Hermione Gingold to A. Friend - Read by Louise Brealey & Sophie Hunter

In 1950, English actress Hermione Gingold appeared on stage in London alongside Hermione Baddeley in Fallen Angels, a Noel Coward comedy in which–controversially at the time–the two female leads contemplate adultery. Gingold soon received a threatening letter from a disgusted member of the public. With no address at which to aim a reply, Gingold instead responded with a letter that was reprinted in her 1952 book, My Own Unaided Work.

ROBERT FALCON SCOTT’S FINAL LETTER TO HIS WIFE as read by Benedict Cumberbatch at Freemasons Hall for Letters Live, 13 March 2016

“To my widow,

Dearest Darling – we are in a very tight corner and I have doubts of pulling through – In our short lunch hours I take advantage of a very small measure of warmth to write letters preparatory to a possible end – the first is naturally to you on whom my thought mostly dwell waking or sleeping – if anything happens to me I shall like you to know how much you have meant to me and that pleasant recollections are with me as I depart.

I should like you to take what comfort you can from these facts also – I shall not have suffered any pain but leave the world fresh from harness and full of good health and vigour – this is dictated already, when provisions come to an end we simply stop where we are within easy distance of another depot.

Therefore you must not imagine a great tragedy — we are very anxious of course and have been for weeks but in splendid physical condition and our appetites compensate for all discomfort. The cold is biting and sometimes angering but here again the hot food which drives it forth is so wonderfully enjoyable that we would scarcely be without it.

We have gone down hill a good deal since I wrote the above. Poor Titus Oates has gone — he was in a bad state — the rest of us keep going and imagine we have a chance to get through but the cold weather doesn’t let up at all – we are now only 20 miles from a depot but we have very little food or fuel.

Well dear heart I want you to take the whole thing very sensibly as I am sure you will — the boy will be your comfort. I had looked forward to helping you to bring him up but it is a satisfaction to feel that he is safe with you. I think both he and you ought to be specially looked after by the country for which after all we have given our lives with something of spirit which makes for example — I am writing letters on this point in the end of this book after this. Will you send them to their various destinations?

I must write a little letter for the boy if time can be found to be read when he grows up — dearest that you know I cherish no sentimental rubbish about re marriage — when the right man comes to help you in life you ought to be your happy self again.

I hope I shall be a good memory certainly the end is nothing for you to be ashamed of and I like to think that the boy will have a good start in parentage of which he may be proud. Dear it is not easy to write because of the cold — 70 degrees below zero and nothing but the shelter of our tent.

You know I have loved you, you know my thoughts must have constantly dwelt on you and oh dear me you must know that quite the worst aspect of this situation is the thought that I shall not see you again. The inevitable must be faced — you urged me to be leader of this party and I know you felt it would be dangerous — I’ve taken my place throughout, haven’t I?

God bless you my own darling I shall try and write more later — I go on across the back pages. Since writing the above we have got to within 11 miles of our depot with one hot meal and two days’ cold food and we should have got through but have been held for four days by a frightful storm — I think the best chance has gone. We have decided not to kill ourselves but to fight it to the last for that depot but in the fighting there is a painless end so don’t worry.

I have written letters on odd pages of this book — will you manage to get them sent? You see I am anxious for you and the boy’s future — make the boy interested in natural history if you can, it is better than games — they encourage it at some schools — I know you will keep him out in the open air — try and make him believe in a God, it is comforting.

Oh my dear my dear what dreams I have had of his future and yet oh my girl I know you will face it stoically — your portrait and the boy’s will be found in my breast and the one in the little red Morocco case given by Lady Baxter. There is a piece of the Union flag I put up at the South Pole in my private kit bag together with Amundsen’s black flag and other trifles — give a small piece of the Union flag to the King and a small piece to Queen Alexandra and keep the rest a poor trophy for you!

What lots and lots I could tell you of this journey. How much better it has been than lounging in comfort at home — what tales you would have for the boy but oh what a price to pay — to forfeit the sight of your dear dear face.

Dear you will be good to the old mother. I write her a little line in this book. Also keep in with Ettie and the others — oh but you’ll put on a strong face for the world — only don’t be too proud to accept help for the boy’s sake — he ought to have a fine career and do something in the world.

I haven’t time to write to Sir Clements — tell him I thought much of him and never regretted him putting me in command of the Discovery.”


Tonight was great! The event was amazing, funny, insightful and relatable and Benedict and Louise were brilliant. So were the others reading the letters, a cellist who played a piece written from a music student for a fellow student he was crushing on, and Tom Odell. I saw Ben entering before the event (no decent pics- damn!!) and Louise and the others leaving after. For some reason Moffat was there- talking about Sherlock to Ben and Loo in the intermission and before?!?!?!?!?!
I was lucky enough to get a picture with the wonderful Louise Brealey. She was so lovely, it took her about 15 minutes to get to her car as she signed all autographs and took a bunch of photos and when she got past everyone I was by her car. I said ‘Louise! Thank you.’ She came over and hugged me!

“Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn’t need others approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.”

Lao Tzu: Tao Te Ching

The Lost Key-Mastery of Emotions

The day has come when Fellow Craftsmen must know and apply their knowledge. The lost key to their grade is the mastery of emotion, which places the energy of the universe at their disposal. Man can only expect to be entrusted with great power by proving his ability to use it constructively and selflessly. When the Mason learns that the key to the warrior on the block is the proper application of the dynamo of living power, he has learned the mystery of his Craft. The seething energies of Lucifer are in his hands and before he may step onward and upward, he must prove his ability to properly apply energy. He must follow in the footsteps of his forefather, Tubal-Cain, who with the mighty strength of the war god hammered his sword into a plowshare. Incessant vigilance over thought, action, and desire is indispensable to those who wish to make progress in the unfolding of their own being, and the Fellow Craft’s degree is the degree of transmutation. The hand that slays must lift the fallen, while the lips given to cursing must be taught to pray. The heart that hates must learn the mystery of compassion, as the result of a deeper and more perfect understanding of man’s relation to his brother. The firm, kind hand of spirit must curb the flaming powers of emotion with an iron grip. In the realization and application of these principles lies the key of the Fellow Craft.

Manly P. Hall - The Lost Keys of Freemasonry

It’s interesting because this goes for any true initiate and not just the Mason. The proper application of emotion AND will is a fundamental part of the Great Work. So many try to get around the discipline and practice that this requires. The Great Work is called the “Great Work” for a reason. The true adept in any field of occult practice will understand that to master ones emotions, all of them, is the beginning of the practice of true creation. It is the difference between those who “dabble” and those who are truly masters.

Image credit.

“The Qabbalists divided the uses of their sacred science into five sections. The Natural Qabbalah was used solely to assist the investigator in his study of Nature’s mysteries. The Analogical Qabbalah was formulated to exhibit the relationship which exists between all things in Nature, and it revealed to the wise that all creatures and substances were one in essence, and that man–the Little Universe–was a replica in miniature of God–the Great Universe. The Contemplative Qabbalah was evolved for the purpose of revealing through the higher intellectual faculties the mysteries of the celestial spheres. By its aid the abstract reasoning faculties cognized the measureless planes of infinity and learned to know the creatures existing within them. The Astrological Qabbalah instructed those who studied its lore in the power, magnitude, and actual substance of the sidereal bodies, and also revealed the mystical constitution of the planet itself. The fifth, or Magical Qabbalah, was studied by such as desired to gain control over the spirits and subhuman intelligences of the invisible worlds. It was also highly valued as a method of healing the sick by talismans, amulets, charms, and invocations.

The origin of Qabbalism is a legitimate subject for controversy. Early initiates of the Qabbalistic Mysteries believed that its principles were first taught by God to a school of His angels before the fall of man. The Angels later communicated the secrets to Adam, so that through the knowledge gained from an understanding of its principles fallen humanity might regain its lost a estate. 

The theories of Qabbalism are inextricably interwoven with the tenets of alchemy, Hermeticism, Rosicrucianism, and Freemasonry. 

The words Qabbalism and Hermeticism are now considered as synonymous terms covering all the arcana and esotericism of antiquity." 

- Manly P. Hall


View from the photography pit at #pamhogg.

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“Freemasonry is founded upon the activities of this secret society of Central European adepts, whom the studious Mason will find to be the definite ‘link’ between the modern Craft and the Ancient Wisdom. The outer body of Masonic philosophy was merely the veil of this Qabbalistic order whose members were the custodians of the true Arcanum.”

—  Manly Palmer Hall

Assassin’s Creed - everything you need to know

If video games don’t tend to make great films, very few have had the scale, budget or talent attached to them as Assassin’s Creed. Since Ubisoft announced an adaptation of its blockbuster gaming franchise and then hired Michael Fassbender to front it, the buzz has built steadily. Could this be the movie to finally lay the curse of the video-game adaptation to rest? Will Mortal Kombat and Super Mario Bros.soon be a distant, if still surprisingly painful memory? Here’s everything we know so far.

The game

Somewhere between Philip K. Dick and Gladiator lies Assassin’s Creed. The first game, in 2007, had present-day barkeep Desmond Miles discovering that he’s descended from a long line of assassins. Unfortunately, his ancestors’ arch-enemies, the Templars, have also resurfaced in his timelines as Abstergo Industries. Miles is captured and forced to relive the memories of his ancestor Altair from the Third Crusade using a machine known as the Animus.

Nine main games and several spinoffs later (not to mention 91 million copies and quite a lot of RSI), the battle between Assassins and Templars has rumbled on through the centuries, with MacGuffins, swordplay, parkour and historical cameos aplenty. The latest game, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, has the two warring factions doing battle in Victorian London. Empire rated it “the best Assassin’s Creed game for years”.

The adaptation

The movie follows the game’s main plot thread, introducing two new protagonists, 15th century Assassin Aguilar and his troubled modern-day descendant Callum Lynch. Handily, both look a lot like Michael Fassbender. In keeping with the game, Lynch is pursued by the wrong’uns at Abstergo and forced to relive his ancestor’s memories via their Animus device. Cue: running, leaping and sword fighting.

Cue, too, plenty of moral complexity and serious themes of genetic material being passed down from one generation to another. “The idea that we’re made up of who comes before us and the DNA of our ancestors is carried within us is really fresh and original,” stresses Aussie director Justin Kurzel. "I just thought that there was a great cinematic story in the ethos behind the game,” adds Fassbender, "this idea of Assassins and Templars. It’s not like your Star Wars franchise where you have the light and the dark side. This is a very muddled-up moral ground.”


Early rumours had Daniel Espinosa directing the fantasy/adventure for Ubisoft’s film arm. The Swede had made a name for himself with contemporary thrillers Snabba Cash and the Denzel Washington-starring Safe House, and looked a good fit for the modern thread of Assassin’s Creed’s twin timelines.

But that rumour went away and instead Michael Fassbender, with his producer’s hat on, tapped up his Macbeth director Justin Kurzel (above) for the gig in 2014. Kurzel’s debut, Snowtown, was an unsparing serial-killer flick that made him few friends in the kangaroo community. Macbeth was an equally fierce outsider tale and a bravura take on Shakespeare’s tragedy. No marsupials died in that one.


Playwright (and Kurzel’s Macbeth adapter) Michael Lesslie was the first to delve into the mythology of Ubisoft’s game franchise. Then Out Of Sight scribe Scott Frank – a writer who, thanks to his work on Minority Report, is not unfamiliar with sci-fi doohickeys with time-bending properties – gave it a pass, before Exodus: Gods And Kings pair Adam Cooper and Bill Collage came aboard for a final draft.


Michael Fassbender signed up in 2012. He’s since been joined by his recent Lady Macbeth, Marion Cotillard, as well as Brendan Gleeson and Jeremy Irons. Gleeson plays Aguilar’s father, while Irons is the father of Cotillard’s character. Also appearing are Callum Turner (the slimy Anatole Kuragin in the BBC’s recent War And Peace) and The Lobster’s Ariane Labed. Michael Kenneth Williams appears in a mysterious role that, claims Deadline, will develop into a co-starring billing with Fassbender in a sequel.


The Michael Sheen of Mediterranean locations, Malta has posed as Westeros for Game Of Thrones, the Roman Empire for Gladiator and a zombie-plagued Earth in World War Z. It’ll pass for 15th century Spain in Assassin’s Creed.

The production also set up camp in Spain itself, in the volcanic hills outside Almería, as well as closer to home on the 007 stage at Pinewood. Freemasons’ Hall in London was also used, fittingly considering the organisation recurs in the games. The shoot wrapped on January 15.

The influences

“I’ve always thought about The Matrix when we’ve approached this,” explains Fassbender. "This idea of DNA memory elevates it from a basic fantasy genre [piece], because you have something an audience can actually believe in. Then the journey becomes so much more elevated, because you’re on board in a different way.” Director Kurzel references David Lean’s epics in his efforts to recreate arid period locations at scale.


According to its star, Assassin’s Creed is leaning heavily on old-fashioned stunt work and real locations instead of CG backdrops and post-production compositing. An Errol Flynn in a world of digital avatars, then? Well, yes. "There’s very little green screen in this, which is highly unusual in these films,” says Fassbender. "We have stunt guys jumping across buildings in [Maltese capital] Valletta.” British freerunner Damien Walters and other stunt people helped bring derring-do and parkour skills. “Damien did a 120-foot leap of faith, without any rope, into a bag, so it’s pretty incredible to see,” marvelled Fassbender. The actor did his bit, too. “I learned how to roly-poly, tumble turn,” he explained with a laugh. “Basic fight choreography.”

If Justin Kurzel’s crunching battle scenes in Macbeth hint at what we might expect visually from the ‘assassins’ part, there’ll be noticeably less hacking, slashing and general evisceration on offer here. “We’re not trying to make it too crazy violent,” says Fassbender. "Although obviously there is an element of that, but what is really cool is that our action sequences are on real sets and real locations.”

Phil De Semlyen, Harry Crawford