Routh, Jonathan Reginald Surdeval
Jonathan Routh was a painter, author and actor born November 24, 1927 in England. At Cambridge University he researched Queen Victoria and participated in theatrical projects. He founded the groundbreaking Candid Camera TV programme. He has written a series of books with such diverse titles as “The Nuns Go on Holiday,” and the legendary “The Secret Life of Queen Victoria.” He spent most of the years of his life in Jamaica. He has exhibited often at Harmony Hall, and in London, Paris, Rome, Palm Beach, New York and Washington.
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Routh featured Queen Victoria in a string of paintings inspired from life at the renowned Jamaican resort, Round Hill – one of them featuring the “unamused” monarch water-skiing – and in the book, The Secret Life of Queen Victoria (1979).
The book aimed to cover Queen Victoria’s disappearance between 22 March and 10 June 1871. Lord Braborough released extracts of what he alleged was the diary the Queen kept during her visit to Jamaica, which coincided with these dates.
Following a success with Candid Radio, Routh started Candid Camera around 1961 for ABC TV. Following a long dispute with the American lawyers of Allen Funt as to who held the rights to Candid Camera, Routh moved on to new fields, working with John Beard for Granada TV, along with Germaine Greer and Kenny Everett in Nice Time. He also worked in television advertising on spots such as J. Walter Thompson’s for Smarties and Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, appearing also in some spots himself, for example Newcastle Brown Ale.
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Jamaica Holiday – The Secret Life of Queen Victoria
What’s not to like about a book that includes the following entry in its index:
“Victoria, Queen: removes one of her under vests, 9; speaks highly of Bubble & Squeak, 11; refuses a goat chop for breakfast, 15; contrite about not opening an Aberdeen waterworks, 15; has golden syrup spilt over her, 26; runs, jumps, and somersaults, 29; walks on a tightrope, 33; shot out of a cannon, 37; dons eagle’s wings, 40; swings through a forest, 40; makes balloon ascent, 42; plays tiddlywinks with Miss Biggy the Fat Lady, 53; imitates a hen, 65; bargains for a goat, 66; visits a dubious establishment, 71; involved in a bar brawl, 71-72; in prison, 72; with hiccoughs, 77; upside down, 86; catches a packet, 88.”
Jamaica Holiday: The Secret Life of Queen Victoria by Jonathan Routh, first published in 1979, purports to be the diary kept by the queen during an incognito visit to the island in 1871.
The queen gets up to all sorts of adventures, all related through wry prose and more than three dozen whimsical paintings. She goes golfing and water skiing, learns to limbo dance and twirl the hula hoop, consorts with a sugar planter who prefers not to wear clothes, and smokes the wacky weed, among many other improbable, and hilarious, things.
This charming book is out of print, but signed first edition copies are readily available from the Chisholm Gallery, LLC.
Routh himself is a very interesting character, a former British television star who developed Candid Camera for ABC in the early 1960s and the author of tongue-in-cheek guides to public toilets and tea shops in London, Paris, and New York City.
Guidebooks created with John Glashan
With John Glashan, Routh created an unusual set of small guidebooks: The Good Loo Guide and The Good Cuppa Guide (both about London), The Guide Porcelaine to the Loos of Paris, and The Better John Guide (about New York). The humor owed much to the apparent seriousness, and to the affectionate parody of the connoisseurship of The Good Food Guide (then as now a trove of information on fine eating).
The Good Loo Guide
The Good Loo Guide, a compact fifty-page booklet subtitled “Where to Go in London,” written with Brigid Segrave and “conveniently illustrated” by John Glashan, was the first of the series, published in London by Wolfe in 1965. A note on the copyright page sets the tone: This is an impartial guide. Our visits to loos have been anonymous. We have not declared ourselves even after making use of the establishment’s facilities. Nor have we at any time accepted hospitality, but paid cash for all chargeable facilities we have used. Loos are rated by the application of stars, three-star establishments being “worth traveling out of your way to experience”. The illustrations are numerous as well as convenient, with Glashan’s characters (typically bearded men) experiencing various adventures and misadventures. The “Completely New & Revised” edition of 1968 lives up to its billing. More is included, and ten establishments earn a new award, the “Good Loo Royal Flush.” Two decades later, Routh (but not Glashan) would reexamine this issue with the Initial Good Loo Guide, on which see below.
The Good Cuppa Guide
The Good Cuppa Guide: Where to Have Tea in London, published in 1966, was “blended” by Routh and “milked and sugared” by Glashan. The format and charm (and, in its day, usefulness) are those of the Good Loo Guide. Providers of cuppas are rated with a maximum of five stars.
Guide Porcelaine to the Loos of Paris
In the Guide Porcelaine to the Loos of Paris (1966), Routh must of course provide not only locations and descriptions but also convenient phrases for the nervous English tourist. An example: Donnez-moi les ordres simples pour atteindre le pissoir le plus pres d’ici; et, s’il vous plait, sans les gesticulations sauvages et tumultueuses [no diacritics in the original], i.e. Please direct me to the nearest loo in simple terms and without waving your hands in too dangerous a manner. A French translation also appeared: Guide porcelaine des “lieux” de Paris (Editions de la Jeune Parque, 1967).
The Better John Guide
Unlike the three-and-sixpenny (£0.21) booklets described above, The Better John Guide: Where to Go in New York (New York: Putnam, 1966) was a $2.50 hardback. Written with Serena Stewart, it had “graffiti” by Glashan. Unfortunately this graffiti is largely recycled from the convenient illustrations of The Good Loo Guide. Some of the text was recycled too —understandably so, as neither work was likely to have been known in the other capital.
The Nuns’ books
The Nuns Go to Africa, London: Methuen, 1971.
The Nuns Go to Penguin Island, London: Methuen, 1971.
The Nuns Go East, London: Methuen, 1972.
The Nuns Go West, London: Methuen, 1972.
Other books by Jonathan Routh
The Little Men in My Life, London: Barrie, 1953. (Reissued in 1962 as An Exhibition of Myself)
Captain d’Arcy’s Filthy Picture Book, London: Wolfe, 1967.
Dr. Crocker’s Exercise Book, London: Wolfe, 1967.
The Hangover Book: Prevention, preparation, treatment and cure, London: Wolfe, 1967.
So You Think You’ve Got Problems: A book of disasters, London: Wolfe, 1967.
Routh’s Weekend Guide, London: Anthony Blond, 1969.
Jamaica Holiday: The Secret Life of Queen Victoria, London: Harmony Hall, 1984.
Jonathan Routh’s Initial Good Loo Guide: Where to “go” in London, London: Banyan, 1989. ISBN 0-7119-1282-3
Illustrated by Enzo Apicella, this paperback is considerably larger than the earlier work by Routh and Glashan. The odd title derives from the book’s sponsorship by Initial Textile Services, a company that serviced loos.
Notas de Cocina de Leonardo Da Vinci
by Leonardo da Vinci (Author), Shelagh Routh (Compiler)
Jonathan Routh’s Television Work and Books
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