Friday, 27 July 2012


"Nobody knows what's happening to de weather
An all of a sudden we're told to pull together
Pull together?
Pull together
An recycle ya paper.
De government said if yu don't yu will regret it later,
Dem used to sey dat Green was soft
Don't worry bout de atmosphere
An now a scientist has said,
'Oh damn, we're going to disappear.'
Fe years
Yu hav been fighting wars an destroying de scene
An now dat yu dying
Yu start turn Green."

Benjamin Zephaniah, Me Green Poem, City Psalms 1992

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Mr P's Diary

"I should very much like to know who has wilfully torn the last five or six weeks out of my diary.  It is perfectly monstrous!  Mine is a large scribbling diary, with plenty of space for the record of my everyday events, and in keeping up that record I take (with much pride) a great deal of pains.
I asked Carrie if she knew anything about it. She replied it was my own fault for leaving the diary about with a charwoman cleaning and the sweeps in the house.  I said this was not an answer to my question.  This retort of mine, which I thought extremely smart, would have been more effective had I not jogged my elbow against a vase on a table temporarily placed in the passage, knocked it over , and smashed it.  Carrie was dreadfully upset at this disaster, for it was one of a pair of vases which cannot be matched, given to us on our wedding day....

".... after the sweep had left, Mrs Birrell (the charwoman) had cleaned the room and lighted the fire herself.  Finding a burnt piece of paper in the grate, I examined it, and found it was a piece of my diary.  So it was evident someone had torn my diary to light the fire.

...." I would willingly give ten shillings to find out who tore my diary."
Charles Pooter, in  Diary of a Nobody
George & Weedon Grossmith.

(and see bath-painting episode Ch.3)

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Absurd mouse

"Parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus."
Horace, Ars Poetica 139.

trans: 'Mountains will be in labour, and the birth will be an absurd little mouse.'
 Cohen, Penguin dictionary of quotations.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

A mousetrap

"At night, writing in my Study, a mouse run over my table, which I shut up fast under my shelfe's upon my table till tomorrow.  And so home and to bed."

6 August 1662:  S. Pepys,  Diary (edited R.Latham).

Monday, 23 July 2012

An editor's Envoi

"Here lies a wretch, arterially ill,
Who forty years frequented Ludgate Hill,
From whence, as furtively as any mouse,
He hopped into a neighbouring printing house,
And spent his days there and his nights within,
Or slept upon a floor in Lincoln's Inn.
Cockney he was , and loved to see St Paul's,
Pauline himself, though schooled without the wall;
And held all other places cheap and vile
Save London City's famous one square-mile
And the last church he went to was St. Bride's.
Now still he sits in sight of southern tides."

Envoi  Charles Brodribb, June 1945, Hertmonceaux, Sussex

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Old St. Paul's Church 1666

"At my return I was infinitly concern'd to find that goodly Church St. Paules now a sad ruine, & that beautifull Portico (for structure comparable to any in Europ, as not long repaired by the late King) now rent in pieces, flakes of vast Stone Split in sunder & nothing remaining intire but the Inscription in the Architrave
which shewing by whom it was built, had not one letter of it defac'd:  which I could not but take notice of:

Diary John Evelyn, 7 September 1666

Saturday, 21 July 2012


Dairies?  No, diaries and journals.

inking a block

"Have a glove on your left hand: and first grind some vine-sprig black*, ground very fine with water, then thoroughly dried either by sun or fire, then ground again, dry;  and mix it with as much liquid varnish as may be required; and take up some of this black with a little trowel, and spread it out on the palm of your hand, that is, on the glove.  And thus you ink up the block with it where it has been engraved, neatly, so that the incision does not get choked up."

*"Then take a portion of this black, or of any other colour, the size of a nut; put it on this stone, and with the one which you hold in your hand crush this black up thoroughly. Then take some clear river or fountain or well water, and grind this black for the space of half an hour, or an hour, or as long as you like; but know that if you were to work it up for a year it would be so much the blacker and better a colour."

The Craftsman's Handbook of Cennino d'Andrea Cennini  15th C.
trans. D. V. Thompson Jr. 1960

Friday, 20 July 2012

Oxgodby painter

"By this time, the apex of the arch and its left-hand side were almost uncovered.  The notabilities had been given notable treatment; he'd even used gold leaf on the clothes and astonishingly, cinnabar to gladden lips and cheeks of the supporting  seraphic cast.  In fact, here and there, the willingness of whoever had put up the money had gone to his head and he'd been staggeringly prodigal with the expensive reds and almost prohibitively priced leaf.

But once he'd begun ( as I was now beginning) on the damned souls dithering on the brink of the flames or hurtling headlong into them, he'd switched to the cheap stuff, red earth and iron oxides.  Even so, this concentration of similars saved it from odious comparison with the no-expense-spared Michael and his bloodthirsty furnace hands,  And he'd compensated too by his vigorous treatment: he'd really warmed to the work.  Up at the top he'd done an extremely competent job, well, more than that, because he was a master of his trade and couldn't have done anything but a great job.  But now -- coming to this lower slope, he'd thrown in the lot -- art and heart.

....Who was he! I couldn't even name him."

A Month in the Country   J. L. Carr 

Thursday, 19 July 2012

London Panorama (Southwark Cathedral)

"The Works of Nature and of Men
By thee preserved take life again,
And e'en thy Prague serenely shines,
Secure from ravage in thy lines.
In just return this marble frame
Would add some ages to thy name;
Too frail, alas,  'tis forced to own
Thy shadow will outlast the stone."

Epitaph on Wenceslaus Hollar 1607-77
George Vertue 1745

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Lottery shark, 1664

19 July: To Lond. to see the event of the Lottery, which his Majestie had permitted Sir Arth: Slingsby to set up for one day in the Banqueting house at whitehall:  I gaining onely a trifle, as well as did the King, Queene Consort, & Q: Mother for  neere 30 lotts: which was thought to be contriv'd very un-handsomely by the master of it, who was in truth  a meer shark:"  (John Evelyn, Diary)