Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Call by Edith Ayrton Zangwill

Hi Dear Folk,

I just finished reading The Call, by Edith Ayrton Zangwill, first published in 1924.  One could say it was almost a biography of her step mother Hertha Ayrton.  Set in the Edwardian period, just before WWI and during the War.  Ursula Winfield the heroine of our story lives an upper class life in Kensington, living with her step father Colonel Hibert and mother  She has her own laboratory in the attic where she carries out experiments and writes her papers. She also becomes involved in the women's suffrage movement, for women to get the vote in the UK.

Ursula has studied a little under Professor Smee and he opens up an opportunity for her to be the first women to read a paper at an all male scientific institution.  Professor Vernon Smee lives a middle class life in a suburb of London with his wife Charlotte. He is in his forties and is smitten with Ursula and they have science in common.  Ursula is totally unaware of this, and just enjoys his company as a friend.

This period of time before the first world war was when women were asserting their rights. The right to equal opportunity of a job in a men's world, and the right to vote.  Her mother would just like to see her marry well.  Her mother married Andrew Winfield, and was told he was a little different which he turned out to be, going out to Australia and just making his fortune as he died, this certainly changed her circumstances in life and she marries Colonel Hibert, because a women needs to be married and a girl needs a father.  This family works well together, because she understands both her husband and her daughter, even if she would like her daughter to socialize more, instead of shutting herself away in the attic.

At the Henley Regatta Ursula's mother introduces her to Tony Balestier.

Yes, he was handsome, there was no doubt about it, although, perhaps, he hardly justified her mother's description of him as an Adonis.  Still, his fair, crisp hair, his blue eyes, his well-cut features were pleasant to look upon, while his figure was altogether admirable.  She notices that Professor Smee, who was standing near by, had suddenly grown short.  Why Mr. Balestier must be quite six foot two or three, although his excellent proportions kept one from realizing it.

Ursula's family go away for the summer up to their hunting lodge in Scotland, Ursula has stayed at home on her own to finish her experiments.  It had been her habit to take an early morning walk by the Serpentine and feed the ducks, where she runs into Tony Balestier.

Mr. Balestier was standing in front of her.  He was wearing grey flannels and a straw hat - evidently he considered London in August could be put on a country footing - and he looked very cool and big and altogether pleasant to the eye. And Ursula did feel pleased, although she was rather surprised at herself for doing so.  

Ursula's companion glanced at her with interest.  How mistaken he had been about Miss Winfield!  He had thought her to coldly clever for any human weakness, and here he found her feeding ducks and sympathizing with ragamuffins.

This relationship progresses to a quiet engagement understanding between them, much to her parents joy.  Tony must go off to a secretarial posting in India.  During his time away, Ursula becomes more involved in the suffrage movement.  Many of their letters cross in the mail or are late so she does not truly understand Tony's thinking on the suffrage movement and he hers.

She attends a meeting at the Albert Hall.

More interesting than the vehicles were the actual people all around her.  the great majority were naturally women- women of curiously diversified strata.  There was a large element in so-called artistic attire, rather untidy, rather attractive - at least Ursula found them so, although she could not help remembering the well-known quip, "Oh Liberty, what crimes are committed in they name."  There was another numerous and distinct contingent, probably ladies from Suburbia, the mamma's stout and unintellectual looking, the daughters slight and equally unintellectual looking, but all alike wearing the then fashionable large hat and long coat, the latter usually of a deplorable cut..... Another distinct class was present with which Ursula was less familiar, poorer women with sensible worn faces and toil-coarsened hands.  She guessed them rightly to be the wives of working men, probably mothers of large families.  There were also a sprinkling of working girls, more noisy and even smarter than the young ladies from Suburbia-perhaps hailing from East end factories.  

The Albert Hall was full except there were some empty seats held by 'Life Holders' and they would not release their seats for the suffrage movement, although they would for many other gathering at the hall.

It's interesting that I found this book The Call and it is under Women's Suffrage Literature, and you can learn a lot of history of what women did and how they went about getting the vote.  From lecture tours, passive resistance, imprisonment and hunger strikes.  Also just the down to earth life of traveling around the country giving lectures on the cause and staying at different peoples homes.  On one of these occasions Ursula is housed with Mrs. Todd and her daughters.  Mrs. Todd turns out to be the sister of Charlotte Smee.

"But it ain't the friendship being bad for 'Im that I'm thinking about!"  Her voice shook.  "It's my sister, my little Charlotte - for she'll allies be that to me.  When she was 'ere she spent 'alf 'er time crying - crying because o' you.  You've taken away all the 'happiness of 'er life - an' that weren't over much." .....

Menfolk is born silly, but that's why we women 'as got to stand up for each other.  Ain't that what suffrage mostly means?"

"Yes, that is what suffrage mostly means," Ursula agreed slowly.

All of this is a total revelation to Ursula, who had no understanding of the situation she had put herself in and that she was the cause of such unhappiness.

1914 comes and WWI Tony is enlisted and all the worry that comes with that.  For several years he has a behind the lines posting, which he finds out has been wangled for him, by a relative. When he finds out he immediately revolts against this and gets himself transferred to the front.

Ursula has been working on a device to extinguish liquid fire, a terrible weapon of war used in the trenches.  She thinks it will be greeted with welcome arms when she presents her invention, only to find out that it is not.  This similarly happened to Hertha Ayrton, who invented a design to sweep poison gases from the trenches which was originally dismissed by the War Office.

True Moloch had gripped them nearly all into his service either at home or abroad.

Moloch is a pagan god mentioned in the Bible who the Israelites offered up their children to in the fire.

I will not go any further or spoil the ending.  This book is rich in detail and feelings of the period.


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

A Town Like Alice

Hi Dear Folk,

The thunder is rolling around, It rained fiercely but is now gently raining, and I'm happy because I do not need to go out and water the garden, and it is deliciously cooler again.

I have been immersing myself in A Town Like Alice, I found the full 1980 series on YouTube, it is one of my most favorite stories.  So after watching that I had to go and read the book.  It seems appropriate to read it in the heat of summer, because so much of the story is based in warmer climates, Malaya and the Gulf Coast, Queensland.

The series has a lot of verbiage right out of the book and follows it quite closely with a few minor changes.  The book fills you in on more mundane story line, but still very interesting.  In the series Joe Harmon was played by Bryan Brown, he is tall and dark haired, where as in the book Joe Harmon is described as five foot ten and stocky, with blond hair, clear skin and very blue eyes, which would be a fair description of my father when young.  So all through reading the book it was easy to visualize my father,  who was a very down to earth man and good to have around in a bad situation.  Jean Paget was played by Helen Morse and I think she fits the description.

Jean and Joe meet in Malaya during WWII when it was under Japanese rule.  Joe is an Australian prisoner of war driving the trucks transporting metal rails used to build the infamous railway lines they built during their occupation, with one prisoner of war dying for every sleeper laid.  Jean is with a group of English women and children being walked all over Malaya, because the Japanese do not know what to do with them.  Eating very little and getting no medical attention.  Joe thinks that Jean is married as she always has a baby with her and Jean thinks that he was executed by the Japanese for stealing the commandants black chickens, to give them a square meal.  Six years later 1948, both find out that the later is incorrect, so they both go looking for each other, and that's the very basics of the story.

Joe is a ringer in the Gulf Coast managing a thousand square miles cattle station, but it is very remote, not the place for a women, straight from England.  Willstown the nearest town has nothing to it, just the usual hotel and bar, few businesses of necessity.  The description in the book, of the house that he lives in on Midhurst homestead, is actually so much nicer than was depicted in the series, more like the house depicted in Road from Coorain if you ever watched that, which I cannot find on YouTube and wish I could.

The homestead was a fairly large building that stood high off the ground on posts, so that you climbed eight feet up a flight of steps to reach the veranda and the one floor of the house.

Since the book was written in 1950 by Neville Shute, some expressions I do not think would be politically correct now, or may not even be used anymore, obviously such as Jap and Abo, but other terms are "Too right," "Crook place," and one which Joe says frequently is "Oh my word." And other such Australian terms.

Last week I visited my friend Candyce, her MIL was from Australia, and we went through her photo album, which came into their possession after her FIL died.  He was in the American Army Air force as it was called in WWII, stationed in Australia and that is where they met.  So it has been a WWII Australian era immersion over the past couple of weeks.

Today I got a blood test, as I was bit by a tick and unfortunately in this day and age you can catch all sorts of nasty things from tick bites.  I asked for two tests one to show if I have recently been exposed to Lyme disease and the other to show if I've ever been in contact with it.  There is a lot of controversial thought as to how one should treat past exposure.  Current exposure is treated with a one month course of antibiotics, but past exposure is not treated.

A pot of tea on the patio with my book.

We haven't been away on vacation this year, so last Saturday treated ourselves to a South American meal.  The restaurant here Tierra Columbiana was recommended by a friend.  It is in an area of Philly that one would not want to be in after dark.  But the restaurant is very nice.

Rob had a Columbian meal.  Rob had a sunny up fried egg on his meal, which rather reminded me of the outback Australian breakfast of eggs and steak.

Bob had Cuban.

I had Dominican Republic.

I wore my Indian jewelry, which seemed appropriate with such a meal, if jewelry actually goes with a meal.

We treated The Boy to dinner and he treated us to Mango Marguerites, which he said were the best he had tasted.  Portions are good so we all had left overs to take home.  Yummy!


Friday, July 28, 2017

The Summer of Gloom

Hi Dear Folk,

The young FedEx driver came in with his usual daily delivery, he wears dreadlocks tied up in a bandanna, somehow he can carry it off, he's a nice guy.  He said it is so dull, but cooler, but would like to see some sun.   I have to agree.  We have had a lot of gloomy days this summer, so I'm calling it The Summer of Gloom.  It is cooler and not going back up into the nineties until the middle of next week, but I do like to see some sun and blue skies.

We've also had a lot of rain.  I was only out of my garden for a couple of days and went to get through the back gate, and could hardly do so, I almost need a machete to cut myself through the grape vine, which had totally attached itself to the hedge across the gateway.

Today the ladies bathrooms on the tenth floor were not working, that's where my office is on the tenth floor.  The make shift sign said go up to the twelfth floor, which I did,  but my ladies room key would not open the twelfth floor bathroom/WC.  Plan two down to the lobby and take the other set of elevators up to the second floor where they have a digital code to get in the bathrooms there and I know it.  We have three sets of four elevators, twelve in all that run up and down to different floors in the building, so you are not stopping on every floor on the way up and down, makes sense, but sometimes one has to go down to come up.  They do say the ladies WC will be working again by Monday.

Mr. B. says he has made curry for dinner tonight.  This is totally for The Boy and I as Mr. B. hates curry or anything hotly related, which meant when we went to New Mexico it wasn't his best vacation eating experience, I loved it.  Mr. B's curry means chicken with a jar of Indian curry sauce added, which he buys from Aldi's and brown rice.  I think they're pretty good, but do like to make my own, still he tries to please, and that's what counts and dinner is ready when I get home.


Saturday, July 22, 2017

Bring On The Rain and French Pastries

H Dear Folk,

We've just had a torrential downpour and I heard some glass tinkle, so that must mean something broke as the garden umbrella near the back door tipped over.  I was sitting out under my wisteria, and was quite sheltered from the rain, in fact for too long, by the time I thought really should go in I got quite wet trying to make it to the back door.  Now it is tailing off and it must be ten degrees cooler, merciful coolness it has been so hot.

The Boy and I took a trip out together today to Bowman's Tavern where we had lunch. So nice just to sit and chat with ones adult son. I had ciabatta with roast lamb, portobello mushroom and goats cheese, it was very good, Rob had the Reueben along with a shandy and I had an Brooklyn IPA, went down well on such a hot day.

After lunch we went over to Bowman's Wild Preserve and walked some of the trails, but didn't over do it because of the heat.

Hard to catch the dappled sunlight playing on the bridge and foliage.

The weed looked amazing flowing with the current of water coming off the little water fall, when I got home I realized should have taken video of it.  Still life does not capture the beauty of movement.

This dragon fly looked like a bi plane with two decks of wings.

Onto New Hope, where we stopped in the Indian shop there and I bought some lovely Lily of the Valley natural fragrant oil from India, not sure if one equates Lily of the Valley with India, but certainly they have an abundance of flowers.  I had wanted to get their Jasmine, but they were out of it.

We only had enough quarters for one hour and twenty minutes on the meter, which soon passes.  We stopped off for iced coffees and French pastries, treating Mr. B. to two chocolate delights as he was not able to come with us.  One being a chocolate mouse cake and the other which Rob and I could not resist was a Religieuse, which they had both in chocolate and coffee.  Rob and I had these for lunch one day when we visited Versailles, happy memories, sitting in the town square, eating our quiche and Religieuse and here we are today sitting outside in the shade at some tables that overlooked the Delaware River, eating our Religieuse, very nice.

French favourite – choux pastry buns filled with a smooth vanilla crème patissiere (pastry cream) and coated with dark chocolate ganache. Each bun is decorated with a frilly white collar of whipped crème to make it resemble a miniature nun. 


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Art of Sitting

Hi Dear Folk,

The Art of Sitting, I think it must be called that because I feel in this day and age it is very hard to still oneself and enjoy the moment.  Why though should a body run hither and thither doing this and that, when at times you should grab the moment.

This afternoon I did just that, the picture above encapsulates that.  A little reading and a little crochet sitting by the pond, in the shade and dappled sunlight of a 95 f day, it feels well over a 100 f with the humidity, although blue is to be seen in the sky.

I am reading The Call by Edith Zangwill,  I think it would make a very good BBC TV series and could probably be covered in three one half hour episodes or five one hour episodes.  Will write a review when finished.

The crochet I am working on is revisited Japanese Flower scarf which I finished a couple of years ago.  I realized that I did not wear it so much last winter and I think it was because the flowers although sewn together, seemed to be continually pulling apart by the weight, has anyone else had this problem?

So I picked apart the joins and I am now crocheting them into granny squares, because a lot of work went into all those flowers and I love that Japanese flower design.  My first thought was black, but I opted for a pretty silver grey and I'm glad I did, it's more subtle.  I worked out my own edging to turn the Japanese Flower into a square, maybe I'll write my pattern up.  Someone might be interested.  After they are all done, I want to find a nice way of joining them, something that's lacy, open crochet, we will see.  Something more secure for another scarf, and I may used any excess for a hat.

This morning I was out and wore a new summer dress I found at the thrift,  as you can see the colours are blues, turquoise, greens and white and reminds me of sixties colours, I'm sure my mum had a dress in not to dissimilar colours.

We always used to say as kids:

"Blue and Green should never be seen except upon a Gypsy Queen."

Have no idea where that came from.

A bracelet I've had for years, goes very well with it and some glass earrings I made eons ago but haven't worn much are just right for this dress.  The front neck needs a little pin tuck to pull it in, but will not even show on the design.

I treated myself to this handy hold all for what ever you want to use it for.  I like the one with the Paris themed design on it, but it was the only one left and the pocket was mis-aligned and I knew that would drive me crazy, is anyone else like that?  So opted for the pink one on sale.

On the way back from grocery shopping Mr.B. found well over one hundred bricks stacked out front of a house with a free sign.  He bought some home, so I said we might as well go back and get the rest.  Yes in my new car in the trunk, I know I should have got a hatchback.  Have you ever priced bricks they are quite expensive,  just to do a simple project in the garden.  So these replaced some bricks that had disintegrated over the past winter, also freebies, but I think these are better bricks.  There are still more left over for a couple more pathways, or some edging.

I have eaten three bowls of my blackberries, somehow I seem to be getting there before the birds, although I can see they've had some.  They are a little tart, but great with maple syrup or honey and heavy cream, very good.

Obviously I am no vine pruner, as the grape vines art up into the oak tree.

My writing journal that Rob bought for me.

It lays nice and flat to write in easily.

Maybe Mr. B. needs some kind of dinner.

Bye for now, and may all your summer days be dappled sunlight.


Fish and Chips

Hi Dear Folk,

All of a sudden I have a great hankering for Fish and Chips.  As a child growing up in the UK of the fifties and sixties, the only fast food we ever ate was fish and chips.  There may have been Chinese around but that was alien and out of our family sphere.

I remember staying at my grans and she took me to a fish shop not too dissimilar to the one below.  I don't think things changed in many ways from the thirties to the fifties, what with the war in between.

The Fish and Chip Shop by Cliff Rowe 1936

Our local fish and chip shop was called Hank's, not sure if that was even it's name but that is what we called it and it stood near to the corner of Hockerill Street traffic light in Bishop's Stortford.  The picture below was exactly how their fryer looked.

Fish and chips were always eaten on holiday in UK and I think they are still part of it, with salt and vinegar, wrapped in newspaper and eaten down by the quay side looking at the boats and being bombed by the seagulls.


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Lure Lake and Chimney Rock State Park, NC

Hi Dear Folk,

Just a few pics of The Boy's weekend at Lure Lake and Chimney Rock State Park.

The above is a pic from the internet and this must be why it is called Chimney Rock.  I believe that is Lure Lake in the distance.

Tierney and Rob at Lure Lake beach.

At a Candy Shop.

Rob surprised me with a lovely hand made journal.  He bought it at a street craft venue in Ashville.  Hand made, the cover is from an old book, the internal pages are made with bound signatures and it lays very flat, so great for writing in.  I'm looking forward to using it.


Saturday, July 15, 2017

Rise Of A Star by Edith Ayrton-Zangwill

Hi Dear Folk,

I have not written a book review for such a long while, mostly time is against me,  I've read some good books and would have loved to have shared my thoughts.

Edith Ayrton-Zangwill, here is a good bio of her life.  Married to Israel Zangwill  She was a member of the London National Society for Women's Suffrage and later joined the more militant group Women Social and Political Union.  Edith was very influenced by the women in her life, her mother and her step mother, leading women in their field of work and views on society, working for the vote for women.

In Rise Of A Star, the characters are Francis West, her stage name nee Lennox, an actress who has after twenty years on the boards of acting, traveling the circuits, is just about to make it to bigger venues.  Her daughter Imogen, who Mrs. Lennox has spent every penny on sending her to the best schools out East, John Vandeleur a multi millionaire copper baron, Hobson her manager, Joan North nee Joan Vandeleur, daughter and rising star in the field of acting. Adam Fletcher a playwright and socialist union leader.

Francis West has just reached the plato of minor stardom in her part as an old Irish woman, when Mr. Vandeleur begs an audience of her, she has no idea what this is about, but has heard of him.  John Vandeleur in this forties is smitten with eighteen year old Imogen, who is very lovely.  The one obstacle as Mr. Vandeleur sees it is Frances West actress, because everyone knows how he views the theatre life.

"Really Mrs. Lennox, I cannot understand you."  Mr. Vandeleur made a great effort to control himself. "Surely your work cannot be so attractive," he suggested; "traveling around the country in cheap, little Vaudeville companies, dressed up as a vulgar, old Irish woman!"

For the love of her dear daughter Imogen, Mrs. Lennox gives up the theatre, Imogen marries Mr. Vandeleur and Francis is ensconced in a nice apartment in NYC not far from their palatial residence on 5th Avenue.

In this little arrangement of marriage and domesticity, nobody turns out to be happy.  The main cause of this is Imogen, Imogen is totally selfish and almost incapable of loving anyone except for herself.  She very much likes her position and along comes a baby, named Joan.

Joan has a series of nannies but does not thrive as a baby in fact there is fear of death.  She has all that money can buy but no affection, Mrs. Lennox her grandma is in dispare and appeals to John to let her look after the baby for a while, he despairingly lets her do so.  Joan begins to thrive and here is built up a loving lasting relationship between the two.

Mrs. Lennox was forbidden to refer to her acting career, so Joan never knew anything about it, but at school she discovers she loves acting, has a passion for acting and I'm sure you can see where this is going to go.  At eighteen, by this time she knows her grandmother once had been an actress, they contact Mr. Hobson and he gets her a part with a touring company as an understudy in the play Viva another successful play touring at the same time is Under Dog, written by Adam Fletcher.

Many adventures happen during their impoverished years on the circuit, Joan did not take her jewelry but was advised by her grandmother that she should at least take her clothes, including a fur coat each of which both had to be porned.

During all this time Francis has thought about her daughter, but Imogen has not thought about them, she has carried on in different little flirtations with poets and politicians, this happens one too many times and Mr. Vandeleur comes home to find Imogen In flagrante delicto with Senator Baxtor.  Senator Baxter is not happy with the way Vandeleur spoke to him in front of the servants, he swears to get even with him.  This is the last straw for the Vandeleur marriage, and Imogen may just love this one.  Off she goes to Kentucky for a period to be granted on their divorce.

The Senator laughed as he read the letter over his breakfast table in his Washington apartment.  "She's a devilish lovely women," he murmured, "but what a lot of words she takes to say that she wants a good hug!

Grandma becomes very ill with pneumonia and has to go into a nursing home Joan has to find a way to pay for this.  Eventually things get so bad that she is working as a waitress, but there is a certain young man who keeps coming to sit at her tables, Adam Fletcher.  He eventually reveals that he wrote Under Dog and has a new play and would she play the lead part in it.

The play is called The Combine, set in the garment industry.  The lead part is about a young girl union activist, her grandmother can play the part of the older women who does not want to join, how is she to feed her children?  The play has only partial success, as the ending is not what appeals to the audience, Joan does not reach the fame and stardom that she thought she would, although playing the part very well.  She leaves the company to work for a minor Shakespearean repertory company in New England and grandma continues on the circuit, her part is well loved.  Mr. Hobson is not too happy with Joan's decision for her "art" as she says, but is never one to hold a grudge.

Mr. Fletcher writes another play with a happier ending, on the advise of Mr. Hobson.

"I am afraid it would hardly do, Mr. Hobson."  Adam Fletcher smiled. "You will have to content yourself with my play ending well."

"I guessed you'd say so.  Anyway, it will make them like your play all the better- be more of a contrast."

"It will be a contrast all right!"  This time Fletcher laughed out loud.  "Then that is settled?"

"Yes, but you've got to answer for Miss North;  I ain't going to be turned down a second time.  I suppose if we write her at Miss West's, that will find?  By the way, where's your contract to be mailed?"

"To Wood Haven, Maine."

"Why ain't that where Miss West - ?"  A smile broke over Mr. Hobson's face.  He felt that he had put two and two together, or rather one and one.  "Well, you let me have that play real soon.  I tell you there's rich human blood in it.  that's what the public wants, my boy - blood.  They're sick to death of the Ibsen-Shaw-Maeterlinck gang."

This book was published in 1918 and I think the above reference to the Ibsen-Shaw-Maeterlinck gang is quite interesting, and made me laugh.

The authors ideologies come through in this book, especially with the character of Adam Fletcher, not only a playwright but an ardent Union leader, willing to travel the country for working men.

Sometimes I have found books of the late eighteen hundreds long winded, even though good reads, but the date of the publication takes this book out of that time into a more paired down way of telling a story and it works.

There are still more turns and twists before the end, but it is an excellent read.  I hope you are able to find this book in the archives of one of your libraries.

I am now onto read The Call, also by Edith Zangwill, to be published by Persephone Books next Autumn 2018

I enjoyed sharing this book with you.


Friday, July 14, 2017

Fig Tree and New Garden Pot

Hi Dear Folk,

Although overcast and humid, temps did drop with rain overnight.  Coming home Thursday evening I saw the darkening clouds and kept thinking will we make it?  We were already ten minutes late leaving the station in Philadelphia, we made it all the way to one of the three stops in my town, when, because of us being late the south bound train had started on it's journey back to Philadelphia and the only place it could pass was in the main station, so here we are held up another ten minutes, so of course just as we reached the last stop on the line and my stop, the heavens opened up.  I sat in the station portico area for a while until it got a little better, but there was nothing to be done but to go for it and make my way to the car, quite a little walk.  I did have an umbrella, but my shoes and feet were soaked along with the bottom of my skirt.  To top it all I had a part on our Thursday night meeting, talk about drowned rat syndrome.

The Boy left for a trip to Lake Lure, NC, just a long weekend, but when your young that's what you do with friends, drive miles for a weekend away.  I did it myself when young, Tennessee and back for a friends wedding on a long weekend why not?  Thought nothing of it, I would now.

Last weekend Rob took a quick trip up to Gloucester, MA to see Tierney.  Here are a couple of his phone pics. Where Tierney lives is like being on vacation all the time, it is so picturesque.

Here are some pics of what's blooming in the garden.

I am so thrilled with the pot I bought to plant my fig tree in, here it is.  The colour combination of green and blue, reminds me of some sixties dinner plates I bought in a charity shop years ago in England.  I will compare the growth of the two fig tress, one planted in the garden and the other in a pot.

I'm enjoying this little grouping of pots on the old tree stump.

Have a great weekend.

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