Together – A Photo

I took this photo at Angkor Wat a couple of years ago.  While there were strict entry control for tourists visiting the site, requiring a photo pass and a local guide, local people, and especially the children run around at will, ignoring all the piles of ancient stone, instead playing ball games, racing on their bikes, running errands for their mothers, going to and from school.

I like to imagine the conversation that preceded the beginning of this journey.

‘It’s my turn to ride at the front.’

‘No it’s not.’

‘Tis so.’

‘It’s my bike.’

‘It’s our bike. You promised.’

‘I changed my mind.’

‘That’s not fair.’

‘It’s my bike.  Are you coming?’

‘But you promised.’

‘Get on the back or run behind.  It’s up to you.’

Curly-Wurly Drawing

This weeks in drawing class was a bit of a struggle, trying out different techniques before attempting to capture certain moods.

It was a another week of failures, and I wasn’t satisfied with my ability to accomplish the ideas that I had in my head, but it’s all experimentation and trying things out, and I still choose to believe that eventually something good will come out of it.  This was a quick pose, and I think I like it the best of the things I did on Friday because I feel relatively comfortable making a mess, especially when it’s meant to me a mess.

An English Pastoral

It looks like a typical image of village England, across the green to the cricket pavilion; you can almost hear the clock of a ball against a bat.

But look again, and see the outline of the nearby cityscape through the trees…..

This is Vincent Square, a few moments walk from Victoria and Westminster.

A Poet in Gordon Square

I am constantly confronted by my own ignorance.  Where in the past I might have thought that’s interesting, and immediately forgotten whatever it was that had momentarily attracted my attention, or sparked a fleeting curiosity, now, because of the blog, I pause, take a photo, have a little go on google, and tell you about it.

Neither of us may retain the information for very long, but some little snippet may stick; knowing myself it will be the most inconsequential piece of information, but it’s too late to worry about that now.

This week was my second evening class at Birkbeck, and, as is my wont, I was a few minutes early, so wandered around Gordon Square again.  And came across this statue.  As it was only unveiled last July, I’m not surprised I’d never noticed it before, but I’ll admit I’d never previously heard of the poet Tagore.  But now I have, and the Nobel website furnished me with lots more information.

Wandering Gordon Square may prove to be a fertile source of inspiration for more posts…….you’ve been warned!

‘Written on the Heart’ at Duchess Theatre

If I tell you the three most memorable things about my evening at the theatre seeing David Edgar’s Written on the Heart , it will become immediately apparent that I didn’t quite connect with the play.

The first was that, as I was going to the box office to collect my tickets a couple of hours before curtain up, I walked past Oliver Ford Davies and Steven Boxer,  all untidy hair, baggy jeans and crumpled jackets, whom I assume were heading out for a quick walk or bite to eat before they got ready for the show.

It reminded me of the last time I saw Oliver Ford Davies ‘in mufti’, when I sat near him and other members of an Almeida Theatre company on a flight from Moscow to London; I was leaving the city at the end of my employment there, and they had just completed a short run of Chekhov’s Ivanov at the Maly Theatre, the final performance of which I had seen the night before.  It’s always felt like a fittingly surreal end to my sojourn in Russia.

The second memorable thing was that much of the ‘action’ of Written on the Heart is set in Ely Place, the former London residence of the Bishop of Ely (played by Oliver F-D).  This was oddly coincidental to a conversation I had earlier in the same day.  As part of my project to visit hitherto unseen (by me) places in London, I was consulting, with a friend, a book of ‘365 things to do in London’.  One of these was ‘take a trip to Cambridgeshire’.  When I protested that this could hardly count as a London activity, I discovered that there is an argument that Ely Place, just beside Hatton Garden, remains part of the Bishopric of Ely and therefore could be part of Cambridgeshire.

The third thing, is more of a curiosity, and is why did the actor who did a quick change from being the Flemish speaking jailer of Tyndale in one scene, into a Yorkshire accented carpenter in the next, not appear to take a bow at the end of the play? (As I’m too mean to have bought a programme and the RSC website isn’t helpful on this point, I don’t know his name.)

So what of the play?  It’s about the project to produce the English language Bible that became The King James Bible.  It’s about arguments among a committee of clerics and theologians over semantics, should the word ‘church’ or ‘congregation’ be used, or ‘charity’ or ‘love’?  It’s meant to be the charting of a course between Anglicans and Puritans to find something acceptable to them both.

I should have enjoyed it because I like playing with words to find the perfectly apposite one.  I should have reflected on the contemporary resonances between the obsessive parsing of vocabulary and the threat of eternal damnation to those who mangle the words of the Lord and their echoes in the present day diktats extremists religious preachers.  But I didn’t.  It was all far too static, too talky,; there were far too many scenes of men in cassocks standing doing nothing other than shaking rain off their big cloaks and reciting chunks of Scripture at each other.

But, on the other hand, three interesting things did come to mind……

Home Tourist – Regents Park

A quick walk in the park on Sunday evening rewarded me with a couple of shots to make a quick post for today.

I’ve never previously noticed that there are so many birds in Regents Park  – I’d always thought if you wanted birds, St James’s Park was the place to go.  But there are plenty of them further north too.  I was fascinated by the way these herons were sitting so evenly spaced along the edge of the water, as if they weren’t talking to each other or had been placed there.

And then there are the birds with the comedy feet….

And because it has rained every day since a state of drought was announced, there were still puddles for the well booted; and this one in particular proved a special draw.

Sun – A Photo

Sun, but not at sunset.  I’ve raided my ever growing Cove Park Collection for this one.  I remember taking it just as I had arrived at the centre at the beginning of a fortnight’s stay.  The weather in London had been terrible when I left home and hadn’t much improved on the way up, but when I was driving over the hill from Garelochhead towards Cove the sky had cleared.

I took the photo as soon as I got out of the car, before going inside to announce my arrival, as there was always the chance that the sun would have disappeared by the time I came out again.

Along the Line

So it’s back to a new term at the drawing school; same room, some of the same classmates and a new teacher.  The module is about composition, but the exhortation to be playful was high on the list.

It was all about line this week; making things using only lines.  I found myself producing things which I might easily have attempted as a child, making patterns joining dots with straight lines, using colouring pencils.  It was fun, and definitely different from last term where the focus was on representational pieces, but I’m not sure any of my efforts were particularly successful, as my default will usually be to aim for some kind of pattern.

Can’t wait to see what we do next week.

Home Tourist – Marx Memorial Library

Continuing my project to visit both well known and more out of the way places in  London that I’ve never previously been to, this week. I went to the Marx Memorial Library.  It’s in a neat building in Clerkenwell, identified only by a brass plaque on the door.  They offer tours each day at 1pm, and the door is stoutly locked until then.  We were a small group of strangers assembled on the doorstep by the time we rang the bell and were admitted.

Our appearance seemed to come as a pleasant surprise to the people in charge at the library.

During the short tour I learnt a number of things I hadn’t known before.

The building was originally a school for the children of Welsh artisans of the area, but when the school grew too big for the premises, part of it was taken over by the London Patriotic Society establishing a socialist presence there.  This, together with the history of political liberalism in the area, perhaps encouraged Lenin to seek exile here, but in the event he used an office in the building for a year in the early 20th century to publish the newspaper Iskra (The Spark).  The office used by him is kept as a little shrine, a locked door, bare floorboards where blue grey lino carpets elsewhere.

The broadsheet paper was printed in the locality, by one of the many independent local printers, and was then secretly distributed into Russia.  I was impressed that the London printers could print a paper in Cyrillic.

The fact that the library is also the custodian of the largest collection of documents relating to the International Brigade in the Spanish Civil War, and also retains a complete archive of everything published by the German communist party, because ‘you never know what might happen there’.

There’s something very low key and home spun about the library notwithstanding its large collection.  They know they have lots of materials of great interest to a wide range of academics, but they have no present intention of digitising any of it – if you want to see it, you have to come for a visit.

Traces of A Different Use

I spent a few moments wandering around Clerkenwell Green a couple of days ago, and as always, when I pause to properly look around me, I saw traces of things I’d never noticed before.  This photo highlights some of the accretions of time which are present throughout the city.

The drinking and cattle trough must date from the time when the Green was used as a place to store and graze cattle and other livestock before they were taken to be slaughtered at the nearby Smithfield meat market. Now the trough has been prettied up and contains bedding plants.

Then there’s the clutch of telephone boxes; one of the instantly recognisable ‘symbols’ of Britain, but this overlooks the fact that they are really quite a rarity in our contemporary streets.  I wonder who uses these telephones?  It’s unlikely to be any of the people who work in the achingly trendy design and PR companies which occupy the buildings around the edges.

Maybe it’s the tourists who might be expected round here – the finger post direction signs indicate an expectation that strangers might happen by…….

Or maybe it’s just another unremarkable corner of central London.

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