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Monday, 5 May 2014


The captions to this and the rest of the pictures in this article may be discovered 
by reading Adam Yamey's  Charlie Chaplin waved to me 

Capturing memories of youth...

"The attic of my parents’ house in north London contained a number of old Revelation suitcases. These were plastered with ageing colourful paper stickers bearing the names of shipping lines and also of places such as: Cape Town, Southampton, Harwich, New York, Montreal, and Rotterdam. Had they been animate and able to speak, what tales they would have been able to tell!

If, as a child, I had become a suitcase, I too would have been covered with an exotic assortment of stickers including some of those mentioned above. But, I did not become a piece of baggage, and the stickers that I carry are not made of paper. Instead, they are memories stuck in various compartments of my brain. Unlike the inanimate objects in the attic in the eaves of our house, I am able to speak: to divulge my impressions of the places that I visited in my childhood; to describe the remarkable people I met in those places; and to reveal the unusual experiences that resulted from travelling with my learned father and my talented mother."

Adam Yamey's latest book, Charlie Chaplin waved to me, contains his memories of the holidays and trips that he took with his parents, mostly during the first eighteen years of his life. 

They are worth relating because they differed markedly from the kinds of holidays that most people took during the 1960s and 1970s. Rather than exposing their children to the sun on the beach, his parents preferred to expose their 'kids' to cultural experiences that, they hoped, would benefit them in the future. This was due to Adam's father’s great interest in the history of art, which resulted from his mother having been an artist. Whereas now he appreciates what they did for him then, he did not always do so at the time ...

Here is a very brief extract from the book:

 ... my mother noticed a gondola draped with green cloths pulling up at the corner where the nearby small side canal, which ran alongside the Pensione Seguso, met the much larger Giudecca Canal. The gondolier, a young man, was dressed in green livery that matched the drapes on his highly polished black boat.

Soon after this gondola had moored, we noticed our elderly American fellow diner emerging from the main entrance of the Calcina. He headed straight for the recently arrived gondola, and then boarded it. Next, he sat down, and then started reading a newspaper whilst the gondolier began to row him across the Giudecca Canal. We watched his gondola crossing the water until it disappeared into one of the small canals that traversed the Giudecca Island. We were fascinated and intrigued. After he was out of sight, we began our morning’s activity.

My mother was never shy when she needed to know something. So, after lunch that day, she stopped our mysterious American lunch neighbour and asked him about the gondola and its liveried oarsman. He explained that everyday, he was ferried out into the lagoon in the gondola. When he reached the lagoon, he took over the oar and rowed around the waters of the lagoon for an hour before handing the oar back to the gondolier, who then rowed him back to the Calcina in time for lunch. Remarkable as it was that a non-Venetian could row a gondola competently, what he told us next was even more amazing.

Mr Milliken, as he identified himself, was, as my father was most excited to learn, none other than the director of the well-respected Cleveland Art Museum in the USA. The liveried gondolier, who we had observed, was the grandson of his late mother’s personal gondolier. She used to accompany Mr Milliken on his annual visits to Venice before WW2, and employed her own gondolier during her stays. "

"Charlie Chaplin waved to me"

by Adam Yamey

is available from:


AMAZON (including KINDLE)