a story lives forever
Sign in
Form submission failed!

Stay signed in

Recover your password?
Form submission failed!

Web of Stories Ltd would like to keep you informed about our products and services.

Please tick here if you would like us to keep you informed about our products and services.

I have read and accepted the Terms & Conditions.

Please note: Your email and any private information provided at registration will not be passed on to other individuals or organisations without your specific approval.

Video URL

You must be registered to use this feature. Sign in or register.


Being principled comes at a cost


The Hand of Fatima
John Julius Norwich Writer
Comments (0) Please sign in or register to add comments

Chaliapin was an unbridled force of nature and he'd fallen in love with my mother, and he went when she was doing The Miracle in London, he went to see it on the matinee performance. He'd seen it a hundred times before, I think, but he went again because he loved it. And he came... burst into her dressing room the moment it was over and my mother was sitting at her make-up table rubbing cold cream all over her face and getting the make-up off and all that. And Chaliapin in his excitement seized her hand and in order to show her the state of his immense excitement, clamped it to his groin. And my mother said, 'Feodor, what are you doing? My dresser's here, my father's arriving in a minute, everybody's going to arrive! Take it away.' So he took it away. So then several people did arrive and she saw, to her horror, there was a huge sort of white hand, of the prophet... the Hand of Fatima all over the front of Chaliapin's trousers made of white cold cream or vanishing cream or something like that. She said it was one of the most embarrassing moments of her life.

John Julius Norwich (1929-2018) was an English popular historian, travel writer and television personality. He was educated at Upper Canada College, Toronto, at Eton, at the University of Strasbourg and on the lower deck of the Royal Navy before taking a degree in French and Russian at New College, Oxford. He then spent twelve years in H.M. Foreign Service, with posts at the Embassies in Belgrade and Beirut and at the Disarmament Conference in Geneva. In 1964 he resigned to become a writer. He is the author of histories of Norman Sicily, the Republic of Venice, the Byzantine Empire and, most recently, 'The Popes: A History'. He also wrote on architecture, music and the history plays of Shakespeare, and presented some thirty historical documentaries on BBC Television.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: The Miracle, Feodor Chaliapin

Duration: 1 minute, 27 seconds

Date story recorded: 2017

Date story went live: 03 October 2018