The drawing there of our family treehouse was done by the talented lady who lives next door. She gave it to us as a Christmas present, December 2012.
Going into this half-decade, Nellie is a freshman at Hunter College in Manhattan, Danny is a high school Junior, Mom is gainfully employed as a medical billing specialist, and Dad is dealing with some health issues and cutting back on his writing workload accordingly.
Here are some photographs from these years. Clicking on a picture brings up a bigger version.
|———— 2012 ————|
|• One beautiful Saturday in May I took the kids to shoot sporting clays at
Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania. The place is superbly well arranged, with golf carts to take
you from station to station.
There were fifteen of us altogether, shooting in teams of three. Here is Tom Costello, who organized the whole outing (thanks, Tom!) and, seated on the golf cart, my Nellie and a young lady named Mia.
|• Here's my team: Tim Bryden, Danny (a few weeks short of 17), and myself. We shot well, scores 53, 64, and 56
respectively out of 100. Danny actually outscored everyone who came out that day. He seems to be a natural with a shotgun.
It was really a glorious day out. Thanks again to Tom for suggesting and organizing it.
|• Rosie with Toby; June 6, 2012.|
|• On a trip to Seattle in June, 2012 I went to Lake View cemetery to pay my respects to
an old acquaintance.
My previous visit to the spot was only imaginative. From Chapter 34 of Fire from the Sun:
It may be that these odd inharmonious influences even crossed the mighty Pacific. Early one breezy spring morning the students of a martial-arts school in Tacoma, Washington went to pay respects at Lake View Cemetery in nearby Seattle, in which lies the resting-place of the master Li Xiaolong, known to them by his American name, Bruce Lee. The grave had few visitors now, and the students were astonished to find it invisible beneath a mountain of flowers.
The flowers were made up in various ways: great circular wreaths eight feet across, thick-bordered photographs of the Master set up on easels, Chinese memorial tablets with white characters on black, draped with orchids, chrysanthemums, peonies, carnations, fluttering ribbons of white silk. As well as these formal tributes, flower displays in pots and buckets were set all around in no discernible order, hiding the ground and most of the gravesite from view.
“Must have cost a fortune,” said one of the students, a mechanic in an auto body shop who had given all his free time in the previous five years of his young life to a study of the Master’s techniques. “They would have needed a truck. Christ, where do you get that many flowers?”
“Must have just been done last night,” murmured another. “Look, everything’s fresh.”
In front of the flower mountain were set two black metal tripods, five feet high, each supporting a large perforated metal bowl. The inner surfaces of the bowls were blackened with fire, and inside them, and on the grass around them, and clinging here and there to the flower displays where they had been blown, were charred fragments of hell money, what must have been great masses of hell money—the paper bills printed with an image of Lord Yanwang, Emperor of Hell, that traditionally are burned to honor the dead.
As the wondering boxers stood and stared the wind picked up, stirring the grass and the bare branches of the little park, shifting the charred black flakes of hell money. The carefully-wrought displays above the tomb trembled and shook, some petals and fronds of fern blowing loose to scud to and fro in the restless air. One of the circular wreaths, stacked above a dozen others, taking the full force of a gust, turned a few degrees, then fell, rolling onto open grass away from the tomb, shedding blooms as it rolled.
The wind caught the blooms and loose petals and fern fronds and burned hell money fragments, teased them back and forth for a while among the stone markers of the dead, then sent them dancing off down the hillside to the water, to Portage Bay and the boundless ocean beyond.
Bruce is identified on his tombstone by his original given name, Zhènfān (振藩 — sounds like "return again" in Cantonese). I have never heard Chinese people refer to him by anything other than his stage name, though: Xiăolóng (小龍 — "little dragon").
And yes, that's hell money I'm burning in the wee red colander there. Having come all that way to show respect, may as well do the thing properly. You can buy hell money in any Chinatown supermarket, in this case Uwajimaya on Seattle's 5th Avenue.
(I only wish I were still limber enough to hunker properly, heels flat on the ground.)
The companion tombstone, foreground in the picture, marks the last resting place of Brandon Lee, Bruce's son, whom I met when he was seven years old.
|• We spent a very pleasant July Sunday at the Long Island home of Milton Yu, who was a college classmate of Rosie's in
China, 1979-83 (and one of my students).
Here is a group picture taken at Milton's house. Left to right seated: Milton, Maria Sun, Rosie. Standing: Li Mei (Milton's wife), Mr. Xing (Maria's husband), me. Maria and Mr. Xing were colleagues of mine at Siping Teachers' College, where Milton and Rosie were students. They can be seen in an earlier picture here.
|• Milton and me in his pool. You get older, you put on some weight. What can I tell you?|
|• Not sure what Rosie's attempting here: some version of the Monroe air vent pose, perhaps. I seem to be enjoying it, anyway.|
|• We eventually got her into the pool.|
|• In the garden at Milton's house that Sunday, with Danny (Nellie was not with us).|
|• Rosie with our friend Sally Pettus (and Toby), in Sally's garden, 7/22/12.|
|• September 14, 2012 was the night of Petroushka on the Hudson, a waterborne benefit for the
Russian Children's Welfare Society, and an offshoot of the more formal
The sun had just set over New Jersey when I took this picture of Rosie.
|• More Petroushka. Among the distinguished guests was opera superstar
Anna Netrebko. I had never met Ms. Netrebko before. Our conversation went as
JD: I don't get to the opera as much as I'd like, but I did see you in Don Pasquale at the Met four or five years ago, showing off your legs.
[We first see the young heroine of the opera alone in her bedroom reading a book. In the Met production, Anna was actually reclining on a small bed, wearing a short, flimsy night-dress that showed her beautiful legs to great advantage. She augmented the effect by lying back and kicking her legs in the air at a couple of points in the aria. That aria is "So anch'io la virtù magica"; there is an actual clip from the Met production here. It was in fact 2010; I don't know what happened to my memory there.]
AN: Yes, I have very nice legs. [She thereupon parted her dress to reveal them.]
JD: Your singing was also not bad.
The ice thus broken, we had a photograph taken in good humor all around. Two weeks later I was in the audience to see Anna sing the role of Adina in the Met's new production of L'Elisir d'Amore. No legs this time, but wonderful singing.
The tie I am wearing, by the way, is the tie of my father's regiment, the King's Shropshire Light Infantry. I wear it now and then in filial piety.
|• Danny's high school yearbook picture, taken at the beginning of his senior year, September 2012. Compare and contrast.|
|• I enjoyed a very convivial lunch with Jurica Matošević, a friend visiting from the Balkans. It was a new camera, and the waiter who took the picture was uncertain about the exposure setting. That's OK; I actually think it looks quite artsy. I await the jokes about "two shady characters" …|
|• The shooting party, December 1st, 2012. Not quite
as aristocratic as James Mason's crowd, but full of the fun & sport of the thing. And this annual shoot is going global, or at least national:
Paul, the gent at far left, actually came up from Florida just to join us.
Danny, with the family shotgun, is at far right. I'm next to him with a side-by-side borrowed from a friend. At center wearing the bandolier is Tom, the mastermind of the event, to whom many thanks for organizing a great day out.
|• After the shoot, home to the family carrying a big bag of pheasants, one of which Mom cooked up on the
"Family" increasingly means Dad, Mom, and Toby. Nellie (20) got her own car this week; Danny (17) graduates high school next July & if all goes to plan will then ship straight to Fort Benning.
|• The 2012 Christmas picture, perhaps the last before the kids leave home.|
|• One more from Christmas, just the kids.|
|———— 2013 ————|
|• Mom & Dad, a few minutes into 2013.|
|• In the microculture of the Derbyshire household, custom dictates that
at year end I do a jigsaw puzzle. These are serious
puzzles, nothing picayune — 1,500 pieces at least. I start on Christmas Day and finish in mid-to-late January.
Custom further dictates that when there is just one piece left to place, I summon Danny and intone the ritual words: "Help me out here, please, son. I've almost finished; but there's this one pesky last piece left, and I can't figure out where it goes."
I then hand the piece to Danny and he completes the puzzle.
My end-2012 puzzle was a splendid 2,000-piecer of van Gogh's The Starry Night from Buffalo Games, Inc. of Buffalo, NY. It was tougher than you'd think, but here we are at last on February 1st 2013 carrying out the time-honored ceremony. Now the harvest will be good this year!
(While working on the puzzle I listened to the Hofmann-Sotin-Meier-Levine recording of Parsifal, an opera I did not previously know but would be seeing at the New York Met on March 2nd. I find that a Wagner opera, the first couple of times I hear it, is a uniform blur, any small fragment of which is hard to distinguish from any other. It takes some attention and study to discern the musical structure of the work.
The Starry Night, cut up into 2,000 pieces, is a sort of visual equivalent — every little piece looks just like every other. Studying the painting close up while listening to the opera with attention, was definitely an experience of synesthesia.
Something was going on there in the 1880s …)
|• For several months Rosie has been working very happily as a temp at Catholic Health Services of Long Island. She joined in a group photograph with her colleagues on February 1st, 2013.|
|• I was invited to speak at
the 2013 conference of
American Renaissance, a dissident-conservative group. Here I am with the other speakers. From left to right:
Back row — Fabrice Robert, Sam Dickson, Kyle Rogers of the Council of Conservative Citizens, Byron Roth, Roger McGrath.
Front row — Me, Richard Spencer of Alternative Right, Paul Ramsey, Jared Taylor.
|• The conference was held in the very pretty Montgomery Bell State Park, a few miles west of Nashville, Tennessee.
Rosie and I went down a few days early to do some hiking and sightseeing.
Here we are exploring one of the batteries at Fort Donelson, a Civil War battlefield. Note my embonpoint. I tell Rosie it's her fault: her food is just too damn good.
|• Rosie at the Hermitage, President Andy Jackson's estate outside Nashville.|
|• Mid-May 2013, the annual sporting clays excursion. This time Rosie came along, shooting with great enthusiasm.|
|• Me too, of course.|
|• Rosie reloading. Danny was with us this outing. No pictures survive of him shooting, but he humiliated us on the score sheet.|
|• In June 2013 I was invited to a dinner for Professor Zhang Yitang, who astonished the world of Number Theory earlier
this year by resolving the Bounded Gaps Conjecture. Naturally I forgot to bring my camera; this is courtesy of a friend's iPhone.
I had a go at explaining the Bounded Gaps Conjecture here. Prof. Zhang's actual paper is here. There is a news story about Prof. Zhang's achievement here.
|• Danny shipped off to Fort Benning, Ga. at the end of July to train as an infantryman in the U.S. Army. Here he is
with Dad and Mom at his "Turning Blue" ceremony, November 14th. Nothing to do with holding your breath: pale blue is the infantry color,
and when you graduate from training you get the blue lanyard and are said to have "turned blue." From that point on, you're a trained
Having graduated as infantryman you have options for more specialized training, e.g. as mechanized infantry (fighting vehicles), air assault (rappelling out of helicopters), etc. Danny chose airborne (jumping out of planes), and proceeded to jump school.
|• My two girls at the National Infantry Museum in Fort Benning, November 15th.|
|• Christmas Day, 2013. Danny graduated jump school December 13th, and is now a paratrooper. He came home for leave at Christmas. Toby couldn't resist the opportunity to kiss Mom. I sympathize: I still, after 27½ years of marriage, can't resist it myself.|
|———— 2014 ————|
|• Visiting with Milton Yu at his lovely apartment in Battery Park City, January 2nd. Somewhere out there beyond the window is Lady Liberty.|
|• The 2013 Christmas puzzle: Seurat's A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte in 3,000 pieces. A very interesting work. Alas, by the time I approached completion in mid-January, Danny was not home to place that one last piece. One of David Meagher's boys did it instead, here at our Chinese New Year's party on February 1st, 2014. However …|
|• … Danny had a few days' extra leave in mid-February. Mom took this picture at JFK as we saw him off back to his station.|
|• My dear old friend Wally Fekula (Владимир
Петрович Фекула) died on February 7th,
2014 — the very day of his beloved Petroushka Ball.
A memorial service was held on February 20th at the Church of the Heavenly Rest in New York City. The order of service is in four pages
here, and here.
I had known Wally since August 11th, 1986 when, arriving back at First Boston Corp. after a trip to China, I found I had been reassigned as one-man software support for the firm's Credit and Risk Management Department, of which Wally was the boss.
As well as programming his computers during business hours, I got drawn into the extramural project Wally was then absorbed with.
Wally's uncle Paul, who had died in 1982, was an eccentric bibliophile with a collection of over seven thousand books and manuscripts relating to Slavic culture, especially the Christian Orthodox heritage of the Eastern and Southern Slavs. The collection included priceless Church documents dating back to the 14th (possibly 13th) and 15th centuries.
Before selling off uncle Paul's collection, Wally and his brother wanted to immortalize it in an archive-quality catalog. Some distinguished scholars from Ivy League universities were enlisted, along with experienced bibliographers and librarians. The catalog was eventually published in 1988.
I was responsible for the index, which — as Wally liked to boast on my behalf — the scholars had balked at. It is in a mix of Latin and Cyrillic characters, with a few extra oddities from Eastern European alphabets. I did the whole thing on an Apple GS. It runs to 42 pages. I also wrote the Acknowledgements for the catalog, complete with a quote from Dr. Johnson. On the page headed "Staff" I am credited after all the scholars as: "John Derbyshire, New York, New York, Computer Programmer."
Wally's loyalty never wavered thereafter. I received countless acts of generosity and hospitality from him. To near the end of his life we had lunch or dinner in New York City when both our schedules permitted — five or six times a year, according to my credit card receipts: the last time on October 16th, 2013 at Orsay.
Wally lived a full and very useful life, doing much good in the world through his stewardship of the Russian Children's Welfare Society and other charitable enterprises. He loved art, music, his family, and the culture of his ancestors. He served his country in the U.S. Marine Corps. Going through a box of mementoes recently I discovered that for some unfathomable reason I have a record of his USMC number: 1806789. I put him into my novel Seeing Calvin Coolidge in a Dream as the character "Boris."
|• Danny's unit, Alpha Company 3-509 PIR, May 2014. Danny's the one wearing shades. Click on pic for the entire unit; he's second from the far right.|
|• Junior, in midair somewhere over Alaska. Apparently the modern paratrooper carries his iPhone as an essential item of combat equipment.|
|• Our son Danny was awarded the Army
Achievement Medal for his performance in a major military exercise in Spring, 2014. There is a picture of the actual medal
Three successive generations in this line of the Derbyshires now have military decorations: my father, my brother, and my son.
|• Here is Danny actually receiving the award from his CO.|
|• Rosie by the fountain at Lincoln Center, whither we went to see the Bolshoi Ballet dance Swan Lake, July 16th 2014. The principals were Anna Nikulina and Artem Ovcharenko, with Denis Rodkin as the wizard. Beautifully done of course — it was the Bolshoi Ballet.|
|• In the last week of July 2014 Jimmy Chan (陳天成) and his wife Rosa came to New York on business. Jimmy is the son of my dear old friend K.C. Chan. They treated us to dinner at a Huntington restaurant, where our waitress took this picture.|
|• In August 2014 we — Dad, Mom, and Nellie — took a two-week vacation in Alaska. The main idea
was to see Danny, who was stationed at JBER outside Anchorage. This being the peacetime
military, Danny got most weekends off; but this being the military, that couldn't be depended on. We therefore flew out on a Thursday and
flew back on a Thursday, encompassing two weekends, figuring we'd see Danny at least one weekend. Weekdays we just went exploring the
In the event we got to be with Danny both weekends, and had some happy family time. Here we are the first Sunday in Anchorage's lovely botanical garden.
|• Dad and Mom in the botanical garden.|
|• This is the closest I've ever gotten to a grizzly bear. The photograph is taken through the window of our tour bus, around mile 60 on the Denali Park Road. Shortly after I took it, the grizzly nonchalantly crossed the road behind our bus (which had of course stopped).|
|• We stayed the night at Denali, then continued up to Fairbanks. From Fairbanks we took a bus trip up to the Arctic
Circle, stopping on the way to examine the Alaska Pipeline.
I hadn't realized until getting up close to it what a tremendous engineering achievement the pipeline is. This is the permafrost zone and the oil in the pipeline is warm, so you can't bury the pipeline: it would melt the permafrost, sink down, and break. The pipeline here has to be carried above ground on supports. However, the metal supports will conduct some heat down into the permafrost, with similarly dire results. Solution: each support is a little refrigeration unit. Hence the vanes at the top of each support, to radiate away the heat.
There are likewise provisions for the pipe to move and flex in the great temperature ranges delivered by Alaska weather … The engineers thought of everything.
|• Rosie at the Arctic Circle.
In our days on the Isle of Dogs we often visited Greenwich Park, just across the river. Somewhere we have a photograph of Rosie standing athwart the Greenwich Meridian. Reminding her of that, I commented: "Now you just need the Antarctic Circle, the Equator, the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, and the International Date Line for a full set." (Rosie rolls eyes.)
|• Alaskan skies aren't often clear enough to see Mount McKinley, but we got lucky riding the railroad south out of Fairbanks, heading back to Anchorage. There it is, just visible shimmering in the distance (around 120 miles away).|
|• Our second weekend with Danny we biked the Tony Knowles
Coastal Trail west of Anchorage, I of course wondering if
is a blood relative.
Here are Mom and the kids on the trail.
|• In Alaska there are megafauna all over. Coming round a bend on the bike trail, about six miles out, we found ourselves in the company of several moose. Rosie looks a little nervous here, but in fact the moose paid no attention to us at all, just went on munching the trailside foliage.|
|• Our last day with Danny we took a trip to the Portage Glacier.|
|• Our last week we visited Juneau, Alaska's state capital. Although on the North American mainland, Juneau is not accessible by road. There's one main highway running north-south, but forty miles north of Juneau it just ends. Same eight miles south. Here I am at the north end.|
|• With Barbara Secor at a VDARE fundraiser in Manhattan, December 5th 2014.|
|• The family gathering: Christmas 2014.|
|———— 2015 ————|
|• The winter of 2014-15 was long and cold. This is our garage thermometer on the morning of February 16th, 2015. (Taken from the kitchen window. No way I was going outside in that just for a picture.)|
|• Snowbound: our house, taken from the street, afternoon of March 5th. The snow pile by the front door is higher than me — the first time that's happened. Tiny remnants of it were still visible on the morning of April 3rd; by lunchtime they had melted away.|
|• We spent the weekend of April 11th-12th as guests of Peter and Lydia Brimelow in Connecticut. Here we all are in the garden of the local church, where we attended morning service on the 12th. Left to right: Lydia and Karia Brimelow; Rosie Derbyshire with Felicity Brimelow; myself; Peter Brimelow. Victoria Beauregard Brimelow, nine weeks old, is mostly out of sight behind Rosie; she can be seen in full here.|
|• More of the new Brimelow baby, with Rosie and Felicity.|
|• In April 2015 I was again a speaker at
the annual American Renaissance conference in
Tennessee. Here I am with the other speakers. From left to right:
Back row — Richard Spencer of the National Policy Institute; me; vlogger Paul Ramsey, a/k/a Ramzpaul; Peter Brimelow of VDARE.com; and British nationalist Matt Tait.
Front row — Konstantins Pupurs, who spoke about the nationalist movement in his native Latvia; Jared Taylor, proprietor of American Renaissance and organizer of the conference; and Sam Dickson, long-time American Renaissance stalwart.
|• The first week of June 2015 witnessed the Great Birthday Civil War Battlefields Tour. We started at Gettysburg; …|
|• … continued to Antietam; passed through several other battlefields of the Eastern Theater; and ended up at, of course …|
|• … Appomattox Courthouse. Right next door is …|
|• … the house of Wilmer McLean, in the front parlor of which the surrender was signed. Grant's table is at right, Lee's at left. (Neither is the original table.)|
|• For my 70th birthday, Peter Brimelow, at left in this picture, threw a splendid party for me at one of the private clubs in New York City. He even hired a piper. I'm at right of the picture, in profile. Thanks, Peter!|
|• For my annual jigsaw puzzle at Christmas 2014, Santa
brought me John Edward Goodall's
Bombardment of Algiers
from the Ravensburg firm of puzzle-makers, in nine thousand pieces.
That's one heck of a challenge. I finished* the puzzle on September 26th 2015, so it took precisely nine months. That means I averaged placing 33 pieces per day, December to September.
*Except that there was as always that one pesky last piece I couldn't place, just visible in right center at the top of the picture. The puzzle has been clamped between boards and stored in the garage until Junior comes home to place that last piece.
|• In October 2015 we took another long car trip. This was to pay Rosie back for her uncomplaining patience during the
Great Birthday Civil War Battlefields Tour in June (see above). Me: "Where would you like to go for your birthday, Honey?"
She "I want to see the fall colors!"
So off we went for ten days: first due north to Lake Champlain …
|• … Then to Maine, where we visited Acadia National Park. This is the top of Cadillac mountain, Bar Harbor (with cruise ships) in the background.|
|• We visited with friends in far northeastern Maine and stayed a night at Eastport. I questioned the town's boast of being the U.S.A.'s easternmost city on the grounds that there are Aleutian Islands with longitude east 179 degrees and change. They told me none of the Aleutians that far out have permanent settlements, which turns out to be true. So much for pedantry.|
|• After crossing into Canada we drove up the New Brunswick coast and round into Nova Scotia, where we stopped to sample the wares at Garrison's Brewery in downtown Halifax.|
|• From Yarmouth, Nova Scotia we took the ferry/cruise (it's
ten hours) back to Portland, Maine. Our last day we drove from Portland back home to Long Island, stopping off to see the famously pretty town of
Ogunquit, where we walked the
Marginal Way along the coast.
Toby was with us the whole trip, although the Yarmouth-to-Portland ferry insisted he stay in a kennel below decks. He was very good, a perfect traveling companion.
|• The family picture, Christmas 2015.|
|• Dad & Mom (& Toby), Christmas 2015.|
|———— 2016 ————|
|• The family treehouse coming up to its 12th birthday.|
|• July 19th to August 2nd, 2016 we took a two-week vacation in Taiwan and Hong Kong. I wrote up some notes
This is Mom & Dad at the Wen Wu Temple near Sun-Moon Lake.
|• Here is Rosie in the Pagoda of Compassionate Benevolence (慈恩塔). Closer up
way closer up here.
These pictures are testimony to our fitness. Not only is that a heck of a pagoda to climb; it's built on top of a mountain you have to walk up first. This was inland Taiwan in July, mean daily temperatures in the high 90s and seriously humid.
Melancholy pagoda poem here.
|• At Chengqing Lake in Kaohsiung.|
|• The entrance to the sensational Taroko Gorge. Somewhere in my personal effects I have a photograph of myself in the same spot, taken in 1971. Gotta dig that out.|
|• In Hong Kong we enjoyed a reunion with some old friends from Siping Teacher's College.
Back row: Jonathan Xin (likewise at far left in this 1983 picture), Li Xiaolong of the 1977 class (our kind host and very capable tour guide for this Hong Kong visit), Molly Mo (back row, third from left in this 1983 picture), and Plum Xu (same picture, back row, third from right).
Seated: David Wang (here and here back in the day), me, and the Mrs.
|• Back home in Long Island, our 30th wedding anniversary. In the jewellers' schema, this is the pearl wedding. I bought Rosie a pair of pearl earrings, which she's wearing.|
|• The last weekend of September 2016 we spent at the home of friends on the Maryland shore. Down there the word "creek" can refer to something a mile wide. Here is Rosie navigating a creek.|
|• Toby sat for a portrait with out artist friend Elizabeth Cockey.|
|• Early October: Rosie went on a round-Manhattan river cruise with some friends. Manhattan Bridge in the foreground; Brooklyn Bridge behind.|
|• Dad at his desk, with screensaver.|
|• Dad and Mom at the VDARE.com 2016 Christmas party.|
|• The family at Christmas 2016, with Nellie's boyfriend Mike.|