Thursday, 26 April 2012

The Late Jonathan Bowden

The late Jonathan Bowden   

The first time I heard him speak was at a London BNP meeting at St John's Church in 2008. That meeting was targeted by Reds who came with weapons.  Fortunately, the police were on hand to protect us from their violence.

The speech mentioned both A K and G K Chesterton, which I am sure went above the heads of the assembled BNP members and supporters.  I am sure I missed some of the jokes too, being rather vague about the Chestertons.  My mother had a Father Brown Mystery.  I never read it, but perhaps I'll pick it up now.

The last time I saw him was in January this year when Jez Turner organised a cinema outing one Sunday. We saw CORIOLANUS at the Curzon Mayfair and then we had tea at a fashionable Piccadilly French pattiserie.

I remember him drinking the milk that came with my tea after I had finished drinking my tea, and that I gladly asked for more milk, for him, twice, as my back was just next to the counter.

He hardly spoke at all when we were having tea, and had to be invited to give his opinion on what he thought of the film.

We agreed that it was probably after Coriolanus's antics that started the Roman tradition of having a slave whisper to Roman triumphators "Remember, you are only a man," to stop the triumph going too much to their heads and becoming another Coriolanus.

I thought him a rather shy man who only came into own when he was performing.  His oratory was quite clearly a performance, in the grandest possible way and therefore unusual for this reason. No one I have ever heard speak declaims and entrances his audience in quite the same way he does when he is at his best.

To enjoy his speeches your really had to put your notebook down and let his words wash all over you and be swept away by it all.

I am sorry that he must have died a disappointed man and that more people did not hear his speeches.  Fortunately, for him and them, too, there is always YouTube.

I am sure aspiring imitators will find his style very hard to master indeed. was the last speech I heard of his. was the last but one speech I heard of his.  


Anonymous said...

I didn't realise he had died and he actually passed away back in March. Apparently he had a heart attack and was just short of his 50th birthday. (like Douglas Adams?)

Jonathan Bowden seemed like an intelligent, if eccentric, character. I am sure if he had lived he would have had plenty more interesting things to say.

Claire Khaw said...

Actually, if truth be told, he never suggested any solutions to our present problems.

His speeches were erudite historical essays in the form of oratory. His breath control was amazing too.

What he did talk about were subjects of interest to him which he managed to bring to life.

MJ said...

Hi friend,

Thanks for your entry on Jonathan.

I'm curious, did you happen to notice whether the two speeches of his that you attended were audio/video taped?

Many of us in other parts of the world are wondering whether yet-to-be uploaded speeches will find their way online in the future.

Claire Khaw said...

I am glad to report that they were both recorded, so fingers crossed that they will be online soon!