Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Farringdon Road bookstalls -- perhaps

"Once on a stall in Farringdon Road I found
An atlas folio of great lithographs,
Views of Ionian Islands, flyleaf inscribed
By Edward Lear -  and bought it for a bob.
Perhaps one day I'll find a first of Keats,
Wedged between Goldsmith and The Law of Torts;
Perhaps -- but that was not the reason why
Untidy bookshops gave me such delight.
It was the smell of books, the plates in them
Tooled leather, marbled paper, gilded edge ..."

Summoned by Bells  John Betjeman

Monday, 22 April 2013

The Senses of Loss

"It is said the musical sands will give out a sound even in a laboratory far from their native dunes.  It may be, yet sometimes in my London home  I take up a handful of  Crescent Lake sand and try to make it sing, but I listen in vain for the thunder-roll of its voice.  Between the leaves of a book I have pressed a small branch of sand-jujube* flowers, and whenever I catch its subtle but fading fragrance, I, like the Kashgarian exile, long for a place that seems so near and is yet so far away.  Sick with longing I walk among the crowds while my spirit flees to the quiet which is found by the hidden lake among the dunes."
[* eloeagnus latifolia]

The Gobi Desert  Mildred Cable with Francesca French

Saturday, 20 April 2013

"The Lost Diary" and the Scottish reviewer

"The Most Amusing Novel of the Autumn.

THE LOST DIARY by Horace Bleackley.  Author of Anymoon, etc.

Crown 8vo. Cloth. Price 7/- net.

Scotsman - 'Ridiculous situations, tangled misunderstandings, and humorous by-play.'

Glasgow Herald - 'This book is so good that it ought to be better.   That is our only complaint.' "

From Eveleigh Nash Company's List of New Books  Spring 1920

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

The strangeness of English

"...we could see the soldiers pike their bayonets among the heather, which sent a cold thrill into my vitals; and they would sometimes hang about our rock, so that we scarce dared to breathe.

It was in this way that I first heard the right English speech; one fellow as he went by actually clapping his hand upon the sunny face of the rock on which we lay, and plucking it off again with an oath.
'I tell you it's 'ot,' says he; and I was amazed at the clipping tones and the odd sing-song in which he spoke, and no less at that strange trick of dropping out the letter h.  To be sure, I had heard Ransome; but he had taken his ways from all sorts of people, and spoke so imperfectly at the best, that I set down the most of it to childishness.  My surprise was all the greater to hear that manner of speaking in the mouth of a grown man; and indeed I have never grown used to it; nor yet altogether with the English grammar, as perhaps a very critical eye might here and there spy out even in these memoirs."

Kidnapped  Robert Louis Stevenson

Monday, 8 April 2013

April 8. Trouble with a Stylographic pen.

"April 8.  No events of any importance, except that Gowing strongly recommended a new patent stylographic pen, which cost me nine and sixpence, and which was simply nine and sixpence thrown in the mud.  It has caused me constant annoyance and irritability of temper.  The ink oozes out of the top, making a mess on my hands, and once at the office when I was knocking the palm of my hand on the desk to jerk the ink down, Mr Perkupp, who had just entered, called out: 'Stop that knocking!  I suppose that is you, Mr Pitt?'  That young monkey, Pitt, took a malicious glee in responding quite loudly: 'No, sir; I beg pardon, it is Mr Pooter with his pen; it has been going on all morning.'  To make matters worse, I saw Lupin laughing behind his desk.  I thought it wiser to say nothing.  I took the pen back to the shop and asked them if they would take it back, as it did not act.  I did not expect the full price to be returned, but was willing to take half.  The man said he could not do that -- buying and selling were two different things."

The Diary of a Nobody  G. and W. Grossmith

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Farming with the Goughs

"In lazy sweeps, the crow-like chough
Returns to nest across the lough.
The farmer with asthmatic cough
Walks down the pathway, sometimes through
A valley where the wind may sough
Its music over many bough.
His wife prepares the Sunday dough,
While Bert, their son, whose hands are rough,
Gets ready to hitch up the plough."

attrib. George Bernard Shaw?
(quoted by Mr John William in a letter to The Times)

Friday, 5 April 2013

The Craftsman's Mosaic methods

"Mosaic of Quill Cuttings.

For this same work quills of feathers are very nice, cut up very small and stained as I have related.

Mosaic of Paper or Foil.

To lay in these figures as you do on a wall, you must adopt this expedient:  take little leaves of gilded or silvered paper, or thick gold or silver foil.  Cut it up very small, and lay in with these tweezers, the way you laid in your crushed shells, wherever the ground calls for gold.

Mosaic of Eggshells, Gilded.

Likewise, lay the ground with white shells; wet it with beaten white of egg; wet it with the same as that with which you gild on glass; lay your gold while the ground still draws; let it dry, and burnish with cotton.  And this must suffiice for this mosaic or Greek work."

The Craftsman's Handbook (Il Libro dell'Arte)  Cennino Cennini  (trans. D.Thompson, Jr.)

Thursday, 4 April 2013

A Social Mosaic

Mosaic Categories in use in 2000:

The main groups are broken down into types;  here are some of them (in no particular order):

"Chattering Classes
Ageing Professionals
Clever Capitalists
Town Centre singles
Suburban Mock Tudor
Pebbledash Subtopia
Corporate Careerists
Green Belt Expansion
Rejuvenated Terraces
Victorian Low Status"

[Unattributed source]

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Maiolica painters

"The invetriatura now having been thus applied and the pieces allowed to dry are now ready to receive the painting.  This is executed with coarser and finer brushes or penelli, made of goats' and asses' hair, and the finest of the whiskers of rats or mice;  the ordinary wares being held in the left hand or on the left knee and the finer in wooden cases, lined with tow, to prevent rubbing.  A different brush must be used for each colour.  The painters generally sit round a circular table suspended from the ceiling so that it may turn round, and upon this the different pigments are placed."

Maiolica  C. Drury E. Fortnum   (referring to Cipriani Piccolpasso's Li Tre Libri dell'Arte del Vasaio
or 'The Three Books of the Potter's Art')