Hovering in the thermals…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s wrinkled old black and white snapshot is the one of me and Screaming Jay Hawkins playing a hand or two of whist with a couple of toffs in the Carlton Club in St James’s, London, in 1966. (SJH)

Perhaps there’s something wrong with me, something lacking, perhaps a gaping hole, an unfortunate void, in my appreciation of things natural?
I was in the pleasant market town of Beverley, about six miles north of Dulltown yesterday afternoon; I decided to slide into the art gallery to use their facilities and to see if there was anything of interest on show. There was an exhibition of work from something called the Wildlife Photographer of the Year.
Pin-sharp close-ups of beaky birds with glinting squinting eyes, scowling ginger foxes, wide winged birds soaring over snow-capped mountains, cheery crowds of coloured ants with a common purpose, badgers doing routine badger things, snotty looking eagles filling the frame full face – you get the idea I’m sure. The thing is, that I’ve seen pictures of things like this before, I’ve seen them on TV with David Attenborough whispering conspiratorially to us from behind a bush, and once or twice, I’ve even seen them live, flapping about or scurrying across fields and cleverly nipping up the trunks of trees…
So, I must confess that this exhibition wasn’t really ‘my kind of thing’. I’m not at all embarrassed saying that, nor should I be. I mean, when you’ve seen one fox, or duck, or ant, or even one condor doing a spot of hovering in the thermals, you’ve seen ’em all…
However, the two rooms the show occupied were absolutely packed with people, I assume they were mostly ‘Beverley people’ – middle-aged men in graph paper check shirts and sturdy brogues, and middle-aged women sporting wind-reddened cheeks and unflattering drab padded jackets.
I have seldom seen an art gallery so full. Just out of interest I made a rough count; there were, I estimated, 48 one room and 28 down the corridor by the cafe – it was pretty well a capacity crowd, and they were loving it!…
You’d think that living in the country they’d be used to, and possibly even a bit fed up with cows, crows, rabbits, dogs and mud, but no, they were revelling in seeing pictures of it! There they stood, open-mouthed, staring at each photo for several minutes at a time… Some, who thought that certain visitors, who were taking far too long over the owlets, resorted to elbowing them out of the way in a surprisingly brusque manner…
I found a chair in a fairly quiet corner of the main room and sat on it to start making notes for writing this post – to document the occasion for you dear reader. I decided that I should keep my head down, I definitely felt like an outsider. I don’t know what I would have done if someone had sneaked up, tapped me on the shoulder and said, ‘Isn’t this a really marvellous show?…’ I don’t really think that could have happened though, those Beverley folk are by nature a bit too insular and suspicious to be striking up conversations with people they don’t know – ‘You are not from around these parts, are you stranger?…’ I think they see the nearby city of Dulltown down the road as the pit of hell populated with ne’er do wells and left-wing degenerates – they are probably right.
As I sat there I wondered what was going through these people’s heads as they looked at the pictures – what were they getting out of it? Were they experiencing emotion? Internally going, ‘Ah…’ at the baby polar bears and the pandas – or admiring the brooding cold-hearted nobility of the birds of prey? Or, perhaps they were fantasising about jumping on a jet and whizzing off to somewhere warm, and well away from the East Riding of Yorkshire, to see some of this wildlife themselves?
So, you see, wildlife photos – I can take them or leave them.
As humans, with our domination of the planet, we are, every day, killing quite a lot of it off, and we don’t really care enough to make a few changes to our lifestyles in order to stop it – so, I suppose we might as well have some pictures of things like this for when it’s all gone.
‘Mummy, what are all these funny furry things, and those feathery flapping things?’
‘Ah, they are ‘beasts’ and ‘birds’ that we used to share our planet with back in the old days…’
‘Like the rats that we have now?’
‘Yes dear, that’s right…’


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Snapped on the bus…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s instruction is to remove the arris using coarse sandpaper, carefully chisel out the notches marked ‘A’ ‘B’ and ‘D’, but leave difficult notch ‘C’ untouched until later in the day; rout out the central slots to take the steel sliding members and wax the internal edges with a stub of candle. Stand peacefully by the workshop door and smoke two cigarettes before addressing notch ‘C’.

‘Oh Dave! Why don’t you take nice photographs, like other people do? You know – pretty spring flowers, a colourful sunset, a fluffy fat bird sitting on a twig with the background deliberately out of focus, a skateboarder caught frozen hanging in mid-air, some brightly coloured racing cars whizzing round a track, a close-up of a shiny green frog’s squat little face, a grinning baby or two, a pensive girlfriend sitting on some urban grass holding a guitar awkwardly and pretending to play it, some clouds from the window of a plane, a majestic cathedral with a dramatic sky in crisp black and white?… You know, that sort of thing…’
‘Well I…’
‘No! You seem to go out of your way to photograph boring and meaningless things – look at this one! It’s just some bus seats with a stupid cartoon face looking in the window, and that’s not even in the centre of the picture, you couldn’t even get that right, it should be in the middle, everyone knows that!’
‘Well I…’
‘I mean… if there had been someone sitting in one of those seats it would have been better – perhaps a grizzled old man with a walking stick and rheumy eyes… then it could have been in black and white to fully show up the wrinkles in his cheeks – and his unruly whiskers…’
‘Oh, shut up!…’


Posted in art, composition, conversation, creation, Hull.UK., humour, information, instruction, observations, photography, seeing, serendipity, surrealism, words | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Mail Art Postcard No. 4490…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s dictionary words are: aitchbone, fishgig, optime, studdle, yerba, and ogdoad. Please have these words looked up and placed in suitable sentences ready for Professor Mouldie first thing after breakfast tomorrow morning. Should the professor turn up wearing the robes of a Pope, a Papal tiara, and carrying a gold cross taped to a broom handle, you should not draw attention to, remark on this, or allow it to distract you from your studies.

Here we go again!
It’s another of my quick and silly mail art postcards, a simple collage on bright card using clippings ripped from that awful British TV guide, What’s On TV.
Yes, I do keep on employing the ‘stick-on eyes’ technique don’t I? – But it is so easy to do, and it is so effective – our brains readily accept the imposition of a pair of new eyes on an existing face, and a new ‘expression’ is instantly formed – an expression conveying all sorts of emotions and moods can come from this juxtaposition, which are not present in the original clippings.
What I like about this one is that all three of the characters have ‘eye features’ – one real, the spectacles, and two with the stuck on clippings. Of course the only one of them engaging with, and catching the eye of the viewer is this very cute dog. Our two humans seem to be pretending to be cheerful and enthusiastic, they are probably actors, just look at those smiles! But I think our canine friend has realised that this is just some publicity shoot for a crass TV show – and that he is only there for his pretty face – he would rather be off somewhere sniffing dirty things, and burying a bone or two – his eyes say it all…

Posted in art, brain, composition, cool, creation, drama, humour, information, Mail Art, postcards, seeing, serendipity, smiling, words | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Veronica and the greased cogs…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s special colours are: bugle black, ferret fawn, languid lemon, rhubarb rouge, godly grey, and voluptuous vert.

It must, as it was posted through the letterbox in the front door, have somehow slipped behind that piece of old thin plywood leaning against the wall waiting to be thrown out (it’s a little bit too warped and stained to be of any use). An airmail letter from the USA, I wonder how long it has been sitting there unnoticed? It was from Veronica Crush, writer from the glory days of the Hull Surrealist League, now living in New York with tall tree surgeon and heir to a multimillion dollar fortune, Monty Tick. In the envelope there was no message, just a printout of one of her ‘stories’ for me to share with the world in these pages. I must get in touch with her to thank her and to apologise for the delay in responding.

Betty Cumph didn’t completely go along with the idea of cars, buses, trains and such things moving about the world. She had very recently decided that she was an extreme fundamentalist relativist – a relativist in the sense of Einstein’s Theory of...
Rather as it happened to Einstein, it all came to her, complete in every detail, whilst sitting on a train; it was a Waterloo bound one waiting to set off from Betty’s local suburban station. Just as the train started to move she was looking, as one does, out of the window at the rails and the dark oily sleepers of the adjacent tracks; they were starting to glide stealthily away carrying off the row of bright chained bicycles on the platform, and the nice little brick and stone Victorian booking office.
‘Yes!…’ she suddenly exclaimed, and she snapped her slim pale fingers; the other occupants of the carriage sighed and flapped their crisp morning newspapers signalling their refusal to be engaged; Betty added, ‘It really is all relative!…’
Albert E had been very close, but he had missed one fundamental principle – every body in the great universe has an inherent ‘stillness’. But when things, bodies, appear to us to move, what is really happening is that they are really staying still, which is their nature, and the whole universe is moving relative to them!… Betty was rather pleased with this, and she smiled to herself as she counted the passing singing telegraph poles.
She filled in the details – the movement of the universe happens in an instant, time being quite resilient, like an avalanche, an avalanche triggered by say, the unexpected yap of a St Bernard puppy – a tiny spot of energy, perhaps from a human brain muscle, or on a different scale the deep throb of a locomotive engine, not much in itself, on a cosmic scale, but its tiny perturbation of the great bubbling virtual quantum soup, warmed and stirred by the energy of the Big Bang, soon spreads like bees out of a hot hive, nudging and cajoling their neighbours into copying and pasting the action until the whole multiverse shifts on its great virtual bearings to oppose the direction of the little trigger (action and reaction not being equal and opposite after all, dear Isaac!), the yap of the puppy… She sat there on the noisy, vibrating, but unmoving train, watching the whole world, the solar system, the galaxy, the local group, the universe, moving beneath her feet, beneath the humming steel wheels of the train – rolling away smoothly – until, after minutes, the growing inflating Waterloo Station is accurately served up on a plate for her, steaming hot, from the horizon’s great kitchen, as the whole universe, bang on time, slows, and finally comes to a juddering halt…
It gave Cumph a completely new perspective on things, on everything, on every thing.
Some time later, sitting in the back of a taxi which was expertly negotiating roadworks at Marble Arch, she was again thoroughly enjoying the sound, and the feel, and knowledge of the rubber-tired wheels below her as the great bright steel cogs of the earth, of reality, and the firmament, meshed and turned in quiet harmony; ephemeral yellow grease gently smacking and rolling between the teeth of God’s beautifully engineered pinions, down there in the deep fabric of space-time. She stared at the back of the driver’s head, and the horizontal crease in the back of his thick neck which was alternately smiling and frowning with the jolting of the cab, she decided to share the moment with him. After explaining her brand new ideas and watching his great round shaved head nodding in response she waited for a moment until he spoke.
Without taking his eyes from the road flowing and flashing along underneath them he opened with the question of how Cumph’s new ideas dealt with the problem of the apparently accelerating expansion of the universe. She replied confidently that the universe wasn’t expanding at all, and that what was happening, was that all the particles of the cosmos were actually getting smaller as they lost energy through all the constant moving about they had to do, so the spaces in between appeared to us, mere mortals, to be getting bigger – we were all mistaken…
After some more minutes, the world stopped rotating under the taxi, the cabby turned and said, ‘That’s just twelve quid love. Here we are, Albemarle Street W1 – the Royal Institution is just there, on the left. Good luck with your lecture! Oh, look, there’s Jim Al-Khalili with a film crew, just coming down the steps, perhaps he’s waiting for you?…’

Veronica Crush 2017.

Posted in brain, colours, creation, information, learning, mind, physics, science, seeing, surrealism, thinking, words, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wet the wrong side thoroughly with gum water…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s existential angst is centred around the sound of the word ‘pavilion’.

Now come along everyone, don’t dawdle!… Hey you!… You at the back! Get off your phone and pay attention! Right, now, this is the time machine, yes, I know it’s small, just try to squeeze in… come on, get out of the way, and let me get the door closed… Good, now, in two shakes of a lamb’s tail we will be back in the Britain of the early 20th c….
Yes, dear reader this is the Daily Express Enquire Within from 1934, a crusty yellowing volume with a scuffed red-brown linen cover, another of my old junk shop books.

It is packed with all the information necessary for stiff middle class life back in those strange days. Each page has several entries, they are on a wide variety of subjects, and also each has a line of pithy wisdom or an improving proverb running across the top – I will include these with today’s selection:

Page 350. (Make hay while the sun shines.)
Addresses of Persons of Rank and Distinction.
vii. Clergymen with titles.
(a) If the son of a Duke or Marquess, “To the Rev. Lord [William] ____”
(b) If the son of an Earl, Viscount, or Baron, “To the Rev. the Hon. [William] ____”
(c) If the son of a commoner, “To the Rev. [William] ____”

Page 60. (Perseverance is the bridge by which difficulty is overcome.)
Sauce for Wild Duck.
Simmer a teacupful of port wine, the same quantity of good gravy, a small shallot, with pepper, nutmeg, mace, and salt to taste, for about ten minutes; put in a bit of butter and flour; give it all one boil, and pour it over the birds, or serve in a sauce tureen.

Page 429. (Never walk one way and look another.)
Fancy Embroidery and Canvas Work.
Stiffening Work. – Wet the wrong side thoroughly with gum water or gum tragacanth, and dry it before a fire (the wet side nearest the fire) before removing it from the frame.

Page 200. (Never spend your money before you have it.)
This favourite article of diet is looked at askance by some persons as affording a ready means of adulteration. It is not so easy to pass off unwholesome food as may be imagined. But if you wish to make sure of the quality of the ingredients, make your own sausages with the aid of the sausage-machine, which will enable you to add many savoury morsels to the attractions of your table.

Page 372. (Meat feeds, and claith cleads, but manners mak the man.)
Superfluous Words.
91. Instead of “Because why?” say “Why?”
92. Instead of “Nobody else but her,” say “Nobody but her.”
93. Instead of “He fell down from the balloon,” say “He fell from the balloon.”
94. Instead of “He rose up from the ground,” say “He rose from the ground.”

Posted in books, brain, existentialism, history, humour, information, instruction, learning, reading, serendipity, style, surrealism, words, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

A few short but pithy items…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s Sir Arthur Conan Doyle quotation is from The Adventure of the Cardboard Box:
Finding that Holmes was too absorbed for conversation I had tossed aside the barren paper, and leaning back in my chair I fell into a brown study. Suddenly my companion’s voice broke in on my thoughts:

“You are right, Watson,” said he. “It does seem a most preposterous way of settling a dispute.”
“Most preposterous,” I exclaimed, and then suddenly realising how he had echoed the most inmost thought of my soul, I sat up in my chair and stared at him in blank amazement.
“What is this, Holmes!” I cried.

Excuses for being late. No. 329.
‘I’m sorry I’m late, but I was trying on top hats…’

A single overheard remark:
‘No Tom! It was borderline inappropriate!…’

Well, I suspected that this would happen:
Someone mentioned to Tony Mayonnaise, poet from the glory days of the Hull Surrealist League, that I had briefly pretended to be a poet myself, and had written a little something in the cafe and had subsequently posted it on my blog. (Click) He phoned me up drunk at 2 am last night and told me how very bad my poem was, and said that I shouldn’t do any more of them (I have omitted the expletives, colourful though they were.) He added that he had mentioned this to Simon Doom, another poet from the glory days of the Hull Surrealist League, and that I should expect a call from him too; he would apparently be giving me a lengthy criticism of my piece, and would also be advising me to steer clear of any future dabbling in the medium.
Can’t wait…

Yes, I’m thinking of changing my name to Sue Panda-Roll.

Oh dear! Another item of spam! This one seems to be from someone called Jimmyfox:
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An observation:
An old man sitting alone in the cafe is making loud clicking noises with his mouth and staring at his hands as if he had never noticed them before.
I hope this isn’t a little glimpse of my future…

‘Good god! That young man over there is bleeding from his ears!’
‘No, no, it’s alright, he’s just wearing headphone buds with red wires…’
‘Oh, how very disappointing…’

A single overheard remark:
‘Would it be alright is she did monk hair?…’

Posted in brain, cafe, conversation, cool, creation, Dulltown, existentialism, Hull.UK., humour, information, observations, overheard, poetry, reading, serendipity, surrealism, words, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The enigmatic lino print explained…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s mock Victorian expletive, made up by Charles Dickens for one of his characters (so as to not offend his readers with a real oath) is ‘Ding me!…’ It sounds quite modern to me, ding me if it doesn’t!…

I really must set about doing some more lino prints!
Now the weather is warming up here in the Northern Hemisphere it makes it a good time to start – my little workshop won’t be as chilly, and, as we all know, lino needs to be warm to cut nicely, I usually have an iron plugged in to accommodate this if it is a bit nippy in there. I have already shown you most of the lino prints I have done, there are only two or three left for you to see.
Here’s one from last year:

This is number 1 of an edition of 12, in oil-based black Speedball ink on nice thin Japanese paper about A4 in size.
You know, I really love doing those round white dots in the sky (I use a small electric craft drill, those dots are very quick to do! Oh dear – does that sound like I’m ‘cheating’ in some way? The cat is definitely out of the bag now!) – they might be stars, but they could also be slowly descending round gobs of snow, giving the warmth and the cosy glow of a Christmas card – Hm, nice!… I like that!
It is very silly, me sitting here typing all this stuff about it – (I just can’t stop waffling on when I show you a bit of my work) – this is art, all you should need to do is to look at it and make of it what you can dear reader, I suppose you could have a peek at the title if you want some clue as to what the hell I am trying to say in this deliberately mysterious work, but then, I don’t bother to give these prints titles, I just sign them and date them, and from there on they can go off and decide themselves what they want to be.
I’ll bet you are wondering about the significance of the giant letter ‘B’.
Good! I like you to wonder…
Oh, hang on, could that be an ancient Greek temple bottom right? And could that be an ancient Egyptian obelisk (isn’t ‘obelisk’ a great word?) standing next to it?…
No… I don’t think so…

Posted in art, brain, creation, design, expletives, history, humour, information, lino cut printing, lino printing, prints, seeing, surrealism, swearing, words | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments