flanders song

Alex Kingston, portrait by Jason Marck

On a fairly regular basis, well-known actors come to the station for an interview. Because it’s radio, they’re often dressed down-they’re expecting an audio treatment, not photos (except maybe some fan selfies with my colleagues). Sometimes they politely decline when I ask if I can make a portrait of them. I understand because they’re so dependent on their face and their image for their livelihood. When they have studio shots done, there’s a whole team for makeup and hair, plus an army of people assisting the photog, all trying to make this person look their best. But once in a while, you get someone so unpretentious, they just go for it and trust you. Exhibit A: Alex Kingston. In a t-shirt, no makeup, and her trademark mane of red curls piled on top of her head, she kindly gave me this photo, which shows off her incredible multi-colored eyes framed by those aforementioned locks. Trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, she’s a versatile and hard-working actor active on stage, screen, and television since the early 1980’s, but in Britain and the U.S. She’s most famous for her title roll in The Fortune and Misfortunes of Moll Flanders, as River Song in Dr. Who, and as Elizabeth Corday for 12 seasons of E.R.

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Happy Birthday to Alex Kingston. For me she has been a true role model not only in the acting aspect of my life but also the day to day. Her strong characters show that women can be just as tough as men sometimes even tougher. She’s funny, kind, witty and each character she portrays becomes someone people can look up to. She is one of my idols and I wish her the best on this her special day. Happy Birthday Alex :D xoxo

December 31st, 1914 - Looking Back on 1914

Pictured - A German’s grave in East Prussia.

By the end of 1914, the war had taken hold of Europe.  Children in London told a tongue-twister that began “Sister Susie’s sewing shirts for soldiers,” and British soldiers in Flanders sang deprecating songs about trench life.  It was clear to all that the war had no end in sight.  Europe went to war confidently in August, but now it was trapped in a nightmare from which it could not awaken.

The Second World War began relatively slowly - after the invasion of Poland, an admittedly bloody affair, the combatants settled down and no further major combat occurred until France was invaded in the spring of 1940.  In contrast, the First World War opened up in full intensity.  The German invasion of Belgium and the Schlieffen Plan had almost captured Paris, until the miracle of the Marne turned the Germans back and established the lines of trenches, creating a stalemate.  In the east, the Russians had suffered massive defeats to the Germans but won correspondingly large victories over the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  Battles raged not only in France, Belgium, and Poland, but all throughout the world - from China in the east to the South Atlantic in the west.

1914 was the bloodiest year of the Great War.  The French alone lost 300,000 dead and 600,000 wounded by the end of the war’s first 6 months - more losses than either Britain, France, or the United States would suffer in the entire Second World War.  August 22nd, 1914, was the bloodiest day of the war.  The casualty figures were the results of old military tactics meeting a new, industrial method of warfare.  The immense amount of change that had already occurred between August and December was astonishing.  What had begun as a quick war of mobility and marching armies devolved into a war of trenches, a siege along the entire Western Front.

Image Source: Det stora världskriget vol. II, p. 574.