On air: This Was The Week That Was

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The Independent Culture
Today On this day in 1927 TS Eliot, formerly of Harvard and Lloyds Bank, became a British citizen; the poet was persuaded to stick around in England by Ezra Pound, who thus showed himself to be not entirely mad.

Tomorrow German publisher Karl Baedeker was born in 1801; his scholarly architectural guidebooks were used for the WWII `Baedeker raids' in which bombers looked up somewhere splendid - and zapped it.

Wednesday In 1809 Felix Mendelssohn died at 38, when his life was scarcely in its third movement. Fortunately he had begun his musical career during his personal overture, ie at the age of nine, and while travelling was inspired to compose music (Hebrides Overture and the Scottish Symphony) the way other people wrote postcards.

Thursday The British Board of Film Censors was appointed 1912. It had two certificates for the silent movies then being made: `Universal' and `Not Suitable for Children'. Neither category would have covered the X- rated dramas of screen lover Rudolph Valentino, whose 1919 marriage lasted six hours, during which he was locked out of the bridal chamber.

Friday Adolphe Sax, inventor of the sax-horn, saxtromba and sax-tuba, was born in 1814. He also invented the saxophone but, in the absence of jazz musicians to blow it, the sax maniac died in poverty.

Saturday Singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell was born in Canada in 1943. A big hand please for the great line in Big Yellow Taxi, her eco-lament: "They took all the trees, put them in the tree museum."

Sunday Heaven's Gate, premiered in 1980, making diabolical losses of $30m. Since then, just as the suffix "gate" after a politician's name denotes a scandal, it can be added to a movie title, signifying a box office black hole, as in Titanic-gate (if only). In 1963 police seized copies of the 250-year-old erotic novel Fanny Hill; these days they have to buy the Penguin paperback like everyone else.

Jonathan Sale

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