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S. N. Behrman’s magisterial life of Duveen is always a great comfort to the young, not merely from the felicity of his style.
The passion of these newly rich Americans for industrial merger yielded to an even more insistent passion for a merger of their newly acquired domains with more ancient ones; they wanted to veneer their arrivisme with the traditional. It would be gratifying to feel, as you drove up to your porte-cochere in Pittsburgh, that you were one with the jaded Renaissance Venetian who had just returned from a sitting for Titian; to feel, as you walked by the ranks of gleaming and authentic suits of armor in your mansion on Long Island—and passed the time of day with your private armorer—that it was only an accident of chronology that had put you in a counting house when you might have been jousting with other kings in the Tournament of Love; to push aside the heavy damask tablecloth on a magnificent Louis XIV dining-room table, making room for a green-shaded office lamp, beneath which you scanned the report of last month’s profit from the Saginaw branch, and then, looking up, catch a glimpse of Mrs. Richard Brinsley Sheridan and flick the fantasy that presently you would be ordering your sedan chair, because the loveliest girl in London was expecting you for tea.
It was Frick’s custom to have an organist in on Saturday afternoons to fill the gallery of his mansion at Seventieth Street and Fifth Avenue with the majestic strains of “The Rosary” and “Silver Threads Among the Gold” while he himself sat on a Renaissance throne, under a baldachino, and every now and then looked up from his Saturday Evening Post to contemplate the works of Van Dyck and Rembrandt, or, when he was enthroned in their special atelier, the more frolicsome improvisations of Fragonard and Boucher. Surely Frick must have felt, as he sat there, that only time separated him from Lorenzo and the other Medicis. Morgan commissioned the English art authority Dr. George C. Williamson to prepare catalogues of his vast collections. Williamson spent years travelling all over the world to check on the authenticity and the history of certain items and to supervise the work on the catalogues. The last one he completed for his patron was “The Morgan Book of Watches.” For the illustrations, gold and silver leaf was used, laid on so thick that the engraved designs of the watches could be reproduced exactly. Morgan was in Rome when he received this catalogue, on Christmas Day, 1912, and he cabled Williamson, in New York, “IT IS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL BOOK 1 HAVE EVER SEEN.” It was lying by Morgan’s bedside when he died in Rome, early in 1913.
Duveen boasted that he understood the psychology of his dozen biggest customers much better than his competitors did. In his peculiar semantics, “to understand psychology” meant to be able to guess how much the traffic would bear, and under that interpretation his boast was not an empty one. He always knew how to shift the interest of his customers—or, more accurately, his protégés—from their original fields of accumulation to his own, and to persuade them, moreover, that his was the more exalted. The truth was that after having spent a lifetime making money, Duveen’s protégés were rich enough to go anywhere and do anything but didn’t know where to go or what to do or even how to do nothing gracefully. After the Americans had splurged on yachts and horses and houses, they were stymied. There were no noble titles to be earned—or bought—and lived up to, as there were in Europe, and if they ever made an attempt to do nothing gracefully, they were hampered by the Puritanic and democratic tradition that held such a life sinful. Whenever they let themselves go, they had a feeling of guilt. Stotesbury, in a gray business suit and a high stiff collar, with a Panama hat clamped down on his head, stood in the blazing sunshine of the tremendous patio of El Mirasol, his Palm Beach home, and said to one of his architects, who had recently added a wing to it, “It cost too much for ninety days!” And when his wife spent two hundred and seventy-five thousand dollars on Wingwood House, their place at Bar Harbor, he said the same thing again. He felt the same way about Whitemarsh Hall and Winoga, his two places at Chestnut Hill. A European of comparable means who spent ninety days in one of his residences would very likely have felt that whatever he had spent on it was justified, on the principle that ninety days was a segment of time that was worth enjoying even if at the end of it he went somewhere else. When the American millionaires of the era said, “I don’t care what it costs,” as they often did, they were silently adding, “So long as I have something to show for it.” And what they had to show for it had to be at once enviable and uplifting. Duveen was like an answer to a prayer.
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There’s one pet I like to pet
And every evening we get set
I stroke it every chance I get
It’s my girl’s pussy
Seldom plays and never purrs
And I love the thoughts it stirs
But I don’t mind because it’s hers
My girl’s pussy
Often it goes out at night
Returns at break of dawn
No matter what the weather’s like
It’s always nice and warm
It’s never dirty, always clean
In giving thrills, never mean
But it’s the best I’ve ever seen
Is my girl’s pussy
There’s one pet I like to pet
And every evening we get set
I stroke it every chance I get
It’s my girl’s pussy
Seldom plays, never purrs
And I love the thoughts it stirs
But I don’t mind because it’s hers
It’s my girl’s pussy
Though often it goes out at night
And returns at break of dawn, break of dawn
No matter what the weather’s like
It’s always dry and warm
I bring tid-bits that it loves
We spoon like two turtle doves
I take care to remove my gloves
When stroking my girl’s pussy
Harry Roy & his Bat Club Boys — My Girl’s Pussy – 1931
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As President Wiggum details yet another bombing of a muslim country for their own good — I swear, part of America’s current mission policy statement is to rain death from the clouds upon each and every country in the world, in turn and prolly ending up with themselves — it can’t hurt to visit one of my favourite passages, from Herbert Gorman’s magnificent 1947 fictionalization of L’Affaire Boulanger, Brave General, painting the general’s unfortunate — in consequence — visit to Prince Napoleon‘s Chateau at Prangins, in the canton of Vaud [ Obit ]. When did a Plon-Plon benefit anyone ? Suitable no doubt since Obama shares with Georges his amiable nullity, combined even yet with the fading aura of one also once claimed as messiah who brought death and dictatorial misery as travelling companions.
Yanks of a liberal disposition now try to disassociate themselves and Bush-Lite from any suspicion of Obamamania, claiming that it was their opponents who fastened the unreal expectations of a new dispensation upon the reputation of a remarkably shifty candidate and soon to be dilettante president, yet none who actually lived through November of ’08 will forget the revolting genuflections and hosannas which accompanied that victory; like Boulanger, who twisted in turn to solicit support from correct legitimists and the slippery factions who composed the body politic of the corrupt Third Republic, orleanists, bonapartists, socialists, clericals etc. etc., all realising in turn that he lacked spirit to do good for any, and not even for himself, the president courted foolishly his alleged enemies for bi-partisan support without having much of a plan for even the semblance of victory. As to whether being a hollow man is better than being a criminal worshipped war-lord, I can’t say; but trying to be both is a respectable recipe for disaster.
As Gorman includes: In Politics one insisted to the last that one’s party was winning, and when one’s party did not win one spent the the next week inventing extraneous excuses for the defeat. The simple fact that one’s party had lost because it had not received as many votes as the other fellow’s party was never a conclusive explanation in itself. Politics, it appeared, was a constant self-justification. If I had done that, if I had done this, if the question had been properly presented, if my agent in that particular place… if the funds had been distributed as… if… if… if… Ah, that was politics. It was an absurd game of chess with crazy moves and cheating antagonists who stole your pawns when you were not looking. There was more politics, she thought, in republics than there were in kingdoms or empires for the simple reason that in republics there was no definitive iron hoof to stamp it out. That was good. So everybody said. The People spoke. Sometimes they spoke in a dozen clashing voices and nothing was resolved, or, if was resolved, it took a long time and the resolution lost a part of its strength. Like the American Congress. A wilful minority in that Paradise of democracy could indefinitely obstruct the will of the majority. That was called rule by the people. It sounded more like rule by the sediment that was too clotted to go down the drain. It held back everything.
Twilight was falling
Twilight was falling when the Prince, looking very much like a blown-up caricature of his august uncle, waddled into the large library with the General at his heels.
“If you enter politics,” he was saying, “you will soon discover it to be a nasty and merciless business. Have you a fortune ?”
“Not a sou, “replied the General.
“Well,” said the Prince, as he thrust his hand into the front of his waistcoat, “if you run aground you will never be a stranger here.”
Thiébaud, who was standing by one of the glass cases of relics with Berthet-Leleux, turned smilingly towards the two men.
“I have been thrilled by some of the objects in this case, Your Imperial Highness,” he declared. “Look here, my General. Here are some things that will stir your soldier’s heart.”
Boulanger advanced towards the relics eagerly, and the Prince followed, his broad face wreathed with smiles.
“Yes,” he said, “I intended to show you some of these sacred souvenirs. Berthet-Leleux, hand me the keys.”
The four men gathered before the case, while the Prince awkwardly unlocked the glass-panelled door.
“There are the spurs that He wore on the return from Italy,” he explained. “And there is the cockade that was in His hat the day He made them eat grapeshot at the Church of Saint-Roch. There are two of His pistols and the sash He wrapped around His middle when He drove the recalcitrant Council of the Five Hundred out of the Orangerie. And here… here…”
He reached into the case and withdrew an Egyptian sabre in a gold-plated and bejewelled sheath. He extended it towards the General.
“This is the sword the First Consul carried at Marengo,” he said solemnly.
For an instant the magic of the Cult impregnated the still air in the library. Afterwards Thiébaud swore that he heard the distant grumble of grenadier drums as the General stretched forward a respectful hand and lightly touched the hilt of the glittering weapon.
“Are you sure that this is the sabre of the First Consul ?” he demanded in a hushed voice.
The Prince smiled.
“Do you think that this is bric-à-brac I have collected in flea-markets ?” he asked proudly.
“It is a beautiful souvenir,” declared the General in a reverent tone.
His hand again caressed the hilt of the sword as lightly, as tenderly as though it were the upturned face of a beloved woman. Thiébaud saw the grave melancholy visage of a professional soldier to whom warfare was a religion and in whose eyes the saints wore burnished epaulets. Like the Moor in the English play his profession was his life and without it he would have no life at all… nothing, indeed, but existence. What, then ? What, then ? The journalist closed his mind to the answer. The Prince, too, observed the General’s emotion and instinctively understood it. After all, he was a Bonaparte. Turning, he carefully placed the sabre back on the velvet in the open case.
“General,” he said, “when you have returned Alsace and Lorraine back to France I will offer you this sword.”
Justin entered the shadowy library with a lighted candelabra.
As elsewhere, earlier in the book, eternal truth remains for some of us outside all such montebanks of apparent power…
It was after four o’clock in the morning when the Polish waiter, leaning like an old collapsed scarecrow against the corridor wall, saw the door open and the octet emerge in a compact group. They were no longer laughing.
“Remember,” said Laguerre. “My dinner is tonight. You are all invited. In the meantime…”
“In the meantime we have accomplished nothing,” snapped Clemenceau.
“We are moving to an understanding,” said the General mildly.
Ignace observed how Clemenceau turned a brief sour glance at the handsome gentleman with the blond beard.
“Whose understanding ?” demanded the Breton abruptly.
As they were going down the stairs Ignace turned to Monsieur Frédéric.
“They all detest one another,” he remarked in a surprised tone.
Monsieur Frédéric, who had been a maître d’hôtel for thirty years, shrugged his shoulders.
“After all,” he replied, “we live under a Republic. They have the liberty to detest one another. As for me… I am a Royalist.”
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After dawdling around Monaco itself, we went round to the ‘Jeux’ — a large gambling-house established on the shore near Monaco, upon the road to Mentone. There is a splendid hotel there, and the large house of sin, blazing with gas lamps by night. So we saw it from the road beneath Turbia our first night, flaming and shining by the shore like Pandemonium, or the habitation of some romantic witch. This place, in truth, resembles the gardens of Alcina, or any other magician’s trap for catching souls which poets have devised. It lies close by the sea in a hollow of the sheltering hills. there winter cannot come — the flowers bloom, the waves dance, and sunlight laughs all through the year. The air swoons with scent of lemon groves; tall palm trees wave their branches in the garden; music of the softest, loudest, most inebriating passion swells from the palace; rich meats and wines are served in a gorgeously painted hall; cool corridors and sunny seats stand ready for the noontide heat or evening calm; without are olive gardens, green and fresh and full of flowers. But the witch herself holds her high court and never-ending festival of sin in the hall of the green tables. There is a passion which subdues all others, making music, sweet scents and delicious food, the plash of melodious waves, the evening air and freedom of the everlasting hills subserve her own supremacy.
When the fiend of play has entered into a man, what does he care for the beauties of nature or even for the pleasure of the sense ? Yet in the moments of his trial he must drain the cup of passion, therefore let him have companions — splendid women, with bold eyes and golden hair and marble columns of imperial throats, to laugh with him, to sing shrill songs, to drink, to tempt the glassy deep at midnight when the cold moon shines or all the headlands glitter with grey phosphorescence and the palace sends its flaring lights and sound of cymbals to the hills. And many, too, there are over whom love and wine hold empire hardly less than play. This is no vision; it is sober, sad reality. I have seen it to-day with my own eyes. I have been inside the palace and breathed its air. In no other place could this riotous daughter of hell have set her throne so seducingly. Here are the Sirens and Calypso and Dame Venus of Tannhäuser’s dream. Almost every other scene of dissipation has disappointed me by its monotony and sordidness. But this inebriates; here nature is so lavish, so beautiful, so softly luxurious, that the harlot’s cup is thrice more sweet to the taste, more stealing of the senses than elsewhere. I felt, while we listened to the music, strolled about the gardens and lounged in the play-rooms, as I have sometimes felt at the opera. All other pleasures, thoughts and interests of life seemed to be far off and trivial for the time. I was beclouded, carried off my balance, lapped in strange forebodings of things infinite outside me in the human heart. Yet all was unreal; for the touch of reason, like the hand of Galahad, caused the boiling of this impure fountain to cease — the wizard’s castle disappeared and, as I drove home to Mentone, the solemn hills and skies and seas remained and that house was, as it were, a mirage.
John Addington Symonds : Diary
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And in like manner, if cottages are ever to be wisely built again, the peasant must enjoy his cottage, and be himself its artist, as a bird is. Shall cock-robins and yellow-hammers have wit enough to make themselves comfortable, and bullfinches peck a gothic tracery out of dead clematis, — and your English yeoman be fitted by his landlord with four dead walls and a drainpipe ? That is the result of your spending 300,000l. a year at Kensington in science and art then ? You have made beautiful machines, too, wherewith you save the peasant the trouble of ploughing and reaping, and threshing; and after being saved all that time and toil, and getting, one would think, leisure enough for his education, you have to lodge him also, as you drop a puppet into a deal box, and you lose money in doing it ! and two hundred years ago, without steam, without electricity, almost without books, and altogether without help from “Cassell’s Educator” or the morning newspapers, the Swiss shepherd could build himself a châlet, daintily carved, and with flourished inscriptions, and with red and blue and white ηοικιλία ; and the burgess of Strasburg could build himself a house like this I showed you, and a spire such as all men know; and keep a precious book or two in his public library, and praise God for all: while we, — what are we good for, but to damage the spire, knock down half the houses, and burn the library, — and declare there is no God but Chemistry ?
What are we good for ? Are even our engines of destruction useful to us ? Do they give us real power ? Once, indeed, not like halcyons, but like sea-eagles, we had our homes upon the sea; fearless alike of storm or enemy, winged like the wave petrel; and as Arabs of an indeed pathless desert, we dwelt in the presence of all our brethren. Our pride is fallen; no reed shaken with the wind, near the little singing halcyon’s nest is more tremulous than we are now; though we have built iron nests on the sea, with walls impregnable. We have lost our pride — but have we gained peace ? Do we even care to seek it, how much less strive to make it ?
John Ruskin : The Eagle’s Nest
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Parody being one of the major arts, here is a satire of French art-school filmmaking. Unknown auteur.
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Puppetry over here was mainly confined to the rather dismal exploits of Punch and Judy. Over in Sicily though it was, and is, rather more swagger. A richer cultural life despite the poverty, and a stern tradition of memorising friends and neighbours for deathworthy offence, together with evergreen recollections of one of the major cultural enemies of Christendom — the Barbary states kept this alive until fairly recently by frequently removing Sicilians, and others as far as Ireland and points north, to become slaves in what was, mainly, all things considered, mainly a vast slave plantation just called Islam — made their pupi quite resplendent.
Opera dei pupi Siracusa
Pupi Siciliani dei Fratelli Napoli di Catania
Opera dei pupi Puticchio
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Two weeks ago I hired a van/driver and emptied the garage mentioned earlier to a temporary ( alas ) near location: most of the boxes can be, with some trouble, disposed of without much consideration; but this event does mean that I need never see the far-off town evermore. British cities being what they are, this is excellent. I may detail some of the recovered books later; however this, and some continual intimations of chest trouble — which susurration ironically has led to an annoying semi-cessation of smoking at the precise time when I have obtained a supply of Marlboros from the Philippines — has extended a neglect of this minor blog. Even once one has taken Marcus Aurelius on board and recognised the unimportance of nearly everything transient, one still waits upon events, seeking a succession of resolutions… In the longer term, I still have no idea where to move finally even when most of these minor annoyances of storage for that move are fixed…
So, in lieu of an entry, I’ll post a few links that have been hanging around in Firefox for weeks waiting for a mention.
I too have never heard of Anders Zorn ( splendid name, though ), and his figures of Scandanavian young womanhood seem slightly robust compared to the more familiar coming-of-age visualisations of the art-photographer David Hamilton later in the century — I should confess a distaste for styled studio photography — but I liked this more fugitive piece
The first Pre-Raphaelites no matter what the skill can also often be too strenuous, however here is the site of the Delaware Art Museum; and here is a site with some of Kate Greenaway’s still more delicate works that betray at least a faint influence of Morris.
Here’s a stray Lady Gouldian Finch in a blog; and here’s a history of Lost Wax Casting by an expert.
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Jamie has this gift also, the gift of the compelling eye — which is not to be confused with the evil eye, nor yet witchcraft — which suggests to the unwary and lesser-willed the pure unreason of unobedience [ I wish I had it... ]
She believed profoundly in herself and in the suggestions of her own imagination. So fixed and unalterable was that belief that it amounted to positive knowledge, so far as it constituted a motive of action. In her strange youth wild dreams had possessed her, and some of them, often dreamed again, had become realities to her now. Her powers were natural, those gifts which from time to time are seen in men and women, which are alternately scoffed at as impostures, or accepted as facts, but which are never understood either by their possessor or by those who witness the results. She had from childhood the power to charm with eye and hand all living things, the fascination which takes hold of the consciousness through sight and touch and word, and lulls it to sleep. It was witchery, and she was called a witch. In earlier centuries her hideous fate would have been sealed from the first day when, under her childish gaze, a wolf that had been taken alive in the Bohemian forest crawled fawning to her feet, at the full length of its chain, and laid its savage head under her hand, and closed its bloodshot eyes and slept before her.
I was fond of F. Marion Crawford’s The Witch of Prague as a child, and though he wasn’t prone to incident in his unelaborate plotting, few could deny the beauty of his descriptive, suggestively so, powers.
The man introduced him into a spacious hall and closed the door, leaving him to his own reflections. The place was very wide and high and without windows, but the broad daylight descended abundantly from above through the glazed roof and illuminated every corner. He would have taken the room for a conservatory, for it contained a forest of tropical trees and plants, and whole gardens of rare southern flowers. Tall letonias, date palms, mimosas and rubber trees of many varieties stretched their fantastic spikes and heavy leaves half-way up to the crystal ceiling; giant ferns swept the polished marble floor with their soft embroideries and dark green laces; Indian creepers, full of bright blossoms, made screens and curtains of their intertwining foliage; orchids of every hue and of every exotic species bloomed in thick banks along the walls. Flowers less rare, violets and lilies of the valley, closely set and luxuriant, grew in beds edged with moss around the roots of the larger plants and in many open spaces. The air was very soft and warm, moist and full of heavy odours as the still atmosphere of an island in southern seas, and the silence was broken only by the light plash of softly-falling water.
He who has won woman in the face of daring rivals, of enormous odds, of gigantic obstacles, knows what love means; he who has lost her, having loved her, alone has measured with his own soul the bitterness of earthly sorrow, the depth of total loneliness, the breadth of the wilderness of despair. And he who has sorrowed long, who has long been alone, but who has watched the small, twinkling ray still burning upon the distant border of his desert—the faint glimmer of a single star that was still above the horizon of despair—he only can tell what utter darkness can be upon the face of the earth when that last star has set for ever. With it are gone suddenly the very quarters and cardinal points of life’s chart, there is no longer any right hand or any left, any north or south, any rising of the sun or any going down, any forward or backward direction in his path, any heaven above, or any hell below. The world has stood still and there is no life in the thick, black stillness. Death himself is dead, and one living man is forgotten behind, to mourn him as a lost friend, to pray that some new destroyer, more sure of hand than death himself, may come striding through the awful silence to make an end at last of the tormented spirit, to bear it swiftly to the place where that last star ceased to shine, and to let it down into the restful depths of an unremembering eternity. But into that place, which is the soul of man, no destroyer can penetrate; that solitary life neither the sword, nor pestilence, nor age, nor eternity can extinguish; that immortal memory no night can obscure. There was a beginning indeed, but end there can be none.
Here also is one of his pretty short stories: For The Blood Is The Life
Charles Bridge – 1840
As to Prague itself, it was no doubt a fine city, from when it was the capital of the Old Reich to the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire; yet I do have some distance from all things Czech: excessive nationalism from when they first began their interesting practice of throwing people out of high windows and set off the most devastating war in modern history; a wry humour allied to a smug morosity similar to that of my own people which insisted on striving for barren independent democracy; and, of course, the depraved vengefulness which sped possibly the most unspeakable atrocities on Germans of any nation which had been under the nazi control ( after an occupation which was as collaborative as most [ they supplied superb weaponry with all their noted craftsmanship and the occupation was not as grim as in, say, Poland ] ) — here’s one link, but I’ve read far, far worse… If the Russians were dreadful, they were restrained compared to some of the smaller regimes which were to become their future puppets. Besides, they honoured the Grand Tradition by chucking Jan Masaryk — ghastly son of a still ghastlier father — out of a window…
Still Art has nothing to do with politics, and Bohemia even in it’s despicable guise of the late scarcely lamented Czechoslovakia had some severely unknown artists:
here’s a site devoted to Tavik František Šimon
with pages upon his confreres such as Hugo Böttinger
Mucha is naturally well-known, yet Golden Age Comic Stories blog has some nice examples of his work on the 8th June entry — for some reason I cannot link directly to posts there; this blog has a large resource of illustrative fantasy ranging from the fascinating to the banal [ I have to say I despise classical comic book 'art' and such genre; and find it generally as debased and weak-minded as say it's successors in film such as Star Wars or Star Trek ].
Finally, here’s another Perchta…
[ Although I have to preface this by pointing out that the painting above the snippet, Vincent Neumann's Witch on a Broom --- reffing to above mention of Bohemian witches... --- is uncannily reminiscent of Auld Scotia right up to the present time. Go into any Edinburgh pub. ]
The White Lady von Rosenberg
Perchta von Rosenberg, known as the White Lady, lived in the Český Krumlov castle in the 15th century. Her father, Ulrich II. von Rosenberg married her off against her will and without love to the Moravian lord Johann von Lichtenstein who was cruel to Perchta all her life. When Johann was dying he had Perchta called in and asked her for forgiveness. She refused, and her husband cursed her. Since then, the soul of the White Lady von Rosenberg has had to roam the Rosenberg castles and tends to appear before significant events. White gloves on her hand bear good tidings, whereas black gloves are a sign of impending disaster. Tales of the White Lady is a theme for many authors.
This is from the Tales & Legends bit of the site of Český Krumlov Castle.
Apart from the fact I find the notion of forgiveness unmanly and fairly inexplicable, the trouble here is that under no rational or irrational standard can forgiveness be demanded, and why this poor girl should have to expiate her lack of pity for the brutish lout who had injured her is totally beyond me.
I blame christianity.
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Apparently there’s another jacobite in Suffolk: The Jacobite Intelligencer; which must restore the county average. Eventually we may not have enough for a Rising, but definitely sufficient for a small sedate party.
Still, I bought the wheel bit of an old roulette wheel yesterday, for no other reason that it is slightly weird; but I can’t see it providing even minutes of fun…
In the meantime I temporarily decided on an attraction to reading about greenhouses for no particular reason ( being averse to gardening beyond watering a plant or two ), which led to a/ the grander type of conservatory, such as that at Laeken; and thence to palatial gardening — Prussian Palaces has Peacock Island, which is pretty… and b/ to the Crystal Palace of 1851. Found a thread five pages long with hundreds of images of the original Crystal Palace; this the Alhambra Lion Court
… a Palace,
Apparently Maximilian II immediately built a rather stiff tribute Glaspalast in Munich in 1854; and even the Americans also copied the concept a year earlier, for the New York Crystal Palace. Walt Whitman wrote an advertising jingle which exemplifies both his virtues, unmatched facility and prettiness, and his faults: sincerity, the inane repellent Early American Braggadocio incompatible with delicacy, and pedestrian triumphalist ideology…
Lofter, fairer, ampler than any yet,
Earth’s modern wonder, History’s Seven out stripping,
High rising tier on tier, with glass and iron facades,
Gladdening the sun and sky – enhued in the cheerfulest hues,
Bronze, lilac, robin’s-egg, marine and crimson
Over whose golden roof shall flaunt, beneath thy banner, Freedom.
Aphrodite, Killer of Men, emerged on this rock in Cyprus: note the adorable placing of both tarmac and roadsign to enhance the veneration of her holy place…
Robert Fowler — Aphrodite
Returns to mind-glazing anime…
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Having a fairly active imaginative faculty, ancient medical instruments arouse my astounding capacity for unenthusiasm to alarming heights — as to be exact, do their modern equivalents; however, despite no great interest in the sciences, old scientific instruments are cool ( possibly due to an affinity for steampunk, a useful blog on which is Brass Goggles ): and here’s a site with about 1850 presented, Instruments for Natural Philosophy.
A few years back whilst walking, I noticed a small piece of iron peeping from soil in some rough ground. Working it loose, it revealed itself to be this larger object, and I determined to use it as a neat garden ornament in an Ian Hamilton Finlay kind of way, maybe a centerpiece for a garden bed.. Still, I have absolutely no notion either what it was in it’s previous incarnation nor in what period it was birthed. 1850s ? 1890s ? 1930s ? Neo-classically pretty, yet subtly worrying… * One can only trust it was some component of engineering, and not purposed for the medical practices of grim far-off eras.
* As is Professor Penguin from The Brass Goggles site with his trusty, but tiny, sidekick…
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The topiary tree formed as a profusion of carved nephrite, finely veined leaves and jeweled fruit and flowers on an intricate framework of branches, the fruit formed by champagne diamonds, amethysts, pale rubies and citrines, the flowers enameled white and set with diamonds, a keyhole and a tiny lever, hidden among the leaves, when activated open the hinged circular top of the tree and a feathered songbird rises, flaps its wings, turns its head, opens its beak and sings, the gold trunk chased to imitate bark and planted in gold soil is contained in a white quartz tub applied with a gold trellis chased with flowerheads at the intersections and further applied with swags of berried laurel enameled translucent green and pinned by cabochon rubies, the central rubies edged by diamonds, each foot of the tub also applied with chased gold rosettes set with cabochon rubies and diamonds, the corners of the tub with pearl finials, the square carved nephrite base in two steps with a miniature nephrite fluted column at each corner set with chased gold mounts, each column with a reeded gold cap surmounted by a pearl nestled in translucent green enamel leaves, the swinging gold chains between the columns formed as pearl flowers with translucent green enamel leaves.
The Bay Tree Egg from an online book on the Fabergé gifts of the Romanovs to one another.
Occasionally, as still more with Erté, part of the slickness causes wariness, yet as Fabergé’s skill astounds, the sheer swaggering inutility redeems any doubts. However in the end, like power and lands, art eventually temporarily ends up, via passing revolutionaries into the hands of base millionaires before they too die, unwept and unsung — and wholly unremembered. Even uglier is the next fate of possessions — passions — of individual monarchs and people transmuted into a disgusting ‘National’ heritage for all, dead in state museums and owned by no-one.
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I possess the same dislike for common fables as did Professor Tolkien for allegory; undoubtedly for the same reason, the total mistrust of didacticism added to the puritan complacence of the instructor. Still, whatever my reservations on La Fontaine, this is a very pretty little book from 1835, illustrated by Hadamar and Desandre, whomever they were, and I think this the prettiest of all. Pity about the unavoidable moral lesson…
L’Ane Portant Des ReliquesUn baudet, chargè de reliques
S’imagina qu’on l’adorait
Dans ce penser il se carrait,
Recevant comme siens l’encens et les cantiques,
Quelqu’un vit l’erreur, et lui dit:
Maitre baudet, ôtez-vous de l’esprit
Une vanitê si folle.
Ce n’est pas pour vous, c’est l’idole
A qui cet honneur se rend,
Et que la gloire en est due.
D’un magistral ignorant
C’est la robe qu’on salue.
Which may be unfavorably compared with Chesterton’s famous The Donkey for a less pompous and self-righteous viewpoint…
When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born;
With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil’s walking parody
On all four-footed things.
The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.
Fools ! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.
[ Note: all illustrations are only about 5 x 6.5 cm originally ]
More to follow, possibly
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, Charles I
Leonardo de Buonarrotto chose to have Artemisia Gentileschi’s Inclination muffled with drapery for moralistic reasons which would have scarcely commended themselves to his predecessor Michelangelo, some 50 years after she painted it. Fairly weird, agreed; despite the fact that each age imposes retrospective tastes upon the past — for moralistic reasons — which is massively not confined to art.
However, the real question is why during the last 300 years no restorer has been requested to remove these additions . Our churches have been evolving for one to two millennia in this continent, and every now and then excresences of previous taste are expunged… In this case it would seem more appropriate for the original artist’s intention to remain pure.
Artemisia, together with her father, was invited to England by the Great King, and painted here for him before the rebellion; but like most of the foreign artists he accumulated had to leave quickly with the onset of war. It is likely she would have agreed with one of his later random jottings:“Rebus in adversis facile est contemnere vitam;
Fortiter ille facit qui miser esse potest.”
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This being a framed print, with no signature — it could be either a limited edition or cut from a Christmas card for all I can tell — there’s no attribution possible…Still, it’s remarkably like Jamie as an infant undoubtedly planning revenge upon some unfortunate person or set of persons.
Neil Sedaka — Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen Print This Post
Adrian Ludwig Ricter — Pool in the Riesengebirge
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The rooks are looked upon by the squire as a very ancient and honourable line of gentry, highly aristocratical in their notions, fond of place, and attached to church and state; as their building so loftily, keeping about churches and cathedrals, and in the venerable groves of old castles and manor-houses, sufficiently manifests. The good opinion thus expressed by the squire put me upon observing more narrowly these very respectable birds; for I confess, to my shame, I had been apt to confound them with their cousins-german the crows, to whom, at the first glance, they bear so great a family resemblance. Nothing, it seems, could be more unjust or injurious than such a mistake. The rooks and crows are, among the feathered tribes, what the Spaniards and Portuguese are among nations, the least loving, in consequence of their neighbourhood and similarity. The rooks are old-established housekeepers, high-minded gentlefolk that have had their hereditary abodes time out of mind; but as to the poor crows, they are a kind of vagabond, predatory, gipsy race, roving about the country, without any settled home; “their hands are against everybody, and everybody’s against them,” and they are gibbeted in every corn-field. Master Simon assures me that a female rook that should so far forget herself as to consort with a crow, would inevitably be disinherited, and indeed would be totally discarded by all her genteel acquaintance.
Nor is the rookery entirely free from other troubles and disasters. In so aristocratical and lofty-minded a community, which boasts so much ancient blood and hereditary pride, it is natural to suppose that questions of etiquette will sometimes arise, and affairs of honour ensue. In fact, this is very often the case: bitter quarrels break out between individuals, which produce sad scufflings on the tree tops, and I have more than once seen a regular duel take place between two doughty heroes of the rookery. Their field of battle is generally the air: and their contest is managed in the most scientific and elegant manner; wheeling round and round each other, and towering higher and higher to get the vantage-ground, until they sometimes disappear in the clouds before the combat is determined.
Washington Irving : Bracebridge Hall
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Two sites of 360 degree photographic panoramas:
Quicktime, and there are usually more photos to each page that may be overlooked. The Danish churches partially make up for the truly hideous buildings of postwar Berlin…
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Linda Gentille, a protege of the Polish ace, Liberace, playing Cherry Hill.
The names of the painting/artist are not given.
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From The Auckland Art Gallery, a rather cool rendition of how Tissot‘s painting ‘Still on Top‘ was restored, after a nutter with a gun kidnapped and damaged it in 1998.
The Reich Flag and that of the Austro-Hungarian Empire may be, for the semi-patriotic intent of the piece, beneath the Tricolor, but it’s always good to see them.
Unlike the bonnet of the elderly gent. Red Cotton Night-cap Country wasn’t just Browning being playful…
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Existing without television until just before the end of the last century and which discarded recently completely after little use for years, the only thing to regret in that is that one’s education in early cinema is incomplete. Admittedly cultural zeitgeist of the past informs one though a type of osmosis — I have never seen a Keystone Cops movie, but feel fairly confident it can be imaged enough — but I guess one should at least attempt to become acquainted with known masterpieces/milestones. Suffering is supposed to be good for the soul, although personally I should prefer to stuff it when given a choice.
In this spirit I today watched D. W. Griffith’s great anti-war epic ‘The Birth of a Nation’, Here.
Although only in brief chunks, as it’s kind of long at three hours, and suffers from the pace of a snail got at by horse-dopers. The, uh, low expectations of audience comprehension at that period also adds to the tame pace. Heavy symbolism lingered upon too long — although to be absolutely fair, most people might not find the delineation between the younger characters at the beginning sufficiently drawn, since they appear to be clones; and in any case there’s a whole lot of hand-shaking going on for about ten minutes so one’s attention is bound to wander rather. I frequently glanced at a crib-sheet* to see whom was who.
*( Following the South’s defeat, Stoneman calls for his protege and aide Silas Lynch (George Siegmann), mulatto (half African-American) leader of the blacks. When greeting him, Stoneman orders: “Don’t scrape to me. You are the equal of any man here.” Senator Charles Sumner is summoned, and forced to acknowledge mulatto Lynch’s position. Sumner proposes a less dangerous policy in the extension of power to the freed race. In the next room, Lydia listens to the conversation, wide-eyed and full of sexual excitement. ) I can think of more erotic subjects…
The main lessons this film teaches us are that war is hell — although war is undoubtedly better than a 12-hour ( or two hour for those of us more easily bored ) shift in the cotton fields every day —- mid-victorian clothes were insane; Reconstruction was hell ( although indignation over giving the freed slaves the vote, and disenfranchising whites ignores the fact that giving anyone the vote is lethal ); and that ‘Africans’ are natural brutes. It would be silly to get over-excited at things which were the common currency of mental discourse in another period; besides which blacks in early twentieth century America had far worse things to worry about than filmic propaganda for a racialist view of their recent past.
Generally the men are dorks, but the girls are pretty, although acting at that point often appears to involve imitating lunacy. Worse, the yuckyish sentiment is frequently overwhelming. Perhaps because the war was still in living memory at that time, the battle scenes are surprisingly — for art — realistic, insofar as one can see what’s happening; but then that is a quality of war itself. Still in the end, for the materials of the time, 1915, one can appreciate the skill of the director. The score is more insistent than it would have been when played by a weary piano-player in the cinemas of the time.
Obviously, online one can’t appreciate Griffith’s cinematic values as one ought: this is not a sharp rendering: no worse maybe than for a semi-blind person watching half a mile away at a drive-in on a foggy day.
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More from the Jamie book. A raven-headed little girl looks for work…
Cheerfully ruthless Queen Mab
The next thing after settling in and adjusting, not as easily as her mother, to life alone ( she was after all excessively chatty and found no scope among her neighbours, either shy, of an emphasised different age-group, or unsympathetic in a number of ways — although none hostile, other than the lawyers and a couple from an apartment on the floor below, and a few transients, a number of whom had devoted the artistic side of their natures to the pursuit of an early death from combining drink and drugs: everyone has a masterpiece within them ) she began to search for work. The local newspapers had plenty within their supplements and linages. Virtually none suitable, desirable, or possible.
Although at the optimum age for her next decade to obtain employment, after which it would be downhill unless severely specialised or possessed of rigorous on-going training, it appeared there were jobs where she was too young. There were jobs that advertised themselves as meeting the minimum wage as if that was a sparkling virtue: she couldn’t manage alone on that rate. There were expensive training-courses implying they were positions. There were Agencies with toilsome ill-paid jobs written with demented surprise at the fun and loot promised. There were jobs which demanded experience or qualifications: the possession of which would exclude most of the other jobs. Being just 17 and having some A-levels, she couldn’t be expected to have much more: on the other hand, she knew being pretty and personable was worth a vast deal more: so she was not despondent and kept her hopes up.
Lucy’s job-search began with registering for employment at the job-centre, although she was not yet old enough to obtain jobseeker’s allowance. If polite, there was a long wait to get details enquired for every time. The Agencies with whom she registered were equally polite, promising much, but perfunctory in performance. They found it impossible to describe any particular employment, or list the opportunities they presumably had: instead of even producing a list, since they wanted to fit the person to a said slot, they would only discuss the vacancy enquired about, alleged vacancy often enough, since dummy-jobs were often placarded to lure people in to register. They, although this is a general truth rather than something for they alone to be faulted, promised to ring and never called back. When they had something, or she by dint of badgering with continued use of the phone herself, got something from them, they sent her to the ugliest packing — electrical goods, illustrated cards, mail-order catalogues; assembly — furniture, circuit boards ( taken off after the second day, since despite her nimble deftness, it was applied almost brilliantly to misaligning the points to be joined ), some cute china teddiebears with — due to a design flaw — detachable limbs which she rather liked, CDs to magazine covers, Pewter figurines: jobs available. They paid appallingly, especially because of her age; were tedious and mind-numbing; and she was surrounded by worn-out mothers, students and grim boring men. She liked them as much as possible, and they liked her when the routine allowed them to notice her let alone chat: but she, if wishing them awfully well, wished herself away still more. But as the Agencies explained, since she had no clerical experience, they could not risk her on the sort of job she wanted.
There was a period of supermarket-stacking which was slightly better paid, night-work did not particularly suit her, but if heavy work, it wasn’t quite so rigorously supervised and she was allowed to go at her own pace. All the time she applied for better jobs, filling in endless forms with all the details they asked and the fatuous bits ( ‘Tell us about yourself’; ‘What Qualities do you think you can bring to this Position’; ‘Here are ten areas in which we want you to recall a similar situation and tell us how you resolved this.’: etc. etc. Including Juli’s favourite: ‘Why do you want this job ?’ ) until her hand nearly dropped off, and the endless reiteration made her mind swim with boredom even when she saw another application-pack had arrived in the post. Even the details were pruriently detailed, some wanting to know where each parent was born or what her religious beliefs were: and some forms could run over 8 pages. Her main blessing here for which she was thankful ( and glad anyway since she liked it ) was that she was female, since apart from all the other incentives that made women easier for firms to employ, current thought made it virtually impossible to witch-hunt sexism or prejudice in her answers or behaviour.
She got a number of interviews, about 1 in 10 for application, thanks to her youthful promise, but perhaps because she didn’t shine through shyness at formal events, and as they too regretfully pointed out she had no office experience, and her only references were from her teachers ( Not all the Agencies she had worked for were impressed with her, though they gave full marks for willing: and others didn’t give references on principle: perhaps because that meant the worker would no longer be available to their employments ) others got it each time. She grew discouraged and developed a mild loathing of personnel interviewers.
Coming home after work, when she did work, she would flop out and listen to music, too tired to read a book. She flicked on the TV for Jacinthe and Oscar to watch more than herself, since it was so bad most of the time. She never wanted to go out and had no friends yet. She was getting unhappier, but never dreamt of returning home; she was brave as well as sweet. On a day hot in the morning, but cool in the afternoon when she woke after a depressing night stacking cans, she picked up yesterday’s paper, and dutifully if unenthusiastically began circling possible jobs. Then re-read them: one caught her eye because although a small block, it did not list any qualifications or desirable traits: merely stating quietly:
Hours: 24 Flexitime.
No experience needed.
Pay: £4.46 per hour.
She looked more carefully. It was for some Housing Association. Something about it’s promising starkness attracted her: it was worth trying. She picked up the paper and went over to the phone ( essential for any employment ). She rang the number given. A cool voice answered: “Good Afternoon, Killegway Housing.”
“About the job, advertised, Admin. Could you send me an application pack please ?”
“No.” was the unexpected reply.
Then after a slight pause the cool voice elucidated: “But if you’re interested I can make an appointment. Are you interested ?”
“Yes please.” Lucy was fluttered at this decision, “What day shall I come ?”
“Suit yourself: when is convenient for you ?”
“Um, tomorrow ?”
“Fine. What time ? In office hours.” The voice cautiously added, which offended Lucy slightly.
“11 O’Clock ?”
“One second; yeah, that’s fine. Bring a CV, if you’ve got one, and your N. I. Number.”
“Thank you.” gasped Lucy.
“Sure. Oh, and don’t dress up too much: it’s relaxed dress code here. Bye.”
“Bye.” replied she faintly.
This was quite exciting, to get an appointment so readily, but worrying too: and fearfully worrying as an appointment in itself anyway: she went and made some tea. Of course she wasn’t going to get the job, but dad had told her that the more interviews she had the better as that would build confidence and make her shine at the ones where she would be successful. On the other hand it would be in an office, and not the usual crap. She cancelled her appointment at the supermarket that night, as she wanted to get some sleep in and bathe before going. If only it was possible… still she couldn’t get optimistic, or more than her usual sunny disposition impelled, ‘cos she knew it wouldn’t happen.
In the morning, after her bath, she compromised on clothes, since it might be some cunning trap whereby they rejected people who turned up in jeans, and put on a light mauve cashmere-type jersey, and a knee-length powder-blue skirt with grey stockings: and her white-grey tiny jacket. And a green scarf around her neck to seem elegant. She had been nerving herself all morning for one of those appalling interviews, which strain actually made her feel nauseous before, during and after by the time she reached the oat-brick building set back beyond it’s own lawn, she was trembling. She pulled in her breath and entered the reception area. Hoggward House maintained a large variety of concerns, some nearly or completely defunct, and plenty of empty officespace had she wished to start a business herself. Asked for Killegway HA. A bored young man pointed laconically, then took a long second glance before returning to his racing paper. She went down a wide corridor, linen coloured, and found a large glass door with Killegway Housing Association written in gilt on the pane. She was 13 minutes early.
She knocked with a small firmness on the open door, and looked in.
At the end of the room under a large window festooned with pot-plants there was a handsome girl, having a brisk conversation on the phone with either a supplier or another housing organisation. For a few seconds as she moved forward her features were obscured by both the sudden sun and it’s light aureoling masses of silver-gilt hair.
“Where exactly do you get your staff ? ‘Retards ‘R Us ?’” unpleasantly. There was some agitated burbling from the ear-piece. “Well, send it as soon as you can, or I’ll have to mention it to the district manager on Thursday. OK, bye.” She grabbed a pen and scribbled a note on a day-jotter.
Lucy was instantly reminded of a picture in a children’s book illustrated by Frank C. Papé: she hadn’t seen it for a long while, but she remembered the frontispiece of cheerfully ruthless Queen Mab.
She advanced slowly and stood before and stared at the computer paraphernalia heavy about the office. There seemed to be an awful lot of wires: she didn’t say anything, probably thinking her presence would be obvious by some form of telepathic osmosis.
If the gentle maiden knew of her visitor she gave no sign and continued writing quickly to make sure it was all put down so, occasionally flicking back her flaxen hair abstractedly. Then she looked up.
Zowie ! For Lucy it was doomsday and her sixth birthday ( the really good one ) and everything she ever wanted or would want, all at once. It was a dry day with the sun burning the plants up, but she instantaneously felt as if she’d stepped under a water-fall.
The girl smiled. It was with a genuine joy.
‘Oh dear god don’t let it be with a woman not the first and only time. A love forever, I can’t want a girls body physically and never would. Oh God.’
Well over 18 months later this would still torment her.
‘?’ The young lady was used to all sorts of odd types coming into the office for a hundred different reasons; but usually they were only too anxious to explain, in what she considered excessive detail, their reasons for so doing.
“Hi, what can I do for you ?”
Lucy explained: “I’ve got an interview for the junior admin job.”
The divine girl looked thoughtful like an angel listening to The Pilgrim’s Chorus.
“Oh, then that would be me: I mean I’m going to conduct the interview. Tell me when you feel right and I’ll begin.”
Lucy nodded mute.
“Want a drink ? Coffee or tea, or” she shuddered slightly, “some coke ?”
“No, thank you.” squeaked Lucy.
“There’s a rotten machine in the corridor.” explained the girl. “OK. Siddown won’t you ?”
Lucy was still standing despite the fascist wave of a hand indicating a choice of chairs earlier. She sat, unfortunately open-mouthed. Thoughout the interview, which has some claim to being the shortest on record, her lips were generally slightly parted.
“OK, what’s your name, please ?”
“Got a CV.”
“Right.” The interviewer read it in under half a minute.
“‘Fraid not much experience.” timidly.
“Well, you’re only a kid.” Which could have been annoying even without the kind beautiful smile; as intended though it reassured her, since the experience thing is the worst Catch 22 in the world.
“Well look, my name’s J, eh, Sanders; Juli Sanders: Juli with an i, no e.” with an exactitude which was not only characteristic, but already conveyed a hint that there was hope for Lucy’s chances.
“I’m a senior administrator. The job is general office duties. You don’t have to know all this stuff too much,” looking at the applications Lucy had optimistically overstated on the CV, “I mean, there’ll be a sort of training period for you to get up to speed on the systems here. Anyway I reckon there are a thousand different filing systems in use in Britain: so you’ll have to start on this one, which is a beauty; particularly as you’ve never filed before. You don’t mind starting on filing ? All the computer stuff is easy so long as you can type just a bit.” ( this was not strictly true when proven, Lucy was, though just nearly competent on a keyboard, not technologically minded ) “You know what a Housing Association does ?”
Lucy knew she should be concentrating it was so important, but couldn’t. Something like “‘ess.” came out.
“Yeah, well: the pay’s £4.46 an hour; and the hours, which can be flexible in your case, are 24. It’s also fairly boring, but so’s all work, I guess. Are you sure you want the job ?”
Miss Sanders looked surprised, but more at this odd expressing rather than the affirmation itself.
“OK, just wait a moment.”
No questions about herself, or why she wanted the job.
“Do I get to fill in a form ?”
“Um, lots I expect. What sort d’you mean ?”
“A job application form ? When I rang up I was just asked to come in.”
“Um no; that was my idea. Since the Personnel Officer left, they’re hiring another bloke and gonna call it ‘Human Resources’, — prats,” she added, sotto voce, not from any fear if overheard, Lucy could tell: more of a necessary antiphon — “I’ve been doing this sort of thing, since it’s a fairly small office; and I think sodding forms are a waste of all people’s time. If people are gonna be hired then you tell that at the interview, if not it’s silly for them to have to fill in some lunatic form that’s going to be thrown away.”
She got up, her hand suddenly snaking out for some wad of papers placed on a shelf behind, and Lucy rose instinctively. “Na, sit back. Read our fascinating mission statement or something, I’ll only be a short while.”
Dazed a heavy warmth suffused her person, as she pushed herself into the comforting chair and she stared dreamily as the glorious girl sent her a smile, both confident and shy as she swiftly went through the door.
She wondered if she did have a chance with this one, the girl, Juli, seemed almost certain she might. An’ awfully friendly. Not jus’ the friendliness of a professional interviewer which could disguise even a deep loathing. Really nice. She needed it, an’ more, she wanted to be near this girl. By now she was sure it was just friendly attraction between two of the same sex, until Juli returned and it started up again.
At first Lucy could hear nothing of how her fate was going to be handled, and as suggested appeared to be reading the garbage of good intent indicated. Her ferment was not exactly cooled by hearing through the over-thin door an incisive drawl, and muttered riposte which although straining failed to distinguish, appeared of a worrying nature.
“I said this kid.”
“She’ll be fine.”
“Jimmie: this is best. She’ll get experience; and I’m the one out there, not you.”
Something like “Jinky-jinky-jinky.”
The insistance was firm. Despite what reservations there may have been, the other was weakening.
“Sure: I’ll vouch anyway. You said I was acting personnel, remember ?”
The manager waffled a few minutes, since it was probable that he would have liked even the pretence of an imprimitur.
“Sure, come out in a moment. Anyway, there’s something else, you should look at this: the contract for the plumbing on the repairs at Happy Valley has gone over twenty per cent.”
Anguish, and evidently a wrenching of the papers from the proffered hand.
It seemed to engross the manager completely, and Lucy waited in suspense.
“I’ll go and tell her then ?” softly. And he must have said something in the nature of an abstracted rear-ditch attempt to assert decisiveness. Then it just went quiet and no more than two minutes later she came out and told Lucy she had the job.
Lucy’s natural effervescence returning began to make her light-headed. Juli found a standard contract and Lucy stared mouth parted whilst the other checked it over: the rippling hair was just a fraction lighter than the wind-tossed barley just when iced by it’s dainty awn in the peak of ripeness she decided.
They adjusted the hours Lucy wanted to work, and Juli suggested that Lucy might care to accept her fares as this was company policy. The office manager, Mr. Pumpkiss, evidently felt he should inspect their new acquisition, and wandered out to beam vaguely as Juli made the proper introductions. He seemed nice enough, a strange diffident glancing at Juli rather dazed as to what had just happened but unquestionably accepting of the outcome even before he saw Lucy properly and realised just how well it had resolved: a tall rangy chap with half-moon glasses and thick silky grey hair dressed in a grey tweed jacket, beige open-necked shirt and greenish corduroys, any Tory told he was a teacher would be fast to denounce him as a type of the forces for ill in that naughty profession. If not totally on the ball — Juli would disdain the cheapness of warning Lucy that he could be a terror in the fashion of merry owners of a affectionate and mild Airedale — he was quite competent at the overall strategy of his remit, but prone to agonise at the frequent lapses of minutæ he was subject to. He also had a considering trepidation of his light-hearted and ingenious young senior administrator: he shuddered at the thought that she would sometime leave: more and more as time fast moved, she was invaluable; but whilst he was easily assured that his job was safe, since she frankly had no ambition and no undermining qualities, and that in fact she helped preserve him in that place, that simple ability so easily demonstrated, and sardonicism — so often unrelieved by even a decent pretense of sensitivity — had it’s unrelaxing side. On the other hand, he was percipient enough to realise the pure gaieté of her spirit was not matched with any particular chirpiness, and indicated an ice-filled good-nature rather than an obnoxious generosity of soul; and this pitilessness had it’s own attraction. His real worry was waking up to discover in the morning paper that the Housing Association had decided to invade Poland.
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, Other Writ
, The King of Terrors
Bought a book on wooden effigies a couple of days back — ‘Wooden Monumental Effigies in England and Wales‘, by Alfred C. Fryer, 1924. Apparently there were then left — from a previous cast of thousands destroyed by: Time; parliamentary army cunts; reforming vicars; mad villagers, etc. etc. — 96 of these curious sculptures on tombs.
Here’s how to make one:
The medieval artist selected a piece of oak, sound at the heart, in good condition, and sufficiently wide for him to carve the figure of a knight in armour or a lady in kirtle and long mantle lying on a board or bed. The portion of the board with the effigy on it, as well as the cushions upon which the head rested, and the animal at the feet, were hollowed out and filled with charcoal to absorb moisture. Having carved the figure and fastened with wooden pins such parts as lay beyond the size of his block it was ready for decoration. The effigy would then be sized and pieces of linen would be glued over the cracks and other inequalities. The decorator would then give the figure a thin coat of so-called gesso, with a still thicker coating for those portions he desired to decorate in relief, such as the mail or surfaces afterwards to be gilded or silvered. Before the gesso hardened the decorator impressed it with various matrices or stamps of diverse patterns: some being for mail of various sizes and others for decorative purposes. Several processes were in use for gilding those surfaces required to be treated in this manner. To give depth or richness to the gold or silver leaf, they were first treated with bole Armenian applied with white of egg either left dead or burnished with an agate. All the painting on the effigy was done in distemper ( tempera ). Finally the figure was covered with a coat of plain or tinted oleaginous varnish, which was needful, but, alas ! it did not prove to be a sufficient protection.
Great care and thought was always bestowed on the decoration of medieval effigies so that they glowed in colour and gleamed with gold leaf. The tints adopted were of the purest and brightest obtainable; for example, coloured grounds would be powdered with gold or white devices, yet exceptions to the heraldic rule of placing colour on colour and metal on metal are occasionally met with. For example, black patterns are sometimes depicted on green or red grounds, and in a few instances gold devices are found on white surfaces. These are, however, rare exceptions against the well-known rule of heraldry which was adopted generally, and, of course, the armorial bearings are correctly displayed on shield and surcoat, jupon and tabard, and on the lady’s heraldic mantle. Red, blue, green, and white, and a sparing use of black, are found most frequently in use, and they are arranged so that they never clash, and by the avoidance of large surfaces of any one tint a beautiful colour scheme is obtained which is always harmonious and never gaudy.
Michael de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk and the Countess of Suffolk in Wingfield church 
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The minority of my immediate forebears who were not born in London are the ones who moved there asap and stayed the rest of their lives, so though not a resident, it has no mystery, or even much interest, to me; plus most cities now appear to be disintegrating even whilst expanding — however, it is a necessity just to recharge there occasionally. Yesterday I went to London on the spur of the moment. There are really only three things to do in a city in the daytime, excluding shopping: wander around looking at buildings and stuff, yet there are too many people about to make this fun — which up to, say 1950, was in most cities ( ignoring the massive poverty areas which continue in the Third World, but have now in western societies have a just-as-good substitute in wantonly appalling concrete housing blocks which lack the picaresque interest of the dire areas of the past, but smell better ) a major pleasure for the curious idler; spectacle entertainment; museums or galleries.
Tate Britain ( the old Tate ) was light and airy; whereas the Wallace Collection is dark victoriana, which was a nice contrast. In the Tate I just looked at the regular sequence up to the excellent pre-raphaelites — which affirmed my uninterest in most 18th century painting — and the Turner exhibition. At the Wallace, a surfeit of armour with some beautiful daggers, although the western arms were cruder than the asiatic, they had more elegant vigour… and renaissance plates, and the Schroder Collection of silver. Of the paintings there, I rather liked Delacroix’s Execution of the Doge Marino Faliero, partly because I had only read of this in de Sismondi a few weeks back. Owing to the angle I couldn’t quite work out what had happened to the head, but souvenir hunters will take practically anything…
Burne-Jones – Sidonia von Bork 1560 ‘Sidonia von Bork is the central character in Wilhelm Meinhold’s gothic romance ‘Sidonia the Sorceress’. The novel is set in sixteenth-century Pomerania and chronicles the crimes of the evil Sidonia, whose beauty captivates all who see her.’Henry Wallis – The Room in Which Shakespeare Was Born
Unfortunately, I missed this…William Bell Scott – Rossetti’s Wombat Seated in his Master’s Lap