Michael J Flagg’s Legacy For Arthur Edwin Simms


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As you may have read yesterday, Michael J Flagg is the author of The Learning Curve of a First Time Self-Published Writer Online. But as you probably guessed, he wrote this from personal experience. Michael’s original self-published book is called From Punch and Judy to Haute Cuisine: A Biography of the Life and Times of Arthur Edwin Simms 1915 to 2003. Michael feels strongly that Arthur did not receive the recognition he deserved in his lifetime and so set out to rectify this.

It took Michael a challenging seven years of research due to a vast amount of missing information, and a full-time job to keep up with. In the early stages, Michael gained information by interviewing his subject, Arthur Edwin Simms, until just before his death. After this time, researching became somewhat more of a challenge. Michael told us that it was then necessary to follow up the events of over forty years through publications and the newspaper archives at The British Library Colindale, London. Michael himself has compared the lengthy account to that of a telephone directory, though the length of the book comes with great importance. One of its intentions was to accommodate memorabilia from former students (see chapter 9 – Portsmouth for more details) as well as to act as what has been described as a unique account in one volume of the developments in hospitality education in the UK in the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

We asked Michael whether there was one key part of the book that may interest his readers. He told us that something possibly surprising unknown would be… “the key to the entire work is thoroughness in gaining learning skills, leadership qualities and learning through experience which has application to any age and profession as well as how we might gain from the experience of others, and in setting objectives for what is expected to be learned during industrial placements for students and accounting for how much has been or not been learned”. Interestingly, Michael has a personal connection to Arthur Edwin Simms, he was one of his former students in Portsmouth, and this was a leading factor of Michael’s inspiration to write the account of Arthur.

“Writing this book was a challenge but as the second book emphasises, selling it is an even greater and continuous challenge.” Michael J Flagg

It is notable that Geoff Felix made a contribution to the book by writing a chapter which deals with Arthur assisting his father entertaining the royal children at Buckingham Palace. Geoff is a ventriloquist who is a disciple of the methods of Arthur’s father.

Michael had the privilege of gifting a copy of the book to the Queen as a present for the most recent Jubilee. He received a letter of reply on behalf of the Queen written by the Lady in Waiting. There was a sixteen-month interval of waiting to see if the donation had been received and receiving the letter, which Michael told us was certainly a relief!

from punch and judy to haute cuisine