Archive for January, 2017

Saturday 21st January 2017

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on January 21, 2017 by bishshat

Manchester City 2 Spurs 2

In a rip-roaring game, we withstood heavy City pressure in the first half with Hugo Lloris pulling off a string of saves, only to find ourselves 2-0 down within eight minutes of the start of the second half.

The home side began flexing their muscles early on and shortly after Mauricio’s former Espanyol team-mate Pablo Zabaleta got through in the box and was thwarted by Alderweireld, Sergio Aguero flashed a shot inches over the bar from the edge of the area. Our defenders were stationed quite high up the pitch and the home side were looking to play through them with rapid runners in behind, with Alderweireld once again in the way with a back-heeled interception following a dangerous City free-kick.



Goalkeeper Lloris was seeing a lot of the ball throughout the first half and on 20 minutes pulled off a fantastic save, stretching low down to his left to claw David Silva’s drive behind for a corner. From the resulting kick, Zabaleta angled a low shot just beyond the far post as City kept the pressure on. Dier shifted forward into midfield as we tried to match the hosts centrally but after De Bruyne’s low shot went wide and Sane headed off target, Lloris pounced on Aguero’s 37th-minute header and then made a good save at his near post from the Argentine within 60 seconds. Mousa Dembele was a leading light for us as we forced our way forward on occasion, but the half-time whistle came as something of a relief.


We made a change at the break with attacker Son replacing Wimmer as Dier partnered Alderweireld at centre-half but four minutes into the second period we fell behind as De Bruyne launched the ball forward, Lloris headed it straight at Sane as he raced out to the edge of his area and the City forward was left with a simple tap-in.

Lloris once again cut a frustrated figure after City’s second goal on 53 minutes. Raheem Sterling sent a low ball in from the right which the keeper attempted to pounce on in his goalmouth but it squirmed free and De Bruyne steamed in to sweep away from the Frenchman’s grasp and into the net.

We showed real grit and character to recover from the second goal and pulled one back five minutes later with our first attempt on target. Kane stayed strong to feed Walker on the right and he whipped in a delicious cross that Dele rose to meet with a header at the far post for his 11th league goal of the season and his eighth in the last six games. Danny Rose produced a superbly-timed challenge at the other end moments later to deny Sterling in the box, but we were dealt a further blow when Alderweireld limped off, with Wanyama dropping in to deputise at centre-half and Harry Winks introduced into the midfield.


The home side had a shout for a penalty waved away on 76 minutes when Sterling went through on goal, was put under pressure by Walker and ended up shooting straight at Lloris, but within 60 seconds we were level. Eriksen found a pocket of space on the right, arrowed the ball in to Kane who flicked it into the path of Son with one deft touch and the South Korean international produced an accurate low finish into the far corner.

Gabriel Jesus was thrown into the fray as City chased a late winner and immediately produced a dangerous cross before latching onto De Bruyne’s driven cross at the back post on the next attack and finding the net. The flag was up, however, and it did not count. A victory for us would have represented our best league winning sequence for 50 years but the solitary point we ended up with was still a valuable one.


Friday 20th January 2017

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on January 20, 2017 by bishshat


Thursday 19th January 2017

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on January 19, 2017 by bishshat


To One in Paradise

Edgar Allen Poe

Thou wast that all to me, love,
For which my soul did pine—
A green isle in the sea, love,
A fountain and a shrine,
All wreathed with fairy fruits and flowers,
And all the flowers were mine.

Ah, dream too bright to last!
Ah, starry Hope! that didst arise
But to be overcast!
A voice from out the Future cries,
“On! on!”—but o’er the Past
(Dim gulf!) my spirit hovering lies
Mute, motionless, aghast!

For, alas! alas! with me
The light of Life is o’er!
No more—no more—no more—
(Such language holds the solemn sea
To the sands upon the shore)
Shall bloom the thunder-blasted tree,
Or the stricken eagle soar!

And all my days are trances,
And all my nightly dreams
Are where thy grey eye glances,
And where thy footstep gleams—
In what ethereal dances,
By what eternal streams.

The poem must have been written before the end of 1833, since it appears in “The Visionary,” which was published in The Lady’s Book for January 1834.

“To One In Paradise” is one of the most well known pieces by Edgar Allan Poe. This poem is the longings of one to their lover as well as the reality of broken dreams. In all his work, Poe exercises literary devices exceedingly well and “To One In Paradise” is not an exception. Together with its direct, neutral tone, Poe creates another outstanding poem that’s relatable to all. This essay is going to discuss the author’s use of poetic techniques in addition to the emotions described in this particular poem.
This piece includes 4 stanzas, each stanza consists 6 lines. “To One In Paradise” expresses an overall depressing picture of one’s despair and hopelessness, which is also the poem’s the subject matter. Poe understands deeply the distress of losing one’s dream therefore this text is a candid embodiment of a person’s temporary sadness that anyone can relate to. The first stanza creates a paradise, heavenly scenario with “green isle in the sea” with “fruits and flowers”. The narrator also claims the flowers are all his by the end of the verse. This suggests the narrator confidence and control over this imaginative haven of his. The next stanza starts as trouble arises. Jaded hopes and broken dreams keep holding him back despite the future’s calling for the narrator to move forward with his life. The third stanza reveals how the narrator is overwhelmed by grief as he deems he could not, and will not get better. In the last stanza, one’s spiritual death is shown once again. This time it is emphasized that his ghost will linger on for eternity, also implying that his pain is still not yet relieved, and probably never will be. Despite the poem’s apparent melancholy, Poe doesn’t actually advice the reader to move on or try to feel better. Therefore this is an analytical piece, written to reflect honestly one’s emotional crisis, without making any value judgments or counseling.

Many poetic techniques are utilized skillfully in this particular piece, ranging from metaphor to repetition. The poem begins with a powerful imagery. This literary device is employed thoroughly to establish the narrator’s ultimate sanctuary. Descriptive phrases such as “green isle in the sea” or “wreathed with fairy fruits and flowers” are proofs of Poe’s vast imagination and his immense talent with literary devices. This imagery also evokes a safe, peaceful figure in the readers’ mind, giving them a relaxing moment before the mishaps commence. Another remarkable technique Poe uses in this text is metaphor. The “thunder-blasted tree” and “stricken eagle” are metaphorical images for the narrator himself. With his dreams shattered and hopes buried, the narrator is devastated and feels as if things are not going to look up anyhow. To further depict this misery, Poe uses repetition. Repetition is one of the most recognizable and effective poetic devices in this poem. As a result, this specific technique is applied commonly in this piece. For instance, in stanza 3 there are 2 repetitions: “Alas, alas!” and “no more”. These two expressions are replicated many times to put emphasis on the narrator’s impotence as well as desperation. “Alas, alas” is a reference to the above, indicating the fact that the narrator is asking for help from a spiritual force, hoping to recover from his sufferings. “No more”, on the other hand, conveys an overall feel of surrender. The author uses this phrase to accentuate one’s grief and his capitulation. Repetition has a large influence over the last stanza of this poem in helping to increase anticipation as well as the subject’s emotions. All six lines in this stanza have similar, imitated structures. They all have “and all”, “are where thy” or “what” correspondingly. This overall vast use of repetition creates consistency and captures the audience’s interest. Poe’s notable usage of literary devices has not only depicted clearly and honestly the subject matter but also making it relatable to readers.

In conclusion, Poe put to great use of poetic techniques in “To One In Paradise”. His descriptive, truthful language has considerable effects on the audience in terms of making the emotions real and relevant. This poem is a remarkable analytical piece with a sensitive subject matter. Even so, Poe does not try to preach or suggest the reader what to do, making the poem even more memorable.

Wednesday 18th January 2017

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on January 18, 2017 by bishshat

Daisy’s Dead

Brenda called to say that Daisy’s dead
And a hundred eyes opened so much wider
A yellow light played on the faces
Of those gathered in her kitchen
But there was nobody for to put the kettle on
Five hundred fingers twitched with desire
Now the fun would begin
The spoils that had been played over
This past eighteen months are left open and insecure
The game has been played well by the visitors
The visitors that before only recently had not been seen at all
That’s death for you
It gathers a pace the nearer it gets then it’s gone
Strange isn’t it this life?
All over in a flash
And no amount of kindle or huff and puff can regain its light
It’s now empty, wanting and grasping
All over bar the taking
Daisy’s dead Brenda had called to say
And a million years could not last a single second more.

John Bish 17/01/17

Tuesday 17th January 2017

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on January 17, 2017 by bishshat


Monday 16th January 2017

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on January 16, 2017 by bishshat


I was never a Motown fan in the late sixties or seventies but this album Motown Chartbusters Vol 3 was always on the turntable when having our weekend meetings of friends. I even bought it. It is one of my favourite albums of all time if only for the great memories each and every track gives me.

This Old Heart Of Mine

The Isley Brothers

Ooh, this old heart of mine, been broken thousand times
Each time you break away, I fear you’re gone to stay
Lonely nights that come, memories that go
Bringing you back again, hurting me more and more
Maybe it’s my mistake
To show this love I feel inside
‘Cause each day that passes by
You’ve got me never knowing if I’m coming or going but I
I love you
This is old heart, darling is weak for you
I love you, yes I do, yes I do
These old arms of mine
Miss having you around
Makes these tears inside
Start pouring down
Always with half a kiss
You remind me of what I miss
Though I try to control myself
Like a fool I start grinnin’ ’cause my head starts spinnin’ ’cause I
I love you
This is old heart, darling is weak for you
I love you, yes I do, yes I do
Ooh, I try hard to hide, my hurt inside
This old heart of mine always keeps me cryin’
The way you’re treating me, leaves me incomplete
You’re here for the day, gone for the week now
But if you leave me a hundred times
A hundred times I’ll take you back
I’m yours whenever you want me
I’m not too proud to shout it, tell the world about it ’cause I
I love you
This is old heart, darling is weak for you
I love you
This is old heart, darling is weak for you
I love you
This is old heart, darling is weak for you
I love you, yes I do, yes I do
I love you, yes I do, darling is weak for you

You’re All I Need To Get By

Marvin Gaye with Tammi Terrell

You’re all I need to get by

Like the sweet morning dew, I took one look at you
And it was plain to see, you were my destiny
With arms open wide, I threw away my pride
I’ll sacrifice for you, dedicate my life to you

I will go where you lead
Always there in time of need
And when I lose my will
You’ll be there to push me up the hill
There’s no, no looking back for us
We got love sure ‘nough, that’s enough
You’re all, you’re all I need to get by

You’re all I need to get by

Like an eagle protects his nest, for you I’ll do my best
Stand by you like a tree, dare anybody to try and move me
Darling in you I found strength where I was torn down
Don’t know what’s in store but together we can open any door

Just to do what’s good for you and inspire you a little higher
I know you can make a man out of a soul that didn’t have a goal
Cause we, we got the right foundation and with love and determination
You’re all, you’re all I want to strive for and do a little more
You’re all, all the joys under the sun wrapped up into one
You’re all, you’re all I need
You’re all I need
You’re all I need to get by
You’re all, all I need, oh baby
You’re all I want…

Behind A Painted Smile

Isley Brothers

Whenever you’re near I hide my tears
Behind a painted smile
You can’t imagine the tears and sorrow
Behind a painted smile

My life’s a masquerade
A world of let’s pretend, dear
Since you took your love
Pretending never ends, dear

But I can’t let you know
That I still need you so, no

(Darling I hide the tears that I cry)
Whenever you’re near I hide my tears
Behind a painted smile
You can’t imagine the tears and sorrow
Behind a painted smile

I can’t let you see
All the tears I’m crying
You would pity me
That would be like dying

If I can’t have your love
I don’t need your sympathy

(Darling I hide the tears that I cry)
Whenever you’re near I hide my tears
Behind a painted smile
You can’t imagine the tears and sorrow
Behind a painted smile

My life is a masquerade
Since you took your love away

Whenever you’re near I hide my tears
I just can’t let you see
How much you hurting me

Whenever you’re near I hide my tears
Behind a painted smile

Sunday 15th January 2017

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on January 15, 2017 by bishshat



W.E. (stylized as W./E.) is a 2011 British historical romantic drama film co-written and directed by Madonna. It stars Abbie Cornish, Andrea Riseborough, Oscar Isaac, Richard Coyle, and James D’Arcy. The screenplay was co-written by Alek Keshishian, who previously worked with Madonna on her 1991 documentary Truth or Dare and two of her music videos. The film was panned by critics and a box office bomb, returning only a small fraction of its budget in box office revenue.


The film tells the story of two women separated by more than six decades. In 1998, lonely New Yorker Wally Winthrop is obsessed with King Edward’s VIII’s abdication of the British throne for the woman he loved, American divorcée Wallis Simpson. But Wally’s research, including several visits to the Sotheby’s auction of the Windsor Estate, reveals that the couple’s life together was not as perfect as she thought. Weaving back and forth in time, W.E. intertwines Wally’s journey of discovery in New York with the story of Wallis and Edward, from the early days of their romance to the unraveling of their lives in the decades that followed.


Wally Winthrop (Abbie Cornish) is a lonely housewife, living in 1998 in New York City. She is neglected by her doctor husband, William Winthrop (Richard Coyle) and finds solace in the love story of King Edward VIII (James D’Arcy) and his lover, Wallis Simpson (Andrea Riseborough). Wally travels to the Sotheby’s auction of the Windsor Estate, showcasing items used by Wallis and Edward in their lifetime, and reminisces about their relationship.

In 1930, Edward throws a party at his new home in Fort Belvedere, in Windsor Great Park where he meets Wallis through his mistress, Lady Furness (Katie McGrath). The two develop a mutual attraction for each other, in spite of Wallis being married to Ernest Simpson, and become lovers while Lady Furness is abroad. Wally’s reminiscences are interrupted by Sotheby’s guard Evgeni (Oscar Isaac), who takes a liking to her.


Edward and Wallis continue their love affair while touring throughout Europe, where he gives her a number of jewels and assumes the initials W.E. By the end of 1934, Edward is irretrievably besotted with Wallis. He decides to introduce Wallis to his parents, King George V (James Fox) and Queen Mary (Judy Parfitt), but Wallis is portrayed in a bad light by Edward’s sister-in-law Elizabeth (Natalie Dormer). A distraught Wallis wants to end the relationship but Edward pacifies her.

Wally urges her husband to have a child together but he doesn’t want to and Wally suspects him of having an affair. When she accuses him, William hits her. Wally tries In vitro fertilisation in order to become pregnant. She gradually becomes attracted to Evgeni and eventually goes out on a date with him. She asks Evgeni more about Edward and Wallis, while pondering on her relationship with William. After she returns home, a suspecting William beats Wally and leaves her dying on the floor.


The government of Great Britain and the Dominions refuse to recognize the relationship of Edward and Wallis, since she is a divorcee and so on the night of December 11, 1936, Edward makes a broadcast to the nation and the Empire, explaining his decision to abdicate the throne to his brother Bertie (Laurence Fox). He says, “I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as king as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love.” Wallis, who has fled to Villa Lou Viei, near Cannes, hears of this and has no choice other than to join Edward.

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Evgeni, who has been calling Wally after their date, runs to her apartment to check on her and finds her on the floor. He takes her to his home in Brooklyn and nurses her back to health. Wally finds a new hope and new direction in life. She falls in love with Evgeni, divorces William and moves on with her life. An imaginary monologue with Wallis shows the two women talking about their lives, how they thought that they were similar, but in the end only Wally found happiness. Through a series of letters from Wallis kept in millionaire Mohamed Al-Fayed’s collection, Wally comes to realize that the Duchess was stuck in a relationship with Edward for the rest of her life. Wally leaves behind her fascination with Wallis and Edward’s relationship, and learns from her doctor that she is pregnant with Evgeni’s baby.

What Happened to the Duchess of Windsor?

At one time, Wallis Simpson was probably the most talked-about woman in the world. And if not the world, her name was on everyone’s lips in Britain and America in the 1930s.

The long-time mistress of King Edward VIII, she was described by him as ‘the woman I love’ when he declared on BBC radio, to the world, that he was renouncing his throne to which he had ascended only a year before so that he could marry her.

Britain had been horrified at the thought of their king marrying a twice-divorced American woman. Americans, I rather suspect, were secretly rather pleased that one of their countrywomen was creating such a furor in ‘stuffy’ Britain.

As you know, the king became the Duke of Windsor and Wallis became his duchess when he married her shortly after he had abdicated. Their lives together make a strange and intriguing story but what is even odder is what happened to Wallis after the duke’s death. A journalist who worked for London’s Sunday Times was the first to uncover the story that all was not well.

Society photographer (and Princess Margaret’s ex-husband) Lord Snowdon decided – this was in 1980 – that he wanted to photograph the duchess. She had been widowed for eight years and had hardly been seen since but lived as a recluse in Paris.

The journalist, Caroline Blackwood, was commissioned to write a short article to accompany the photographs.

The duchess at this time was either eighty-four or eighty-five. The year of her birth was in doubt because she was allegedly born before her parents were married so falsified her birth year.

So no-one knew what her condition was. Was she ill and bedridden as some people said? Others suspected that she might be a victim of dementia and that this was the reason she hadn’t been seen in public.

It was discovered that her life was stranger than first thought.

The journalist discovered that the duchess was completely under the control of her female French lawyer, Suzanne Blum. Maitre Blum was almost the same age as the duchess but still a practising lawyer in Paris. She had spent a great deal of time working in America where she represented several major Hollywood studios and major movie stars.

At some point after the Duke of Windsor’s death, she had gained the duchess’ power of attorney and ran her entire life. Caroline Blackwood went to Paris to interview this formidable old French lawyer. She was told, in all seriousness, that if she wrote one word which was derogatory about the duchess the lawyer wouldn’t sue her—she would kill her.

Try as she might, the journalist could get no information about the duchess and certainly no permission to visit her. Lady Diana confirmed to the journalist that none of Wallis’ old friends had seen her for several years.They had tried, but Maitre Blum had prevented it.

Caroline went on to interview a number of the duchess’ closest friends and they all had the same story to tell – that Maitre Blum prevented them from seeing their old friend.

What Was the Duchess of Windsor’s Condition?

Over a series of interviews with Maitre Blum, the journalist received conflicting information. To me, the account of the old lawyer makes her seem on the fringe of madness. Sometimes, it was reported that the duchess was in a coma. Sometimes Caroline was told by Maitre Blum that Wallis was sitting in a chair by the window admiring the garden, chatting in an animated fashion and listening to Cole Porter records.

Maitre Blum assured the journalist that the duchess received the best possible care with a team of resident medical staff. Plus, she was carefully protected by her faithful old retainer, her butler Georges. Caroline Blackwood was relentless. At one time, she was shown photographs taken by a Spanish photographer using a telephoto lens pointed towards the duchess’ bedroom in her palatial Paris home.

These showed the duchess to be in a completely pitiful situation. Nurses were turning her in her bed (to avoid bedsores presumably).She was what the journalist describes as ‘cigarette-thin’, she was hooked up to various medical apparatus and her head was lolling with no strength in her neck. It was as if she was indeed comatose. Yet Maitre Blum, who visited the duchess every week, continued to report that the duchess was happy, compos mentis and enjoying her Cole Porter records.

Selling the Windsor Jewellery and Possessions

The journalist discovered that Maitre Blum, having the duchess’ power of attorney, was secretly selling various items of the Windsor’s wealth. The old lawyer had complete control over every possession, every letter, every diary, every item owned by the duchess.

Was she selling these goods for her own personal gain? Or was she selling them to fund the duchess’ medical care? Either way, it reflected badly on the lawyer. She was arranging these sales secretly. In fact, had these items been sold as ‘previously owned by the Duchess of Windsor’ they would have had more value but Suzanne Blum didn’t want the world to know that she was selling Windsor possessions. The journalist then heard a disturbing story about ‘a certain Austrian baron’, a friend of the duchess, who’d had a phone call from her two years previously. She was crying and wondering why all her old friends had cut her off since the duke died.

The baron was concerned enough to fly to Paris because he had tried to call Wallis several times in the last few years and been told by her butler Georges that she was too ill to talk.

Georges had also explained that these were the orders of Maitre Blum. The baron’s first visit to Paris was fruitless but on the second, he bullied Suzanne (which sounds like an almost impossible task) and was finally allowed to glimpse his old friend in her home.

He reported that she was shrivelled to less than half her original size, and curled up almost as though she was reverting to an embryo. She was unconscious and, to his horror, illness had caused her skin had darkened so that it appeared to be completely black.

He said that she looked like ‘a shrivelled prune’.

Was the Duchess Alive or Dead?

Caroline Blackwood became acquainted with a French businessman who told her that an antique dealer friend had been offered the Duke of Windsor’s enormously valuable collection of Sevres snuffboxes. The dealer had refused. This businessman was appalled by Caroline’s stories of how the duchess was kept in seclusion and approached a friend, a detective, to find out more. When Caroline met the detective, he asked a question that chilled her to the bone. ‘How do you know’ he asked ‘that the duchess is still alive?’ He explained that although, of course, it was illegal not to report a death, it was something that happened often in France especially where trust funds and inheritances were concerned. Could this possibly be the case?

The Official Death of the Duchess of Windsor

Wallis Simpson died in April 1986. She was at least (bearing in mind that her true birthdate was in question) ninety years old. She was buried in England alongside the duke and members of the British royal family – including the queen—attended the ceremony.

The truth behind the Wallis myths

She was accused of being a lesbian, a nymphomaniac, a Nazi spy, even a man. The Duchess of Windsor became a hate figure for ensnaring a British king. But what was the truth behind the myth of the American divorcee who inspired such adoration in Edward VIII that he gave up his throne? As a new book is published revealing that she never wanted to marry him, Emily Hourican tells the tragic story of that Wallis woman
While on honeymoon with her third husband, the man who had been King Edward VIII, now the Duke of Windsor, Wallis Simpson wrote plaintively to her second husband, Ernest, “I think of us so much, though I try not to”.


Barely months previously, another letter to Ernest, at the time she fled from England, terrified by the rising tide of public hatred, read: “None of this mess … is of my own making. It is the new Peter Pan plan. I miss you and worry about you … Oh dear, wasn’t life lovely, sweet and simple?”
The writing — and the private name, ‘Peter Pan’, that she and Ernest always used about Edward — was a disloyal act, but one she was to continue throughout the years of exile, rattling around Europe and America with the increasingly bewildered and aimless Duke. This was to be her own personal purgatory, penance for grasping at something — someone — she never really wanted, beguiled by what he stood for and possessed, not who he was. Wallis was venal, greedy and deluded, but she paid a high price for her follies, a living embodiment of the old proverb, ‘Be careful what you wish for’. What she gained was considerable — a girl from Baltimore USA who married one of the most charismatic of European royals — but by inspiring such demented devotion in Edward VIII, she lost her freedom and her reputation.

Wallis Simpson was neither brilliant, beautiful nor particularly charming. Her harsh, rasping voice was considered grating by many. She was neurotic about her weight, often substituting whiskey and water for food, and trying endless extreme diets. She was uninterested in books or culture, excessively physically fearful — planes, heights, even sudden noises, all caused her to become hysterical — and utterly money-obsessed. She had a limited talent for friendship, and made many implacable enemies — including her sister-in-law the Duchess of York, later Queen Elizabeth, who caught Wallis doing a snide impression of her at a weekend party. She may not have been a lesbian or a Nazi spy as was often rumoured — although she never lived down the photograph of her smiling sympathetically while Hitler kisses her hand, taken in 1937 — but she was certainly an abrasive, divisive figure. Even of her apparent wit, few examples survive; “you can never be too rich or too thin” may have been hers, but it is hardly especially witty.
And yet her ability to fascinate is as strong now as ever, 25 years after her death and 75 since King Edward VIII abdicated — saying in an address to his people: “I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as king as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love.”

He was the first British monarch since Anglo-Saxon times to willingly depart the throne, in an act that was incomprehensible to those around him, particularly his mother, Queen Mary, for whom duty was sacred. Wallis herself always insisted that she expressly begged him not to do it, and indeed that it ruined her life in many ways. But for Edward there was to be no compromise. He insisted on marrying this obscure, twice-divorced American, both of whose ex-husbands were still alive, and if it cost him a kingdom, well so be it.
Edward VIII’s grande geste is still one of the more fascinating chapters of the British monarchy, because all the answers lie in the psychology of the two people involved. On the surface there is little enough to explain what happened; the solution lies in the shadows — in his personality, his frustrations and inadequacies, and her corresponding abilities. It lies behind closed doors, in the bedroom and the private chambers of the Prince of Wales, who became king for just 11 months.


It may even lie in a radical theory, put forward in a new biography by Anne Sebba, that Wallis was not a woman at all.
In That Woman, The Life of Wallis Simpson Duchess of Windsor, Sebba speculates that Wallis may have been born with a Disorder of Sexual Development, a term which covers a whole spectrum of conditions, from subtle sexual uncertainty through to hermaphroditism, and essentially means a mismatch between the outer gender indicators and inner reproductive organs. It’s a condition that apparently affects one in 15,000 births, and was, until fairly recently, often badly dealt with or ignored by the medical profession. There is no hard evidence that Wallis suffered from any such condition, but the fact that she never had children, despite a fairly promiscuous life at a time when contraception was very uncertain, as well as her deep voice, mannish figure and angular face, all lend some weight to the speculation.

By the time she arrived in London, in 1928, Wallis had reinvented herself, from Bessie Wallis Warfield, impoverished Southern belle, to Wallis Simpson, stylish woman of the world. She had divorced her first husband after he apparently drank too much and behaved like a brute — when posted in China during the war, he forced Wallis to accompany him to his favourite Sing-Song houses, basically brothels with some added light entertainment, like singing and dancing, as well as opium and gambling (here, it was later whispered, she learned the sexual techniques she apparently used to mesmerise Prince Edward; although one female friend of theirs, when this was suggested to her, quipped, “there’s nothing Oriental about oral sex”).
Wallis was then married to Ernest Simpson, her second husband, a well read, cultured and decent man with whom she felt at ease. He had a sense of humour, and together he and Wallis found much to laugh at and talk about. But it was only a matter of time before the dashing Mrs Simpson, who entertained lavishly, and in an informal, modern style — cocktails served with sausages, caviar and vodka to rather rakish guests — should meet the Prince of Wales. She was desperate to get into the best society, and he was a most unusually accessible royal heir.

Edward, heir to the throne and darling of the Empire, was blond, handsome, dashing and effortlessly charming, a pin-up to millions around the world. But he was also a complex, neurotic figure, distanced from his stern, overly disciplinarian parents, especially the King, George V, who had a vile temper and would rage mercilessly at his children. Edward had an addiction to exercise and a form of anorexia, often eating nothing but an orange all day. He was obsessed with the thinness of his legs, smoked and drank to excess, and loved all things then considered modern — jazz, nightclubs, the telephone, planes, cocktails, Americans. He was extravagant and reckless, and spoke in an affected accent, mixing cockney and an American twang with the more modulated tones of the English upper classes.
Edward was bored by the old notions of all-consuming royal duty, even, he sometimes claimed, with the very idea of monarchies. Several of his closest courtiers secretly believed him to be mad, or at least a case of arrested development, compounded by the fact that his face was relatively hairless and he only had to shave about once a week. He was clever and quick-witted, with an excellent memory, but no mental discipline. He had many girlfriends, indeed pursued women quite relentlessly and seemed addicted to conquest, but his girlfriends openly, humiliatingly, referred to him as “the little man”, and he may well have been infertile as none of his liaisons ever resulted in a child.

By the time Prince Edward met Wallis he was feeling increasingly frustrated by the demands of his position — to get married, to settle down, to produce an heir, to do his duty. None of that fitted with his aspirations towards a free, modern life. Wallis, however, did. Even the lack of deference with which she spoke to him — considered rude by most — struck him as refreshing. She wasn’t afraid to snap out a challenging remark, or call him on his occasional high-handed rudeness. He was first amused and then captivated by her confident, aggressive style. She too lived for parties and fun; she shared his extravagant tastes and love of jewels, and also knew about dieting and obsessive thinness.
Ernest Simpson was initially, and for a long time, as much a part of the prince’s set as Wallis, and everything she did seems to have been done with his acquiescence. He allowed her to dine alone with the prince once a week, and she seems to have confided in him about the affair from the start, telling him, “this man is exhausting!” Together they always referred to Edward as ‘Peter Pan’, the boy who never grew up. He phoned her several times a day, often late at night, as well as visiting most days. He was, from the outset, obsessive and demanding company and Wallis, although flattered — and charmed with the invitations that began to pour in immediately — was initially keen to keep some relative distance, and indeed keep Ernest “in good humour”, as she put it in a letter to her aunt.

Ernest was always deeply deferential to the future monarch, and seems to have been genuinely loyal to him. And for a while Wallis did manage to convince him that Edward’s patronage would be useful to them both — as a naturalised English businessman, with Jewish roots, Ernest was well aware of the importance of the royal seal of approval — and that his infatuation was temporary. In fact, almost up to the time of their marriage, Wallis assumed Edward would either tire of her or bow to the pressure to give her up. She never expected the affair to last, and much of her most mercenary behaviour — inveigling him for diamonds and jewellery, demanding money for clothes and even rent — was intended to compensate her for the end of the relationship. Her childhood as a dependent relative was an early exercise in insecurity that Wallis was to absorb completely; a fear of poverty and obscurity stayed with her forever, and were probably her most powerful psychological motivators.
But in predicting the affair would run its course, she reckoned without Edward’s capacity for obsessive infatuation. Wallis became vital to his well-being. The fact that his immediate entourage were appalled by what they saw as her vulgarity only intensified his feeling that it was the two of them, together, against the world. His chivalrous instincts were roused by the bad treatment he imagined she suffered, and he refused to consider a life without her. Even as she was referring to Ernest, in a letter to her aunt, as “still the man of my dreams”, the prince was writing to her daily, increasingly intense letters: “I love you more and more every minute and NO difficulties or complications can possibly prevent our ultimate happiness.”

Wallis’ appeal may have been part motherly — she would often chastise the prince for his table manners, or, twitching the knife and fork from his hands, insist on carving herself — but she could also be incredibly cruel, sometimes berating and teasing him until he was reduced to actual tears. His devotion, on the other hand, was complete, almost slavish. Whether she appealed to some kind of repressed homosexuality in him, as was theorised discreetly at the time, or simply dominated him in a way he found pleasurable, possibly sadomasochistic in origin, can only be speculated, but it was quickly apparent that while she wasn’t ever especially in love with him — rather, she was flattered, and beguiled by the richness of his lifestyle — he was unable to do without her.

Even once he became king, after the death of George V, Edward attended to Wallis first, and State matters second. He spent ever-longer weekends out at Fort Belvedere, where State papers would be left lying around, unread, sometimes lost, sometimes returned with the sticky marks of glasses on them, and he would shut himself up with Wallis for hours, giggling and talking in their own private, baby-language, while his secretaries waited for him to sign essential papers.
Wallis, smothered by his need for her, began to escape where possible, often to Paris, to the couture houses, where she would buy fabulously expensive clothes by Schiaparelli, Givenchy and Mainboucher, always demonstrating the same impeccable taste, to wear with the extravagant jewels, including many purpose-made pieces by Cartier, that Edward bought for her.

When Ernest Simpson finally confronted the king, some months before his coronation, asking what he intended to do about Wallis, the king rose from his chair, saying grandly, “Do you really think that I would be crowned without Wallis by my side?” And so Ernest agreed to a divorce, even though this wasn’t quite what Wallis wanted. From there, events seemed to spiral way beyond her control as she realised that, far from managing the situation, she was actually at the mercy of the king’s need for her.

The more trapped she felt, the crueller Wallis could be, and as she began to understand that she had made a mess of things, she was more cutting than ever to Edward, who nevertheless continued to devote all his energies, puppy-dog-like, to making her happy. But as the scandal caught fire — reported first in the European and American papers, rather than the self-censoring British media, along with photos of the couple on the lavish yacht, “furnished rather like a Calais whore-house”, that Edward hired for the summer of 1936 — she became a hate figure; the twice-divorced American commoner with designs on the golden king.
And so she tried to end the affair, telling Edward: “I am sure you and I would only create disaster together.” The king responded by threatening to cut his own throat, saying that he would never let her go. His nerves were terribly frayed at the time, by his endless dieting, drinking, smoking, late nights, the stress of his infatuation and the implacable opposition to it everywhere he turned, and now the spectre of losing Wallis. He took to sleeping with a loaded pistol under his pillow, and caused those nearest to him serious concern.

Wallis was devastated as she began to understand how much she was hated. The general public despised her, the empire was rocking at the very notion of ‘Queen Wallis’, while Britain’s own royal family already loathed “That Woman”, as Queen Mary called her. About the couple’s only supporter was Winston Churchill, who argued that the King should “be allowed to marry his Cutie”; to which Noel Coward quipped, “England does not wish for a Queen Cutie”. It was a situation spiralling out of control, and even spoiled Edward began to realise that this time he would not get his way. Actually, he seems to have accepted the notion of abdication with relative ease, telling his horrified mother, “the only thing that matters is our happiness”. Wallis always insisted that she begged him not to, to let her go and give up the fight. “I tried to convince him of the hopelessness of our position,” she later wrote; “to go on fighting the inevitable could only mean tragedy for him and catastrophe for me.”


In this she was entirely right. Public hatred of her reached critical mass and she lived in fear of violent attacks. Still corresponding with Ernest through it all, she wrote to him that: “I’ve been pretty flattened out by the world in general … used by politicians, hated by jealous women, accused of everything.” Stones were thrown at her windows and she could no longer leave the house safely. And so she fled to France, bringing with her the jewels, worth at least £100,000, that Edward had given her, a gesture which seemed to taint her departure with the ignominious finality of exile.
Edward joined her as soon as he decently could, having abdicated his crown in a historic, Quixotic, futile romantic gesture, becoming Duke of Windsor rather than Edward VIII; and wrangling to the last for the biggest settlement he could get — “a royal who counted his royalties”, as one courtier put it. He and Wallis were finally married, at the Chateau de Candé, in the presence of just seven friends. The French prime minister sent a bouquet, but there was no representative from the British Crown or Edward’s family. Of those few friends invited, several declined on spurious grounds, not wanting to be seen on the losing side. One woman who was present, Baba Metcalfe, described Wallis thus: “The effect is of an older woman unmoved by the infatuated love of a younger man.”

Thereafter the Duke always felt he had let Wallis down, having failed to secure her a crown or even a royal title (in an act of some official pettiness, only he was allowed to be HRH). His self-abasement and flagellatory tendencies were more marked than ever.

She, meanwhile, tried to show her support by dressing the part of a duchess, often wearing far too many of the exquisite jewels he bought her, appearing be-decked in rings, earrings, broaches, necklaces and bracelets, almost stooped under their weight.
To the end of his life Edward continued to agitate on Wallis’ behalf — chiefly that she should be granted royal status — along with requests that the Crown pay for various medical procedures. His constant need for her never changed. She, meanwhile, tried to make the best of the situation she found herself in, pouring her energies into shopping, lunch, some small-scale charity work and remaining on the best-dressed lists. At one point she had had so many face lifts that, the rumour went, she couldn’t close her eyes even when asleep. Their lives in exile were aimless and rather second rate, according to those who knew them, both drinking too much — “tiny twins with large bottles of drink”, as the writer Lesley Blanch described them. They based themselves in France, where their story was considered highly romantic rather than the car crash it was viewed as in Britain. The duke died first, of cancer, and Wallis had a horrible, protracted death, lingering for a decade, fed by tubes in bed, unable to recognise anyone or even see, paralysed and denied the company of whatever friends she had left by her lawyer, who took full control of her life and finances. When she died, in 1986, the cards and flowers at her funeral came mainly from couture houses and jewellers — Dior, Van Cleef, Alexandre. Because, in the end, once the duke was dead, these were her most meaningful relationships.

Emily Hourican