Thursday, 17 August 2017

The Best Polo in the World | Argentina 2017 | Polo | HD

British settlers in the Argentine pampas started practising it during their free time. Among them, David Shennan is credited with having organised the first formal polo game of the country in 1875, at Estancia El Negrete, located in the province of Buenos Aires.

The sport spread fast between the skilful gauchos and several clubs opened in the following years in the towns of Venado Tuerto, Cañada de Gómez, Quilmes, Flores and later (1888) Hurlingham. In 1892 The River Plate Polo Association was founded and constituted the basis for the current Asociación Argentina de Polo. In the Olympic Games held in Paris in 1924 a team composed by Juan Miles, Enrique Padilla, Juan Nelson, Arturo Kenny, G. Brooke Naylor and A. Peña obtained the first gold medal for the country's olympic history; this also occurred in Berlín 1936 with players Manuel Andrada, Andrés Gazzotti, Roberto Cavanagh, Luis Duggan, Juan Nelson, Diego Cavanagh and Enrique Alberdi.

From then on, the game spread powerfully across the country and Argentina is credited globally as the mecca of polo, mainly because Argentina is notably the country with the largest number ever of 10 handicap players in the world.

Five great teams were able to ensemble together four 10 handicap players in order to make a 40 handicap team: Coronel Suárez, 1975, 1977–1979 (Alberto Heguy, Juan Carlos Harriott, Alfredo Harriot and Horacio Heguy); La Espadaña, 1989–1990 (Carlos Gracida, Gonzalo Pieres, Alfonso Pieres y Ernesto Trotz Jr.); Indios Chapaleufú, 1992–1993 (Bautista Heguy, Gonzalo Heguy, Horacio Heguy Jr. and Marcos Heguy); La Dolfina, 2009–2010 (Adolfo Cambiaso Jr., Lucas Monteverde, Mariano Aguerre y Bartolomé Castagnola); Ellerstina, 2009 (Facundo Pieres, Gonzalo Pieres Jr., Pablo Mac Donough and Juan Martín Nero).

Argentina was host of the ninth edition of the World Polo Championship (for teams of up to 14 goals) at the Estancia Grande Polo Club, in the province of San Luis in October 2011.

The three major polo tournaments in Argentina, known as "Triple Corona" ("Triple Crown"), are Hurlingham Polo Open, Tortugas Polo Open, Palermo Polo Open. Polo season usually last from October to December.

Polo then found popularity throughout the rest of the Americas like Brazil, Chile, Mexico, and the United States of America.

Friday, 11 August 2017


A duel is an arranged engagement in combat between two individuals, with matched weapons, in accordance with agreed-upon rules. Duels in this form were chiefly practiced in early modern Europe with precedents in the medieval code of chivalry, and continued into the modern period (19th to early 20th centuries) especially among military officers.
During the 17th and 18th centuries (and earlier), duels were mostly fought with swords (the rapier, and later the smallsword), but beginning in the late 18th century in England, duels were more commonly fought using pistols. Fencing and pistol duels continued to co-exist throughout the 19th century.
The duel was based on a code of honor. Duels were fought not so much to kill the opponent as to gain "satisfaction", that is, to restore one's honor by demonstrating a willingness to risk one's life for it, and as such the tradition of dueling was originally reserved for the male members of nobility; however, in the modern era it extended to those of the upper classes generally. On rare occasions, duels with pistols or swords were fought between women; these were sometimes known as petticoat duels.
Legislation against dueling goes back to the medieval period. The Fourth Council of the Lateran (1215) outlawed duels, and civil legislation in the Holy Roman Empire against dueling was passed in the wake of the Thirty Years' War. From the early 17th century, duels became illegal in the countries where they were practiced. Dueling largely fell out of favor in England by the mid-19th century and in Continental Europe by the turn of the 20th century. Dueling declined in the Eastern United States in the 19th century and by the time the American Civil War broke out, dueling had begun to decline, even in the South. Public opinion, not legislation, caused the change.
In Western society, the formal concept of a duel developed out of the medieval judicial duel and older pre-Christian practices such as the Viking Age holmgang. In Medieval society, judicial duels were fought by knights and squires to end various disputes. Countries like Germany, United Kingdom, and Ireland practiced this tradition. Judicial combat took two forms in medieval society, the feat of arms and chivalric combat. The feat of arms was used to settle hostilities between two large parties and supervised by a judge. The battle was fought as a result of a slight or challenge to one party's honor which could not be resolved by a court. Weapons were standardized and typical of a knight's armoury, for example longswords, polearms etc., however, weapon quality and augmentations were at the discretion of the knight, for example, a spiked hand guard for or an extra grip for half-swording. The parties involved would wear their own armour, one knight may choose to wear full plate armour, whilst another wears chain mail. The duel lasted until the other party was too weak to fight back. In early cases, the defeated party was then executed. These type of duels soon evolved into the more chivalric pas d'armes, or "passage of arms", a type of chivalric hastilude that evolved in the late 14th century and remained popular through the 15th century. A knight or group of knights (tenans or "holders") would stake out a travelled spot, such as a bridge or city gate, and let it be known that any other knight who wished to pass (venans or "comers") must first fight, or be disgraced.. If a traveling venans did not have weapons or horse to meet the challenge, one might be provided, and if the venans chose not to fight, he would leave his spurs behind as a sign of humiliation. If a lady passed unescorted, she would leave behind a glove or scarf, to be rescued and returned to her by a future knight who passed that way.

The Roman Catholic Church was critical of dueling throughout medieval history, frowning both on the traditions of judicial combat and on the duel on points of honor among the nobility. Judicial duels were deprecated by the Lateran Council of 1215, but the judicial duel persisted in the Holy Roman Empire into the 15th century. The word duel comes from the Latin 'duellum', cognate with 'bellum', meaning 'war'.

During the early Renaissance, dueling established the status of a respectable gentleman, and was an accepted manner to resolve disputes.
Dueling remained highly popular in European society, despite various attempts at banning the practice.
According to Ariel Roth, during the reign of Henry IV, over 4,000 French aristocrats were killed in duels "in an eighteen-year period" while a twenty-year period of Louis XIII's reign saw some eight thousand pardons for "murders associated with duels". Roth also notes that thousands of men in the Southern United States "died protecting what they believed to be their honor."

The first published code duello, or "code of dueling", appeared in Renaissance Italy. The first formalized national code was France's, during the Renaissance. In 1777, a code of practice was drawn up for the regulation of duels, at the Summer assizes in the town of Clonmel, County Tipperary, Ireland. A copy of the code, known as 'The twenty-six commandments', was to be kept in a gentleman's pistol case for reference should a dispute arise regarding procedure. During the Early Modern period, there were also various attempts by secular legislators to curb the practice. Queen Elizabeth I officially condemned and outlawed dueling in 1571, shortly after the practice had been introduced to England.

However, the tradition had become deeply rooted in European culture as a prerogative of the aristocracy, and these attempts largely failed. For example, King Louis XIII of France outlawed dueling in 1626, a law which remained in force for ever afterwards, and his successor Louis XIV intensified efforts to wipe out the duel. Despite these efforts, dueling continued unabated, and it is estimated that between 1685 and 1716, French officers fought 10,000 duels, leading to over 400 deaths.

By the late 18th century, Enlightenment era values began to influence society with new self-conscious ideas about politeness, civil behaviour and new attitudes towards violence. The cultivated art of politeness demanded that there should be no outward displays of anger or violence, and the concept of honour became more personalized.

By the 1770s the practice of dueling was increasingly coming under attack from many sections of enlightened society, as a violent relic of Europe's medieval past unsuited for modern life. As England began to industrialize and benefit from urban planning and more effective police forces, the culture of street violence in general began to slowly wane. The growing middle class maintained their reputation with recourse to either bringing charges of libel, or to the fast-growing print media of the early nineteenth century, where they could defend their honour and resolve conflicts through correspondence in newspapers.

Influential new intellectual trends at the turn of the nineteenth century bolstered the anti-dueling campaign; the utilitarian philosophy of Jeremy Bentham stressed that praiseworthy actions were exclusively restricted to those that maximize human welfare and happiness, and the Evangelical notion of the "Christian conscience" began to actively promote social activism. Individuals in the Clapham Sect and similar societies, who had successfully campaigned for the abolition of slavery, condemned dueling as ungodly violence and as an egocentric culture of honour.

Dueling became popular in the United States – the former United States Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton was killed in a duel against the sitting Vice President Aaron Burr in 1804. Between 1798 and the Civil War, the US Navy lost two-thirds as many officers to dueling as it did in combat at sea, including naval hero Stephen Decatur. Many of those killed or wounded were midshipmen or junior officers. Despite prominent deaths, dueling persisted because of contemporary ideals of chivalry, particularly in the South, and because of the threat of ridicule if a challenge was rejected.

By about 1770, the duel underwent a number of important changes in England. Firstly, unlike their counterparts in many continental nations, English duelists enthusiastically adopted the pistol, and sword duels dwindled. Special sets of dueling pistols were crafted for the wealthiest of noblemen for this purpose. Also, the office of 'second' developed into 'seconds' or 'friends' being chosen by the aggrieved parties to conduct their honour dispute. These friends would attempt to resolve a dispute upon terms acceptable to both parties and, should this fail, they would arrange and oversee the mechanics of the encounter.

In the United Kingdom, to kill in the course of a duel was formally judged as murder, but generally the courts were very lax in applying the law, as they were sympathetic to the culture of honour..This attitude lingered on – Queen Victoria even expressed a hope that Lord Cardigan, prosecuted for wounding another in a duel, "would get off easily". The Anglican Church was generally hostile to dueling, but non-conformist sects in particular began to actively campaign against it.

By 1840, dueling had declined dramatically; when the 7th Earl of Cardigan was acquitted on a legal technicality for homicide in connection with a duel with one of his former officers, outrage was expressed in the media, with The Times alleging that there was deliberate, high level complicity to leave the loop-hole in the prosecution case and reporting the view that "in England there is one law for the rich and another for the poor" and The Examiner describing the verdict as "a defeat of justice".

The last fatal duel between Englishmen in England occurred in 1845, when James Alexander Seton had an altercation with Henry Hawkey over the affections of his wife, leading to a duel at Southsea. However, the last fatal duel to occur in England was between two French political refugees, Frederic Cournet and Emmanuel Barthélemy near Englefield Green in 1852; the former was killed. In both cases, the winners of the duels, Hawkey and Barthélemy, were tried for murder. But Hawkey was acquitted and Barthélemy was convicted only of manslaughter; he served seven months in prison. However, in 1855, Barthélemy was hanged after shooting and killing his employer and another man.

Dueling also began to be criticized in America in the late 18th century; Benjamin Franklin denounced the practice as uselessly violent, and George Washington encouraged his officers to refuse challenges during the American Revolutionary War because he believed that the death by dueling of officers would have threatened the success of the war effort. However, the practice actually gained in popularity in the first half of the nineteenth century especially in the South and on the lawless Western Frontier. Dueling began an irreversible decline in the aftermath of the Civil War. Even in the South, public opinion increasingly came to regard the practice as little more than bloodshed.

The most notorious American duel was the Burr–Hamilton duel, in which notable Federalist and former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton was fatally wounded by his political rival, the sitting Vice President of the United States Aaron Burr. This duel was reenacted in the musical Hamilton to the song "The World Was Wide Enough".

Another American politician, Andrew Jackson, later to serve as a General Officer in the U.S. Army and to become the seventh president, fought two duels, though some legends claim he fought many more. On May 30, 1806, he killed prominent duellist Charles Dickinson, suffering himself from a chest wound which caused him a lifetime of pain. Jackson also reportedly engaged in a bloodless duel with a lawyer and in 1803 came very near dueling with John Sevier. Jackson also engaged in a frontier brawl (not a duel) with Thomas Hart Benton in 1813.

On September 22, 1842, future President Abraham Lincoln, at the time an Illinois state legislator, met to duel with state auditor James Shields, but their seconds intervened and persuaded them against it.

On 30 May 1832, French mathematician Évariste Galois was mortally wounded in a duel at the age of twenty, the day after he had written his seminal mathematical results.

Irish political leader Daniel O'Connell killed John D'Esterre in a duel in February 1815. O'Connel offered D'Esterre's widow a pension equal to the amount her husband had been earning at the time, but the Corporation of Dublin, of which D'Esterre was a member, rejected O'Connell's offer and voted the promised sum to D'Esterre's wife themselves. However, D'Esterre's wife consented to accept an allowance for her daughter, which O'Connell regularly paid for more than thirty years until his death. The memory of the duel haunted him for the remainder of his life.

In 1808, two Frenchmen are said to have fought in balloons over Paris, each attempting to shoot and puncture the other's balloon. One duellist is said to have been shot down and killed with his second.

In 1843, two other Frenchmen are said to have fought a duel by means of throwing billiard balls at each other.

The Russian poet Alexander Pushkin prophetically described a number of duels in his works, notably Onegin's duel with Lensky in Eugene Onegin. The poet was mortally wounded in a controversial duel with Georges d'Anthès, a French officer rumoured to be his wife's lover. D'Anthès, who was accused of cheating in this duel, married Pushkin's sister-in-law and went on to become a French minister and senator.

In 1864, American writer Mark Twain, then a contributor to the New York Sunday Mercury, narrowly avoided fighting a duel with a rival newspaper editor, apparently through the intervention of his second, who exaggerated Twain's prowess with a pistol.

In the 1860s, Otto von Bismarck was reported to have challenged Rudolf Virchow to a duel. Virchow, being entitled to choose the weapons, chose two pork sausages, one infected with the roundworm Trichinella; the two would each choose and eat a sausage. Bismarck reportedly declined. The story could be apocryphal, however.

Duels had mostly ceased to be fought to the death by the late 19th century. The last known fatal duel in Ontario was in Perth, in 1833, when Robert Lyon challenged John Wilson to a pistol duel after a quarrel over remarks made about a local school teacher, whom Wilson married after Lyon was killed in the duel. Victoria, BC was known to have been the centre of at least two duels near the time of the gold rush. One involved a British arrival by the name of George Sloane, and an American, John Liverpool, both arriving via San Francisco in 1858. Duel by pistols, Sloane was fatally injured and Liverpool shortly returned to the US. The fight originally started on board the ship over a young woman, Miss Bradford, and then carried on later in Victoria's tent city.[36] Another duel, involving a Mr. Muir, took place around 1861, but was moved to an American island near Victoria.

The last fatal duel in England took place on Priest Hill, between Englefield Green and Old Windsor, on 19 October 1852, between two French political exiles, Frederic Cournet and Emmanuel Barthélemy, the former being killed.

By the outbreak of World War I, dueling had not only been made illegal almost everywhere in the Western world, but was also widely seen as an anachronism. Military establishments in most countries frowned on dueling because officers were the main contestants. Officers were often trained at military academies at government's expense; when officers killed or disabled one another it imposed an unnecessary financial and leadership strain on a military organization, making dueling unpopular with high-ranking officers.

With the end of the duel, the dress sword also lost its position as an indispensable part of a gentleman's wardrobe, a development described as an "archaeological terminus" by Ewart Oakeshott, concluding the long period during which the sword had been a visible attribute of the free man, beginning as early as three millennia ago with the Bronze Age sword.

The Duellists - Ultra Realistic Movie Sword Fight

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know: The Extraordinary Exploits of the British and European Aristocracy by Karl Shaw / London in the Eighteenth Century: A Great and Monstrous Thing by Jerry White

Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know: The Extraordinary Exploits of the British and European Aristocracy
by Karl Shaw

The alarming history of the British, and European, aristocracy - from Argyll to Wellington and from Byron to Tolstoy, stories of madness, murder, misery, greed and profligacy.
From Regency playhouses, to which young noblemen would go simply in order to insult someone to provoke a duel that might further their reputation, to the fashionable gambling clubs or 'hells' which were springing up around St James's in the mid-eighteenth century, the often bizarre doings of aristocrats.
An eighteenth-century English gentleman was required to have what was known as 'bottom', a shipping metaphor that referred to stability. Taking part in a duel was a bold statement that you had bottom. William Petty, 2nd Earl of Shelburne certainly had bottom, if not a complete set of gonads following his duel with Colonel Fullarton, MP for Plympton. Both men missed with their first shots, but the colonel fired again and shot off Shelborne's right testicle. Despite being hit, Shelborne deliberately discharged his second shot in the air. When asked how he was, the injured Earl coolly observed his wound and said, 'I don't think Lady Shelborne will be the worse for it.'
The cast of characters includes imperious, hard-drinking and highly volatile Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe, who is remembered today as much for his brilliant scientific career as his talent for getting involved in bizarre mishaps, such as his death as a result of his burst bladder; the Marquess of Queensberry, a side-whiskered psychopath, who, on a luxury steamboat in Brazil, in a row with a fellow passenger over the difference between emus and ostriches, and knocked him out cold; and Thomas, 2nd Baron Lyttelton, a Georgian rake straight out of central casting, who ran up enormous gambling debts, fought duels, frequented brothels and succumbed to drug and alcohol addiction.
Often, such rakes would be swiftly packed off on a Grand Tour in the hope that travel would bring about maturity. It seldom did.

London in the eighteenth century was very much a new city, risen from the ashes of the Great Fire. With thousands of homes and many landmark buildings destroyed, it had been brought to the brink. But the following century was a period of vigorous expansion, of scientific and artistic genius, of blossoming reason, civility, elegance and manners. It was also an age of extremes: of starving poverty and exquisite fashion, of joy and despair, of sentiment and cruelty. Society was fractured by geography, politics, religion and history. And everything was complicated by class. As Daniel Defoe put it, London really was a 'great and monstrous Thing'.

Jerry White's tremendous portrait of this turbulent century explores how and to what extent Londoners negotiated and repaired these open wounds. We see them going about their business as bankers or beggars, revelling in an enlarging world of public pleasures, indulging in crimes both great and small - amidst the tightening sinews of power and regulation, and the hesitant beginnings of London democracy.
In the long-awaited finale to his acclaimed history of London over 300 years, Jerry White introduces us to shopkeepers and prostitutes, men and women of fashion and genius, street-robbers and thief-takers, as they play out the astonishing drama of life in eighteenth-century London.

London in the Eighteenth Century: A Great and Monstrous Thing by Jerry White – review
Jerry White's study of Georgian London depicts a city teeming with sex and violence

Robert McCrum
Sunday 25 March 2012 00.05 GMT First published on Sunday 25 March 2012 00.05 GMT

Britain and London are virtually synonymous in the eyes of the world. The eve of the Olympics is a good time to go back to the century that saw the making of Britannia and the London we walk and live in today. Jerry White's history of 18th-century London is the culmination of two previous volumes about London in the 19th and 20th centuries. This new book finds him inspired by the city that Daniel Defoe identified as "this great and monstrous Thing called London".

In 1700, it was divided, in separations that linger, into three: the City (London), the court (Westminster and St James's) and south of the river (Southwark). The essayist Joseph Addison, in 1712, looked on it as "an aggregate of various nations distinguished from each other by their respective customs, manners an interests". In 1700, its population numbered about half a million, swelling to approximately 750,000 by 1750 and roughly a million by 1800. By contrast, England's second city, Bristol, had scarcely 30,000 inhabitants.

London was not just staggeringly larger than anywhere else, it was also a vivid new metropolis, much of it in soft pink brick. The Great Fire of 1666 had left more than half of the old city in smouldering ruins. After the union with Scotland, the capital became the outward sign of British prosperity and self-confidence. And the people most attracted to it, for its teeming opportunities, were the Scots.

Georgian London became a Scottish city. Its main architect, James Gibbs, was Scottish. So was the circle that formed around the young George III. That great Londoner, Samuel Johnson, loved to goad the Scots, but his amanuensis, James Boswell, was one himself, and so were five of the six assistants on his famous Dictionary. Scots in the capital often attracted hostility. When officers in highland dress appeared at Covent Garden, the upper gallery yelled: "No Scots! No Scots!" and pelted them with apples.

In other ways, Britannia's London was more extreme but not so different from our own: prey to rioting, seething with sex and violence. Visitors to London, appalled by the atmosphere, also noted what one described as "the vast number of harlots" roaming the streets by night. London was the sex capital of Europe, but hardly uplifting. "She was ugly and lean," wrote James Boswell of one encounter in the park, "and her breath smelt of spirits. I never asked her name. When it was done, she slunk off."

White's account is not exactly new. Much of this book reads like an animated Hogarth cartoon. But he has uncovered a wealth of evidence to sustain a portrait of a society revelling in money and pleasure in ways that recall the excesses of the 1980s.

Contemporaries saw the city as a marketplace for every kind of trade. In the mixing of vice and fashion, there were remarkable social consequences at work, too. White argues persuasively that historians have paid insufficient attention to the role of prostitution in the rise of democracy. It's a pleasing picture that while the women of the town flirtatiously dissolved the bonds of deference, London became a democratic crucible.

But there was a dark side. "Crime and criminals," says White, "knew no bounds of rank in 18th-century London." Suicide was common, executions a public spectacle. Violent property crime rose. In 1780, with the outbreak of the Gordon riots, London seemed on the brink of civil war.

In early June, the mob attacked 10 Downing Street and then moved on to batter the city's prisons, destroying Newgate. It has been calculated that these riots destroyed 10 times more property than was destroyed in Paris during the entire French revolution.

The repression of the 1790s was the response of an establishment reasserting state control. The French revolution and the wars that followed loosened the city's devotion to popular democracy and brought merchants and courtiers from the east and west ends into a loyal alliance behind the throne. London had become the world capital it remains today.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Robert Hardy obituary

Robert Hardy obituary
Actor who starred on TV in All Creatures Great and Small and became associated with the role of Winston Churchill

Michael Coveney
Thursday 3 August 2017 18.01 BST Last modified on Thursday 3 August 2017 22.00 BST

Robert Hardy, who has died aged 91, was one of the most instantly recognisable and authoritative actors of the past half-century on television, especially in the role of Winston Churchill – whom he played in at least eight incarnations – and as Siegfried Farnon, the senior vet in the long-running BBC series All Creatures Great and Small, based on the semi-autobiographical novels of James Herriot.

Leading actors have often become associated with living characters – Michael Sheen with Tony Blair, for instance, or Meryl Streep with Margaret Thatcher – but Hardy relished the challenge of playing a historical figment, someone already lodged in his own mythology, though he did happen to know, and became a personal friend of, Herriot’s veterinary colleague, the eccentric Donald Sinclair, the acknowledged basis and inspiration of Farnon’s character.

“The great joy of acting,” he said, “is getting into the part, which is why I enjoy playing people who actually lived.” His patrician manner and gloriously disdainful bearing meant that he specialised in high-born politicians, diplomats and royalty: Prince Albert, Gordon of Khartoum, Mussolini, several Shakespearean kings and Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, all fell naturally within his compass. He played the last of these, the doomed favourite of Glenda Jackson’s austere Virgin Queen, in the great 1971 BBC six-part series Elizabeth R. For a time, if there was a “class” series or TV film to be made – An Age of Kings, a decade earlier; Edward the Seventh (starring Timothy West; Hardy was consort to Annette Crosbie’s Queen Victoria) in 1975 – Hardy’s very presence was guarantee of its quality.

But his range was not confined to costume drama. He played in countless contemporary works on television, though he never gained a foothold in Hollywood. He was probably, at that time, too crusty – his voice, which stung as much as it sang, had the distinctive, dry property of superior sandpaper – and he was too rigidly clubbable and respectable for Hollywood’s idea of a “gentleman” in the raffish style of Rex Harrison or David Niven.

His early career as a leading light at both Stratford-upon-Avon and the Old Vic, though, suggested he might follow his great friend Richard Burton to even greater glory. He was the first David Copperfield on BBC TV (in 1956), and a fiery Prince Hal and Henry V at the Old Vic – in this role he developed what became a lifelong interest in the history of the longbow – and you could say that he spent the rest of his life adapting his golden boy pre-eminence to lesser, and then older, character parts.

Hardy’s background defined a personality which, he admitted on Desert Island Discs in 2011 (“Music is a constant in my life, my head is filled with it”), came with a spine of steel and a streak of ruthlessness. His choice of records included Beethoven, Poulenc, Berlioz, Sibelius – and Pearl Bailey singing What Is a Friend For? He was prickly to a fault and, by his own admission, “difficult to live with”. There was always a sense of danger in his acting: he was like a corked bottle of combustible gas.
Born in Cheltenham, he was the youngest of six children of Major Henry Harrison Hardy, headmaster of Cheltenham college, and his wife, Edith (nee Dugdale), and was educated, after prep school (“absolute hell”), at Rugby and Magdalen College, Oxford, where his tutors were CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien. Still, his degree was “shabby”, and he pitched straight into the professional theatre in a spirit of rebellion, having split his time at Oxford – where he played Fortinbras in Kenneth Tynan’s First Quarto Hamlet in 1948 – with a period of service in the RAF.

He made his professional debut at the Memorial theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1949, touring to Australia as Banquo in Macbeth, and making his first London mark as Claudio in John Gielgud’s revival of Much Ado About Nothing at the Phoenix in 1952. His star rose at the Old Vic in three seasons, 1953-56, when he played Laertes to Richard Burton’s Hamlet and Claire Bloom’s Ophelia; Ariel in the Tempest; Dumaine in Love’s Labour’s Lost; and a dashing Prince Hal to Paul Rogers’s Falstaff.

After West End stints in The Caine Mutiny Court Martial, and as Lord Byron in Tennessee Williams’s Camino Real, he returned to Stratford in 1959, playing a highly rated, viciously evil Edmund to Charles Laughton’s King Lear; the King of France in All’s Well That Ends Well; and a devious tribune alongside Laurence Olivier’s Coriolanus.

Thus established, he launched his notable television career alongside seasons at the Bristol Old Vic and in the West End, playing the Count in Jean Anouilh’s The Rehearsal and, in 1963, the adulterous wine merchant in Iris Murdoch’s A Severed Head at the Criterion. One of his most glittering performances came in 1967, as Sir Harry Wildair in the George Farquhar Restoration comedy The Constant Couple at the New (now the Noël Coward) theatre.

For five years in the late 1960s, he appeared as a thrusting oil-company executive in the BBC’s groundbreaking The Troubleshooters, a series that started in black and white and ended in colour. This was an immensely popular programme, with gripping plotlines of global espionage, free-market enterprise, middle-aged testosterone, internal politics and dangers on the North Sea oil rigs.

After that, Hardy did not expect All Creatures Great and Small to be a success; he thought it would “bore the town and annoy the country”. Instead, it played in all for 90 episodes between 1978 and 1990. He also fitted in eight episodes of The Wilderness Years in 1981; his portrait of Churchill between the wars, reclaiming his “lost” career before going to the Admiralty in 1939, remains a highlight of TV acting, vigorous, peppery, lovable and bullish, but not remotely an “impersonation”, honoured with a Bafta award.

That portrait hardened into something more like mimicry in a feeble musical, Winnie, at the Victoria Palace in 1988; Hardy did little more than intone highlights from the great speeches as part of a wartime cabaret in bombed-out Potsdam to launch the 1945 general election campaign. His other Churchills included an appearance in the television abdication drama The Woman He Loved (1988), and the miniseries War and Remembrance (also 1988), starring Robert Mitchum as a second world war naval officer. He played Churchill in French, in Paris, in a play called Celui Qui A Dit Non (1999). His last, seriously ailing Churchill was in Marion Milne’s TV movie Churchill: 100 Days That Saved Britain (2015), with Phil Davis as his physician, Charles McMoran Wilson, and Jemma Redgrave as Clementine.

Hardy’s West End adieu had been in Roy Kendall’s Body and Soul (1992), an old-fashioned problem play – the “problem” being the ordination of women into the Church of England – in which he bristled with charm and alertness as an astonished bishop whose vicar, Christopher, has returned to the parish after a sex change.

 Before then, he popped up on film in Alan Bridges’ The Shooting Party (1985), with a deluxe cast of James Mason, Edward Fox, Dorothy Tutin and Gielgud, and in David Hare’s Paris by Night (1988), a political thriller led by Charlotte Rampling and Michael Gambon. His Indian summer in British-based movies continued in Kenneth Branagh’s Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994), Ang Lee’s Sense and Sensibility (1995), Mrs Dalloway (1997) with Vanessa Redgrave, The Tichborne Claimant (1998) and Oliver Parker’s An Ideal Husband (1999), lining up alongside Cate Blanchett, Minnie Driver, Rupert Everett and John Wood.

No surprise at all, then, that he joined in the Harry Potter film franchise, appearing in four of the series, starting with the second, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002), as Cornelius Fudge, the Minister of Magic.

Hardy’s book about his passion, The Longbow (1976), is a standard work on the subject, and he co-authored another volume, The Great Warbow, in 2004. He served as a trustee of the board of the Royal Armouries, chairman of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Naturalists’ Trust Appeal and as a member of the Woodmen of Arden. He held several honorary degrees and was made CBE in 1981.

He was twice married, first to Elizabeth Fox, and second to Sally Pearson, both marriages ending in divorce. He is survived by a son, Paul, from the first and two daughters, Emma and Justine, from the second.

• Timothy Sydney Robert Hardy, actor, born 29 October 1925; died 3 August 2017

Robert Hardy, Harry Potter actor, dies at 91
Star’s 70-year career included roles as Cornelius Fudge, Churchill, and Siegfried Farnon in All Creatures Great and Small

Mark Brown Arts correspondent
Thursday 3 August 2017 16.42 BST First published on Thursday 3 August 2017 16.32 BST

The Harry Potter actor Robert Hardy has died at the age of 91, his family has said.

They paid tribute to an actor whose theatre, film and television career spanned 70 years.

His children – Emma, Justine and Paul – said: “Gruff, elegant, twinkly, and always dignified, he is celebrated by all who knew him and loved him, and everyone who enjoyed his work.

“We are immensely grateful to the team at Denville Hall [a London retirement home for actors] for the tender care they gave during his last weeks.”

Hardy was also known for his many portrayals of Winston Churchill and as the irascible vet Siegfried Farnon in All Creatures Great and Small.

His early years as an actor were at the Shakespeare Memorial theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon where, while playing Henry V, he developed what became a lifelong interest in the longbow, later publishing two books on the subject.

In his later career, Hardy played Cornelius Fudge, in the Harry Potter movies about the boy wizard, but he came to national attention in 1977 when he was offered the role of the mercurial, cantankerous Siegfried in All Creatures Great and Small, based on the memoirs of the Yorkshire vet Alf Wright who used the pseudonym James Herriot. The stories and chemistry between the actors helped it become one of the BBC’s most successful and popular family evening dramas.

His co-star Christopher Timothy paid tribute to Hardy saying: “He has left an unbelievable legacy of fantastic work for many generations to enjoy and appreciate. A fascinating man, he didn’t suffer fools I can tell you, but he was a good fellow.”

JK Rowling also shared her memories of working with Hardy on the film adaptations of her Harry Potter books. She wrote: “So very sad to hear about Robert Hardy. He was such a talented actor and everybody who worked with him on Potter loved him.”

Hardy played Churchill on numerous occasions, notably in the 1981 ITV series Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years for which he won a Bafta.

In 2015 Hardy, writing in the Daily Mail, said portraying the wartime leader had “undoubtedly been the greatest challenge of my acting career … To prepare I spent nine months listening - morning, afternoon and evening – to 24 double-sided long playing records of all the speeches he’d made. By the end of those nine months I could tell which of the recordings Churchill had made before lunch, and which he’d made after!”

Hardy had been due to play Churchill once again in the stage production of The Audience, with Helen Mirren as Elizabeth II, but, at the age of 87, was forced to pull out because of injury.

His family said Hardy was a “meticulous linguist, a fine artist, a lover of music and a champion of literature, as well as a highly respected historian. He was an essential part of the team that raised the great Tudor warship the Mary Rose”.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

The Nato Strap / G10 Military Nylon Strap

 (…) “Interestingly enough, the term “NATO strap” came into use as a shortened version of NATO Stocking Number (NSN), and otherwise has very little to do with the strap carrying its namesake. The more appropriate name for the “NATO” strap is actually the “G10” — which is how we’ll refer to it from here. In 1973, “Strap, Wrist Watch” made its debut in the British Ministry of Defence Standard (DefStan) 66-15. For soldiers to get their hands on one, they had to fill out a form known as the G1098, or G10 for short. Subsequently, they could retrieve the strap at their unit’s supply store of the same name.

Though DefStan’s name for the strap was decidedly nondescript, its specifications were distinct and specific. MoD-issued G10 straps were nylon, only made in “Admiralty Grey” with a width of 20mm, and had chrome-plated brass buckle and keepers. Another key trait was a second, shorter piece of nylon strap attached to the buckle. Since the strap was to be used by the military, it needed to be functional and fail-safe. The extra nylon had a keeper at its end through which the main part of the strap passed through after it had been looped behind the watch. This created a pocket, limiting the distance the case could move. As long as the strap was passed through properly and snugly on the wrist, the case would stay exactly where it was needed. The bonus feature of a strap that passes behind the watch is there so that in the event that a spring bar breaks or pops out, the case will still be secured by the other spring bar.

Since 1973, the G10 strap has seen only slight modification. The current version has been downsized to 18mm (this is due to the 18mm lugs found on the Cabot Watch Company’s military issue watch) and now has stainless steel hardware. In 1978, a company known as Phoenix took over production of MoD-spec G10 straps; those would be the “real deal” if one were looking for them today.

Not long after the simple “Admiralty Grey” G10 was issued, British military regiments began wearing straps honoring their respective regimental colors with stripes of all colors and combinations. One strap’s stripe pattern has become more famous than all the rest, but to call it a G10 or a NATO strap is actually a misnomer. When Sean Connery’s Bond famously wrist-checked his “Big Crown” reference 6538 Submariner in Goldfinger, he revealed an interestingly striped nylon strap. Aside from being too narrow, the strap was notable because of its navy blue color with red and green stripes. Many watch enthusiasts have labeled this strap as the “Bond NATO.” Despite the strap’s similarities to a G10, Goldfinger began filming in 1964, nine years before the first MoD G10 strap was issued. Timeline issues aside, it’s clear that the strap Connery wore had a very simple one-piece construction, not unlike that of a waist belt, and distinct from a true NATO.

Despite Bond’s trendsetting strap choice, it would be many years before the nylon strap industry would take hold. Like many other trends born from utilitarian military items (M65 Jackets, camouflage, etc.), early G10 strap adopters were attracted to the item’s usefulness and “tacti-cool” street cred. The usefulness is still intact, but now that there are literally hundreds of straps of different colors, stripes and materials sold by vendors around the world, the street cred has become more “faux” than ever. This shouldn’t stop you from wearing one, however. The straps are inexpensive, extremely durable, and can be switched out to fit whatever outfit or mood you’re in. In fact, most watch nerds probably have more G10s than they do watches.

G10s have been heavily trending upwards over the last several years or so. While it may be a fad that eventually fades, they don’t appear to be going away in the short term. Watchmakers like Tudor, Blancpain, Hamilton and Bremont have been either throwing in a G10 as an accessory to a watch purchase, or flat out offering one as the main strap option. The horology purist may scoff at such a thing, but watchmakers would be foolish not to ride the G10 wave; and while they come in varying degrees of quality, a good one is a trustworthy piece of equipment with a rich history.”