Kelsall (Colin Tierney), the first mate of the Zong, and gets to enjoy all the comforts of a lengthy travel by coach.
Upon his return, Southouse and Garrow discuss the case during a stroll in the park, and now look at this, they run into Lady Sarah again! Good grief, London really must have been a small place back in the days…
Meanwhile on the romance front, Sir Arthur Hill asks the nanny (Victoria Balnaves) of his son what she thinks of the baby’s appearance. He takes the girl’s assurance that the boy was “[moo-eyes and meaningful pause] very handsome, Sir, and very much in the way of his father!” as the final proof that young Samuel is not his son, but Garrow’s.
I still try to figure out in what universe this conclusion makes any sense, but then Sir Arthur seems to have undergone a very obscure change of his personality since the last series. He used to be jealous, and who could blame him, but he clearly loved his wife and he even (indirectly) helped Garrow in the last episode of S1, as his conscience didn’t allow him to act the way his peers wanted him to. Sir Arthur was a likeable character, and his reactions and emotions were understandable.
I admit that I don’t know much about the real Sir Arthur Hill; maybe he really turned into a delusional petty tyrant of a husband, but if that was the case, his transformation from gentleman to git sending his valet to spy on his wife, obsessed with the idea that he’s not the father of his child would have needed some sort of explanation for the audience. His wife hasn’t seen Garrow in months, it makes no sense. A part of the story is missing here, and as it is, one questions Sir Arthur’s sanity rather than Lady Sarah’s fidelity.
The case of the Zong progresses. Due to the sensitive nature of the case and in order to not give the abolitionists in London any material to further their cause, the government – represented by Viscount Melville (Stephen Boxer), with Sir Arthur Hill as his mouthpiece – wants to influence the outcome of the process. Sir Arthur tries to convince the insurance company to abandon the case, but – they’ve lost money! They want it back! And morals be damned, they don’t predict history but follow policy, by Jove!
Insurances, you’ll notice, haven’t changed much since the 18th century.
And while Garrow makes no secret of his dislike for his clients and assures Southouse that he will make the case “an issue” for the government, Sir Arthur Hill resorts to blackmail to get his wife back under his thumb. He asks her to spy on Garrow concerning the Zong-case, as a proof of her loyalty. Lady Sarah, under pressure and thinking of her child’s well-being, agrees.
Lady Sarah asks Garrow for a meeting, and of course he’s eager to see her again. He can’t help but wonder about her sudden change of mind and offer of friendship, though, and when she asks about the case, he instinctively evades her questions.
Garrow gets in touch with Gustavus Vassa; he wants him to make a witness’ statement in court, representing the 133 souls lost. Vassa tells Garrow in one of the most touching and shocking scenes of the episode about the humiliating “selection” process by potential buyers he had to endure. Eventually, he agrees to become a witness.
Meanwhile, Lady Sarah returns to her husband and tells him that she can’t spy on Garrow as it would be unjust. When he demands that her loyalty be to him, her husband, she insists that she must be true to herself first. That goes down about as well as you can expect, and Sir Arthur, increasingly erractic and incapable of understanding his wife’s inner conflict, sees her refusal as a proof of her love for Garrow and the illegitimacy of baby Samuel.
Viscount Melville, obviously not busy enough with intrigues and politics, feels compelled to mingle with the private life of Sir Arthur. Not out of the goodness of his heart, mind you – by ruining the reputation of Garrow the man, he can get rid of Garrow the barrister, who’s a thorn in his side and a pain in many backsides.
Melville gets Sir Arthur in touch with a particularly unpleasant attorney called Farmer (Anton Lesser), who gave me a bad flashback of Mr. Mercer in “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End”. I suspect they are cousins. Mr. Farmer is specialised in helping husbands to make their wives’ lives hell on earth. He advises Sir Arthur to demand a separation of bed and board; this would make a divorce and possible remarriage impossible. A devilishly clever and cruel way of punishment, as such an arrangement would leave Lady Sarah in a limbo; while disgraced by being kicked out of her husband’s house, she has no chance to get remarried and restore her reputation, which means ruin and disgrace in the society of the 18th century.
Mr. Southouse and Mr. Garrow get into a heated argument over the strategy for the process. Southouse can’t see the point of calling Gustavus Vassa in the witness stand, while Garrow feels that the man’s statement is vitally important for the case. Southouse protests: “I will not have this case sabotaged by pamphleteering and agitation,” to which Garrow says “and I will not have this prosecution ignore murder!” With that, Garrow takes a firm stand.
The argument is interrupted by the arrival of Lady Sarah Hill, who shows Garrow and Southouse the court citation she’s received. Southouse explains to her the dire consequences of Sir Arthur’s actions, and then leaves the two alone. Lady Sarah tells Garrow the reason for her husband’s jealousy, and informs him that she hasn’t come to ask for refuge or hide from disgrace, but rather that she will own it.
Later on, Sir Arthur informs his wife that he doesn’t want to see her anymore in his house upon his return from court, where the process against Captain Collingwood concerning the “insurance fraud” on the Zong begins.
Gustavus Vassa is called into the witness stand, and he talks in detail about the unimaginable, atrocious conditions and cruelty aboard a slave ship. A very intense, painful scene, which makes all the talk about “cargo” even more disgusting.
Mr. Silvester, however, can’t really see what Vassa’s statements have to do with the case in question – after all, this is about insurance fraud, and it’s legitimate to jettison cargo to save the crew.
Vassa cries that it’s never legitimate to murder, and Judge Buller orders him to curb his temper, to which Vassa says: “If I am angry, I’m a savage. If I’m sanguine, I’m not a man.” His words are not without impact on the audience, as the shocked expressions on many faces show, but Silvester explains in firm words and without emotions to the jury that “blacks are goods”, period, and goods can’t be murdered. Listening to his speech is a bizarre and horrifying experience, because by the laws of his time, Silvester was right.
By the laws and understanding of his time, Captain Collingwood acted in the best interested of the “cargo” owners. He threw the children and women, the sick and the old overboard; the compensation of the insurance company for those losses was higher than the possible sales price. He ensured that those slaves survived who could be sold at the highest price. The murder of 133 people – nothing but a business decision.
William Garrow is a man of the 18th century, too. And it’s one of the strengths of this series that Garrow fights the social ills of his time with the laws of his time. It would have been so easy to let him act like a man living in our times, making a flaming speech about human rights and the dignity of man. I have to compliment the makers of Garrow’s Law for avoiding this trap.
Still, the proof for the “insurance fraud” (and you have no idea how I hate to use that term in this connection) is missing. Luckily, Garrow takes a walk in the rain, which is yet another opportunity for the camera to use slow motion, just in case somebody might have missed that this is a Very Important Moment. It was like a music video for Pink Floyd’s “High Hopes”.
You see, there were water blotches in the journal of a crewman whose entries contradict the statements of Captain Collingwood. Standing in the rain, Garrow realises that it’s not possible that the Zong ran out of water supplies as it had been raining. In the end, the first mate of the Zong confirms this fact and the insurance fraud is proved.
Judge Buller’s remarks that “…legislation finds the time to regulate the manner of killing of a partridge, that no abuse be committed, that he be shot fairly – well, we shall let that be…” – this gives some insight into his own thoughts on the matter, as does the punishment he hands out. Once again, Judge Buller (Michael Culkin) is as unpredictable as the weather.
So the only question that remains is: will the jury see cargo or people? Will they punish insurance fraud or take a moral stand as well? I will not answer that question so not to spoil the ending for you, but if you know human nature, you can probably guess the outcome.
Series 2 of Garrow’s Law promises to be just as good as series 1. I love the show; excellent 18th century costume drama and the highest number of dashing gentlemen per square metre, who could ask for more?
Not everything is perfect, though: there’s the deconstruction of Sir Arthur Hill which I find rather confusing; far too many slow motion scenes which were probably thought to emphasise the significance of a moment but did little more than waltzing out the seconds and grate on my nerves.
And then there’s “Gustavus Vassa”: this was the name forced on Olaudah Equiano by his “owner”, Lieutenant Pascal of the Royal Navy; a name he only accepted under great pressure, so I was surprised his real name wasn’t used in this episode.
As a person living in the 21st century, it’s almost impossible to wrap one’s brain around the mindset that made slavery possible and even saw it as an “advantage” for society. Portraying a horrific issue like slavery is tricky business. Many will say that “Garrow’s Law” didn’t deal with this matter the “right” way, that a more in-depth approach should have been taken. I can understand that criticism, but I don’t know if you can actually really “do it right”.
What I do know, though, is that it’s important, so very important to educate people, especially the younger generation, not only about the “glorious” past, but also about the atrocities mankind is capable of. Maybe it could have been done better, but Danny Sapani’s performance in this episode has probably left a deeper impression in many than most school books. Chapeau, good Sir.
Mark Pallis has posted an extensive link list about The Zong and slavery.
Tony Marchant blogs about writing “Garrow’s Law”.
Daily Record: Interview with Andrew Buchan
Mark Pallis talks about Garrow’s Law in The Guardian
The Stage: Lyndsey Marshal joins fight for older women’s roles
First: thanks a lot to the visitors of this blog who are not as enthusiastic about the return of “Garrow’s Law” as I am for their patience. We’ll return to our regular 18th century / Georgian Royal Navy schedule very soon. A lot of interesting information plus the traditional Christmas Contest are lined up for posting, so please don’t abandon ship yet, or you might miss “Knit your own 18th Century Naval Officer”!
Second: Yes, I will again review each episode of “Garrow’s Law”, as I’ve done last year. If you’re looking for the old reviews or anything else Garrow-related, please choose “Garrow’s Law” in the “category” field in the navigation bar.
Third: Oh you people of great taste who have come here looking for Andrew Buchan: please click here if you can’t find what you’re looking for.
THE HATS GET BIGGER, SO DO THE HEADS…
With the return of “Garrow’s Law” this upcoming Sunday (9pm, BBC1, HD) on the horizon, TV mags and online newsies all over the place are covering the show.
Garrow’s Law heart-throb Andrew Buchan chats about the return of the drama series.
Heart-throb?! Cringe, groan, shudder. I’ll be working, but if you can, tune in!
I’ve been making The Nativity for the BBC, playing Joseph which has been great — and as a bonus the costumes are so much easier to wear than the breeches and garters of Georgian times.
Try wearing stays and bum-pads for a day, dear Sir, then we can talk!
For the historical background, please visit Old Bailey Online. Abandon all hope, ye who enter, for you shall get lost in the archives and stay in fascinated awe.
Last but not least: Garrow’s Law on the BBC website.