From Malibu to Alderney

Raphael Satter reported at on 8.3.13:

“A rough, whitish block recovered from an Elizabethan shipwreck may be a sunstone, the fabled crystal believed by some to have helped Vikings and other medieval seafarers navigate the high seas, researchers say.

In a paper published earlier this week, a Franco-British group argued that the Alderney Crystal—a chunk of Icelandic calcite found amid a 16th century wreck at the bottom of the English Channel—worked as a kind of solar compass, allowing sailors to determine the position of the sun even when it was hidden by heavy cloud, masked by fog, or below the horizon.

That’s because of a property known as birefringence, which splits light beams in a way that can reveal the direction of their source with a high degree of accuracy. Vikings may not have grasped the physics behind the phenomenon, but that wouldn’t present a problem…”

On May 2, 2008, The Associated Press reported:

“Born Julia Elizabeth Wells, Andrews got her start in show business at 9, when she joined her pianist mother in her vaudeville act. Andrews was soon winning audiences on her own with what she called her “freakish voice,” which spanned three octaves.

Meanwhile, her mother was often on the road, especially when she hooked up with a handsome singer-guitarist from Canada, Ted Andrews. Eventually, she married him, and at 17, Julie Wells became Julie Andrews.

In “Home,” she writes that she didn’t really trust her mother.

“I think that the best way to explain that is that my mother gave me all the color and character and flare and liveliness, and my father gave me all the sanity and nature and all the things that helped me be a more rounded human being,” Andrews said.

“My dad (Wells), being as decent a man as he was, if he said he was going to be somewhere, he was. My mum could be unpredictable. I didn’t doubt that she didn’t love me — I know she did, and I her.

“But being in show business, dealing with alcoholics (Ted Andrews) and becoming an alcoholic herself, she was not as reliable as was my dad.”

When she was writing “Home,” Andrews had the advantage of an in-house critic: her husband of 38 years, writer-director Blake Edwards (“Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “The Pink Panther” comedies and other movies).

“One of the few comments that Blake made about the book was that ‘characters make your story.’ I had such characters to write about — my aunts and uncles, the people I worked with, Tim White,” she recalled.

T.H. White, the eccentric author of the classic Arthurian tale “The Once and Future King,” lived in solitude on the tiny English Channel island of Alderney. Andrews and her husband at the time, set and costume designer Tony Walton, visited him and ended up buying a small place on the island. White was delighted that she would play Guinevere in a Broadway musical, “Camelot,” an adaptation of his work.

Although White could be cordial, he could also become quarrelsome. One night in an island cafe, he behaved so abominably that Tony and Julie, who was pregnant with Emma (born November 1962) called him on it. He stalked out.”

Helen Macdonald, Writer. VESPER FLIGHTS, H IS FOR HAWK. tweeted on 19.4.13:

“In 1960, Julie Andrews gave T.H. White a pair of red tights for Christmas.”–th-white-in-alderney/zfkymfr

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