Thursday 19 November 2020

How To Waste Money

I call in at the studios to measure up the big table we've got, to see if it'll fit in my workroom at home.

Paddy's there, with his open-air head and Cornish twinkle. He invites me into his space to look at a new painting- it's a wide landscape with one of his big skies.

The room's full of stuff and I admire a little faded and worn wooden boat lying wrecked on a heap of debris. He kindly gives it to me... “ I found it in the road,” he says, “Just lying there.”

The boat's fitted with an ugly plastic holder for a bulb and he donates the remains of a lampshade to go on top. “I'll re-cover that.” I say, knowing I won't.

When I get home with my treasures, Mr. Price agrees that the bulb-holder must go and offers to remove it, slashing his finger with a blade in the process.

I send off for a new holder, nicely retro with a touch of the trendy industrial. There's a plug and real fabric cord- none of your plastic tat! and I can use one of those bulbs where you can see the filaments. “The ones that make it look darker” quips Mr. Price.

Anyway, think I, it'll look really cool on the French cupboard and, when we're allowed, visitors will gaze upon it in admiration.

It comes the next day. Oh no, it's enormous, almost half as big as the boat! It'll look really stupid! I'm disappointed- I might as well have taken a match to a fiver and a tenner!

After unsuccessfully hanging it in various places round the house- I consign it to a drawer.

           It'll come in use sometime. '!It's bound to go somewhere!'

Wednesday 29 April 2020

Taking to Drink

                                                   Three Co-op Beers

One effect of the Coronavirus, apparently, is that the nation's alcohol consumption has increased.
If this is applies to you, you could nip to your local Co-op store and buy some of these three Manchester beers that have my images on. How they got there is a long story. I'd tell you but I'd have to kill you afterwards.
I'm rightly proud of them- the first beer-labels with my drawings on were on bottles of my home-made 'Tyneside Brown Ale', but that doesn't count really.
I've made my own wine, too, and fondly remember my first attempt. It was dandelion and had the same golden sheen of late afternoon in the small meadow where I picked the flowers. Sunshine in a glass, or should that read moonshine?

Being new to this area our early evening explorative walks bring a sadness when passing closed pubs “We could have had a half and a bag of crisps”... Mr Price's test of a pub's worthiness is to ask if they serve a dark mild. This request is particularly cruel when demanded of younger barmaids, who crumple under interrogation and nervously try to suggest that “this bitter's a bit darker than that one...??”

On one of these outings our neighbour's busy gardening behind her house and we ask how she's coping with the lock-down . She's alright, she assures us, she's got her gin and a bit of marijuana to see her through.
I've yet to find any government statistics on the increased consumption of Herbal Jazz Cigarettes, but I'll let you know when I do!

Saturday 4 April 2020

All Kinds of Kindnesses

                            Waiting in the car while Mr. Price does the shopping.

We're living in disturbing times, and I wish you all well.
After the unsettling questions raised by Brexit and the general election, we're thrust into the surreal netherworld of the Covid 19 virus with its restrictions and tragedies.

We've just moved house, to add to the unease. But, despite being surrounded by boxes and hampered by that big, temporarily redundant new cooker in the doorway, the situation brings its lighter moments.

I'm bending over in our tiny garden tackling some vicious invasive plants when a man calls over the fence, "Jean! Jean?.... oh, is Jean in the house then?" I say "I hope not, we just moved in!"
Jean's his aunty and he lived here as a child, his parents had the greengrocer's shop  which is now my studio room.
We keep our distance apart. He hasn't seen Jean for several years, later on I realise he's come back to re-establish the connection and make sure she's okay.
He indicates the huge fir-trees at the end of the street- they were just so tall when he lived here. "We used to fish off the river wall there" he tells me. I ask did he ever catch anything- "No" he replies "Did we heck!"

Early evening there's some shouting on the main road and we go out to investigate. Whoever was kicking off has gone, but a woman crosses the road to give us our door key. She tells us she used to clean our house. She's a bit unsteady on her feet and apologises. "Sorry love, I've been on the gin!... well, with this Coronavirus you don't know where you are, do you?"

A card's posted through the door. Touchingly, it's from the elderly couple over the road...'to our new neighbours, welcome to your new home. Sorry we can't be of further assistance at the moment, we hope to say hello and get to know you when everything gets back to normal. In the meantime we hope you settle in well'.
How nice is that?

In these strange times, then, check up on your Aunty Jean, be kind to your neighbours and know how to relax with a glass of gin..
And above all, stay safe!
                                           Moving house, the bedroom with boxes.

Monday 24 February 2020

Five Years Later..

Five Years Later...

Well, it's nearly five years since my last blog. Life (and death) got in the way, but here we are now, living in the Rossendale Valley. Above is my view from the Whitaker Museum and Art Gallery which is just down the road from here. 
This is an area full of contrasts- gritty post-industrial towns with the backdrop of wild moorland.
Everywhere is up a hill, and my bike lies rusting in the shed. I say shed, but it's one of the old toilets out the back in the communal alleyway. The loo in this one has gone, but next to it is another outhouse, still complete with its Victorian 'tipper' toilet. It's in a fetching rough brown earthenware and it's so old that there's one in Manchester's MOSI Museum. Here's a fascinating link, below.
 You learn something every day!

We have other Facilities in our house, I hasten to add. Here's one of them.

John Bratby did a better painting of his toilet... I think they were more interesting then, too.

Intriguingly (to me at least), we're buying a house a couple of miles away from here and our solicitor had a query to the sellers...  in an old deed from 1948 there was a provision stating that the owner of another property would be entitled to continue to use a closet on land to the side of the house
The closets were knocked down ages ago, so we won't expect pyjama and negligée clad neighbours pounding on the door in the early hours, thankfully!