*Whistle down the wind

Image: Wick House, Richmond Hill. Historic England: “The projecting porch has Tower of the Winds (refers to capital design) columns, and a fluted and medallioned frieze, with fanlight above. At the back is a large segmental full-height bay embracing one end of the oval drawing room.”

A contributor to phrases.org.uk writes:

“The ‘down the wind’ part of *the phrase comes from the sport of falconry. When hawks are released to hunt they are sent upwind and when turned loose for recreation they are sent downwind. Thus, to ‘whistle someone/thing down the wind’ is to cast it off to its own fate. Shakespeare alluded to this in “Othello”, 1604:

“If I do prove her haggard, Though that her jesses [leather straps] were my dear heartstrings, I’ld whistle her off and let her down the wind, To pray at fortune.”

The first appearance of the phrase as we now know it that I can find in print comes from Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, 1826:

“Surely someone who can whistle down the wind this painful weakness of his nature … is an anomaly, not a man.” ”

The actor Hayley Mills told The Sunday Times in November 2015:

“My parents, the actor Sir John Mills and the playwright Mary Hayley Bell, bought the Wick, at the top of Richmond Hill in southwest London, when I was six. It was a beautiful Georgian house that had been built in 1775 — the rooms looked down the hill towards the Thames snaking away in the distance.

The first school I remember is the Old Vicarage School, halfway up Richmond Hill in London. It was a private day school, girls only. I started when I was seven. We lived at the top of the hill and I distinctly remember walking home because the climb always made my socks fall down.

It was a large house with lovely high ceilings, and all the rooms at the front (ie overlooking the garden) were oval. It also had a beautiful sloping garden planted with a walnut tree and azaleas, which was my mother’s pride and joy. Tucked away in a courtyard, she had a Romany caravan where she did her writing.

I vividly remember the tappity-tap of her typewriter when I arrived home from school.”

From the BFI list of “the 50 films you should see by the age of 14”:

Cary Bazalgette, head of education at the British Film Institute, said: “It’s quite a controversial list that’s likely to provoke continuing debate, but that’s the idea. We want people to discuss what children should see, rather than what they shouldn’t see.”

Whistle Down the Wind appears, alphabetically, between Whale Rider (2002) and The White Balloon (1995).

Sergio Angelini writes for BFI screenonline:

“Mary Hayley Bell, wife of actor John Mills, used their three children Hayley, Juliet and Jonathan as the inspiration for the main characters in her 1957 novella Whistle Down the Wind. It was probably inevitable that the film version directed by Bryan Forbes in 1961 would star Hayley Mills: not only was she at that point the most popular child star in the world, but the film’s producer Richard Attenborough was also a good friend of the family…

…Forbes contrasts location shots of the children dwarfed in the vast countryside with scenes filmed in the cramped studio barn. This is particularly effective in the film’s climactic dialogue scene between Kathy and the stranger. The alternating shots of Hayley Mills and Alan Bates – she outside the barn and he inside, with only a small high window to communicate through – help make the sense of disappointment and vanquished innocence almost palpable.

A major part of the film’s charm lies in the score composed by Malcolm Arnold, which features a jaunty arrangement of the traditional carol ‘We Three Kings’ which he humorously links to the three children…”

From 20thebarons.co.uk:

“Richard Attenborough and his wife and fellow actor Sheila Sim lived in Richmond for over 60 years. They moved to Old Friars, on Richmond Green, in 1949, two years after Attenborough had created one of the most enduring screen characters when he reprised his stage role as Pinkie in John Boulting and Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock (1947). Old Friars is a beautiful Queen Anne house dating back to 1687, which in the nineteenth century had been the headquarters of the Richmond Liberal and Radical Club.”

From Wikipedia:

“Sir Malcolm Henry Arnold (1921 – 2006) began his career playing trumpet professionally, but by the age of 30 his life was devoted to composition. He was ranked with Benjamin Britten as one of the most sought-after composers in Britain. His natural melodic gift earned him a reputation as a composer of light music in works such as some of his concert overtures and the sets of Welsh, English, Scottish, Irish and Cornish dances. He was also a highly successful composer of film music, penning the scores to over a hundred features and documentaries, including titles such as The Bridge on the River Kwai, Hobson’s Choice and the St Trinian’s series. His nine symphonies are often deeply personal and show a more serious side to his work. Arnold also wrote a variety of concertos and chamber works, as well as music for the theatre including major ballets.”

From imdb.com:

“The siffleur on the soundtrack (of Whistle Down the Wind) is Producer Sir Richard Attenborough.”

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