Keeper of the Lost Ark

Daily Mail (London), September 24, 2009 | Go to article overview

Keeper of the Lost Ark


Byline: Compiled by Charles Legge

QUESTION What happened to Steven Spielberg's Ark Of The Covenant after the filming of Raiders Of The Lost Ark? Is it in a crate in a Hollywood warehouse?

GEORGE LUCAS, Hollywood director, executive producer and writer of the Indiana Jones films, has a workplace and retreat at Skywalker Ranch, 4,700 acres in the foothills of Marin County, California, near the site of his first success, American Graffiti.

After the astronomical success of Star Wars, Lucas was able to build his dream, a mecca for film-makers and an escape from the Hollywood scene. Today, his ranch contains a 300-seat movie theatre used for screenings, film studios, a man-made lake, its own fire department, and a historic library and film archive.

Few members of the press and no uninvited guests have ever been allowed on the property. Reports claim security constantly turns away trespassers who hike for miles to try to sneak in.

I was lucky enough to be invited as part of the production team on MTV a few years back. At the heart of the ranch is a large museum-like warehouse housing probably the greatest collection of movie memorabilia in the world. There was the Ark of the Covenant, which must have been made out of balsa wood as it was very light.

There were many other artefacts from the Indiana Jones films; Indie's bullwhip and hat and the Staff of Ra from Raiders, the glowing Sankara stones and Mola Ram's death mask from the Temple of Doom, the model of a Zeppelin, Dr Henry Jones' Grail Diary and the Holy Grail itself from The Last Crusade.

Equally exciting were the Star Wars memorabilia, including light sabres from practically every film, a life-sized Darth Vader costume, a life-sized Chewbacca costume, a large-scale model of the Death Star, Princess Leia's gold bikini, original Stormtrooper outfits, the much maligned Jar Jar Binks and the original Yoda.

Graham Dean, London SE12.

QUESTION When I was at junior school in the Fifties, we used to sing a song about the River Thames which started: 'From the Cotswolds to the Chilterns'. Does anyone remember the rest of it?

THE Ballad of London River was a poem by prolific children's author May Clarissa Gillington Byron, who penned more than 100 books.

These included her biographical sketches Days With The Great Writers (A Day With Charles Dickens, A Day With William Makepeace Thackeray), Days With The Great Composers, (A Day With Schubert, A Day With Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky) and Days With The Great Poets (A Day With Byron, A Day With Keats). She produced many collections of folktales, cookery books and children's literature and the work for which she is perhaps best remembered is an authorised abridged version of J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan, with illustrations by Mable Lucie Atwell.

The Ballad of London River For Massed School Singing with music by John Ernest Borland and May Byron's words was first published (by MacNaught) in 1910.

The words were published separately in 1911 in a collection of songs called The Wind On The Heath -- Ballads And Lyrics (Hodder and Stoughton).

This anthem was popular in schools until the 1960s, and was the official school song for many Londoners, many of whom will remember the first rousing verses:

From the Cotswolds, from the Chilterns, from your fountains and your springs, Flow down, O London river, to the sea gull's silver wings, Isis or Ock or Thame, forget your olden name.

And the lilies and the willows and the weirs from which you came.

Forgo your crystal shallows and your limpid, lucid wave.

When the swallows dart and glisten, where the purple blooms are brave, For the city's dust and din. For the city's shame and sin, For the toil and sweat of Englishmen with all the world to win.

It ends with a rousing celebration of the river and its perpetual journey: From the Cotswolds, from the Chilterns, from your fountains and your springs. …

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