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Saturday, 19 July 2014

London Monopoly (25); Final stop, Mayfair.

So, at last my journey around the London version of the Monopoly Board has come to an end at Mayfair - deemed the most expensive part of London. There is a pervading atmosphere of timeless quality, tradition and, mostly, wealth in Mayfair.
Berkeley Square Gardens in the centre of Mayfair
I believe that a Nightingale sang there once upon a time...
In 1686 a new location for a two-week long fair held in Haymarket was needed so the 'May fair' was moved to a nearby area of open fields. Development then began in a part known as Shepherd Market and the fair existed there until 1764 when it moved to Fair Field in Bow, East London after complaints from residents. And the name Mayfair stuck.
Since that time until very recently Shepherd Market became synonymous with prostitution but it's image has changed to become a charming centre of pubs and restaurants.
Shepherd Market, Mayfair (savills.com)
It is thought that the Romans settled in the Mayfair area during the conquest of Britain in AD 43 but moved their camp a short distance to the east to be nearer the Thames. However they would not have had to pay the astronomical rents that they would today! Even in the game of Monopoly if you land on Mayfair with added hotels you are likely to get wiped out.
Beautiful shop entrance in Mount Street in the heart of Mayfair
I am working on my next major London-based project to follow this. Coming to your computer soon!

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Painting of the Month (47) July 2014: Matisse

Henri Matisse, The Snail, 1953
Henri Matisse, The Snail, 1953, The Tate Gallery , London
Henri Matisse (1869-1954) had a long and successful career as a painter but by the 1940s ill-health had meant a change in the way he worked. He was famous for being a 'colourist' and this picture certainly maintains that tradition, utilising a complex and clever scheme of coloured pieces of cut-out paper to depict the shell of a snail (or is it? read on!) and managing to create an enormous sense of movement.
This is one of his last creations, which he directed his students to compile. He firstly drew the outline, probably using a long pole from his wheel-chair or bed and then told the students exactly where to place the painted paper. This was then traced and sent off to be pasted in place to the exact millimetre.
Matisse himself did not call this work The Snail; he called it La Composition Chromatique. However, it is universally known as The Snail but there may be a clue that, although Matisse was well into his eighties when this was created he had not lost his sense of humour. Take a close look at the top-left lilac-coloured piece of paper. Can you see a very tiny outline of a small creature crawling along the top? That's the snail!
This image has become an iconic reminder of one of the 20th century's greatest artists. I have shown some more of his glorious output below.
I will be in France for a long weekend so replies to comments will be a bit later than usual!


Monday, 23 June 2014

Spotlight on a Website (9): NASA Astronomical Picture of the day

This occasional series looks at websites that I often visit. NASA's Astronomical Picture of the Day (click to view) is always accompanied by an expert description and features some of the most beautiful and jaw-dropping images to be found on the Internet.
THE SUNFLOWER GALAXY, Image Copyright: Bill Snyder, Sierra Remote Observatories
AURORA OVER NEW ZEALAND, Image Copyright David Weir, Earth & Sky Ltd
ROVER ARRIVES AT ENDEAVOUR CRATER ON MARS
Image Copyright: Mars Exploration Rover Mission, NASA
HUBBLE ULTRA DEEP FIELD 2014, Image Copyright, NASA



Friday, 13 June 2014

Painting of the Month (46) June 2014: Christian Furr

Queen Elizabeth II. 1995
When he painting this picture of Queen Elizabeth, Christian Furr was the youngest artist ever to have painted her. She was 69 years old and he was a mere 28 year old. The work, commissioned by The Royal Overseas League, hangs in their headquarters in St James, London. Royal portraits
historically told so many stories beyond what the paint on the surface showed. Attributes of power and wealth sent a clear message to the viewer but I really like this picture very much because of the humanity on show.
The Queen looks like she is having to suppress a grin and, correct me if I'm wrong, but hasn't the artist captured a twinkle in her eye? She choose Furr herself to paint this portrait.
Furr was born in The Wirral, Cheshire, England in 1966 and his art usually looks more like these works:




Saturday, 7 June 2014

London Monopoly (24): Park Lane

I am now looking at the final,two-property Blue set on the London Monopoly board. My journey is almost complete.
Park Lane seen from Hyde Park. Sadly the road now has three lanes in both directions which has turned it into a much less attractive place. You cross the road to the park via an underpass now.
I've just checked on the internet; you can buy a four-bedroom flat/apartment on Park Lane for £16 million ($24m). Hurray, because it's bound to get snapped up quickly at that price. Park Lane runs north-south and forms the western boundary of central London and the eastern boundary of Hyde Park. In former times it had the rural atmosphere of a country lane - now it's one of the busiest thoroughfares in London. At one end it forms a right-angle with Oxford Street at Marble Arch and, three-quarters of a mile away, at the other end it, forms a right-angle with Piccadilly at Hyde Park Corner. 
Park Lane is synonymous with wealth and exclusivity in London but it does not have the allure that it once did; there are very many other places in the capital for multi-billionaires to live so no need to worry about them. Also there are locations with much more charm than Park Lane.
I think this quote from Wikipedia sums it up nicely: "Park Lane owes much of its fame to its being the second most valuable property in the London edition of Monopoly."
The next and final element in the London Monopoly board series will be Mayfair - unique among the other properties on the board in that it is a district not a thoroughfare.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Ypres, Belgium

YPRES
I just got home from five days in Ypres (pronounced Eepra) with my friends. We go to Belgium, without our ladies, every year to taste the food beer and take in some local 'culture'.
Ypres has a fascinating history. 100 years ago the First World War began and this little town stood in the way of the German advance into France. Most of its medieval and other buildings were flattened by relentless German bombing but were amazingly reconstructed as close as possible to the original so that now it has the unique feel of a 'new' medieval town.
The Cloth Hall, built from about 1200, pictured just after The Great War (WW1)
The reconstructed Cloth Hall today
The Wipers Times
The British soldiers had difficulty pronouncing the town's name so it became known as 'Wipers'. They produced a satirical newspaper called The Wipers Times from September 1916 until the end of the war, in which soldiers could get away with ridiculing their officers, who tried to close it down but the generals realised that it was good for morale so it was allowed to keep on publishing. You can see a brief clip from an acclaimed BBC TV Film about the Wipers Times here . The general sitting behind the desk is played by Michael Palin of Monty Python fame.
The Menin Gate
This marvellous memorial to 5,000 men killed in action but who never had a final resting place is situated at one of the ancient entrances to the walled city. Every single day of the year at 8pm the Last Post is played and a solo Scottish piper plays a lament.  (Amazing Grace on the evening that I was there).

The names of 5,000 soldiers are inscribed onto the inner walls of the memorial. The men were from Great Britain, Canada, Australia, India, the West Indies and all over the British Commonwealth. It is thought that up to 600,000 soldiers lost their lives in the Ypres Salient in the Great War including French, Belgian and German as well as the Commonwealth men.
A small number of Belgian soldiers on bicycles with machine-guns held a large German cavalry battalion at bay for a long time but the Belgian Army, unlike the British one, was ill-trained and amateurish but very brave. Although the Germans eventually bombarded Ypres into ruin, they never occupied it during that war but Hitler went there in triumph in World War Two.
These days the Belgians are able to turn their efforts to better things such as excellent food and drink. If you get the chance to go don't miss it!




Friday, 9 May 2014

Painting of the Month (45) May 2014: Camille Pissaro

Autumn, Camille Pissaro, 1875
I enjoy the colour, the composition and the subject matter of this picture. 
Sometimes I think it's possible to over-analyse paintings so I will let this little gem speak for itself and say no more. Enjoy!

Saturday, 26 April 2014

The 200th 'To Discover Ice' Post

My original idea for my 200th post was to link to my ten favourite posts, but I have changed my mind and decide to do this instead:
Regular readers of this Blog will be aware that I don't write much personal stuff. The only reason this is so is because I don't really think anyone would be interested but I really enjoy reading other people's writing about themselves in many cases. However, when my grandson had cancer at the age of five in 2010. I found it helpful to talk about and was really buoyed by the tremendous support from my Blogging friends.
My daughter Laura with Sonny in 2011
Sonny, now 9 and fully recovered (with his sister Lois, 6)
This is a good opportunity to thank all of those who provided support and prayers through that difficult six months:
  • All the remarkable staff at Great Ormond Street Hospital, the world's leading children's hospital in London.
  • The staff and classmates at Sonny's School, Ilford Jewish Primary School, who took Lois, then aged 3 under their wing.
  • All of our family and friends who gave love, support and cooked food at that time.
  • The amazing 368 people across the world who joined the 'Supporting Sonny' Facebook page.
  • All the Bloggers who joined the group and gave valuable support via this Blog.
  • The generous charities who gave, and still give, unquestioning support.
  • ....and Sonny himself who is a kind, very bright, loving and caring boy who is wise beyond his years.
Witness this recent conversation-
Auntie Linzi: "It's no good kids, you will never guess the password for my phone!"
Sonny: " Lois, Auntie Linzi was born in 1977. Try 1977."
Auntie Linzi: "Damn!."
I will return to my former idea of linking to some of my favourite past Postings at a later time. Thank you for being there!

Saturday, 19 April 2014

London Monopoly (23): Liverpool Street Station

Only two more London Monopoly Board posts after this one!
Exterior of Main entrance to Liverpool Street Station, London
The Railway Station
Liverpool Street station is one of the many central London railway termini. Located in the north-eastern corner of the City of London, it is the terminus for the West Anglia line to Cambridge and the much busier Great East Anglia main line to Norwich as well as many local commuter services to parts of east London, Essex and Hertfordshire and the Stansted Express, a fast link to London Stansted airport. There has been a station on the site since 1840 and the current building was greatly modernised in 1993. Liverpool Street was built as a dual-level station with an underground station opened in 1875.    In World War One the station was the target of one of the first-ever daylight bombing raids by fixed-wing aircraft. The deadly German attack killed 162 people.
The busy interior of Liverpool Street Station
The Wonderful Story of the Kindertransport
In Nazi Germany in 1938  the infamous Kristallnacht took place In the build-up to World War two. On that night swarms of SA Paramilitary forces destroyed thousands of Jewish homes, businesses and Synagogues in Germany and Austria. 30,000 people were rounded up and sent to concentration camps. Meanwhile non-Jewish civilians and German authorities looked on without intervening. Shock waves reverberated around the world. The Times of London wrote: "No foreign propagandist bent upon blackening Germany before the world could outdo the tale of burnings and beatings, of blackguardly assaults on defenceless and innocent people, which disgraced that country yesterday."
A delegation of British Jewish and Quaker leaders approached the UK Government who agreed to allow unaccompanied children to come to the UK as refugees. This was the start of the Kindertransport. In all 10,000 children, who would otherwise surely have perished in the Holocaust, came to the UK and were fostered here. Their arrival-point in London was Liverpool Street Station where there is a moving memorial to them. 2,000 of the children remained in England after the war and became valued members of society. Many of them joined the British Armed Forces. Four of them became Nobel prize-winners.
Frank Meisser's bronze memorial sculpture
www.warmemorialphotos.co.uk
My next post will be my 200th and I will be creating a review of my favourite posts over the last four years.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Painting of the Month (44) April 2014: Alma-Tadema

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836 -1912),  A Roman Art Lover
Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema was a controversial Anglo-Dutch Victorian painter. He was born in the Netherlands and settled in England in 1870 and spent the rest of his life here. To me he is an odd mix of the sublime and the faintly ridiculous. He drastically fell out of favour soon after his death in 1912 and after the First World War there was a sea-change in the Arts with the rise of Modernism, which was characterised by Freudian theory, philosophy, industrialisation and political theory - a complete break with past.
Alma-Tadema's subjects were based on Classical Antiquity in a kind of super-realism. Since the 1960s his importance to Victorian painting has been re-evaluated and his reputation somewhat restored. The important thing to rememberis that, of course, the paintings didn't change; just the 'expert's' opinions of them. So the lesson from that is - don't be afraid to like what you like, unfashionable or not!
Whatever one may think of these pictures, the fact which cannot be denied is his great photo-like technical ability.
Anacreon Reading His Poems at Lesbia's House 
Selfie of the artist
Kiss
.





Thursday, 27 March 2014

Albeniz: Cadiz


Isaac Manuel Francisco Albéniz y Pascual 
Hardly flamboyant at all!

Isaac Albeniz, 1860 -1909, was a virtuoso Spanish pianist and composer. I love his music which never fails to put me in a good mood so I hope, if you spare a few minutes to listen, that you will get that same pleasure! I have put links to some of his works at the end of this post. Although he never composed explicitly for the guitar much of his work has been successfully transposed for that instrument and some of his compositions are better known these days as guitar works. I am thinking principally of pieces such as Asturias.
He is most famous for the Suite Española  and his other suite Iberia, both of which are based on specific styles of regional Spanish folk music. The Suite Española consists of eight pieces of which my favourites are Granada and Cadiz. Both of these have been transposed into fabulous guitar versions. Here are links to piano and guitar versions of both:
During the Segovia piece you will see a photographic selection of locations in Granada, Spain starting with the Alhambra Palace, a truly magical place in a beautiful city. I don't suppose I'll ever get there again but I've got the music forever.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

London Monopoly (22): Bond Street

I am now on the home straight of my tour around the London Monopoly board and the real estate values are rising sky-high! Bond Street is the final property of the Green Set.
Bond Street by James Gilray 1796
Fashionable 'gentlemen' are forcing ladies to step into the road as they crowd the pavement (sidewalk). Gilray is also satirising the female fashion of wearing vertical feathers on their hats.

Bond Street is one of the world's most expensive retail locations on a par with Fifth Avenue, New York and the Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris. It is divided into New Bond Street and Old Bond Street in the southern half  but is effectively all one street. The auction house Sotheby's has been located there for over a century and at one time Bond Street was synonymous with art dealers and antique shops but, inevitably, high-fashion boutiques now dominate. This makes it a lot less interesting. Something of note is a sculpture of Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt sitting on a park bench. Tourists are fond of sitting between the two while having their photo taken.
"The statue, which is named ‘Allies’, was created in 1995 by Lawrence Holofcener, an artist with dual nationality who was commissioned by the Bond Street Association to commemorate 50 years of peace in the area. It features life-like bronze statues of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, with their faces crafted into permanent smiles as they share a silent joke." www.mayfair-london.co.uk
Bond Street is named for Sir Thomas Bond 1620–1685. head of the syndicate which developed the area although the street as it is now was founded in 1700. The most famous residents were probably Admiral Horatio Nelson and Lady Hamilton.
A typical Bond Street store front.
Coming next in this series:Liverpool Street Station with a wonderful story from before the Second World War. 

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Painting of the Month (43) March 2014: Lebasque


The Blue Robe (1920)


Henri Lebasque (1865 – 1937) was a French post-impressionist painter and a friend of Henri Matisse. Perhaps not technically brilliant but I like his colourful scenes of the times he lived in. He painted several pictures featuring views through open windows which was a popular genre at the time.
See, for example 'Open window at Collioure' by Matisse (left) and the painting by Raoul Dufy (below). Lebasque painted mainly female figures often in a domestic or rural setting and, as was the fashion at the beginning of the twentieth century, a great colourist. Yellow and purple are on opposite sides of the colour wheel and bring out the best in each other as can be seen here in the contrast between the yellow fields and the purple of the distant hills and the curtains. What is surprisingly common in art is the back view of the female subject; there are many examples of this in the history of art.
Click here to see a whole collection of such views. Although there is more detail in the foreground of this painting, the composition leads the eye to where the woman appears to be looking - out of the window.


Monday, 17 February 2014

London Monopoly (21): Oxford Street

A further stop in my journey around the London Monopoly board.
Selfridge's, Oxford Street, London. Opened in 1909.
At one and a half miles long Oxford Street is Europe's busiest shopping street. For the main part it is full of all the multinational and international stores that most UK High Street's will have; the big names cannot afford not to be there. This makes it rather unremarkable in some ways. Toward the eastern end at the junction of Tottenham Court Road and Charing Cross Road there are the relatively smaller stores with a few independents and nearer to the western end at Marble Arch, near one corner of Hyde Park there is, for me, the saving grace of Oxford Street - the department stores. Personally I think Selfridge's is the best of these.
It is rather underrated but I prefer it to Harrod's. Somehow the staff seem to be less under pressure and are more pleasant and there is an excellent bookshop.
Oxford Street is only open to taxicabs and buses and no other private or commercial vehicles during the day.
Oxford Street is known to have existed for at least two thousands years but not under that name of course. The Romans called it Via Trinobantina and it formed part of the route into London from the south-west (Hampshire) and out to the north-east (Colchester in Essex). It was the route that condemned prisoners were taken by from Newgate (now the Old Bailey Criminal Court) to Tyburn to be hanged (now Marble Arch). Incidentally people are hanged whereas pictures are hung!
Oxford Street after a heavy German bombing raid in April 1943 (Getty Images)
Oxford Street today
At the halfway point is Oxford Circus, which is where Regent Street crosses Oxford Street. It features something unique for London - diagonal pedestrian crossings.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Painting of the Month (42) February 2014: Van Gogh

This is an iconic image by one of the most revered artists of all time - Vincent Van Gogh. At first glance you may think there's not much to it but come closer and Bazza will enlighten you.....
Wheat Field Under Threatening Skies also known as Wheat Field with Crows.
 Painted in July1890, the month in which he died, by Vincent Van Gogh.
Many people would recognise this as Van Gogh's work even if they had never seen it before. The thickly applied paint, individual brush-strokes and subject matter are all typical of his art. It is thought that this may have been the last picture he ever painted but it was not; it was certainly one of the last few. It is well known that he suffered with mental instability for much of his life and it is easy to define turbulence and impending doom in this picture. In which direction are the crows flying? It's hard to say, isn't it? Look closely at the central path which leads one into the painting. Where is is it going? It's going nowhere; it doesn't disappear so much as stop. Dead. This is a subject that would usually be enriching and uplifting but Vincent has managed to convey his chaotic state of mind. He took his own life shortly afterwards. In a way it is like looking into another person's thought processes and yet it is 'only' a landscape painting. I find that fact incredible.
The impending summer storm depicted here has sometimes been interpreted as Vincent's suicide note but, of course, all interpretation of art is very subjective.
This was one of a series of wheatfield paintings that Van Gogh made in this unusual elongated format 50cm by 100cm.
Footnote: Americans usually pronounce his surname as 'Van Go', Britons as 'Van Goff' and the Dutch (who should know best) sound like they are filling their mouth with phlegm when they pronounce his name!
I promise that my next post will be something more cheerful!

Friday, 31 January 2014

Macbeth

Macbeth or, in Gaelic, Mac Bethad, was King of Alba (Scotland) from 1040 to 1057 so he died almost a thousand years ago. Although this post is about William Shakespeare's play it is important to know that (1) Macbeth was a real person and (2) the play is, historically, very inaccurate.
Kenneth Branagh as Macbeth


A brief description of the background to this play is important and relevant. King James VI of Scotland became James I of England and Scotland when the two nations were united in 1603 and William Shakespeare's company of players wisely became known as The King's Men instead of the The Queen's Men. They depended upon a certain amount of Royal patronage so when Macbeth was written, probably in 1606, it was natural that he wanted to please the new King.
James was known to have been a believer in Witchcraft and had actually written a book on the subject. Our William was rather clever in making the witches central to the Macbeth's tragedy. You are probably aware of the famous opening scene with the three witches. Click here to view that opening scene. The witches occur at intervals throughout the play.
Here is a brief synopsis of the plot: At the outset of the play Macbeth and Banquo are shown as heroic generals who have bravely helped Scotland defeat two invading armies. When the witches predict that Macbeth will be King he is sceptical until the King promotes him to a high rank (Thane of Cawdor) so he begins to believe the prediction. The themes that develop are deception and the destructive power of unchecked ambition (through hallucinations and 'blood'). When King Duncan comes to stay at Macbeth's castle in Inverness Lady Macbeth (the original femme fatale?) persuades him to murder the King, which he does. He then decides that his friend Banquo is a rival so he kills him too.
However, at a feast hosted by the newly-crowned Macbeths, Banquo's ghost appears at the dinner table and Macbeth begins to loose his mind. He is eventually killed by MacDuff, whose family Macbeth has also had murdered.
Shakespeare's genius shows in his psychological insight (before psychology existed!) such as this scene where, on his way to murder King Duncan, Macbeth hallucinates about a dagger, "Is this a dagger I see before me?", brilliantly played by Sir Patrick Stewart (Captain Picard of Star Trek if you prefer). This speech is a superb example of Shakespeare's craft and, in this clip, I especially love the menace evoked by the wonderful background music that hovers behind Macbeth's soliloquy.
It is often not appreciated how much the English language owes to the creations of William Shakespeare. Here are just a few quotes that originated in The Tragedy of Macbeth.

"Fair is foul and foul is fair"
   - The witches indicating that all is not as it seems in life.
"Nothing in his life became him like the leaving it"
   - Malcolm's description of Macbeth's slaying of the traitor Macdonwald.
"Yet I do fear thy nature; it is too full of the milk of human kindness"
  - Lady Macbeth fearing that her husband isn't evil enough!
"Double,double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble."
And
"By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes."
   - The witches awaiting the arrival of Macbeth.
"Out damned spot!, out I say!"
  - Lady Macbeth referring to blood on her clothing, while she is sleep-walking.
"She should have died hereafter;
There would have been a time for such a word.
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day 
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools 
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage 
And then is heard no more: it is a tale 
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing."
  - Macbeth on hearing of the death of his wife.
Macbeth: "If we should fail?"
Lady Macbeth: "We fail.But screw your courage to the sticking-place and we'll not fail."

Finally, my favourite part of the play (and there are many contenders) is this:
Macbeth has asked the witches if all of their predictions will come true, will no-one defeat him? and they tell him:
"Macbeth shall never vanquished be until
Great Burnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill
Shall come against him."and
"No man of woman born shall harm Macbeth." 
Burham Wood is a small forest about five miles from Dunsinane Hill where Macbeth's castle is situated.
Naturally Macbeth is pleased to hear this declaring that his overthrow "can never be"
However when an English army of 10,000 men advances on Macbeth in support of the legitimate Scottish King, their general tells them to cut branches from the trees in the wood to camouflage themselves.
So, when a servant informs Macbeth that Burnham Wood is advancing on the castle, Macbeth becomes even more unhinged (well, wouldn't you?)
And at the end of the play when Macbeth is fighting MacDuff, he still believes himself to be invincible because "no man of woman born" can harm him.
But he is then in informed by MacDuff that he was "ripped from his mother's womb" (ie: came into the world by Caesarean section).....oops!
MacDuff kills Macbeth

If you would like to see a BBC production of the play click here


Thursday, 23 January 2014

My Heroes (38): Django Reinhardt

It's been too long since I posted a new item in the self-indulgent My Hero series. But if one can't be self-indulgent on one's own Blog, then where?
Jean "Django" Reinhardt 1910-1953
Django Reinhardt led a colourful and romantic life. He was born in Belgium into a Romani (Gypsy) family and remained immersed in that culture all of his life. His father had changed the family name on his birth certificate from Weiss in order to avoid military conscription
He is regarded as the first European musician to make an important contribution to the world of jazz music. He formed the Quintette du Hot Club de France with the violinist Stephan Grapelli in 1934 and is considered to have been one of the greatest guitar players who ever lived.
Amazingly two of the fingers of his left hand were paralysed after a fire in the caravan he shared with his then wife at the age of 18! He re-learned his playing technique after the injury and was able to make use of those fingers in chord playing but not in solos thereafter.
I always find joy listening to his music; its so full of energy and the deceptively casual playing could only be the work of an absolute master.
Django was greatly influenced by American jazz records that he heard and referred to Louis Armstrong as "my brother". He was also one of the first people in France to recognise the brilliance of Charlie Parker and Dizzie Gillespie.
He died of a brain haemorrhage at the early age of 43. 
I have a link to a great selection of his music below: Enjoy!
The Quintette du Hot Club de France
In this line up they were unsual in being an all-strings jazz band
Click here for Bouncin' Around
Click here for Minor Swing
Click here for Body And Soul

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Pam Ayers, writer of comic verse

Pam Ayers is a quintessentially English writer of comic verse who, because she speaks with a lovely Oxfordshire accent and is sometimes thought of as a 'corny' comedienne is, to my mind, often under-rated. But I think that she is a gifted writer of comic verse. I don't know if she is much known outside of the UK which would be a pity. Here is one of her typical verses. You can hear her reading one of her poems in the link at the end of this post. I recommend it.

I'M GOING TO KILL MY HUSBAND  by Pam Ayres

I am going to kill my husband, I have stuck all I can stick,
His constant criticising is getting on my wick.
He takes it all for granted, but tonight I can relax,
For the minute he complains, I shall whop him with the axe.

Yes, I’m going to kill my husband, I shall have him to be sure,
He’s never going to curse my navigation any more.
I drive him to distraction when I read a map, I know,
But tonight I’m going to drive him where he didn’t plan to go.

So when he starts haranguing me till I’m a nervous wreck,
Shouts and spits and rages till the veins swell in his neck.
As he grabs the map from me there’ll be no turning back,
I will calmly reach behind me and I’ll whop him with the jack.

I mean, he gets a cold and I’m supposed to sympathise,
And his sneezes shake the rafters and tears roll from his eyes.
He looks so woebegone, just like the back end of a bus,
And yet when I am ill he’ll tell me not to make a fuss.

It’s true, he’s got to go, you may not think I’ve got the right,
But he snores you see and I should know, I’m with him every night.
With a horrifying steady rhythm, whistle, snore and snort,
Well tonight he’s going to stay asleep for longer than he thought.

“Your honour, I confess, that with a satisfying thwack,
I hit him with the frying pan from seven paces back.”
The weapon was examined by the jury good and true,
It was all made up of women, and they all said,”After you!”

Click here for a wonderful, hilarious reading by Pam Ayres