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.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Even the darkest day has golden birds...

I haven’t been to Wales for a while now but it’s still there in my head, the clouds scudding across the hills and mountains, the foam tossed into the air from the sea, the whistle of the wind, and the crack of the branch upon the tree.

Sometimes when I awake to the sameness of another day I wonder what’s it all about, what corner did I turn to get me here, and will I ever find my way again? Then a deep gloom fills me and I wonder if I can go on.

It doesn’t last long. I get up and brush myself down and go upon my way, about my business, putting on the brave face I keep in my back pocket for all the world to see.

Sometimes I think I'm living in a mirror, seeing the world palely from behind the silvered glass.

No, I’ve not been able to get to Wales recently, but I will some day soon, and really I’m there all the time inside my head.

Even the darkest day has golden birds.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Guardian angel...

I'm sure that there are times when we all feel that we have a guardian angel.

I'm equally sure that there are times when we all feel that we don't.

Once when I was a young man living in Birmingham, getting up early after working late, rushing out of the house bleary-eyed after a late night freelancing, running down the gulley, scarf flapping, floundering across the road and onto the busy dual carriageway, my guardian angel appeared.

Of course I never saw him/her. But I felt the rush of wings and the pull of hands as I was lifted bodily from the road and pulled back three feet to avoid the bus that I'd almost blundered into in my haste to reach the bus stop.

It must have been the candlelit carol concert from the night before along the Walsall Road at a church I can't remember the name of, but one moment I was in front of the bus as it bore down on me like a rabbit caught in the headlights of a speeding car, the next I felt the bus pass, the wind of its passing pulling the dog-tooth cap from my head and tumbling it along the gutter.

BLAHHHHHHHHHH. From the bus drivers horn. A scowl on his face as he passed full and not ever intending to stop.

I never bothered to pick up my cap. I just caught the next bus shaking.

Friday, 11 November 2011

The eleventh hour - 11.11.11

We often talk about the eleventh hour. The last possible minute to do something about a situation before it is too late, just before we edge over that waterfall and plunge down, down, down to disaster.

It’s a biblical phrase from the book of Matthew, referring to some workmen being hired very late in the day: “And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle?

Dunno mate, dunno.

Eleven is the atomic number of sodium and in chemistry Group Eleven includes the metals copper, gold and silver - the metal that Judas, the eleventh disciple, supposedly sold Jesus out for.

Eleven is the number of spacetime dimensions in M-theory as Dr. Who (who is currently in his eleventh incarnation) would know, and Apollo Eleven was the first manned spacecraft to land on the moon.

Eleven is the first (I wanted to write fist) number that can’t be counted on eight fingers and two thumbs (so, toe required) and it’s the largest prime number with a single morpheme name (morphemes are what make up words apparently, but they aren’t like syllables which is a shame because I un-der-stand syllables).

It was on the Eleventh day of Christmas that the gift of ‘Eleven pipers piping’ was made, and as those noisy buggers would know the interval of an octave and a fourth is an eleventh.

An eleven-sided polygon is called a hendecagon, eleven is the second unique prime, it goes into ninety-nine exactly nine times and eleven is a Størmer number, a Heegner number, and a Mills prime number.

Football and cricket team have eleven players, and of course as all bingo callers in the land know so well there is always a whistle for ‘Legs Eleven’ – twit-twoo.

So why am I going on so much about eleven?

Well, of course it's on this day that we remember eleven because World War I, the Great War, the war to end all wars, ended with an armistice on November the eleventh, 1918. It went into effect at eleven am - the much spoken about eleventh hour - on the eleventh day of the eleventh month.


Lest we forget.

I’ll be silent now.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

November Road…

I’m on the November Road and I don’t know where it’s leading. I trudge along hoping that the sun will break through the clouds at any moment but it doesn’t.

I’m not surprised.

November Road just sucks the journey out of you and leaves you hollow. A hollow man with hollow thoughts trudging along November Road and waiting for the sun to break through.

String and headaches. Foot after foot.

November Road never changes. I know I’m not the only one on this road. But I never seem to meet anybody. Sometimes I think that I can hear them. But it’s probably just the wind.

It’s very windy on November Road.

It howls sometimes.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Up till midnight...

Such a day of clocks and clutter, and hardly knowing where to begin, but looking forward to the end and that peace that must come to us all at the end of the day - even if it is disturbed.

Such a day of freedom and sandwiches.

Starting with the midnight clock, not mine but running out he says tick-tock, tick-tock.

A day of snowmen and angels and maybe elves (or at least something similar) and journeys, not quite wasted but not very successful either. A young man asking for the almost impossible and me (such a fool) agreeing to do it. A mother and daughter looking for the special and me (not a fool at all) helping them to dream it.

A word play, making myself and that other smile, an almost sale, an unhappy customer justified (not mine), and so much to do and so little time.

Tick-tock, tick-tock.

My grandfather's clock stuck at twelve, so forgive this brief post tonight.

And that's alright.

I’ll be up till midnight...

Monday, 7 November 2011

First frost…

When there isn’t much to say, there’s always the weather to fall back on.

Is it a trick or do I seem to remember frosty early Novembers in my youth? I certainly remember walking to school, up North Street, down the High Street, along Southern Road and through the recreation ground, with the fields all frosted white and the hill down to the little bridge over Cuttle Brook a treachery.

With Halloween and Bonfire Night over my thoughts would turn to Christmas, the boyhood excitement beginning to grow despite me being in my very early teens. I’d long given up believing in Father Christmas but that didn’t stop me wondering what he’d bring me. No more socks, I hoped.

Sometimes I’d stop at the gate to the bottom meadow, put down my satchel, and just look out across the field at the frost-whitened grass and think of skating on Dutch canals. Don’t ask me why I thought about that, I couldn’t skate and hadn’t been to Holland at that time, but I did - a racial memory? Or perhaps images stolen from the huge book on Breugel I poured over in the library every lunch time.

I’d look down towards the brook almost hearing the whoosh of skate blades, then, with the whoops of Stephen Castle and Luke Doyle carried by the frozen air from the distance, I’d snatch up my books and scuttle the rest of my way to school. I didn’t want to meet those two, they were at best snide and at worst outright bullies, often pushing and shoving and throwing my scarf into the mud.

I got them back though, oh yes, I got them back – but I’ll save that for another time.

So, first frost this morning. Cars all white windscreens and a chilly nip to the air. The smoky smell of yesterday’s after-bonfire air all cleaned up and replaced by ice sharp freshness.

Winter’s coming.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Tales from the glass painters table...

Guess what I'm getting ready for.

Well it is only 48 days,
or 1158 hours,
or 69, 4510 minutes,
or 4,167,015 seconds away.

This is my army of hand-painted glass-glazed snowmen candle holders painted ready for a Christmas fare on Wednesday night.

I've painted the orange carrot noses, the patterned woollen bobble hats, the metallic scarves and the tiny Christmas trees each snowman holds in his snowy hand.

What fun. The tea-light candles go inside the icy fellows and glow through the star shapes. Magic.

I hope I don't sell them all, I'd like one for myself.

Now what should I charge? Any ideas?

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Other people’s fireworks…

I suppose it could be viewed as sad that tonight I shall watch other peoples fireworks explode in the night sky all around me and feel not need to join in the fun and frolics. Not so much as a single spark from a sparkler.

There was a time when I would plan my display for weeks in advance, building my bonfire ever higher and higher, carefully considering the best attire for this years Guido, getting the pop bottles lined up for my rockets.

It wasn’t that long ago either.

I don’t know what, when, or where it or I changed. It or I just did.

These days although I still appreciate the spectacle and beauty of the fizzing, whirling, pyrotechnical wonder of it all and seeing the first bright green rocket explode in the black November sky, showering sparks in all directions high above, can still make me smile.

My smile isn’t the one it used to be and it isn't there for the same reasons, but it remains a smile - take it or leave it.

Yes, I’ll watch other people fireworks tonight remembering other bonfire nights when I’d wrap up warm and risk my life and limbs by getting too close to that squibby one that hasn't lit properly. One year I almost lost an eye, another time I picked up a roman candle, shook it to get it going and, BOOM, it exploded.

Ah, the foolishness of twenty-something or other man-boys.

I might even mumble the chant that was forever on my lips at this time of year back then –
Remember remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot...

I might, yes I really might.

Other people’s fireworks when I use to have fireworks of my own. I wonder where the sparkle went?

Friday, 4 November 2011

Automatic writing...

I took this picture last summer but I found these words for the first time in my blog folder this evening. They were written early this morning, very early this morning when I should (and maybe was) have been asleep.

How odd. I think it must be my first successful journey into automatic writing because I have no memory of writing it or where it came from. It could be old age, it could be last night's red, but I prefer to think I've managed to tap into my subconscious successfully at last.

Whatever, whichever, wherever... here it is:


It isn’t me that’s weird or my life that’s weird, but somewhere in the heady mix of COMBINATION a strange type of gasoline was invented and, well quite frankly, BOOOOOM!

So combustible, so weird, so ‘just waiting to go off – tick, tock, tick, tock – no smoking – please turn off all mobile phones – DANGER, DANGER, radioactive materials in the vicinity… RED BUTTON…. Defcom One and counting…’


You know when you are up on a hill and the clouds move across the landscape below?
Sometimes you see the reflection of the sun on the fields and you smile, and then sometimes the clouds scud across and darken the land and there is no sunshine to see?

Remember that fleeting frown.
Remember that fleeting frown?
Please remember that fleeting frown.

It is like being okay but only almost. Knowing that at any moment the sun can go behind that cloud and the world, your world, will turn dull - then grey - then black.

I call it life, but generally today there was more sunshine than cloud. It is what keeps me moving. More sunshine than cloud.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Why there was no blog last night...

No blog last night. Not that you noticed.

Well, not much happens between Halloween and Bonfire Night in this neck of the woods and to tell you the truth, well sometimes I simply can't be bothered.

Not often, but sometimes.

Sometimes I'd rather slip off my shoes, release my socks from my ankles, light a candle, and breathe in the sweet smell of lilies - and who wouldn't?

I don't relax much, I'm not a relaxing kind of person, but sometimes I just want to switch off.

Switching off is hard though. Switching off means forgetting about the shed that needs moving, the bank accounts that need checking, the essay that needs writing, the glass that needs painting, the soup (pumpkin) that needs souping, the Facebook that needs checking, the carpet that needs cleaning, the book that needs writing, the painting that needs painting, the blog that needs blogging, the....

Well, you get the picture.

Relaxation is something I'm learning though. It's taking time and is a bit of a stop-start process. It involves painting fence posts very slowly, white and blue alternately, making sure the paint never touches the sides. It involves slowly descending staircases to a place where I am totally comfortable, a mobile home by the sea, warm with a stove and low maintenance with the sound of waves and a decent rum to sip. It involves recognising that I can be kind to myself and that there is no need to beat myself up, realising my best is good enough even if I will never be Dali. It involves imagining a tall building... a skyscraper somewhere..... at night.... it has ten floors... and each floor is lit up... and with each breath out... I count aloud from ten down to one ... and with each breath out... one floor of that building goes dark.... from the top down.... and as I breath out... as each floor goes dark.... those numbers begin to disappear until I just can't find the next number... and each breath out takes me down and down... deeper and deeper... darker and darker.... it's good... and each breath out can make me so relaxed... so comfortable...

It involves trying to do small things that make me feel good each day. Kind words, small acts, recognitions, smiles, helping. Seeing the world the way that I want to see it, not the way it wants me to see it.

I'm learning, slowly but surely I'm learning. Time to take my socks off I think.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Spindel by Hannah...

Remember this guy?

Yes it’s Spindel the donkey - well almost donkey, as you know he has the udder of a cow courtesy of an orange rubber glove. Spindel was the creation of Hannah, Number 2's (RickShore) very creative daughter.

Yesterday Hannah sent me this fantastic drawing of Spindel. I was amazed by the detail she’d put into it and the skill with which she’d drawn it. There’s the orange rubber glove udder, the spiky purple ball nose, the yellow sponge face, and yellowish plastic bag main – she’s even got the blue rope on his back.

Spindel alive on the page for all to see – 2 photos 16p or 10 photos for a pound. Hannah’s an astute business woman too.

It’s been a while now since I wandered down Criccieth beach and I’m missing it, but Hannah’s drawing brought it all back to me. What fun and frustration we had that day, building a donkey from beach flotsam and jetsam. A happy few hours spent as a child, with children young and old, and at the end of it Spindel the donkey standing proud for all to see.

I’ve dreamt of Spindel a couple of times since then. Once he was a smugglers donkey with kegs of brandy on his back and I was his pirate captain - ‘Shiver me timbers and pieces of eight. Splice the main brace, yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum – hic!’

Another time he was wandering on the beach alone at night and I was following. The stars were bright and he seemed to be heading towards the brightest one of all. I’m not sure where we were going but I knew I’d be happy when we got there.

And he’s out there somewhere still I think, on Criccieth beach, waiting for me to come back, maybe he’ll let me climb onto his back and take me off to that special place where I’ll be happy again.

Thanks Hannah. It’s a magical picture, Spindel’s a magical donkey, and you made him happen. I'll have to think of a way to repay you for the smiles you've brought me.

Follow your star.