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Sunday, 31 July 2011

Painting(s) of the Month (20) August 2011: London Transport Artists

This months pictures are a little different from the norm. They are all reproductions of posters commissioned for London Transport. I have chosen a selection of 'places' designed to encourage travellers to visit the countryside although, today all of these places are within Greater London. Posters were also made depicting Wimbledon for Tennis and Wembley Stadium for soccer. It was really the spreading of the Underground Railway network that helped the many London suburbs to expand from country towns and villages to become part of the 30 mile wide urban sprawl that is London. Much of it is still very attractive. For example the second poster, nearly 100 years old, depicts Hainault Forest about two miles from where I live. It's still a favourite hiking place though it now has a children's zoo and a public golf course; no membership, just turn up and play. The artists were leading professionals of the time and many of these posters can be seen and purchased from The London Transport Museum.
High Beech by Charles Sharland 1913
Hainault Forest by Fred Taylor 1914

Twickenham by Arthur Blunt 1912

Windsor Castle by Walter E Spradbery 1930

Flowers of the Riverside by Edwared McKnight Kauffer 1920
London Transport (which was formed by an amalgamation of all the various railway companies operating different 'tube' lines) is still a patron of the arts as the poster from 2007, below, shows!
The West End of London from Primrose Hill by Paul Catherall 2007

Monday, 25 July 2011

Gone Too Soon
I wrote about Amy Winehouse back in Ferbuary this year. I was staying with a friend in the north of France for a few days when the news of her death came through; this post was going to be about the good time we all had in the Pas de Calais but I can't do that now. Her death has really saddened me and all of the family for two reasons.
Firstly the devastation one feels for her family and the loss of the greatest 21st century singing talent in the UK. I think Adele and Duffy are terrific so it's not an empty thing to say. I would compare her to the all-time greats such as Etta James and Ella Fitzgerald.
Secondly, when my grandson, Sonny, was in hospital with cancer and we didn't know what the outcome would be Amy's father who sings with his own band did a charity concert to raise money for Sonny to have a holiday. He was someone who 'gave' and now his daughter has been taken from him. It breaks my heart to think of it.
Rest in peace Amy.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

'Sick' by Shel Silverstein

Shel Siverstein was famous for writing songs which tend to have unusual and humourous lyrics. He is best known for the songs he wrote for Dr Hook and The Medicine Show, such as Sylvia's Mother and The Cover of Rolling Stone. He also wrote The Ballad of Lucy Jordan. However it is less well known that he wrote children's poetry and this is a lovely example.
All the song titles link to You Tube for your listening pleasure!

'Sick' by Shel Silverstein (1930-1999)

"I cannot go to school today,"

Said little Peggy Ann McKay,

"I have the measles and the mumps,

A gash, a rash, and purple bumps.

My mouth is wet, my throat is dry,

I'm going blind in my right eye.

My tonsils are as big as rocks,

I've counted sixteen chicken pox

And there's one more--that's seventeen,

And don't you think my face looks green?

My leg is cut, my eyes are blue--

It might be instamatic flu.

I cough and sneeze and gasp and choke,

I'm sure that my left leg is broke--

My hip hurts when I move my chin,

My belly button's caving in,

My back is wrenched, my ankle's sprained,

My 'pendix pains each time it rains.

My nose is cold, my toes are numb,

I have a sliver in my thumb.

My neck is stiff, my voice is weak,

I hardly whisper when I speak.

My tongue is filling up my mouth,

I think my hair is falling out.

My elbow's bent, my spine ain't straight,

My temperature is one-o-eight.

My brain is shrunk, I cannot hear,

There is a hole inside my ear.

I have a hangnail, and my heart is--what?

What's that? What's that you say?

You say today is---Saturday?

G'bye, I'm going out to play!"

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Painting of the Month (19) July 2011: Frans Hals
This is, of course, a very famous painting. Frans Hals painted it in 1624 and but the Title 'The Laughing Cavalier" is a Victorian invention. The man is actually smiling enigmatically and is no more laughing tha the Mona Lisa. Both paintings have in common that the eyes seem to follow you around the room. The painting is in the Wallace Collection in Manchester Square, London. It's a free museum (like all public museums in Britain) and I often pop in if I'm shopping in the West End because, believe me, this one of those pictures that will always make you feel good; you can't help smiling back at him.
Look at that wonderful expression. Doesn't he just love himself and he invites the viewer to do the same! The treatment of the lace and his clothing is superb. The suprise is that the 'detail' of his clothing appears the be quite loose impressionistic brush strokes on close impression.