Peter Janson-Smith: an appreciation

Peter Janson-Smith, the man Ian Fleming called the ‘prince of agents’, died five years ago today. This appreciation is based on an interview I conducted with him in the run-up to his 90th birthday celebrations.

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The death of Prince Philip brings to mind some of the occasions his path crossed Whitney Straight’s. One such moment, on 31 January 1952, was captured by Pathé News.

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If you don’t ask, you don’t get

The death of John Haynes OBE, creator of the Haynes Manual, and founder of the publishing group and museum that bear his name, causes me to recall an exchange of letters I had with him in January 2007 which quite literally changed my life.

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How one man recorded the end of World War 1, and his part in it

On this special day, I’ve been re-reading some of the research notes I’ve made in Cornell University’s Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections. Among many treasures, it holds the personal correspondence between Whitney Straight’s parents, Willard and Dorothy.

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Dan Gurney: an appreciation

Motor racing has lost a hero and an innovator. The world has lost a gentleman.

The death of Dan Gurney has been announced in typically charming fashion by his wife Evi: ‘With one last smile on his handsome face, Dan drove off into the unknown just before noon, January 14, 2018.’

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My gig of the year

Nashville’s Eric Brace and Thomm Jutz were the headline act at TwickFolk on Sunday, 16 July. This review first appeared on TwickFolk’s Facebook page. You can order ‘Profiles in Courage, Frailty & Discomfort’ directly from Red Beet Records at 

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My direction of travel

Whitney Straight road sign

On the door of my study is an old American road sign, directing drivers to a small town down the road named Whitney. Insert a comma, and ‘WHITNEY STRAIGHT, AHEAD’ is my direction of travel.

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My cockpit

Paul Kenny - Clemenceau's desk

This isn’t where I write – though I wish it were. It’s the place Georges Clemenceau retired to after losing the French presidential elections of 1919. It’s in St-Vincent-sur-Jard, about 30km down the Atlantic coast from Les Sables d’Olonne.

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