Thursday, 27 September 2012

Green Flies

   At six years old I was morbidly attracted to a flame-haired classmate called Sandra Edwards. I would stalk her with the imperceptible stealth of a tick, insinuating myself into her anticipated path and waiting, aquiver, for her to brush by.

Once, during an S. E. reconnaissance mission, I came across a couple of boys peering at a small turd they had discovered just outside the school lavatories. They said it had been left by Gary Rowley in his haste to get back to the chaos of the playground (from the presumably even greater chaos of his lavatorial procedure). Soon an ever-changing group of children was keen to experience and spread news of this most mundane of apparitions as if it were a miraculous acheiropoiton - 'that not made by human hand', which, indeed, it wasn't. Sandra Edwards, on hearing the rumour, was quickly upon the scene and so, sensing a romantic opportunity, I prepared to exchange smirks over our shared derision of Gary Rowley. All that was needed was a moment of eye-contact. Unfortunately Sandra Edwards' gaze remained resolutely downcast, she had found something altogether more interesting to look at.

Seeing as the much vaunted “shared interest” approach had proved futile I decided to try a more traditional tactic; I would buy her affection. My bribe would be that ornamental scarab of my childhood, the Ladybird. At the next opportunity a reluctant Coccinella septumpuncta was plucked from a rosebush and dropped into a matchbox along with some Greenfly aphids to act as its packed lunch. For added intimacy I resolved to present my gift away from the bedlam of the school.

Due to my years I must have been escorted by my mother to the end of Sandra Edwards' street, though I remember being alone when I tapped on her front door. Mrs Edwards answered and summoned her daughter who appeared wearing the wary expression that she had come to adopt in my presence. I presented my tribute and the recipient, at her mother's insistence, took a tentative peep inside. Alarmed she dropped the box.

“It's a Ladybird - it eats Greenflies”, I blurted to a retreating mop of red hair.

It eats flies?”, came an incredulous and distant reply.

Green Flies”, specified I, to me.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Secrets of Interior Design

Interior Design has been with us ever since we left the Exterior.

Self-appointment to the rank of Interior Designer can be accomplished through spending a lot of time in IKEA. It can also be achieved by amassing dead birds, addressing them individually...

Source unknown

 and then sticking them all over the place.

My cranioteque

It is important to take the occasional break from the rigors of Interior Design...

C D Friedrich

 so that you are able to remain focussed on the task in hand...

J E Millais

even when the curious are trying to ascertain what exactly it is that you do all day.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Articles of Faith

A friend of mine, Neil McCulloch, called around the other day and took some photos of my house. He has a great eye for composition and I'm delighted with the results. More of the photos that Neil took can be found here on his wife Bobbi's blog “Finding Me in France”, an entertaining account of her migration from Canada (where she was a psychiatrist dealing with difficult cases) to sleepy Burgundy (where she became a travel writer – her blog was recently transformed into a greatly acclaimed book).

The above photo depicts a “terrarium” containing a Sarracenia carnivorous plant made of paper and rooted in polystyrene, to its right is a Giant Clam valve and above that a Loggerhead Turtle carapace.
The stooping figure is made of welded strips of steel and is a life-size self-portrait by Declan Field.

This is an ampoule of salt water. I like the muted tones lent by the dust (so often sadly lacking in households “cared for” by people with CCD (Compulsive Cleaning Disorder)). The blurred image in the background is of a glass dome that houses a plastic elephant-head umbrella handle.

The ampoule's label reads “EAU de MER, Isotonique, Methode de Quinton”. René Quinton (1866-1925) was a French polymath, now largely forgotten, who in his day was famous for his saline treatments. In 1897, to prove his theory that saltwater does you good, Quinton conducted an experiment on a 10 kilogram dog called “Sodium”, replacing half a litre of the animal's blood with the equivalent of saltwater. After a week of being at death's door Sodium recovered and was declared “more gay than ever”, his gaiety being attributed to the saltwater rather than his relief at having survived such an ordeal. After five more years of intermittent gaiety Sodium was killed by a cart.

The water in the vial is of a weaker concentration than the intravenous type and is intended to be taken orally (I keep it on hand for emergencies (along with the teeth)).

And finally a stunning picture of my most treasured possession: a Pink-backed Pelican (Pelicanus rufescens). Arranged in front of it, as if in tribute, are a posy of glass flowers, a ceramic bloom from a broken grave ornament and the polished shell of a Turban snail (Turbo marmoratus). I think the diffused sunlight helps give the pelican a faintly messianic air...

And so began the early 21st century “Cult of the Pelican” whose sole adherent, a middle-aged recluse with a long nose and pouch-like double chin, would waddle in circles around his room composing odes dedicated to the object of his veneration; “... pelican... pelican.... more than his belly can... no, not memorable enough... needs more religion, how about Vatican? That's it!... better feathered than the Vatican... Perform miracles? You bet he can... ”

Sunday, 16 September 2012


Plodding down the broadening stair
Away from the table's wagging tongues,
Each step a promise of elsewhere;
L'escalier is where l'esprit belongs.