“A dark horse which had never been thought of,…

…and which the careless St. James had never even observed in the list, rushed past the *grandstand in sweeping triumph.” Benjamin Disraeli: “The Young Duke” (1831).

From: Rosebery – Statesman in Turmoil (2005), by Leo McKinstry:

“…stories of conspiracies, no matter how absurdly based, swirled around Rosebery throughout his life. The Oscar Wilde trial of 1895 and the row over the Jameson Raid in 1896 were two later examples in this pattern. The reason for this probably lay in the air of mystery and reserve with which Rosebery tended to shroud himself, provoking others to think he was permanently engaged in dubious activities. When he was in Downing Street as Prime Minister, for example, Rosebery insisted on great privacy, as Loulou Harcourt reported. ‘He says that the pillar room must be kept available for his visitors and has given special instructions that a man coming in to see him shall not meet the man going out – so like his love of secrecy.’ After a dinner in Lansdowne House in July 1886, Joseph Chamberlain admitted to Hamilton that he found Rosebery ‘a little too scheming and calculating’, while John Morley famously described him as a ‘dark horse’; Morley once in a conversation with the Liberal peer Lord Rendel argued that Rosebery had a ‘secret cupboard’ in his life, and Rendel asked, ‘Is the dark place in Rosebery not, in fact, a void?’ Even those most sympathetic to him could feel this; Regy Brett, having tended to hero-worship in his youth, later complained of Rosebery’s ‘silly mystery’ when talking to friends, and said he was ‘too lacking in frankness for perfect intimacy’.”

*From Online Etymology Dictionary:

grandstand (n.)

“main seating for spectators at an outdoor event,” 1761 (two words), from grand (adj.) + stand (n.). The verb meaning “to show off” is student slang from 1895, from grandstand player, attested in baseball slang from 1888.

It’s little things of this sort which makes the ‘grand stand player.’ They make impossible catches, and when they get the ball they roll all over the field. [M.J. Kelly, “Play Ball,” 1888]

Compare British gallery hit (1882) “showy play by a batsman in cricket, ‘intended to gain applause from uncritical spectators'” [OED]. Related: grandstanding.”

The original theme tune for BBC’s “Grandstand” was “News Scoop” by Len Stevens (born as Herbert Leonard Stevens), who died in 1989.His tune was used until 6 November 1971.


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