Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Of late...

I've begun to notice an increase in South Manchester of home owners who've furnished the front of their properties with electric gates. Yesterday whilst driving through leafy suburbs I passed more than my fill of gates large and small guarding houses large and small. Gates that slid to the left, gates that slid to the right, gates that slid into the ground and even ridiculous gates that rose either side similar to those found at railway crossings. Some gates were fancy and topped with wrought iron spikes and one or two were developed with panels portraying worthy themes. One theme showed Noah's great ark stuffed with every type of animal though I thought the gun deck a fancifuly addition. Another gate featured little orphans fleeing a workhouse fire. The orphan theme reached a bloody climax as the evil owner, whilst forcing the tiny children back through a burning doorway door above which, incidentally, crackled the words, "Children, Best Prices" was himself crushed beneath a falling safe. Filled with ill gotten loot the safe had been pushed from an upper window by his two sons bitter at their exclusion from the family Will. The concluding motif shows the assembled but happy children dancing around the owner's smouldering remains pausing only to stir a pan of port mulling on the heat. Being stuck in a line of slow moving traffic gave me time to appreciate this parable in iron.

Having returned home I googled the costings of your average gate and knowing a little of house prices in the area it was obvious that some gates were more expensive than the home they were designed to protect. It would be cheaper to live in the gate.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

I read in...

Friday's New York Times that this year's must have toy for girls in the US is a hamster. Not though, the cute cuddly furry little biting and shitting hamster but instead a toy hamster. And at $7.99 they're a bargain to boot. These furry devils come in five flavours are battery run and have an off switch, unlike the real thing. Some years ago a friend's children had a hamster that ran in its wheel for hours everynight so she took to jamming the thing with a lolly stick. Stopping all excercise caused the tiny creature to put on so much weight it became too knackered to make the effort on those ocassions she removed the stick. Sumo hamster is not one of the five models currently flying off the shelves in New York. Indeed if Sumo was added to the range I think we could confidently predict it would plummet from the shelves.

Here's a clip of hamsters having an existential moment.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I am returning...



and much has changed about the old place. Hmmm, a person is gone two minutes and everything is suddenly moved around.

Above is a photograph of Hadrian's Wall in Cumberland where two friends and I spent last weekend walking a 25 mile length of the 80 mile phenomenon. 2,000 years ago and over a ten year period the wall was built on the orders of Emperor Hadrian. A man clearly used to getting his own way Hadrian declared that the Picts (early Scottish folk) must be kept out.

"A wall it is then," Said Hadrian pointing to his troops who were from milder climes and therefore unhappy with the cold north of England. "And besides, the hard work will keep you both occupied and warm, so set to," And lo, they did.

2,000 years down the line Tom, Doug and I spend an excellent few days in the wall's company enjoying mile forts, encampments, Mithran Temples and assorted Roman ruins. All very impressive and especially so given the best response to the Roman arrival my ancesters could muster was painting their naked bodies in woad. This act terrified the Romans to such an extent they quickly overan the country. Unfortunately for the Romans the north of Britain was also where the Picts lived and though somewhat woadish in outlook the Pictish preference was for cleaving with axes rather than painting statements on the body. Incidentally the Romans never defeated the Picts and though not much respecting of naked blue types with wild eyes and messy hair they were more circumspect when dealing with huge bearded men swinging 30 kilos of sharpened metal. Hence the 80 mile wall that stretches from the Irish Sea in the west to the North Sea in the east.

Monday, November 09, 2009

An old photo...

to herald my return. It was taken on Crosby Beach last year. Brendan Reissmann says I should start writing the blog again because it makes him laugh.

But not before I buy a new keyboard because this one is shite.

I read today that gold has ben iscovered in Scotland and some place north of Glagow is the ne Klondike. I've already booked a place on the dawn mule, could only get an outside seat, well, it's more hanging than sitting, but hey I'm no stranger to risk because the human mind can be an eery place when they strap a man to a mule.


(Incidentally,"Strapped to the Mule" were a Manchester Punk Band who sold out for a large recording contract in 1983. They turned MOR, changed their name to "Whisper" and successfully released an album of love songs called "That's not my hand your holding") Last heard they were doing warm ups for a Carpenter's tribute band.

Monday, March 23, 2009

This coming weekend...


the clocks go forward an hour and we officially enter British Summer Time. 2am this Sunday morning becomes 3am and in unison we'll all shuffle that little bit closer to the Big Crunch. That most of us will be asleep; drunk; drunkenly asleep; awake, awake but drunken; awake but annoyingly bright and perky; awake in that mad insomniacal way; awake but not insomniacal; awake because we've not yet gone to bed; awake because we're so pissed we can't find the bed; does not matter one jot for time will move on. Oh yes.

I've discovered the British Summer Time Order Act 2002 which is a Parliamentary Statute that arranges time in the UK. Clearly too specific to be an Einsteinian Statute because an Einsteinian Statute would probably be entitled the British Summer Time (dependent of course on how close one is to a heavy object) Order Act.

Time's a weird business and come this Sunday morn millions will lift their dozy heads and be glad we messed it about. Then again, other millions will be too hungover to lift our dozy heads at all. We mess with time, booze messes us. It's the modern way.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Daffodillies...










are here again. Oh yes they are, oh yes they are... Ha ha!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Spring is in the air...






well almost. Up here in Manchester the crocuses are bloomin' marvelous and the snow drops, little dots of white packed together on roadsides, under trees or near water are just fantastic. Next up is the daffodillies, excellent!

The photo is a section of this huge steel girder art structure in the Tate Modern that appeared to be made of metal but in fact was card and wood. At least I think it was card and wood.

Ps, I've put some new photos on flickr that I'm quite pleased with.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Was in London this weekend...


and went to an exhibition on Russian Constructivism at the Tate Modern. On display was art from 1917 onwards and shows Russians such as Liubov Popova and Aleksandr Rodchenko struggling to develop an aesthetic by which they could move art forward in a progressive way. They were attempting to develop a more objective aesthetic to better articulate the new, the modern, the revolutionary world in which they were caught.

The exhibition shows this really well through paintings, sculpture, geometric models but also how they tried to develop a proletarian art celebrating the ordinary. In a country where the majority could neither read nor write they sought to harness an art for the revolution and for the everyday. For instance they developed street posters that were loud and brash, designs for cigarette packets that were colourful and challenging, even adverts for biscuits (cookies) using collage and photographs. These artists challenged conventional views of stage design and film, or street aesthetics such as in posters and adverts. Overall the exhibition shows all of this really well. However, for all their virtuosity and visual bravery there was something cold about the aesthetic, certainly in the paintings that were mainly shapes and lines. That said, and given these artists were battling against the dominant romantic aesthetic where the artist is king and the single point of view is truth, what they produced was very impressive.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

A bitterly cold wind...

is currently sweeping westwards into the UK from Russia. It's impossible to turn on the TV or radio without being terrified by expectant tales of freezing conditions and arctic weather. It will be so cold tonight, we are warned, that anyone foolish enough to expose even a leg outside the duvet shall wake tomorrow with said leg frozen into a block of ice and most probably also stuck to the bed. Rumours abound that Health chiefs have hired teams of crack Italian knife grinders to keep hospital instruments sharp for all the cutting and hacking that's expected to be done. In Southern England the government has commandeered all the saws so someone must be expecting the worst. Worry about amputation therefore grips the populace forcing many into feverish re-readings of the limb clauses in their life insurance. In every town trembling fingers trace actuarial lists pausing over 'C' for Compensation but then moving to 'L' for Loss only to further discover sub-sections for the arm, leg, nose, ear. Ear! How long has that been a limb?

Fearful for their ears people today have rushed to purchase hats and it's even become impossible to buy a tea cosy such is the panic. From Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, the two counties expected to bear the icy blast's brunt news arrives of knitwear factories looted, sheep pillaged and babies robbed for their cute headwear. Early cases of mitten death have begun to surface.

Below zero temperatures are forecast to last until Wednesday.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

I've been ill...





with the flu that's currently sweeping the UK, been sick as a dog for weeks. By all accounts this flu originated in Brisbane and has journeyed some distance to be here, which is the nature of epidemics. Anyway, it made me ill. The photo is of a flu virus. If flu viruses were really this large it's not illness so much as choking we'd be at risk from, or stubbed toes because I'm assuming the knobbly globe is a floor dweller. It also follows that choking would mostly be confined to children and others who put in their mouth things they find. What a relief it is then, viruses being so tiny.