Wednesday, 14 March 2018

My life with pictures (part 3)

   Now I knew what I liked, saw how someone else put together their pictures and why. So I'm buying paintings and drawings. Not often and never for much money. It was more about the getting out and searching really. Each would be met, when it came home with me with "more rubbish" or " you can hang THAT in the garage." Well that's a little unfair occasionally she did like the odd one and if someone came over and said "Oh I like that" she'd say "Oh yes, we brought that at so and so."
WE! No WE didn't, I thought. It makes me smile now, well almost :) but at the time it really used to get to me. Ex Mrs Spanner still has a few of those pictures in her new home. Although she very kindly said I could keep them all if I wished but she did chose a few which was fine with me.
   Time rolled on and we had two girls who would of been around 6 and 10 at the time.
 "Daddy" said the 10 year old," how many pictures do we have on the walls?"
" I'm not sure, um ten fifteen?"
"Twenty three. I had to count them for school. The teacher asked how many pictures we had and we all had to count them."
"Wow, twenty three. Who had the most?"
"We did" I noted the reply didn't have that "YES" jump up and down feel to it. She takes after her mother here, when it comes to anything her dad collects
"Siobhan was second. They have seven"
"Oh right, well is that good?"
"I guess so." I felt the very faint chance of a possible conversion here but as it currently stands. All grown up and nearly thirty she has just two in her home. Still five behind Siobhans parents.

Onwards, upwards and careering towards fulfillment :)))

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Today's my birthday.

   Today I'm fifty ten. An age only other people reach. I have never really had any sense of how old I am. Twenty one was good, so I've always been twenty one, while everyone else has got older. Now, reluctantly I'm going to accept I'm twenty one nolonger. There having been several clues to this of course. Any kind of getting up, sitting down, tying my shoe laces etc is accompanied by an involuntary "Ooh." Other people drive badly. I always seem to be blowing my nose and occasionally find two hankies in my pockets. I'm sometimes woken by a noise in the middle of the night only to realise it was probably me snoring. My laugh and I do laugh a lot. Has now somehow morphed into  Muttley's.
   None of this is bad news. Fifty ten is the new twenty one and God willing I can be fifty ten for quite a few years to come.
   I've taken the day off. After breakfast I'll mooch around a local auction house. The current book and I will walk up to the pub and spend lunchtime enjoying a couple beers and as many pages as I can be bothered with. This evening, I'm following that very English tradition of ending the day at the local Indian, sharing a curry with friends.

Onwards, upwards and careering towards a vindaloo and fulfillment :)))

Friday, 9 March 2018

My life with pictures (part 2)

   Just before I carry on down memory lane. Something came to me just now as I reread my last post. I mentioned my schoolboy friend Frank Kelly. Just for the record it was Frank who told me Father Christmas didn't exist and several months after that bombshell his big brother told the pair of us the facts of life in quite Gracie detail as we all walked home from school.

   OK back to the Art. My senior school did have art on it's walls. Above me in my form room was a print of Georges Seurat's "Bathers at Asnieres." Georges wasn't just a talented painter. He really studied the science of colour and along with the artist Paul Signac developed "Pointillism." You apply the paint as dots. Different colours very close together. Which fools the eye into seeing another colour entirely. It's worth mentioning that the invention of the camera made a lot of artists believe that a new way had to be found to paint and there by, give us a different way to see the world. Unfortunately Georges didn't have the long and successful career his abilities deserved. He died at the age of 31 his son died two weeks later barely a year old. His partner was carrying their second child at the time. That baby was also destined to die not long after it was born.
  At the time I knew none of this. I just liked his work. It wasn't until I was in my twenties that I actually started to buy books on the artists I'd come to like and actively visit gallery's. I brought prints of their work and put those on my walls but that was all about to change.
  Years and years ago a friend of mine called me up and asked if I could pop round to one of his long term customers as he was busy. The address was in a very nice part of Chelsea. I managed to find a space parked the van, filled the meter and walked up to the house. Knocked on the door, which was duly opened by a very old and very small woman. Maybe she might have been normal size and the front door very big. As I said it was a long time ago but I think you get the picture.
   The hallway was plastered with paintings from floor to ceiling and all the way up the stairs. It was an amazing mix of styles, colours and sizes. After I'd sorted out the problem (a loose and drippy tap) and began to make my exit. I commented on the wonderful pictures.
"Oh that's nothing, come and look at these."
She lead me into the dinning room which again had an amazing collection of eclectic paintings. She let me walk round and study them all.
"You see my husband was a lawyer and one time he represented some miners. They had no money but he didn't mind. He made a good living. After the case was over they gave him some of the pictures they used to paint at their social clubs. In the 30's people had lots of hobbies. Then some poor artist needed my husband's help and more paintings. All the time he comes home with paintings. You know we had lots of dinner parties. I would cook and my husband would move the pictures around. Then our guests would arrive and they'd say "Oh John another painting, tell us the story" and he would tell them about the case and whether he won. He was a charming clever man, he always won. Then he would tell them about the picture, where it was or the style, you know. They were such wonderful evenings. Such stories."
   Soon after that I brought a little water colour from a junk shop and haven't looked back.

Onwards, upwards and careering towards frames and fulfillment :)))

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

My life with pictures (part 1)

   Art wasn't really on my radar as I grew up in working class Brixton, South London during the mid 1960's. The flat my family and I lived in had four old framed prints on our living room wall. I think they were given to my dad by one of his customers. I don't remember any pictures on the walls of my first school and Sculpture was something big black and municipal. A Field Marshal on a horse or a Politician towering above me as we drove through central London on our way to visit family or friends. That was the sum of my exposure to the world of art. It wasn't part of my world or seemingly those around me. It just wasn't meant for us.
   Then one day my friend Frank Kelly (where are you now? I do hope you're happy) and I walked the three or four miles from where we lived to the Imperial War Museum. Situated slightly anonymously behind Waterloo Station. It was one of several huge adventures two ten year old Brixton boys undertook during their school holidays back then. Wearing shorts and strippy tee shirts.The unofficial uniform of all ten year olds in 60's Britain. We set off.
   The IWM was stuffed with old guns, huge shells, uniforms, planes hanging from ceilings, bits of tanks, photos of soldiers and lots more. Along with football and sweets it's what little boys back then lived for. Not thirty feet from the entrance hung high up on a wall was a painting that changed me. It was huge. Over six metres long and two and a bit tall. That's over 20 foot long and almost eight high in old money. The subject is tragic. Which wasn't lost on the two ten year olds staring up at it. The IWM was all those years ago primarily there to show the Nation's  military successes but here was a picture showing it's tragic failure. That war repeats what it purports to end. Human suffering.

   It's title is "Gassed" painted by the Anglo American Artist John Singer Sargent. Who spent much of his career painting the rich and wealthy of Europe. As the title suggests, it shows the aftermath of a gas attack and given that the wind doesn't favour either Army. You were just as likely to be gassed by your side as the enemy. Sargent was commissioned by the British War Memorials Committee in 1918 as the war was coming to its close. To produce a work for the "Hall of Remembrance."  Although 62 years old. He travelled to the Western Front to find the inspiration for his epic work. He got word one afternoon, of a good many gas cases at a field dressing station. He went there drew pencil sketches and made notes. This ultimately lead to the painting above. Finished in 1919.
   I knew none of this then but what I did learn that day was how a painting can affect me and tell me so much in just the blink of an eye.
  If by any chance you happen to read this and live near Kansas City, Missouri. The painting is there on loan. At the "National World War One Museum" till June. Go see it and tell me what you think.
   Onwards, upwards and careering towards a picture full fulfillment :)))


Saturday, 3 March 2018

Snow and growing old. Episode two.

I guess if I stick a title over a piece of work. It would make sense to refer to it at least once in the body of that work. I could fib and say I was being ironic. Seeing as forgetfulness comes with old age. The truth however is I didn't look back. Just ploughed on and hit "publish" so dumb would be honest and dumb is a willing traveling companion whatever your age.
In just under two weeks I hit 60 and over the year in preparation for the big event I've started to develop the habits that befit a sexagenian. Involuntary noises (mutterings as opposed to biological ones) when I bend down, stand up, get in the van, get out of the van, virtually any movement really. The wearing of gloves, hat, thick jumpers and socks immediately the weather man says to expect anything other than sunshine. Commenting on the bad driving of others (while ignoring my own) and not just car owners. I give the evil eye to anyone who gets too close with their shopping trollies, prams or pushchairs.
While mentioning prams and pushchairs it seems apposite to mention my eldest daughter and her partner have had a son. He's five months old now. He seems to find me amusing. I think in part because I'm a bigger version of him, bald, make funny noises, badly co-ordinated and we both drink from bottles. I ignore anyone who calls me "grandpa" or any variant there of. While I'm happy he's around, I really don't want to be reminded of my age. So for the moment we'll just nod and say "alright?" I've explained this to him numerous times but he just dribbles at the moment.
The worst thing by far. Is reading or hearing that someone my age or worse, has died. God, does that make me feel your days are numbered. Followed immediately by a deep sense of sorrow for those they've left behind. Who will nolonger share a conversation, a hug  or chocolate again. The idea that my two kids will have to sort through all my shrewd acquisitions thinking it's all junk (which it probably is) fills me with horror. The painting in the hall for instance. It's  a Catherdral with some kind of grand ceremony taking place on the steps. In an impressionist style by the long dead and forgotten painter and garden designer Raymond Berrow. Reframed in a suitably grand gilt frame (courtesy of eBay ) it makes me stop and smile each and everytime I see it. Not only are the frame and picture a perfect match (smug smile, clever me) but I remember where both parts came from. How ridiculously cheap both were and the joy of carefully cleaning both and finding out the little that's written about Berrow. Before hanging it up on the wall. For me and hopeful others to enjoy. It's a safe bet it's days will be numbered very shortly after mine are up.
Although this all seems doom and gloom. It isn't. It's me waking up to the fact that time is precious. There are things to do, people to see and the words we don't say enough to those close to us, need to be said and said often.

Onwards, upwards and careering towards fulfillment and a Zimmer frame :)))

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Snow and growing old.

Proper winter weather has finally come to Kent. I drove home from my daughters Monday evening along the M2. There was a light dusting of snow on the ground and the odd flurries of falling snow as I drove along. Picking my way through a mixture of people driving along at 40mph with fog lights and headlights full on while others cruised by at 80 as if it was just a normal day I got home around midnight. The town was asleep, unawares they would all wake up to snow covered streets in a few short hours. It didn't hang around and was gone by the time I went to the post office around 4pm. However this evening it's snowing again and everything, including the two palms in my front garden are covered in the white stuff.

I've been here about five years now and this is only the second time it's snowed. It feels really odd having snow in a seaside town. Rain, yes. Especially in the summer. English summers are not meant to be warm and consistent. If you holiday here in the summer you expect to be told that the week before you came was glorious and you expect to wear every bit of clothing you brought with you all at the same time. In an effort to stay warm and dry while on your holiday. You also expect to hear once back home and back at work that the wet, damp place you drove away from a few days previously is experiencing wonderfully hot sunny days again.

Back to the now though. With antiquated heating and no insulation it's been a cold winter. Hopefully the last one though. A good run of work has meant I got my taxes filed and paid on time. That's two years on the bounce. I'd like to think the people at "Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs" give out a little cheer when they hear I've manage it yet again. More importantly it means there's enough cash in my savings account to replace the roof and insulate as soon as the weather improves. I'll no longer resemble a character from a "Dickens" novel complete with woolly hat, when I go to my bed. Which itself is covered in every blanket I own or stole and all topped off with my overcoat for good measure.

Onwards, upwards and careering towards fulfillment and insulation :)))

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

I Shall Try Again.

I started my last post with a little update. Describing why I blog. I then got sidetracked and went  completely off topic and discussed the toilet arrangements on small boats. So now I will endeavour to stick to the subject.
    I've decided not to try too hard to understand what and why I do/don't do stuff. At my age there isn't time. It feels a little like looking over your shoulder and there by possibly missing what's ahead. I'll just try and be better at it. Whatever it is. Full stop.
    I did notice the other day however.  How what I wear changes who I am slightly. My last pair of work dungarees where pretty threadbare so I retired them and didn't get round to replacing them till now. I also picked up a new pair of work boots roundabout the same time. The first hint of something different occurred when I got home one evening. Boots off, dungarees off, tee shirt, socks etc shower and change of clothes. Picked up discarded work clothes hung them up, added clean tee, socks and shreddies ready for the next day and it dawned on me. That I was now, "not working" but "home and relaxing" and not thinking of work. Next morning I got up, pulled on the dungarees and boots and felt a slight sense of haste to get on to work and make a start. I don't know why it had never occurred to me before. After all. Actors are always going on about how they get into character only when they put the costume on. Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne and Peter Parker all know the benefits of a change of outfit. Without their bits of spandex, villains would get away with murder! Sometimes it's all so obvious
  The boots are on and it's time for work and I'm off to clear the mean streets of Margate of leaking taps and blocked toilets.

 Onwards, upwards and careering towards fulfilment :)))