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Black Elk

Gracie Fields, the Tramp and my Uncle

November 7th, 2008

Richard Carr-GommFor the first time in my life I have read four obituaries of the same person: in the Times, Telegraph, Independent and Guardian. I’ve read them all because they were about my uncle, Richard Carr-Gomm, whose funeral we attended on Guy Fawke’s Day. My first memory of him was when I was very small and he drove me home. I can still remember being half-asleep in the back of the car beside his enormous bearskin (he was in the Coldstream Guards). On Wednesday, as the service finished, a lone Guard from his regiment stood up and played the Last Post. It was very moving and a fitting tribute to such a warm and inspiring man. He managed to combine great generosity with a delightful eccentricity. He believed our family was descended from Lady Godiva, Queen Boudicca and Adam and Eve. We will all miss him very much.

Here’s Paul Eddy’s obituary from the Guardian:

Richard Carr-Gomm – Soldier who resigned his commission and found his vocation in alleviating loneliness

In 1948, after a “good” war as a conscript with the Coldstream Guards that had taken him, in a heavy Churchill tank, from the beaches of Normandy to the gates of the Belsen concentration camp, Richard Carr-Gomm, who has died aged 86, made the decision to become a career soldier. Twice injured by shell shrapnel, he had been awarded the Croix de Guerre and a mention in dispatches. From Europe he went to Palestine, where he spent two and half years shoring up the British mandate. He applied for, and was granted, a regular commission, with the rank of captain, but there lurked within him the ambition to become the second member of the Carr-Gomm family – after his great-great uncle, Sir William – to be awarded a field-marshal’s baton.

Seven years later, at the age of 33, and to the astonishment of his family and friends, Carr-Gomm resigned his commission to become an unpaid home help to the old and the disabled, exchanging his comfortable London billet at Chelsea Barracks for a bedsit in Bermondsey, in the south-east of the city. Until his death, the once-dashing captain – tall and slender with a perpetual full beard to mask the shrapnel scars on his face – devoted himself to the care of countless people: not just the old and the disabled, or even the poor, but to anyone who was alone or simply lonely. Read more

I am the Rightful Duke of Lancaster

November 7th, 2008

If you enjoy the positively delicious nature of eccentricity in history I can recommend James Webb’s two books ‘The Occult Underground’ and ‘The Occult Establishment’. They are filled with gems like this:

‘About the same time, the extravagant lunatic who called himself Marshal-General George Henry de Strabolgie Neville Plantagenet Harrison, and who traced his pedigree back to Odin, was banned from the British Museum Reading Room for persisting in his claim to be the rightful Duke of Lancaster’

I think I’ll go down to the local library and see if I can borrow a book under his name – insisting that I too am the rightful Duke.