PARACHUTES, THE PRESS AND DANNY BOY
Here are three pieces, completely unrelated but, I hope, will be of interest.
Firstly, on Sunday afternoon, 7 February 1926, Yeovilians flocked to Westland’s aerodrome to watch Captain A F Muir, of Surrey Flying Service, carryout a parachute drop from 600 feet above the crowd. The excitement of the occasion, and its tension, was heightened by the fact that this was the brave captain’s first jump!
Flying over at 600 feet , the Avro bi-plane piloted by Flying Officer E F Smith, steadied and out jumped Captain Muir coming down in free-fall for the first 200 feet before opening his ‘Guardian Angle ‘ parachute, and waiving to the cheering spectators, landed safely on the aerodrome. The parachuting event was followed by a demonstration of ‘trick flying’ by another of the Surrey Flying Service machines with a Mr A A Anderson and his colleague, Mr B Powell walking to the wing tips of the aircraft as it circled overhead. The afternoon was rounded off with pleasure flights in several aircraft brought for the occasion.
In my second piece, Mr Denys Thompson, the headmaster of the old Yeovil School, appears to have fallen out with the editor of the Yeovil Review who wrote in the November 1946 edition:
‘Bitter critic of the penny daily press is MR. DENYS THOMPSON, young headmaster of Yeovil School. He finds his pupils get their ideas from the sensationalist newspapers and the cinema instead of from the school! And naturally he resents it. He ably puts his case in two books, “The Voice of Civilisation” and “Between the Lines” (both published by Frederick Muller). Some of his criticisms seem unfounded – for example, his pet theory is that newspapers “play down” news of a catastrophic nature because it affects advertising revenue. In out experience the average newspaper reader complains of precisely the opposite – that too much prominence is given to the gloomy news. Look through any week’s front pages and see for yourself. Whatever sinister influences big advertisers may exert on editorial policies – if any – it is offset by the splendid service to the reader that the newspaper is enabled to provide from advertising revenue. However much Mr. Thompson may favour newspapers without advertising, it is worth noting that the one outstanding example of an advertisement-free daily paper, “P.M.” of New York, is switching over to traditional style soon. Its losses have been too heavy to continue without income from advertising. A final word to Mr. Thompson: Mud-slinging at the press and journalists is a favourite pastime these days. But, on the whole, British newspapers do their job impartially under great difficulties. The many are made the scapegoat of the few by critics who usually have as big an axe to grind as the half-dozen or so papers who may fail in their duty to the public.’
And finally, the gentle haunting lyrics of the well-loved ballad ‘Danny Boy’, set to the old Irish tune ‘A Londonderry Air’, was written in 1910 by a Somerset man, Frederick Edward Weatherly. Born in Portishead, in 1848, Frederick Weatherly, was a lawyer and King’s Counsel and wrote over 3000 songs, including the popular song of the First World War – ‘Roses of Picardy’.