Monthly Archives: March 2014

Rufus and Bee visit Palma, Mallorca, Barcelona and Paris, December- January 1929-30

[Remember: click on pics to enlarge, right click, back to escape.]

Bartons Mead, Epsom, 1929

This is Bartons Mead, the house that Rufus and Bee rented in Epsom while he was Southams’ Bureau chief in London, England.

It’s big, isn’t it? Just for the three of them?

Well, yes it was. But this was England in the thirties – people with decent salaries were expected to keep servants, so there are rooms for them too. It was a nightmare for Bee, always hiring maids who never stayed long. And there was a cook. Anyway, after Christmas 1929 she needed to get away, so she and Rufus booked a hotel for ten days in Palma, Mallorca.

mallorca 1930 iiPalma 1930

So the day that Derek got his holidays, they rushed off to London and caught the Dover train.

It sounds as if something dreadful’s about to happen!

It was – when Rufus went to buy Bee a drink he discovered he’d left his wallet, with all their holiday money, at home!

Help – what did he do?

Well, they turned out their pockets and handbags and came up with £5 between them. Not enough to get them to Mallorca! Then a complete stranger in their compartment offered to lend Rufus another fiver – it looked like this –

English fiver 1929

Wow, that was pretty nice of him – but that note looks more like its worth a thousand pounds!

Old fivers always did. Anyway, Rufus reckoned they could make it on £10. So, instead of everybody having to wait at Dover while he went home for it, he telegraphed his secretary, the super-efficient Grace Knowles, to go to Epsom, find his wallet and airmail it to their Hotel in Palma.

Wouldn’t that take ages?

It would nowadays. But Miss Knowles mailed it that afternoon in London and it was waiting for them when they arrived at their hotel in Palma, thirty-six hours later!

mallorca 1930 iii

This was how the airmail package arrived – there was no airport in Mallorca in 1929. And this was how the weary travellers got there, after an overnight ferry-ride from Barcelona.

mallorca 1930 iv

Well, that’s a happy ending – good for Rufus for figuring it out.

He hadn’t been a wartime staff officer for nothing, you know. It made him a pretty efficient guy – and one who didn’t tolerate fools – so not an easy boss to work for.

And, after all that excitement, did they enjoy their holiday in Mallorca?

They did, each in their own way. Bee really wanted to rest, and to read and write letters in the sunshine, while Rufus preferred rushing about. They made several hairy mountain drives – about which they wrote different things in their diaries. On a day when Rufus wrote – “Gorgeous day. Back over mountain road by 5pm”  Bee managed – “had a very intelligent and careful driver, which was just as well as our way back over the highest peak on the island was a series of hairpin curves.”

She obviously felt it was risky, while Rufus – again, thanks to the war, I suppose – seemed not to notice the risk. What had they been to see?

On that occasion the Manacor caves, full of wonderful stalactites.

manacor caves

They are pretty spectacular – though I don’t suppose they were lighted like that in 1929.

Maybe that’s why Bee didn’t rave about them. And they both liked touring the churches – including the Cathedral in Palma.


Its a bit like Canterbury cathedral on steroids, if you ask me!

Bee took Derek in there one day but soon fled as we couldn’t stand the impassioned oration of the Spanish priest.” But they all went to High Mass there. Ever since the war– when the only churches in Flanders had been catholic –Rufus had been most ecumenical in his religious observance. And one day they got back to their ‘very English’ hotel to find a Thé Dansant in full swing. Bee would probably have enjoyed it but, led by Rufus who disliked dancing, they fled! Bee wrote: “Walked into town in the mud (it was raining)and sat in the cathedral where a queer ceremony was in progress. Organ played a bit – very beautiful.”


Was this castle in Las Palmas?

It’s called Bellver Castle, and Rufus and Bee marched up there together one morning, though both preferred visiting churches. And eventually they went home again, spending a day in Barcelona and three in Paris, on the way.

Expo iv

Is this Barcelona?

A panorama of the Barcelona International Exhibition of 1929, no less. They happened upon the last week oand had to drag themselves away to catch the night-train to Paris.

expo ii Expo i

I love Art Nouveau posters – of course it was all the rage at the time, wasn’t it?

 It’s heyday was really before World War 1, but these are definitely done in Art Nouveau style. If you look closely , you’ll see the main exhibition building, shown in the right hand poster, at the top of the hill in the panorama.

So they took the night train to Paris?

And dined at the famous Cafe de la Paix the first night they were there.


Though, it being January, they probably had a table inside, didn’t they?

Cafe de la Paix

Yes, and it would have looked more like this, I think. The next day they ate at the Auberge du Pere Louis, which had been in business since 1903 and is still going strong!

Auberge du Pere Louis ii Auberge du Pere Louis i

After all that, I’m sure they were glad to get home.

They crossed the channel in “the storm of the century”, according to Rufus. Or, as Bee put it – “None of us ill! Had a dreadful time getting into Dover Harbour.  So glad to get home to see Totem and Kiki, the former mad with delight.”

Bartons Mead, Epsom, 1929 iii

I see the delighted Totem. But why was Rufus wearing that awful hat?

It was 1930, remember – enough said.


12 January 1920, Rufus met Ferdinand Tuohy of the Daily Mail, possibly a role-model.

So who was Ferdinand Tuohy?

A brilliant reporter for the Daily Mail in World War 1, who later became a best-selling author.

Have you got a picture of him?

Believe it or not, I don’t. Although he was a high profile scribe for thirty years – and wrote a dozen books – I cannot find a single picture of him. Here’s his best-seller,  which was just coming out when he and Rufus met

Secret Corps

The ‘secret corps’ were undercover spies, of course. The Brits were good at spying – had had lots of practice after years of playing the ‘Great Game’ with Russia, a sort of cat & mouse cold war on Russia’s borders with Persia, Afghanistan and India.

And was Ferdinand Tuohy one of their spooks?

You would think so, because he knew so much about it. He started off as a Daily Mail reporter in France and managed to smuggle out articles, in spite of censorship. But Field Marshall Kitchener, the British war minister, got so angry about this that he expelled all reporters and threatened to shoot the next one caught in France!


My, he’s a miserable-looking old guy – no wonder Tuohy quit while he was ahead!

I think being a minister was too much for Kitchener – he couldn’t handle parliament, a place where  he couldn’t lock up or shoot people who disobeyed him. He drowned in 1916, en route to St Petersburg to negotiate with the Tsar – his ship hit a mine in the North Sea.

And Tuohy?

I think he joined the army, yes – because he ended the war as a captain. I don’t think he could have been a spook because the Official Secrets Act would have stopped him writing books about it all.

Les Mysteres

Like this one, which he seems to have published in French.

He did – French spooks had had a terrible time in  the war. By 1916 the Germans had caught – and shot – all the French agents (read ‘spies’) and the Brits had to share intelligence with them!

So why was Rufus meeting this guy?

His diary for 12 January 1920 reads:  “Ferdinand Tuohy of the Daily Mail lunched with me at the club. He is writing anti-prohibition stuff.” That’s all.  Rufus hated prohibition – that fall, after the 102nd Battalion banquet, he’d written in his diary: “Awful dull show – a reunion banquet without liquor is an impossible failure!” A few days later he went to the 16th Battalion  banquet and wrote: “Generals Currie, Newburn and Leckie, etc., there, and about 150 all ranks – an excellent show – plenty of whiskey upstairs.” Even Currie, the army commander, was happily breaking the law! I’m sure Rufus and his friends at the club would have been happy to give Tuohy all the stories he could use.

Was that his only meeting with Tuohy?

No, the next night he dined with him, and with Hannen Swaffer, another high-powered Brit, editor of the Weekly Dispatch.

Hannen Swaffer

He wasn’t a very cheerful looking guy, was he. And he looks a good bit older than Rufus as well.

He was eight years older, but Rufus would have found him interesting. Swaffer was said to file a million words a year and, like Tuohy, had written many books. He was a theatre nut, and an actor too, so he and Rufus had plenty in common.

I guess the message for Rufus was: ‘journalism can be as interesting as you make it’.

I expect that’s what he was thinking as he saw Tuohy onto his San Francisco boat the following night.

Rufus and Bee at the Halekulani Hotel on Waikiki Beach, Hawaii 1926

N 14  Bee outside their bungalow in Hawaii 1926

Here’s Bee in front of their cabin at the Halekulani Hotel – right on the beach at Waikiki.

N 14 - Rufus in Hawaii 1926

And here’s Rufus, sitting under a palm, at the water’s edge.

Hawaii doesn’t get much better than that!

It sure doesn’t – for most people. Bee loved to sit and read in the shade of the trees, but Rufus couldn’t sit still longer than a few minutes!

So what did he do with himself?

Well, his first diary entry gives you the idea: “Not a very good night – hot, and light very early. Both bathed before breakfast and visited a wonderful aquarium. Bee slept after lunch and I bathed about 4 times then went for a long streetcar ride. I walked round to Moana after dinner.”

So, while Bee snoozed, Rufus was in and out of the waves – then took himself off on a streetcar all round Honolulu. What’s Moana?

The Moana, the next door hotel. The big attraction was its nightly entertainment – on another day he wrote: “Walked round to hear the Hawaiian singers at Moana after dinner.” Here are a couple of pictures of the Moana during the 20s hawaii moana iMoana and streetcar

And there’s his streetcar, ready to take him to explore Honolulu. You know, what strikes me is how much he and Bee were wearing – no wonder they felt hot. It was November-December, the coolest time,  but Waikiki’s mean temperature is still 26 degrees. Rufus has on a collar, tie and jacket, and what looks like grey flannels – not to mention shoes and socks!

Bee looks a bit cooler, but I think she’s wearing a sweater.  I guess it was the times – people like them hadn’t learned to ‘let it all hang out’ when on holiday. A pity, really. Here’s a picture of them looking cooler – on board ship as they were leaving.

N 14 - on board Aorangi to Hawaii1926 ii

How could they afford this trip – had Bee had a win on the gee-gees?

No, nothing like that – she had had a streetcar accident on Cornwall, at Arbutus. Her foot got stuck in the fender and she was dragged for a whole block before the driver managed to stop the thing. She spent months in hospital and BC Electric paid for a trip to Hawaii for the pair of them when she was well enough to enjoy it.

That’s terrible – but what a nice ending to the story!

Perhaps Bee in a bathing suit makes a better ending. She and Rufus both bought bathing suits in Waikiki – strange for people who did a lot of swimming in English Bay.

N 14  Bee in Hawaii 1926 ii

She certainly looks happy and relaxed – which, I take it, was the whole purpose of the trip.

Yes, that was the real happy ending.

N 14 - Diamond Head from their lanai, 1926

Was that the view of Diamond Head from their cabin?

It was. And here’s the same view – with Bee’s grand-daughter Val – 84 years later.


Update on publication date of ‘Rufus’

March Hare ii

Tomorrow will be March the first, the morning when those in tune with old-country customs say “Hares, Hares!” upon first opening their eyes!

Sounds peculiar. Mad March Hares?

That’s right. But no madder than trying to get Rufus into stores  – so that people can buy a copy.

You don’t mean to tell me there’s more delay, surely!

I’m afraid I do. It’s looking like the middle of March now. I believe we’re waiting for a good review or two – to plaster onto the back cover.

Rufus would not have approved!

He would not. But then, he lived in a day when booksellers made money. If he were still with us, I’m sure he would understand the difficulties of persuading people to read books nowadays.  He was the first to adopt any new technology – he’d probably be a Kindle guy himself!

I guess we just have to be patient.

You’ve got it! Until Saint Patrick’s Day, good readers!

St Patrick's day