Thursday, 29 December 2011


It's been almost four months since I went to the cottage in Wales. Oh, Gaynor and Holly have been, but not me. Hard to believe considering how my life was once defined by my trips there.

Anyway, I'm off there for a few days over New Year and I'm wondering what to expect. These last months have been so different, the days have just melted into each other so that often I have absolutely no idea what day of the week it is and certainly not the date.

I wonder what it'll be like. I'll let you know when I get back.

Take care while I'm away and I hope you enjoy your New Year celebrations.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

An appeal from Mr. Glass to all you on-line wizards...

The wind is howling, the weather wet. This is the limbo time, the time when nothing but reflection is possible and all the fears and fears of the previous year hang heavy on your mind trying to crush you with their weighty self-importance.

The shed, the gas tank, the bank balance, and the glass, the glass, the glass…

Yes, with Christmas and the Christmas glass-rush all over and finished I am left feeling as flat as the proverbial fart. No, flatter. For a while there, with all my orders and the fun and worry of getting them all out before Christmas Eve, I felt as if I was riding the crest of a wave.

And I must have been because now that wave has come crashing down and I’m bobbing around in a cold and empty ocean just waiting for… well, whatever comes next I guess. A hungry shark would be preferable to a slow death through hypothermia though. (Please God).

Oh, I’m still sure that I have a great product that people want and I do believe that I am good at this malarkey, but at the end of the day it’s a numbers game and I need to generate the volume I require. The volumes aren’t massive, in fact the volumes are very achievable, but I ain’t gonna get them by sitting on my arse and waiting for people to wander into my shop and buy from me. It ain’t Christmas time any more.

And just why am I saying ‘ain’t’? Have I suddenly turned into some sort of glass gangster or something? Maybe I’ve spent too long being a trader (whatever that is) already, already. Oi vay!

Yes, I really wish it could be Christmas every day. I really don’t mind the late finishes, the 5.30 am starts to bake the glass, the cars, the funny faces, the Christmas Eve panic trying to rectify a mistake on that glass at the last minute (well, Greg can be spelt with two g’s apparently).

I did it though. I genuinely believe in offering great customer service and I have the Christmas day texts, e-mails, and the three customers who popped in to thank me today to prove it.

All I have to do now is make like Christmas every day.

The answer would appear to be online. These days all answers appear to be online, but even with my experience I find myself ill-equipped to make it happen. If I have one resolution this year, one necessity that is - I must take my glass online.

For those online wizards out there – all help gratefully accepted.

If I ever needed help I need it now.

Monday, 26 December 2011

My Christmas present to myself...

Boxing Day with Christmas day gone. Well almost, some of it remains in my doodle book, gathered over the run of the morning, afternoon, evening, and well into the early hours.

Fuelled by the day itself – the presents, and food, and candles, the fire, the chestnuts, the tree, some quiet, and some noise - helped along by a slow procession of seasonal drinks – morning champagne, a pre-dinner jaggers and taggers, red wine, port, some JD and cokes, and finally a long late night scotch on ice - a nightcap.

Yeah, as someone who was once close said to me once I lead an alcohol fuelled existence, meaning it as a jibe. Of course I don’t, and her judgement only ever took into account her own small view, a set of arse-tight tiny beliefs and standards so full of doubt and self-importance that even trust was given a probability score.

Me? 2 out of10.

Anyway, if you can’t have a few drinks on Christmas Day… Well, I just hope it all shows in the work.

Throughout the day and night – above and below the ribbon’s outer lines, segmented up – morning, afternoon, night, and very late dark; five minutes here, a flick of ink there. Thirty seconds scribbling with my new pound shop felts (thanks Santa), careful manipulation of liquid gold, a flash of silver string, some scribbled words “hello, hello, hello – merry had a little lamb”. A record of my day and night encapsulated in my mind and allowed to pour itself onto my paper in any form it and I wanted it to.

Look closely. It isn’t quite the chaos it first appears to be.

Oh look – a Christmas tree!

My Christmas Day present to myself – all wrapped up in red ribbons and silver string.

A memory and a freedom and such a precious freedom. Fuelled by alcohol? Well maybe a little, but what great fuel and what a great memory.

Tin cans and Christmas day presents 2011 – for your pleasure and mine.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Tin cans...

So, Christmas Day.

Up and showered by nine, mid morning champagne, present opening, early afternoon dinner, too much wine, not enough air, and the house far too warm with the heating cranked up to full.

I made a tin can telephone out of two old coffee cans and a length of string then Holly and I played and whispered to each other in the hallway for a while, our words bouncing along the white twine, echoing on our ears.

“Merry Christmas.”
“Merry Christmas.”
“Merry had a little lamb its fleece was white as snow.”

No snow this year though, just drizzly rain.

Evening now and, trying to shake off the need to doze, I park myself in the kitchen and drink a coffee. Jack Daniels later with his good friend Pepsi, but at this moment I need some caffeine and perhaps a glass of sparkling water.

And all day the drizzly rain in my mind falling on my thoughts and threatening to dampen them. Communication is such a hard thing and sometimes there just aren’t enough tin cans to go around, and anyway I wouldn’t be able to tie the string – my fingers might fail me yet again.

Not everyone though - still some words along the strings when really I'm not sure that I deserve them. I take them anyway and thanks - you have no idea just what they mean to me.

"Its fleece was white as snow.”

Time to light the fire, get a good blaze going. That will chase away this drizzle, but I may leave a candle lit. Who knows?

Merry Christmas.


Happy Christmas,

And I do mean whatever.


Friday, 23 December 2011

A meander…

They say that when you have no idea what to write about that it is best to just start writing and see where it takes you. So I guess this page is a bit of an adventure, I have no idea where it is leading but I’ve started out now so I’ll have to finish.

Which way to go? Ah, I think I’ll walk towards that wood; I never could see the wood for the trees.

Sometimes when things get messy I just put one foot in front of the other and trudge on. It’s a lesson that I’ve learnt over this last year particularly (more about this year later once it is nearer to an end I expect). Trudging on has become my coping mechanism and defence.

No, I don’t think that this is the right path. Maybe I should forget the wood and see what’s down by the river.

So I’m writing as suggested but still have nothing to say. If you’ve got this far I won’t blame you if you head off home now. This is likely to be a bit of a meandering walk.

I stayed up late last night. I’m up to date with my glass and yesterdays bake is cooking away as I prattle. The glass seems to have caught people’s imaginations. I’ve certainly made a lot of Christmas presents and on Christmas morning husbands and wives, grans and granddads, boys and girls will open their deluxe carry boxes and find their hand-painted wine/beer/whisky/juice glass sparkling in its tissue paper wrapping.

I am such a wonderful person to be making all those people so happy.

This seems like a good path but I think I’ll go that way instead. That’s what I do when things are going well. I head off in a different direction, making it hard for myself.

Perhaps that’s what my new doodles are about. I have no idea where they are going but I know they are going to take me somewhere that I’ve not been to before. Just as I knew that when I started writing this blog - all those posts ago - that it would take me somewhere. I still don’t know why I do those drawings and mostly the making of them is – well not unconscious, but always semi-conscious. Perhaps it is the wine.

Well, this isn’t working is it? Nothing much coming out at all, not that I want it to. I’d rather wander than come out with what’s on my mind. I’d rather trudge on head down, staring at my feet and telling myself everything is okay when it isn’t. It isn’t okay at all – and I can’t do much about it. Not without losing what little of myself I’ve managed to salvage.

The wind’s at my back now. It’s blowing cold. I’m just going to take a look in that church over there. Have a sit for a bit, rest up, think, stop and see what I can come up with. Best you go your own way now. See you later.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Beat on…

There’s been a whisper in the air for a while now. Something not quite heard, not yet audible, but there nonetheless. I haven’t caught it properly, whatever it is, but almost – yes, almost.

A change is coming. A change has come.

The question is - will this change make a difference? I ponder this as I paint my glass, drag out my words, splash my paint and prick my fingers; will that change make a difference?

My heart of hearts is a secret place. There’s darkness there and the pumping of blood, anger, hurt, and even good old-fashioned sentiment – but love?

I look in the mirror at a person I don’t know and listen to me heart of hearts pumping away and away and away, beating an answer in fleshy flaccid Morse.

Anyway, what I only felt has come about. It won’t change anything. It can’t change me. I’ll never be what I’m expected to be no matter what these old or new humans call me and expect. And why should I? I am just me. So you don’t like it? So what! All the stereotypical, rose tint in the world – gold shoes or not – don’t matter a whole hill of beans - I'm me. Keep you messages and vendettas. Make all the empty people choose sides. Who cares?

Not me. It’ll make no difference. It’s gone too far. The corner has been turned and I don’t see behind me anymore. Beat on my heart. Beat on.

Monday, 19 December 2011

I am the machine...

I am the machine. Flawed and pitted, rusting and in need of oil, wasting away in a cornfield somewhere. Kansas or Oz it hardly matters.

I am the machine. Dreaming of electric sheep – one, baaaa – beep... two, baaaa – beep. ..three, baaaa – beep.

I am the machine. Behatted in my dunce's cap, my thought and feelings all funnelled away by life.

I am the machine. The ghost of Christmas past and oh so many other things so also past.

I am the machine. Conveyor belt of glass and joy and smiles, and if a machine could feel good about itself. I would.

But at least I’m the machine of my own making. Willingly doing what I do because I want to, and not because anyone is telling me.

And - More – So – Each – Day – That – Passes.

Machines can’t be told you see. They just do,


Of course there’s a flaw in my programming.

My heart.

If only I were the Tin Man this wouldn’t be a problem. But never a day goes by without regret, remembering, but most of all resolve.

I AM the machine and I SHALL remain so.

Machines can’t have feelings but sometimes, late on into the evening air when my cogs stop turning and my pistons halt - I wish my heart would stop its beating.

Machines can’t have feelings but sometimes, late on into the evening air when my cogs stop turning and my pistons halt - I wish my heart would stop its beating.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Notes to myself…

So is this how it's going to be from now on? Late night cutting and splashing with no idea what I'm trying to make. Must be me raging against the machine - except I am the machine.

I don’t mind. At least machines don’t have feelings and without feelings you can’t get hurt.

Christmas, one lost and another regained, bloody bloody.

Yes, late night cutting and splashing - and I have big plans for it next year - another year of trying new things then. Pity she won’t see it.

Yes, I am the machine, so I’ll rage against myself. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

The doodle will have to follow. I’m off to make it now.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Christmas at home...

It has been many years since we spent Christmas at home, over twelve but less than fourteen. Christmas for a number of years has been spent in Wales.

This year though, circumstance, fate, and the calling of the glass have conspired against me to keep us at home – and I’m really looking forward to it.

Not that I don’t enjoy Christmas in Wales. I do, very much. But this year I think I need the security old memories bring and the warmth that is given by a roaring log fire, maybe they’ll even be a cricket in the hearth.

Home is a big old rambling place. It needs a bit of attention in places and maybe a bit of a de-clutter (I’m a magpie you see), but generally it isn’t so bad and I love it particularly at Christmas time.

The best Christmas that I can remember was spent here in this house. My Mum, Dad, Sister Caroline and her family came to stay. We cranked up the wholly inadequate heating and filled all the sparish rooms with blow up beds - even the office in the cellar.

On Christmas afternoon after a fabulous dinner we all gathered - me, Caroline, Gary, Mum, Dad, Alex, Camilla, Gaynor, Holly, and Frank and Joan - in the upstairs lounge and had an afternoon concert. Everyone did a turn. Holly put on a puppet show, Alex played his violin, Frank recited a poem, and I sang a version of ‘What do we do with a drunken sailor’ substituting the names of all around until everyone had been covered and made a fool of. I made it up as I went along – it was a triumph!

All very A Christmas Carol - but such fun.

This Christmas will be a little quieter I guess. Mum and Dad are in Australia, I haven’t seen Caroline, Gary and family for a while, and poor old Frank (the eternal soldier) died a few years back. It’ll just be me, Gaynor, Holly and Joan.

But we’ll have some fun I hope.

Maybe I’ll get the puppets out anyway.

Friday, 16 December 2011

First fall...

Up at seven to bake the glass - I’ve become a strange sort of Baker.

Fumbling my way downstairs I noticed that special light through the glass of the front door. The snow light. And with it that crisp silence when everything is slightly deadened by the whiteness all around.

Cars hardly make a sound. Grammar boys on their way to school are muted for once.

It wasn’t much of a fall, just enough to put a frosting on my hedge, like icing upon a Christmas cake - but enough.

First fall.

I wonder what is to come.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Cold, hearts, and the aurora borealis…

A few years back, when it seemed like nothing could stop me, we all three went to Lapland to visit Father Christmas.

Gaynor’s fortieth birthday treat, a magical day Holly, and the realisation of a boyhood dream for me.

It was probably the most extravagant thing I’ve ever done; we were up at five, into our thermal underwear, taxied to the airport and flown across the North Sea to snowy Lapland for the day.

The snow at Kittila airport was unbelievable, deep and thick and even as the carol goes, we could feel the cold as we walked to the changing area to get kitted up in our snowsuits and boots. Layer after layer we pulled on. Holly in a bright red quilted suit and Gaynor in blue. Mine was black I think.

Then off in a snow-chained coach for the adventure of a lifetime.

In just a few hours we managed to squeeze in Reindeer sleighing, tobogganing, snowball fighting, skidoo racing, we even built a snowman. Then as evening came it was off to Santa’s chalet to meet the man himself.

I remember being a little disappointed when we got there. The place looked like just any other farm. But then I noticed the line of Christmas trees all aglow with lights, and the stables where we found Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen, carefully munching on hay.

What was I expecting? Disneyland? This was Santa’s home. It was real. It had to be practical.

The chalet itself was very cosy, log walls and chintz, roaring fires and paintings of elves on the walls. Santa sat in a room just off the hallway, so we waited for out turn to see the great man. At last we were ushered in and Holly told the red-suited figure what she wanted for Christmas, then we said goodbye and were ushered out.

Not even time for me to tell him what I wanted or to ask him how come I’d never got that Lone Ranger gun belt with the two pearl handled pistols and twenty silver bullets – and no photographer to take a picture, how aptly strange.

Back on the plane and in the air I caught a glimpse of the Northern Lights high in the sky in the distance. The aurora borealis - flashing its green as it waved me goodbye.

The dream was over - almost as if it had never taken place. Cold, hearts, and the aurora borealis…wishes to ashes.

And no photograph.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Pigs might fly...

I often wonder if those pigs will ever fly.

My dad couldn't help but say it whenever I came up with one of my ideas or plans.
“Yes, and pigs might fly.” He’d say.

Pigs might fly - a humourous/sarcastic remark, used to indicate the unlikeliness of some event or to mock the credulity of others; for example, "I might make a start on papering the back bedroom tomorrow". "Yes, and pigs might fly" – and indeed they might. I can’t remember the last time I papered a back bedroom.

Anyway, some of us know that pigs can fly. After all, the newspapers keep talking about 'swine flu' (sorry).

'Pigs might fly', or as some would have it 'pigs may fly', is an example of an adynaton, that is, a figure of speech that uses inflated comparison to such an extent as to suggest complete impossibility. Other examples are 'It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle...' and 'Make a mountain out of a molehill'. Both of which I have done, much to the discomfort of the camel and it was a bloody big molehill in the first place – and you should have seen the size of that mole.

Why pigs? Well other creatures have appeared in similar phrases - 'snails may fly', 'cows might fly' and we all know about Dumbo the elephant… “I’ve seen a horse fly”, but it is pigs have stood the test of time probably because they are both cute and pink, like porky angels.

Lewis Carroll brought up the subject in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland in 1865:
"I've a right to think," said Alice sharply... "Just about as much right," said the Duchess, "as pigs have to fly."

Then in 1909, in a humorous attempt (in the way the French find poo humerous) to prove that pigs can take to the air, the pioneer aviator Baron Brabazon of Tara, better known to his friends as John Theodore Cuthbert Moore Brabazon, took a piglet aloft in his private biplane, strapped into a wastepaper basket – a man after my own heart it would seem - mad as a choir of squirrels.

“Pigs might fly” my dad would say whenever I had one of my ideas or plans.
“Pigs might fly.”

And for a while, over the years, I guess they did. Who’d have thought that a kid like me would have had the life I’ve had. Of course it isn’t quite like it was at the moment but I’m still hopeful that I might catch a glimpse of the occasional flying pig.

Yes, my pigs may fly again.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Rubbish picture...

No, not one of mine, but a picture made literally from rubbish.

This is the contents of the container we use for collecting food waste ready to be moved to the green waste bin outside. We keep it on the counter by the kitchen sink and last night whilst I was washing up it just caught my eye.

'Wow!'I thought. 'Just look at that. it's almost as if someone's arranged all that stuff to make a picture.'

It was only the string from some roasted lamb breast, a couple of lily leaves, a few cooked and discarded frozen peas and some carrot peelings - but what a pleasing sight it made. The greens and oranges making a bright arrangement of colour without any human intervention.

It's at time like those when I wonder if chance and randomness are all that is required to make art.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Not for me…

I was almost off to bed when I was struck by the urge to scribble.

I don’t know why. It just happens that way sometimes, like an itch that keeps moving until you have scratched most of the skin from your shoulders and back leaving you bleeding.

To be honest though it had been a long day at the glass face and I really couldn’t be arsed, itch or no itch.

But then the blue pencil crayon that had been lurking on the kitchen work surface watching me all evening was in my hand and my scrap book opened almost of it’s own accord. Yes, I have a book now, I’m progressing. The crayon frenetically scratched a couple of ovals onto the surface and the pink felt tip from the pound shop packet flew and flurried its pink on the paper.

Wet ink thrown here, a squiggle of silver straight from the tube there, and in less than five minutes there it was, or rather there they were.

Mother and child.

I’ve no idea why, they're not for me you see. I don’t believe and the last thing I want to spend my time doodling, when really I want to be asleep, are schmaltzy, sentimental, Christmas cardy drawings of mothers and babies, holy or not.

I still did it though – scribbled and blew and splashed - guilty as charged m'lord.

I wonder why?

Perhaps it wasn’t for me at all.

Perhaps it was for someone else. For them maybe, or perhaps it was for you.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Victorian Christmas...

So today was our Victorian Christmas day – mulled wine, mince pies, pianist and cello, and costumes.

So here I am all the Victorian shopkeeper. Bowler hatted, bow tied, all be braced, aproned, moustachioed - and with a pillow that’s taken me years to grow stuffed up my shirt.

I just love dressing up.

Well even the glass meister has to let his hair down sometimes.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Funny things…

My mum and dad have flown off to Australia to visit my sister. They’ll be gone for a few weeks, six or seven, during which time I probably won’t speak to them but find out what they are up to via Facebook – my sister Della posts all the time.

This is the picture she took whilst waiting for them to come off the plane and when my mum saw her she didn't recognise her and told Della to 'Take care' ... She thought she was off the plane! Well, it’s a long flight and she’s as dotty as a polka dot frock anyway, but what a funny thing.

And talking of funny things, here’s another. I miss them already even though we usually only communicate by phone, annoying each other with our separate conversations, my dad calling in the back, my mum relaying messages that I’ve already heard (he has a loud voice).

And here’s another funny thing. I never worry about them when they are home (well not often) but I’m already worrying now that they are so far away. What if this should happen? What if that should happen?

And the funniest thing at all?
I didn’t expect to feel this way.

Sets me to thinking, but I don’t want to go there just yet, not for many, many years. Not at all really but I know that one day I’ll have to.

Anyway down safe after a long journey, have a great time mum and dad, missing you and see you soon. Take care!

Thursday, 8 December 2011

A little excitement...

It wasn’t the light that got him.

Of course he was attracted to it. After all, light is like the moon - and as each moth knows one must follow one’s mothy heart and fly towards the silvery glimmer.

But no it wasn't the light. It wasn’t the light at all. It was the reflection of the light in the water of the sink drainer tray; and flying directly toward and into it he drowned.

Maybe we are all moths, flying towards the light only to find that we are mistaken, drowning in a sea of glimmer rather than being content with the everyday dullness that is our discontentment.

Poor moth, he was only looking for a little excitement and found extinction instead.

Look how he shines though.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

My Christmas drawing...

I still remember the Christmas drawings I made as a kid back in the sixties. We all did them didn't we? All those cut out stars that Mrs. Kemble wanted me to make for the nativity frieze.

Sugar paper and glue, and thick fat poster paint dribbling off the picture and onto the floor.
Oh little town of Bethlehem how still we see thee lie.

Jesus and Mary and angels and shepherds and that stuck on real straw in the scribbled manger, a halo of tinfoil around the baby Jesus' head.

Such fun and wonder and safety back then.
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by.

And then there was the making of Christmas cards to take home to our mums on the last day of term. Santa's and snowmen and reindeer and stars and those badly drawn camels with one, two, even three humps. "happy Cristmas mum - joy to the wold!"
Yet in the dark street sh-i-i-i-ineth the everlasting light.

Last day and the taking home of the Christmas tree decorations and paper chains, carefully coloured and gummed, fluffily festooned with cotton wool snow and smiles.

Brown paper, Santa, and stars.
Pine trees, snow, and dark.
Life, love, and hope.

And somewhere up above a snowman clinging to an uncertain and fragile existence in a fragile and uncertain world.
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

Can you see him?
I can.
Christmas is coming.
I can hardly wait.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Tales from the glass painters table - old ladies, Frodo and Alice....

Well I did say that I could do anything on glass and trust an old lady to put me to the test.

"Could you paint my daughter's cats on two paperweights? You did tell me last week that you could do anything?' She said, taking out two photographs from her huge, black handbag.

"Er, yes." I said because I had.

" See you next week then." She replied breezily, assuming that a week was long enough for me to do such a simple task regardless of how my order book was looking.

Well I put it off for as long as I could but last night had to bite the bullet and get on with it. After all, she's coming to collect tomorrow.

I hadn't reckoned on the size of the photographs and I forgot that painting on a convex surface is actually quite hard. By the time I finished my eye-hand coordination was finished as well, and my visual logical tracking system was buggered.

I'm almost quite happy with them - Frodo and Alice - not perfect, but good enough I think. Or at least I hope so. You know what old ladies can be like.

Snow giants, a late post, and sleep...

So I missed my window of opportunity to post last night.

Not that it was much of an opportunity, or much of a window; and thinking about it - well, it really wasn't much of a post either. Just a picture of the snow clouds that I saw above our house this morning, promising snow that never came.

Strange old day though in so many ways, not least of all the weather. Hail, torrential rain, wind and cold, and then last evening a single flash of lightening followed by a deep rolling, rumbling, drum roll boom of thunder. It was so unexpected, so out of season, that I wondered if it wasn't thunder at all but the waking yawn of some huge snow giant far in the frozen north.

Yes, that was probably it. A snow giant waking ready to steadily trudge his way across the land dropping his heavy load of snow as he comes.

Anyway that was what I was dreaming of when I awoke, still sitting on the couch, at three-thirty this morning absolutely shattered and ever so slightly dazed. So I trudged my own slow way off to bed without even bothering to post the words I'd written about the snow clouds.

That's the thing with my world of glass. It takes all my time and leaves me so tired that other things sometimes get left aside.

This morning there's still no snow but it's pouring with rain and the wind is howling again. Perhaps that snow giant went back to sleep - at least for now.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

To market, to market...

"To market, to market, to buy a fat pig."

Altrincham Craft and Vintage Market on a wet and freezing Sunday morning. Up at six to bake the candle glasses, loading the car in the pouring rain, unpacking and arranging the stall.

"My life is one demd horrid grind."

Yes, sometimes I feel like a character in a Dickens novel. Just which character changes dependent on circumstance – Brushywig the glass painter, Coinscrew the trader, old Mr. Potty the eccentric (some say madman). At least I'm not an Abel Magwich, or at least I don't think I am.

Today I was a combination of all those first three as I stood behind my stall purveying my wares, doing deals and up-selling to make the merchandise move.

I didn’t do great and I didn’t do badly, I really enjoyed the catching of interest though. Not a bad day at all, all-in-all.

"Home again, home again, jiggety-jig."

Saturday, 3 December 2011

The lenghtening of the autumn days...

So I decide to make a picture and tell the world on Facebook. Well, not decide exactly, kind of have to.

I set out with my paper and pens with really no idea where this is going and then, after thirty or forty minutes, sometimes far less, of splashing and scratching, pouring and scribbling, I have something - although often at the end of it I have no idea what.

These days though, it doesn’t matter.

Gone are the days of pouring over paper and landscape, slavishly trying to copy the light and shade. I don’t and can’t do that anymore. I’m seeing things differently. I’m making my own light and shade. Or it is making me.

Anyway, it just happens. Thank God.

It’s all there you know, it’s all there if you look - the clowns and the conundrums, the leaves and the leavings, the tears and the blood to make any number of me.

What would Charlie have said? ’Look after your hands boy; they have a talent inside them.’

Maybe. Or maybe it wasn’t the hands, maybe it was the life – mewling, pushing me over and over so many times that eventually I just had to let it out.

Anyway, it just happens. Thank God.

So here it is; the lengthening of the autumn days. Here it all is at almost winter. Well formed upon the page with leaves and sun and moon and shadow and all bright red - and my pricked thumbed autumnal blood.

You work it out. I can’t. It just happens. But it’s all there if you care to look.

Yes. It just happens.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Itsy bitsy...

Just look who I found spinning his web and crawling across the old latch of my kitchen window this morning. What a magnificent orange, and just look at those wonderful stripy legs. I wonder what team he supports?

Now I'm no Robert the Bruce, but seeing him got me wondering to what he was doing there. I watched him clambering around for a while, picking his way here, picking his way there, aimlessly checking out my windowsill and then he jumped down from the ledge on a thread of silver web, landed on the floor, squeezed his way beneath the crack in the skirting and left me to wonder if he'd ever been there at all.

Spiders are so indifferent to us humans. Not like us, we're the other way around.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Not really a blog post...

Life's rich tapestry (or at least the needle and thread that embroiders it) continues to stitch me up - more or less.

Due to other engagements tonight's post isn't really post at all, more a note or two mainly about not very much at all.

I did another school fair this evening, I'm becoming something of a regular on the scene. Me with my glass and snowmen amidst the flower arrangers, jewellery makers, and make-up people. It makes me feel strange somehow, diminished in some way. I don't know why it should, after all I sell better than most (turned a few quid tonight, I'll tell ya - 'Trader Speak') and the ladies love my witty ways.

I have become the gigolo of the glass, the lead lothario, the crystal cad, the glass man.

I am the glass man.

And one day with the use of post-it pads a plenty I will work out just what that means.

Watch out! Here comes that bloody needle again - Ouch!

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Grey paint...

So little happens in my life these days that I’m considering giving up the blogging life. Well, I spend as much time staring into space wondering what to write than I ever do writing. I can only write so many posts about painted glass.

So here I am again wondering what to write. I wouldn’t say my life was empty, but the mediocrity of it all is only just beginning to crash in on me, leaving me wondering ‘what next?’ and not having even the sniff of an answer.

I can’t remember the last time I saw a decent sunset, or watched birds feeding, or saw the sea. These were the things that set my mind to words, not this greyness that I’m becoming increasingly used to.

Grey paint, grey paint everywhere.

I suppose I could write about the stranger I had a coffee with over Knutsford way earlier in the week. The stranger who asked me questions about a previous life, getting answers which were true but I felt had happened to another person, not to me at all. He seemed interested, nodding his head in all the right places, smiling, jotting down a few notes, and after an hour or so of nothing in particular I signed his forms, shook his hand and left.

He was definitely putting me forward, he’d be in touch. I haven’t heard anything yet though.

More grey paint I'm afraid.

No, really - I'm afraid.

I’ve had a lot of ‘not hearing anything yets’ just lately, I’m still waiting to hear from one ‘we’ll definitely be in touch’ after three interviews, and that was weeks ago.

‘Yes, we’ll be in touch.’ it's all just grey paint and I’d rather they told me the truth - at least the truth has a little colour.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Catching the wind...

No fancy header on Google which must mean that it’s a nothing sort of day, one of those days that isn’t particularly special for any reason at all.

Increasing for me days become less special as my routine becomes set into a pattern that gradually melds time in to one single ongoing – well I was going to write event, but things aren’t very eventful so I shall write non-event. It sounds like I’m complaining, but I’m not really. Broadly at the moment I don’t mind this sameness, in fact I find it quite comforting – this mini-adventure without much adventure. It’s a time of repetition. Oh, I suppose I could break out of it, throwing everything into the air in an attempt to do something radical, but for now I think I’m enjoying the calm even if the water may be going stagnant.

Each morning when I wake up usually around three, then four, then five, until I get up some time between six or seven, I tell myself, in a rather clichéd way, to count my blessings. I have something to do, I am warm, I will eat well tonight and I will go to bed tired ready to get up and do it all again tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow. Not how it used to be – but simple.

Yes, simple – if you don’t look beyond the moment. Simple, as making broccoli and stilton soup. Simple, if you don’t try to catch the wind and fly. Don’t get caught up in the wind, don’t go there. No, don't try to catch the wind - it may take you with it.

Go there and you will see the chaos coming, go there and who knows what excitement may happen.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Favourite brush...

Six hours solid making product. Angels and snowmen, once plain white, now all painted and drying, shined up, given personalities, made as Christmassy as a carol sung by Santa, standing in lines, and waiting to be sold.

I'm knackered, as knackered as my favourite sable brush which after today is nearing the end of its very long life. I shall miss that brush when it is gone. It's funny how attached you get to one brush despite having dozens of others. It's almost as if the brush understands what you are trying to achieve and does it for you - who knows, perhaps it does.

Anyway that's it for today. I can't paint or write another thing.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

The thought of Mr. Finger - existentialism...

As Descartes said - 'I think therefore I am.'
An interesting statement.

What if thinking is the thing that keeps us solid?

What if I were to stop thinking, would I cease to exist? And if I stopped thinking about you, would you cease to exist as well?

If I don't think about you then you don't exist for me - but do you exist for yourself, and do I exist if you don't think about me?

So many questions... and so few fingers. Even so - you can count on me.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Dali clock...

'Help me, I'm melting...'

No really, I’m so tired that I almost couldn’t be bothered tonight so I’m going to have to be quick, not that I’m ever really that slow.

A friend of mine (who shall remain Malcolm) texted me today asking about my Dali clock. My Dali clock? Yes my Dali clock.

A great looking piece of high quality plastic that I have indulged myself with and would only part with for three times the amount I paid for it. Make me an offer!

You see my trader’s blood grows thicker each day.

As I look at my Dali clock, watching the melting clock seconds melt away into goodness knows what melting where, I am often tempted to consider time in all of its aspects and if there is really any time at all.

Then with a realisation that my mind is far too, well what I can only call ‘gone’, to cope I decide to leave this to professor Brian Cox or even that other Brian who played with Queen (the group not the dignitary).

Of course you know you have made it as a scientist when impressionists start doing impressions of you as they have with Brian (Cox not May). He follows in the footsteps of such greats as Magnus Pyke, Patrick Moore, the two David’s (Bellamy and Attenborough - although I’m not at all sure that David Attenborough counts), and of course Marie Curie – well maybe not Marie Curie then.

He seems to manage this with only a Northern accent without a trace of a twitch or speech impediment, nor flaying hands, or whispering dulcets, or even a bushy beard. How does he do it I wonder?

Times up. The melting clock has melted. I told you I had to be quick.

So remember - things can only get better.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Tales from the glass painters table – The Outer Limits...

The glass world grows stranger every day, requests from customers more off the wall, each with their own message to give, thoughts to send, axe to grind. Messages of love and thanks, birthdays, weddings, christening, divorces.

‘Here’s to the Marchella Fella!’
‘Captain Fantastic!’
‘Mike’s wee dram’
‘Bugger off and boil your head.’

And now to haunt my sleep and make my dreams even stranger still, a glass depicting a carrot smoking a cigar, all Savillesque and orange, on the other side a blue banana – and all around a milling crowwd of stick armed and leg potatoes with electric blue empty television eyes.

There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. We can roll the image, make it flutter. We can change the focus to a soft blur or sharpen it to crystal clarity. For the next hour, sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. We repeat: there is nothing wrong with your television set. You are about to participate in a great adventure. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to... The Outer Limits.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

My sister in Australia...

My sister in Australia is backwards and forwards between two Australian cites at the moment. She travels on buses which I imagine to be made from burnished steel and streamlined as they travel the Australian night through deserts and over mountains, the moon huge in the deep blue Australian sky reflected on the rocks beneath it.

My sister in Australia catnapping as the vehicle thunders through the night.

My sister in Australia sometimes messages through Facebook from her mobile phone, telling me about the bus, delayed by hours, or the weather, rain today, hot and humid, snow - and I never dreaming that snow would fall in Australia.

My sister in Australia when she’s away from home sleeps in a shiny aluminium caravan, the rain drumming a rhythm on the roof above her head.

My sister in Australia missing home-home, but getting on with it anyway, doing the very best she can and coping very well.

My sister in Australia shopping at Aldi to buy the gardening things she needs for her courtyard vegetable garden where the parakeets come to feed.

My sister in Australia sitting at a picnic bench listening to the sea and watching everything around her, seeing a blue heart scraped upon the wooden surface of the bench and sending it home to me across all those miles.

My sister in Australia – reflected moonlight, cosy caravan, parakeets, and a ragged blue heart.

My sister in Australia, happy birthday - take care.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Monday, 21 November 2011

Cow period...

I think I may be going through my very own Période vache.

‘Cow period!’ I hear the French speaking amongst you exclaim.

‘Yes, Cow Period.’

Let me explain:

René Magritte is arguably one of the most important and also, again arguably, amongst the most popular of the twentieth-century artists. Often he went against the flow of the artistic trends of his time, developing a unique and unmistakable pictorial language.

Well, he was both Belgian and a Surrealist - which is kind of an interesting blend of bland and ‘woah’! His work is of crucial influence to later generations of artists and his impact on today's visual culture is almost without equal. It wasn’t all bowler hats and fireplace trains though.

A fascinating period of his painting has passed almost unknown – his Cow period or Période vache.
I read about this in my dentist’s waiting room one cold December morning whilst waiting for some deep root canal work to be inflicted upon me. Whilst it didn’t take my mind off the pain from the abscess screaming under my poor tooth, it did surprise me. I’d never have recognised the reproduced paintings in the magazine as Magritte.

In 1948, Magritte made a group of paintings and gouaches distinctly different from the rest of his work for his first solo exhibition in Paris. He was trying a new, fast and aggressive style of painting inspired by popular sources such as caricatures and comics.

Within only a few weeks he produced about thirty entirely uncharacteristic works that caused an outrage in Paris. Magritte deliberately conceived this exhibition as a provocation of and an assault on the Parisian public and painted in an unexpectedly crude, playful, and intentionally "bad" manner, whilst reflecting his own work and painting in general.

This work still goes pretty much unnoticed and is rarely commented on today. I like it though, I like it a lot. I think that it’s some of his best giving short shift to those critics who mistakenly regard his paintings as far too familiar and far too easy to grasp.

Now, I’m not comparing myself to Magritte, but things get interesting when you work fast and loose in a crude, playful, and intentionally "bad" manner. Very interesting indeed.

That's me at the top by the way. The Magritte is below.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

The Autumn King…

Just an autumn doodle of the Autumn King made on an autumn afternoon when I really should have been doing something else and paying attention.

I want you to imagine now that you’re looking up into a beautiful night sky and that you can see, in the distance, a star. You can see one beautiful, solitary, silver star, shining down out of a velvety black night sky, and that star is millions and millions of miles away. And you focus your gaze entirely on that one, solitary silver star. And as you focus your gaze on that silvery star you notice it begins to twinkle and you become more and more relaxed, more peaceful, more calm.

And imagine yourself rising out of your body - feeling drawn toward your star - you begin moving toward your star - through space and time - through the earth's stratosphere - passing comets and planets - into a different galaxy - closer and closer toward your star - and the nearer you get to your star - the larger and brighter it becomes - and the larger and brighter it is - the more comfortable and relaxed you are - until your star is there - right in front of you - one - solitary - silver star - and you are on your star - you are in your star - and the star is in you - you are the star - up there - shining down on the earth below - millions and millions of miles away...

Doodled November sunshine and Mr. Moon, scarecrows, birds, fallen leaves, ripened crops, ploughed fields, and a star.

The Autumn King on his field-fence throne sees it all and…


Saturday, 19 November 2011

Rose tinted retrospecatacles…

Sometimes I feel like I’m waiting for yesterday to come back.

Not one yesterday, but all of my yesterdays.

Somehow yesterday seems so much better than today and not as worrying as tomorrow. After all, you know what you are getting with yesterday with that lovely rose tint of retrospect surrounding it.

Rose tinted retrospectacles that’s what I want.

As a kid I remember watching ‘All Our Yesterdays’ on TV. I must have only five when those flickering newsreels appeared on our tiny black and white screen, pictures of our boys coming home to blighty on troop ships, fags in their mouths and whistling. Quite a trick really, smoking and whistling at the same time, like dodging bullets and not getting blown to pieces.

I remember watching tiny black and white doodlebugs stopping above the terraced roofs of London and white searchlights moving across the grey sky over a stark and grainy St. Paul’s, sand covered tanks and black bereted soldiers dusting themselves down in the Sahara.

Each programme looked at one wartime year and the newsreels from it, and I think I learnt more modern history in those twenty minute segments than ever I did at school in later years. Of course the war was a much closer thing back then, newsreels not yet an anachronism and still almost reportage.

I have an image of German soldiers goose-stepping in time, stop-start to the music of the Lambeth Waltz, cartoons from some newspaper or other and well known voices reading the captions. I remember my dad laughing.

My dad never missed it.

Somehow Granada TV seemed to take the misery and loss of that awful war and reinvent it as light entertainment, almost as comedy, colouring the old black and white footage with a thick coat of rose tint so that we could all slip on our retrospectacles and warm to the glow, telling ourselves it wasn’t so bad, when for most people it clearly was with death and separation, rationing and constant fear.

What a strange programme.

Maybe I don’t want those yesterdays after all. Perhaps I’ll take my retrospectacles off and be content with the colour of today or even the harsh black and white that tomorrow could be.

Perhaps it’s better that way.

Friday, 18 November 2011

At the glass face...

No post last night, to be honest by the time I’d done what I needed to do I was too tired, besides what to write about?

No, it’s not all fun at the glass face.

Days melt into each other in a sameness that I’ve never experienced before. Well, not quite sameness really, but there is a uniformity about them that makes me wonder if I am actually waiting in purgatory and at any moment the devil will appear in a fancy suit and walking cane, twirl his long black moustache and welcome me to Hades.

And I think we all know exactly which way I’m going - down, down, down. Like that film with Terry Thomas, Vault of Horror, where a group of people end up in the basement of an office building when the lift malfunctions. They exchange true tales from their lives, horrific tales of murder and torture, to pass the time and when the lift door finally opens they find that they are in… HELL!

Yes, this world of glass leaves me feeling fragile and shattered (pun intended) and sometimes the other inmates of my own personal purgatory don’t really help.

Take Jack (we’ll call him Jack because Jack is such a common name) - Jack is at one moment friendly and the next moment hostile. He paces the floor of purgatory looking for anything that may be about to affront his own sense of self worth which appears to be very high. But when you look behind the hard man mask and watch his actions you begin to wonder. Jack starts arguments which turn into vendettas and then become intimidation campaigns. He really is quite a scary character, not because of what he does (well not that alone) which are irrational and unpredictable, but because I think that he thinks that he is justified and that the reality he sees in his head is really reality - which it isn’t.

Yes, Jacks in a fog. A fog of rage and imagined persecution. Everyone whispers about him, although most of the whisperers live in his own head.

Maybe Jack has been put in my purgatory to test me. Maybe he is an agent of Lucifer sent to sort the wheat from the chaff, the good from the bad, the strong from the weak, the honest from the charlatan. Will he find me wanting I wonder?

Maybe - and maybe he’s just a young man in need of a lot of help.

Have we reached the bottom yet?

Spooky tale anyone?

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Foreign muck...

Dinner, supper, tea, doesn’t matter what you call it, it isn’t what it used to be.

Take my meals over the last few days for instance. Saturday I ate Italian (minestrone followed by spaghetti and meat sauce), Sunday Thai (Thai green curry and rice), Monday French (escalope of pork in a green pepper sauce with sauté potato), last night Chinese (Ribs, Prawns in ginger, Chicken with bamboo and water chestnuts), and tonight we are having Moroccan (spiced lamb, chick peas, and sweet potato cooked in the tagine with flat breads).

I hasten to add all these meals were home cooked and quite delicious.

How different from my childhood. Back then it was sausage and mash, fish and chips, meat pie, liver and onions, and a roast on Sunday. Spaghetti came in cans and rice was made with milk. I can remember endless joyous childhood teas when all I eat was beans on toast – how I loved beans on toast, still do.

In the town where I lived the only take-away was Kimberley’s fish and chip shop, pubs didn’t do food, not even sandwiches, and restaurants (I can only remember one) served pretty much the same fare as we ate at home, just on posher plates. You could get beef burger, egg, and chips at the Wimpy, and steak and roast chicken at the Berni, but these were in the larger towns not the little town of Thame.

There were no fast food places (well, Kimberley’s I guess), not even a sandwich shop. Back then Mother’s made their own sandwiches – cheese and pickle, corned beef, egg and cress, roast chicken. Nothing tikka’ed, no grape and sloppy cheese, and bread was bread not panini, ciabatta, or wrap, and I didn’t know that pizza even existed.

The fist time I tasted ‘foreign food’ was the anglicised spaghetti bolognaise made by the school cook at Lord Bill’s. Minced beef and tomato, topped with overcooked spaghetti, covered in grated cheddar, and baked in the school ovens until it was crisp. Delicious.

She also made a version of curry with stuck together boiled rice, full of raisons and not hot at all, we all loved it.

And of course there were those Vesta curry meals.

Then the Chinese came to town and the world changed overnight. Chan could cook bean sprouts to perfection. Bean sprouts? What was a bean sprout? And his Chinese curries were to die for, and some town residents probably did.

Soon you could buy chilli mixes at the bottom shop, and rice, and dried spaghetti. And then everybody was boiling spaghetti and rice for forty minutes, trying that ‘foreign muck', and quite enjoying it. It was a gastronomic revolution. My mum even started to buy and use spices! Well, not buy them. By this time Swartz had opened a factory on the industrial estate and my Uncle Len was working there.

Yes what a change in such short a space of time.

What foreign muck shall I have for tea tomorrow?

Vesta anyone?

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Ink and wine and blood...

I know that it is autumn when I start thinking about the carnival coming to town. The carnival, or the circus, or the fair - they're all the same to me with freak shows, and boxing rings, and those clowns that swallow ping pong balls. I've written about this before but my mind is cyclical, things go around and around in there like a carousel or a Ferris wheel.

Beep-beep I'm in the car, ring-ring driving the fire engine, buzz-buzz I'm on the bus.

And so it goes that at this time of year, as the darkness deepens and Christmas isn't quite near enough to be upon us, that I find myself looking to the dark. Looking deep to see what I can see, crying out by the castle.

By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.

What freedom in ink and wine and blood.

Monday, 14 November 2011

John Wayne...

Well I guess it had to happen.

A lady ordered a glass from me at the weekend for her brother Peter. Peter's a big fan of John Wayne, it was his birthday last Thursday and she wanted something special for him.

She asked if I could put a cowboy on the glass for her and as usual I asked what interests the person, in this case Peter, had. I usually do this to try to find out how best to personalise the glass and she told me that Peter was in his fifties, Downs syndrome, and he loves cowboy films - particularly John Wayne films.

I offered to put a picture of John Wayne on the glass and agreed that I could have it for her for Monday, today.

She came in at half-past four to collect it but couldn't. I hadn't done it you see, I'd forgotten about it completely despite it being in my order book. She was very good about it but I was mortified. I hate letting people down, I hate not meeting my commitments, I hate breaking my word, and at that moment I hated myself.

Anyway, I apologised and said I'd deliver it to her in the morning and that there would be no charge for the glass or the box I'm going to put it in.

Serves me right. I'm going to get a production diary.