You can’t beat a good book

29 12 2011

I love reading. Mainly books obviously, but I distinctly recall comparing the nutritional content of Kellogg’s cornflakes and Weetabix from the packets as a kid (Weetabix win by the way), so will read pretty much anything. Even fashion magazines if push comes to shove – read elsewhere on this blog. Newspapers are an exception. I’ve never really been a reader of newspapers. Despite writing and managing the sale of software to the worlds great titles for nigh on 20 years A diner from them, sure – it was a rite of passage to eat a bag of chips on ones way back from Scouts of a cold winter’s evening. (Or a warm summer’s one, but that’s somewhat less evocative don’t you think?)

Posh chips - in the Financial Times

Posh chips – in the Financial Times

With “scratchings” if you wanted extra cholesterol. Which we always did. (“Scratchings” are bits of batter that fall off the fish in the fryer… they’re free, and sometimes even have bits of fish in them. Hey – it was Yorkshire, and it was like a free raffle to see if you got protein with your starch and fat!) The whole thing of course just being an excuse to consume near-fatal quantities of salt and vinegar (also, you guessed it, free!). You had to be careful the malt vinegar didn’t soak through the paper and make it soggy though, or you lost your chips on the street, and the crows got them instead. The crows near us could hardly get off the ground without an extra long run-up and a tail wind. Actually, you know – this is an aberration of memory. The crows are a BC thing. As a kid in Yorkshire, it was starlings that used to do the clean up.

On reflection it’s amazing I ever made it to my 20’s and a subsequently healthier diet, let alone the dotage I now enjoy. Maybe beer dissolves cholesterol. Sign me up for that study…

An aspiring young artist went one stage further and wrapped her entire local chip shop in newspaper as a school project. Kudos! Bit of a fire hazard though, no?  Just sayin’… such an Engineer.

Metro: Jade Bennett's art project

Metro: Jade Bennett’s art project

So how did I end up at an entire chip shop wrapped in newspaper? Ah yes – the love of a good book. Though I’ve never quite understood it, I gather reading on the loo is quite common in some circles. Maybe it was the lack of heating in my formative years or something, but I’ve always subscribed to the “get in, get done, get out” philosophy myself. Never struck me as something to linger over. But I do like a languorous read at other times. In bed on a Sunday morning for example. I know folk who read in the bath, too. Again, possibly due to lack of heating in the bathroom as a kid, but baths are of the “in, done, out” category to me. Unless of course I’m pondering some great mystery in life. Like how to balance my bank account, or what new foods tasted like before we discovered chickens. However, to the best of my knowledge I’ve never felt the need to lie naked on a bed reading while some dodgy old bloke “did art”. This young lady had no such compunction it seems, and allowed Jean-Jacques Henner to paint her while she read sans vêtements. Perhaps it was a good story, and she was just a little forgetful…

Jean-Jacques Henner: La liseuse

Jean-Jacques Henner: La liseuse

Musée d’Orsay: Jean-Jacques Henner: La liseuse

Darling Disarray: Wish I was Here Wednesday … Emily Bronte’s Home

29 12 2011

So I was looking for a picture of a bag of chips. Long story… you’ll read it one day. The result I mean – not the long story. Anyway, my mate Serendipity (brother to Bunbury) led me here:

The Old Apothecary, Haworth

Darling Disarray: Wish I was Here Wednesday … Emily Bronte’s Home.

A blog entry from a London-based young  lady named Kerry. She claims to love wearing both high-heels and pyjamas to the supermarket. Unclear whether it’s at the same time. Sex too. Again… unclear whether the supermarket is involved. Anyway, this piece is a virtual trip around Haworth – close to my own roots and once home to Emily Brontë (and the rest of the family, obviously…). A good way to overcome Wednesdays. I’m late – what can I say, it’s Thursday!

The Keighley (Pronounced Keethly) & Worth Valley (hence “Ha-worth”) Railway is a lovely way to spend a fortune on a sunny day. More on the KWVR here.

Anyway – just wanted to make you aware of her virtual visit to God’s own county while I remembered. Now – off to look for a bag of chips before they go cold…

Canadians abroad ask consulates for Oprah tickets

29 12 2011

Oh dear, oh lor’!

I’ve often been slightly nervous as to the proximity of White Rock, BC to our large southern neighbour. This was primarily around the theme of school bully, and their predilection for putting nasal equipment where it isn’t necessarily welcome… often with lots of tanks. However, it seems that their cultural influences have seeped into Canadians travelling abroad also…

I was shocked at some of the stories recounted in the CBC story today about calls to the Canadian Consulates abroad.

According to the CBC: “Canadian consular officials can replace a lost passport, contact your relatives when you need help while abroad, and provide advice on medical services. They cannot, however, pick up your dog at the airport.” Really?! Then what ARE my taxes being used for?

My personal favourite though: “… while embassy officials can provide you with [a] list of lawyers and information on local laws, they cannot arrange a helicopter to rescue your son from a German prison yard after he was arrested on drug charges…” Well I’m sure Tom Cruise could have done it… if he was Canadian. (And taller. Just sayin’…)

Full article: Canadians abroad ask consulates for Oprah tickets, chopper rescue

Comforting to know the world is as mad today as when I left it last night to sleep, perchance to dream.

Oo… nice holiday snaps!

29 12 2011

I’m being facetious (a natural state… conservation of energy comes into play).

I recently came across Klara Yoon’s photography blog. Based in Berlin, Klara has recorded some amazing images of life around her there and on her travels elsewhere. She’s moved back to analogue, and shoots mainly in black and white… a personal love also. She’s moved away from SRL and to medium format… old school, and very much more involved with the end result. She also develops and prints her own material – again something I used to enjoy before I got lazy and went digital.  (Less cleaning up to do afterwards… but doesn’t smell as good: more a single person’s hobby!) This particular shot caught my eye, as it’s very reminiscent (to my warped eye) of some views of Vancouver. Vancouver is often thought of as the beautiful city its architecture aspires to. But it is also a busy sea port, and the skyline reflects that… from certain vantage points. Particularly when your mind is elsewhere and you’re taking a morning stroll to stretch your back, tuning out the normal, and more open to the previously ignored.

Klara Yoon: Hamburg 2011

Klara Yoon: Hamburg 2011

I recommend you while away a few minutes checking out Klara’s Street. Schön gemacht Klara!

Absolut: Purity

29 12 2011

Check out Katie Allen’s blog “Ad Pitch” for some amazing advertising from around the world. Good, Bad and Ugly!

I particularly liked this one from Paris for Absolut: Purity.
Absolut: Purity

Absolut: Purity

“Straight to the Point” Drawing by Miguel Endera

29 12 2011

When I used to work for Agfa, Creo, Kodak, etc, we used to have all this fancy software that could take a contone image and split it into discrete dots for printing. To see someone do it manually is amazing.

Check this out on ArtStormer’s blog

“Straight to the Point” Drawing by Miguel Endera.

I saw this and Fort of you

28 12 2011

In the mid-80’s I was earning way more money than I actually deserved as a computer programmer. (A situation long-since corrected, I have to say.) I’m sure it will not surprise you, good reader, to learn that as a programmer I came into contact with more than the average number of geeks, nerds and other similarly socially challenged individuals (try saying that with a gobstopper in your mouth!). One such individual was also Irish. Plainly he’d done much evil in a former life to deserve this double stigmatism. However, all jest aside – he had a rapier wit, and was as quick as lighting. One day I saw him reading a slim magazine printed on newsprint. On enquiring, he told me it was the Fortean Times Magazine. Now this little monthly is still printed in the UK and emulates the work of one Charles Fort, an American writer and researcher into anomalous phenomena at the turn of the 20th century.

Fortean Times

Fortean Times

The modus operandi of both Fort and the magazine named after him is to studiously catalogue “odd things” as rigorously as possible… without necessarily believing one iota of it. So – unlike National Enquirer allegedly, the Fortian Times will always quote its sources, and check before publishing.  The magazine “maintains a position of benevolent scepticism towards both the orthodox and the unorthodox”. Within its pages you’ll find all manner of weird stuff being reported from around the globe. They make no claim of voracity… but studiously collect and cross-reference original reports of things such as crop circles, UFOs, grilled cheesus and the like. So – they validate the report itself… not the content per se. Just like Charles Fort.

Such an engineer.

We <3 Auders

28 12 2011

It was probably My Fair Lady. Or possibly Charade with Cary Grant. Not too sure, but somewhere along the way we became entranced by Audrey Kathleen Ruston, aka Audrey Hepburn. The grace, the pixie haircut, the doe eyes… and the personality. She did great works for UNICEF in her later life.

Audrey Hepburn in Vogue 1964n « We Heart Vintage

So we were more than a bit chuffed to come across Audrey Hepburn « We Heart Vintage. This blog has many “vintage” icons (I’m still waiting for the call) from the fashion world of photography. Well worth a visit if you like well executed photographs of “the beautiful people”.

Actually on reflection, I think Breakfast at Tiffany’s.


The little blue bag gets me going every time…


Jigsaw pieces

28 12 2011

Regular readers will remember that I recently perused the online catalogue of Musée d’Orsay in Paris, and was entranced by the soul-searching gaze from Madame de Loynes. Also that she appeared to have cut herself shaving. But no matter. What’s passed is past.

There were many other paintings that also caught my eye, as you can well imagine. Several nudes for instance. All women I noticed. Odd that! Not that they caught my eye, but that there were not any male nudes. Sexism on the part of the artists? The commissioner of the paintings? Society at the time of their creation? The Musée’s collection buyers? The paying public? All of the above?

Several of the nude studies were titled with variations of “woman performing her morning toilette”. In other words having a face-wash and brushing her teeth (though the latter never seemed to be captured.) This then was the stock excuse for having a woman stand naked in your studio for a few weeks while you painted her. Or the canvas at least. Some, most even (these were in the Musée d’Orsay after all), were exquisitely executed as representations of the nude or semi-nude female form. But not what you’d necessarily call “erotic” or “sensuous”.

But then I saw this one…

Musée d'Orsay: Dora vue de dos

Musée d'Orsay: Dora vue de dos

Musée d’Orsay: Dora vue de dos

It’s by Georges-Victor Hugo and is called “Dora vue de dos”, or “back view of Dora”… so poetic! I think the Dora in question is  Dora Charlotte DORIAN… but it wouldn’t be the first time I was wrong.

But what a picture! The nape of a woman’s neck. Dora’s it would seem. No nudity beyond what has always been socially acceptable. Yet painted with grace and sensitivity. I love it. Way more sexy than those more explicit nudes. Kudos Monsieur Hugo, kudos!

Ain’t no mountain high enough

28 12 2011

When I was about 8 years old, my friend asked me if I’d care to join him at Cub Scouts. It was the start of a lifelong relationship with scouting in both the UK and Canada. It has taught me many things  – several of them about myself. When I got to scouts (11-14 years), we started to do much more active things – hiking, camping and the like. Our leader wasn’t a bad person. Au contraire, he taught us many skills and opened up many opportunities for us. He was however a product of his own experiences. He was ex-army and super fit, regularly taking part in long distance challenge runs, such as the 14 threes in Wales. One of my mates has Muscular Dystrophy. He’s always been an academic type, but it was only as we got older and moved up to Venture scouts (around 15 years old) that I became aware that he’d been implicitly excluded from all our more adventurous outdoor activities. Kids are thick.

At 15 though, we woke up, and said “why not?” Where does it say that just because you’re in a wheelchair, you can’t go backpacking or go to the top of a hill to camp? No – we couldn’t find anywhere either. So… three of us plus our mutual friend with the wheels went camping for a couple of nights. Up a hill. Over stiles and fences. Not exactly a huge hill, but it felt like it when lifting a wheelchair and our mate. We got a few looks, I can tell you!

I think we all learned something though.

Do or do not. There is no try – Yoda.


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