1923: The Mystery of Lot 212 and a Tour de France Obsession

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1923: The Mystery of Lot 212 and a Tour de France Obsession

1923: The Mystery of Lot 212 and a Tour de France Obsession

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Most of it is really a self-indulgent lockdown diary, Boulting telling us how horrible the whole thing was, as if he was the only one to endure it. Jump forward to July 8 and across France Boulting finds news of a four-year-old boy killed in Argenteuil, a plane crashing and killing its pilot in Le Havre, and a woman committing suicide in Nantes. A previously unseen film of an early Tour de France bought at auction inspires Ned Boulting to unearth the story behind the people, places and times captured on film. Join him as he explores the history of cycling and France just five years after WWI – meeting characters like Henri Pelissier, who won the Tour that year but who would within the decade be shot dead by his lover using the same pistol with which his wife had killed herself.

And it goes without saying that he appears in Bill and Carol McGann’s two-volume Story of the Tour de France , and all the other blow-by-blow Tour histories too: winning a Tour stage gives you a certain immortality. How right has he put it when he pushes his romantic, idealised image of Beeckman off into the background of the story and still manages to get basic facts like these wrong? and appears to have been taken in the Parc des Princes was actually taken in Luxembourg (the Vélodrome du Bel Air, a quick jaunt elsewhere tells us), at the end of the first stage of the Critérium des Aiglons. I conduct an audit of what I know of Beeckman: that he was small, that he was normally quiet, that he was respected, strong, and that he grew up in modest circumstances.Ned Boulting’s voice is synonymous with cycling coverage and, as one might expect, he has a devotee’s commitment to the sport. There’s also a healthy dose of genealogy that would make for a great spin-off of the Who Do You Think You Are? Mostly it feels like Boulting has tried to craft an image of Beckmann he wants to believe in, a quiet man who spoke with his legs, like the best Tour heroes should.

You will have seen or heard of the little scrap of film, and if you are familiar with the Author on podcasts, TV commentary and social media then there are connecting echos from this to the present day. Come down the travelators, exit Sainsbury's, turn right and follow the pedestrianised walkway to Crown Walk and turn right - and Coles will be right in front of you. It looks like he is a wearing a wedding band, so it must have been taken after February 1925 [when he married]. It’s easy to see how Boulting got so caught up in the investigations with the sheer amount of individual stories that came out of one short clip. This book could be considered a dedication to the obsession that Boulting soon had to find out as much information as he could about the people in the film clip and the events surrounding that race.From his cycling commenting to his one man shows Ned has shown himself to be one of Pro cyclings biggest fans. I can’t recommend 1923: The Mystery of Lot 212 and a Tour de France Obsession highly enough, it’s a truly addictive read that could easily be polished off in one sitting.

In this image, he holds a victor’s bouquet in one hand and his bike in the other, by the side of the track at what appears to be the Parc des Princes velodrome in Paris. Ned set about learning everything he could about the sequence studying each frame, face and building until he had squeezed the meaning from it. There’s the Seznec affaire, in which someone gets murdered and that is somehow linked to the very day of the Pathé newsreel by virtue of some piece of paperwork or other being signed by someone on that day. It sets him off in fascinating directions, encompassing travelogue, history, mystery story – to explain, to go deeper into this moment in time, captured on his little film.Join him as he explores the history of cycling and France just five years after WWI – meeting characters like Henri Pélissier, who won the Tour that year but who would within the decade be shot dead by his wife's lover. In the autumn of 2020, Ned Boulting (ITV head cycling commentator and Tour de France obsessive) bought a length of Pathé news film from a London auction house. It's a personal story too of nobody particularly famous, but none-the-less whose story intersects with others more famous, and set in a context worth considering as we navigate our present.

Here, the alienated translator from The Cat and the City finds a book on the subway, leading her on a quest not just to understand the traumas and relationships between a strict old woman and her grandson in rural Japan – but the motivations of the book’s author, too. It sets him off in fascinating directions, encompassing travelogue, history, mystery story - to explain, to go deeper into this moment in time, captured on his little film.I have never read any of Ned's work before but as a cycling fan I have certainly heard his commentary and so I know if anyone could produce a volume like this based off just a 2 1/2 minute film then Ned can! Metropolis International Group Limited, 10th Floor, Southern House, Wellesley Grove, Croydon, CR0 1XG. This book explores the wider situation in 1923, a period of history I have to admit to not knowing very well at all. Often seen wheezing his way through north London, he's also a big football, rugby and NFL fan with cycling offering much needed respite from being let down. In both pictures the Belgian has the same disarmingly serious gaze, though in one he appears startled, perhaps from the elation of success.



  • Fruugo ID: 258392218-563234582
  • EAN: 764486781913
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