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Jan and Cora Gordon, 1928: Salesmanship in California

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I smiled last Saturday as we found ourselves taking part in an earnest time-share sales presentation in San Diego, experiencing some insistent and misleading salesmanship, quite alien in style and content to anything a Brit would have come across at home. This prompted a recollection of the encounter between Jan and Cora Gordon and California real estate salesmen in 1928 recorded in " Star-dust in Hollywood ". The similarities are astonishing. ".. every real estate firm, in an agony of cut-throat competition, was trying to catch every 'tourist' as he arrived with his savings, to induce him if possible to invest his money in land before he could discover the real conditions. All along the streets near the centre of the town large rubber-neck wagons waited to abduct the wandering visitor. Young and often charming women pounced upon one from doors, waving prospectuses and promising free drives, free lunches and the rest ." Cora Gordon " was willing

The Tatler (1932) reflects on social masks and the "perfectly natural" Jan and Cora Gordon

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The Tatler of Wednesday 03 August 1932 has an affectionate article about Jan and Cora Gordon , emphasising their refreshing naturalness and lack of pretentiousness. This is a quality noted by a number of their contemporaries, such as Myron Nutting . Here below is the article, in the flavour of a stream of consciousness, not originally broken into separate paragraphs, though I have done so here in order to make the text a little more accessible: " So Few People are Human. HOW seldom you meet people who are unashamedly content to be human. And how friendly and delightful they are when you do meet them! Most men and women create such fantasies around themselves. They are so very different from other people in their own estimation. Schoolmasters, parents, clergymen especially, all like to assume towards others whom fate has given into their charge, an innate superiority which they expect will be regarded as example. Even elderly people require deference on account of their age if for

Cooking and Writing: Jan and Cora Gordon give a return to London party, July 1932

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In the Daily Mirror of Saturday 23rd July 1932, there is a paragraph mentioning Jan and Cora Gordon under the header " Cooking and Writing ."  " Is there something of an alliance between the arts of cooking and writing ? Miss Helen Simpson writes novels and broadcasts on cooking, and at the party Jan and Cora Gordon gave to celebrate their settling in London after many years, dishes from many lands were served, all of which they had cooked themselves. And cooked for forty people in a very small space ! Entertainment was provided by the guests themselves and by the playing of strange instruments by Mr. and Mrs. Gordon. " This return to London from Paris i s described in " The London Roundabout " (published 1933).  Over a decade ago, on April 4 th   2010, I was busy with a house move (to Oman from the Netherlands) when a copy of this book arrived in the post. The book is " a roundabout trip of London, where one may catch glimpses of the four quarters

Jan Gordon and the Dazzle Scheme Project, Demobilisation in 1919

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Browsing the National Archive, I came across a fascinating record of Jan Gordon 's demobilisation from the WW1  Dazzle Scheme project . It shows notes in six different hands. He was demobilised from the 1st December 1919. The record reads:        Ty Lieut 9-11.17 [Temporary Lieutenant]      9-11-17 President for Special Service (Dazzle Scheme)      Granted technical allowance 5/-0 day      27.3.18 - 11.12.18 to be sent on leave as he becomes available pending demobilisation = 1.2.19.           President for duty with Admiralty Sub Committee Imperial War Museum (To report to D AMS office, 225 Tottenham Court Road) =       Demobilised from 1.12.19.      This officer is not to be demobilised. 2/19 Jan Gordon's demobilisation record The Dazzle Scheme Project inspired numerous articles and books, a recent example being the 2016 book by James Taylor .   Jan Gordon himself wrote about the project shortly after the war in his December 1918 Land & Sea article on The Art of Dazzle Pa

Cora Gordon opens a Charles Murray exhibition in Yorkshire, 1949

The Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer of Saturday 5th February 1949 carried the following story: " Mrs. Cora Gordon, the artist and author, will open an exhibition of recent paintings Mr. Charles Murray , at the Art Gallery, Batley.  It is appropriate that this one-man show should be held Yorkshire; for Mr. Murray, though an Aberdonian by birth, worked for years in Leeds and has been a consistent contributor to Yorkshire exhibitions. Indeed, we unblushingly claim him as a Yorkshire artist, though Aberdeen may have other views.  His reputation is now national. Twice In the past few years has had successful one-man shows in London, and work by him has been included in an exhibition sent abroad by the British Council. Those unfamiliar with the idioms of modern art may find the present exhibition startling at first sight. There is more than a hint of Picasso in some of these works; and the very mention of Picasso's name seems sufficient to start a controversy. But the open-mi

A 1932 review of Three Lands on Three Wheels with a focus on the Aran Islands

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The Northern Whig, Saturday 23 July 1932, carried a review of Jan and Cora Gordon's "Three Lands on Three Wheels," focusing on the account of their visit to the Aran Islands of County Galway. Here it is: Three Lands on Three Wheels. Jan and Cora Gordon. Harrap. 12s 6d net.  Jan and Cora Gordon have travelled in many countries, and the chronicles of their wanderings invariably make good reading. "Three Lands on Three Wheels" is the entertaining record of a pilgrimage on a motor cycle and side car combination through parts of France, England, and Ireland. The Gordons are observant tourists; "chiels who take notes" of many quaint incidents, which people less vigilant and interested in the world about them would pass by unnoticed. Jan, the narrator of their journeyings, has an engaging sense of humour and a very tolerant outlook on humanity. Here we have no hint of the "superior person" attitude which fully accounts for the un-popularity of a cer

Cora Gordon at the Paintings by British Women Exhibition, Tamworth 1949

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I came across an interesting account of Cora Gordon's participation at an exhibition in the Norman Castle at Tamworth, Staffordshire. The Tamworth Herald of Saturday 16th July 1949 had the following to say: " Under the general title "Paintings by British Women," the Arts Council of Great Britain has on tour a selection of pictures from the recent exhibition held by the Women's International Art Club and it is in recognition of Tamworth's place as a centre of art interest that this collection is to be received on loan here and will be on view in the Castle Museum art gallery for a fortnight commencing on Sunday. The pictures, originally shown in the R.B.A. Galleries, London, were chosen in consultation with the chairman of the Women's International Art Club (Mrs. Beryl Sinclair), and the exhibition, we are told, provides a welcome opportunity of showing the public in provincial centres the work of contemporary women painters. Miss Cora Gordon is to open th

"Spanish Sinn Fein" - Jan and Cora comment on parallels between Northern Spain and Ireland, Dublin Evening Telegraph 1923

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I just came across the following note in the Dublin Evening Telegraph of Tuesday 09 January 1923: SPANISH SINN FEIN: Interest in the Late Lord Mayor of Cork Jan and Cora Gordon, the authors of "Poor Folk in Spain" (Lane), say  " We do not think that England realised the great interest excited all over the world by the sufferings of the late Mayor of Cork.  While his fate hung in the balance people would stop us in the streets of Murcia, or even in the outlying villages, to ask us if we believed that there was a chance of his recovery.  He had died shortly before our homeward journey began.  The northern parts of Spain see a parallel between their position and that of Ireland. Indeed, the parallel is not exact; rather one might compare them to the position to which Ulster fears to be relegated.  The fact remains that Catalonia and the Basque countries, the hard-working, commercial parts of Spain, object to the domination, laxity, and misrule of the Government of Madrid.