Paul Hansford


An Accident of Birth


1840: Claude Monet, whiskered creator of canvases of water-lilies so vast
you have to stand across the room to see what they are
– “all paint, ” as my artist friend remarked,
revelling in the sensuousness of surfaces –
and of countless prints, diaries,
tea-towels and table-mats; father of Impressionism.

1889: Jawaharlal Nehru, pandit (learned master) :
father of modern India. In his homeland his birthday
is Children’s Day, because he loved children – though even he
couldn’t eat a whole one.

1900: Aaron Copland, American composer (Appalachian Spring,
el Salón México, Rodeo, etc., etc.) .

1919 (but some say 1922) : Veronica Lake, iconic movie star of the 1940s.

1948: Prince Charles Windsor, king-in-waiting (a long time) , famous for talking
(A) to plants (since he admitted it in an interview)
and (B) indiscreetly on the telephone to his mistress
(since the security services leaked the call) .
When I was a boy they played the National Anthem on my birthday,
only it was for him, not for me.

1954: Condoleezza Rice (two ‘E’s and two ‘Zee’s) , famous for being
black, and a woman, and arguably one of the most powerful people in the world.

and 1967: Letitia Dean, one-time soap-opera actress, landlady of a fictional pub
in a fictional East End, now a “personality”.

Celebrity makes strange bedfellows.

Submitted: Sunday, May 18, 2008
Edited: Wednesday, April 29, 2009

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