The hatred of Sir George evidently stemmed from his refusal Rochester to pay the debts of his aristocratic wife (their mother), the feckless Lady Ida, allowing her, as a consequence, to languish for three months as a bankrupt in Holloway prison. Part Rochester of the effort the siblings made over the years was evidently intended to restore the family name, which, at least in the celebrity sense, they clearly did. It’s said that one reason Sir George was so bonkers was that a Rochester chef he’d hired mistook his instructions and Rochester served him a fricassee of his favourite kitten (not chicken) for dinner, but it’s likely that there were more substantial causes.
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Both Osbert and Sacheverell served on the First World War Western Front and survived, but only Sacheverell (best known for his still respected travel books) married and had children. Always clad in black and channelling the virgin Queen Elizabeth 1 in (according to her archenemy Noel Coward) more than one respect, the most dramatic was the tall, angular Dame Edith. Among her innovative output is Façade (1922), which, read to a background of music composed by William Walton, includes the poem ‘Trio for Two Cats and a Trombone’. A poet of consequence, she can still seem relevant when, in the poem ‘Waltz’, for example, she skewers poor ‘Daisy and Lily’ (were they based on real people she knew and loathed?) for their dedication to fashion and triviality.
But the coolest cats with a strong Scarborough connection are neither fashionable nor felines. Protected by a rocky headland, Scarborough’s constructed harbour provided a safe haven from Atlantic storms for the eighteenth century coal and timber ships (CATS) that, by 1800, were carrying two million tons of coal a year from the mines of Newcastle to London. The effect of fossil fuel burning on our atmosphere goes back well beyond the beginning in the 1880s of the instrumental global temperature records! Built in Scarborough and Whitby to load and unload on sloping beaches, the robust, beamy, flat-bottomed CATS could be sailed in close at high water to then settle on the sand as the tide ran out.
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