The soundtrack to your life.

Sometimes I find music with my computer, even though I would not describe myself as the sort of person who likes any sort of soundtrack while I’m working.

Some people don’t seem able to do much without the noise on.  We have teenagers next door, who are fond of the outdoor life, with the radio.

The OH is unable to drive anywhere without the car radio.  My father used to finish his work for the night and then put on the radiogram and conduct classical music.

I have frequently been described as a misery because I hate background music. It stops the words in my head.  I don’t even like rubbing down porcelain to music; if it’s not done gently in its own time, it breaks.

So, lovely lovely silence for me, it takes half an hour of it for my brain to begin working properly and then the words arrive and will stay unless interrupted.  The man from Porlock is my nemesis and the OH with shopping lists, remembered phone messages and idiotic entertainment snippits from the smart phone (if it was that smart it would know how much I dislike it and keep its skateboarding terriers to itself).

Even now as I type in my room I am interrupted by noise from the OH’s giant TV in the room below, it’s his friend Marion the cowboy again.

Yes, I am a misery and, without a shadow of a doubt, the day will come when there is only me left in the house and I will regret the absence of interruptions and it will serve me right, I should be careful what I wish for.

However.

Every now and then I find old music with a search engine.  The sounds of my salad days, the late sixties and early seventies.

My goodness we had music in the Sixties and we ain’t seen nothing yet, there are those who reckon the Sixties didn’t happen till the Seventies and the music whisks me right back.

In your head you were leather-clad, faster than light, about to conquer the world.  In reality you were dancing round your handbags in a heap on the floor of a seedy disco, where the toilets were awash, the drinks were overpriced, the men were spotty boys and the sophisticated décor of the hip room was Formica tables and plastic banquettes when they turned the lights on.

My friend Ann liked Eric of the Animals and was determined to elope with him because she was a pragmatist and he was a Geordie too, therefore she was more likely to run into him in the street than I was to marry Paul of the Beatles. We all had fantasies about guitar heroes.  The reality for the girls who actually hung out with the groups was that of trying to civilise musicians, always an arduous undertaking. They were the girls with the look, straight yellow hair, five tons of mascara and endless legs.

If I’d known I was at my tallest then, I’d have enjoyed that more too.

Nothing will match the excitement of arriving on the first bus into town on Saturday to get to the record shop to scoop the single of the week.  I played them on my Dansette record player until knew where the scratches were, backwards

The energy I had, was extraordinary.  I remember the leapy feeling inside that is youth, coursing through uncluttered arteries.  Listening to that music again can help you find the shadow of the feeling, even if you are some old codger tapping a slipper.

And I will still get up and dance,  on my own if I find the right music and really no one is watching.

The music of your youth provides the soundtrack of your life.

Who takes you there?

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Halfway.

Well, here we are, rather more than halfway through the year.  How are you getting on with all the plans you had for this year?

You see, this is the thing about life in general, the best laid plans of mice and men and miniaturists……………

So, what did you do in the lockdown, hmm?  Written your novel yet?  Learned a new skill?  Can you juggle yet?  Landscaped the garden?

It sounded so promising didn’t it?  2020. Sounded like a year you could really do something with, you know go places………………ooh in 2020 I’m going to climb Mount Kilimanjaro’ hike around bits of India, go shopping in three capital cities and take in a couple of Broadway shows.

Who would ever have thought that the most excitement you’d have would be standing in a line to get into the corner shop and see if they had any bread?

What I have actually done, is carried on with the major house makeover, which start to finish is going to be more than a year and is not finished yet. And I’ve suffered the continuance of the surgical problems caused by a surgical solution to cancer.  Thrilling. I do still read the horoscopes for the year, how wildly out was yours?

What I have done in the interval is read the whole of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels.  I am up to the one he wrote, obviously following a trip to Australia.  I am reading, not as I usually do, galloping through, but slowly to see how he did it and to observe him learning his trade, because the early ones were, dare I say it, not that wonderful.  It took him quite a few to really find his voice and his style.  I would not normally get the opportunity to read the entire output of one author at a sitting.  Well you never do, do you? I think if you sat down and read the whole of Shakespeare, start to finish in one go, you’d go nuts. The inside of Shakespeare’s head must have been one heck of a place for him to live.  All good authors are a little bit loopy. They have to be divorced from reality in order to live in the play, the novel, the screen play.

What are your plans for 2021? Are you now reluctant to make them, in case we get derailed again?  I think it’s quite likely.  I think we may get the usual winter viruses and mixed in……………….  So we won’t know what we’ve got and pop to the shops, sneezing, for flu supplies………….

Mother Ann, founder of the Shakers religious movement, said you should do all your work as if you had a thousand years to to live and as if you knew you would die tomorrow.  There has never been a better year to follow this precept, as we are all given the time to do things properly.

I have, nearly every day, been finishing the day by doing a little watercolour painting.  I’ve been using them as the background to greetings cards.  Doesn’t sound much but I am improving.  I watch Matthew Palmer at Watercolour.TV and copy.  Halfway through the year I am now confident I can paint a small watercolour landscape.

Notably I have not done the lockdown house I promised you.  I have just varnished the dining room floor three times.  Taking advantage of my lack of height, I just bent double and did it.  I have also moved all the junk back into the garage but organised.

I am still running the community library at the end of my drive, on dry days. This has been much used and all passers by made appreciative comments.

Did you get to know your neighbours for the first time?  I already knew mine and had more time to talk to the folk on one side who are usually in and out and busy.  And I have finished decorating the bathroom which the plumber finally fitted the toilet in last week.  And I did design and fit out my walk-in-wardrobe, which may turn out to be the most desirable thing ever, and I did give months of employment to builders, laborers, brick layers, carpenters etcetera and so forth.  And redesign several rooms and add three to the house.  What I have really spent the last year doing is trying to future-proof my home.  So I could be at home a lot, after five years of being on the road caring for my mother and three years in and out of hospital with broken limbs and cancer.*

Which, in the year that conclusively proved you can’t future-proof anything, was remarkably perverse of me.

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* Yes I am the person who wished we could all be at home a lot more and thought that would be nice.

Throw the rotten tomatoes over here.  That’s right. Thank you.

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Oh go away.

Not you.  No, you stay right where you are but only if you want to.

I’m having a bad attack of being very desirous of flouting authority.  How do you feel about it?

On the front of the paper, which arrived about eleven this morning, when, presumably, the newspaper boy could be arsed to drag himself out of bed

Arsed!  Jane said arsed!

That’s not like her.

She’s flouting authority apparently.

What, like knocking over statues and what have you?

I don’t think so, let me read a bit more.

it said that the Prime minister was going to tell us to go shopping.  For months and months he’s been telling us not to go shopping, and then, when we did, it was waiting in Tesco’s car park in the cold for up to an hour to find out there still were no toilet rolls.

It’s about toilet rolls.

Not again.

Apparently.

And now we’re supposed to go shopping just because he says so.  Well go away.  Right away.  I have other things to worry about.  I thought the doc had referred me to the surgeon five weeks ago.  For five weeks I have kept a food diary, confident that I would get the call from the hospital soon.  Turns out when I spoke to her yesterday, she hasn’t even written the letter yet.  I rang the opticians, having had double vision since the OH hurled a bag of spanners at my eyeball in March.  They won’t be open until Monday, expect a wait of two hours on the phone.

She can’t see and her guts are playing up.

That’ll be the toilet rolls.  We need another in the loo, by the way.

Can’t you change a toilet roll?

Not my job.

Oh I am fed up.  I can’t read, because of my eyes and I’ve spent a lot of the last three months sitting on the you know what with no toilet rolls.  Apart from that I’m fine, still alive, limping slightly, metaphorically speaking.  But I do understand people who wish to break out and haven’t taken kindly to being told what to do, even by a Prime minister who had it and survived.  I empathise because of sixty-odd years of my mother.

Her hobby was telling people what to do.  The height of her world expertise was only exceeded by the depths of her ignorance.  I am still stuck, thirty three years later, with the peach-coloured bedroom carpet she advised me to have because she said I couldn’t have the blue I wanted, and was paying for, because it would fade.  The peach I was advised to have faded to orange within a year, so I have had thirty two years of orange bedroom carpet that I never wanted, because of good advice.

So I completely understand if people are getting a bit arsey.

She’s at it again.

What?

Arses.

Are you sure this is a suitable thing to read before breakfast?

So whilst I understand iconoclasm as a major straw in the wind and would never advise destroying any art for a couple of hundred years, at least. because it takes that long to see it, my own response to the current situation is ‘go away’.  We have all had enough of authority in any form, for whatever reason, especially authority applied destructively or randomly, and particularly any type of authority, that assumes we are all idiots. I know there are some idiots in society, I used to teach in deprived areas.  But, in the main, people are fairly reasonable and will try to help or do the right thing if they can.  But after three months of being told what to do, every day, breakouts against authority in every form, are the tip of the iceberg heading for the ship of state, faster than you think.

Moreover if the PM laughs while he is telling us to go shopping, just like my mother always used to laugh when she was happily running your life for you, there will be a stiff email in the ether to Downing Street nest week.

In between doctor’s appointments, optician’s appointments and only if I can be arsed.

That’s it, I’m not reading this any more.


Oh, it’s finished.

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Mooning.

There are seven arses in this column, can you spot them all?

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Rigsby’s gaff.

One of my favourite television comedy series was Rising Damp. Rigsby, Miss Jones, Alan and Philip were characters you could easily love, they were wonderfully third rate, all of them dead ringers for somebody you knew at the time, which was the mid seventies, when we all had tank tops, afro haircuts, wide trousers and, to go with our lack of style, absolutely no sense of direction.  For me in my mid twenties, I not only knew people like all of the characters; all those I knew like them, also lived in seedy bedsits in huge old Victorian houses.  I was working in a language college, similarly populated, conducted in a Victorian pile with hardboard internal walls, intermittent electricity and unexpected fire escapes that we used to have lessons on when it was sunny.  Everyone I knew had dreams of greater things that were only ever going to be dreams.  Prevalent colour schemes were orange, brown and mouldy.

In the nineties, nostalgia being what it is and all my friends then having proper jobs and real houses, the Rising Damp sets had added charm.  Since becoming a miniaturist, a Rising Damp house was on my list of buildings to miniaturise but at the time the need for school uniforms overtook the need for dolls’ houses.  Accordingly, answering a call from the magazine I was writing for at the time, I scratch-built a room box.  I never finished the outside and may do so now, so you can see that the room is constructed of foam board, which is two card outer layers enclosing foam.  This is easy to cut with a craft knife, thick enough to cut into from one surface to hinge doors and windows but light and easy to handle.

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I appear to have made the wallpaper myself with a stencil, patience and felt tip pens.  The architrave, skirting and dado rail are all commercially available bought and painted or stained wood.  The door is a DIY layers of cardboard job because I couldn’t find the exact doors from any dolls’ house manufacturer.  Although the building is referred to as Victorian in Wikipedia and other resources, architecturally it is leaning towards Edwardian, though of course, the great glory of the sets was the way they depicted so accurately the tendency of old unloved houses to be patched up with all-era leftovers.  I had such fun designing the electrics.  All the appliances plug in, the sockets are layers of cardboard.

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One of the main difficulties with a room box. where you can see the outside edges, is suspending your disbelief.  This can be overcome by a fake wall at the back.

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There is sufficient room for a doll to be standing in the hall.

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and I put a window at the side to illuminate the hall space, as the room is not actually electrified, despite the appalling appliances.

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I had friends who owned items such as these and no other means of heating food, because this is what we had prior to microwaves.  This is a posh one because it has two rings and knobs to make the heat go both up and down.  Theoretically.

Here is the room from the side.

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You can see through to the hall door.

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If you are distressing a building you have to be careful not to overdo it.  The golden rule is to make a good one and then destroy it creatively.

I never actually slept on what were known at the time as Zed beds.  Though this is the way some friends acquired bad backs.

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I sewed a proper mattress, buttoned it, made a frame, attached it, folded it, glued it and then distressed it.

If you look there are only six items in the room, all scratch-built and all cardboard, Milliput and wire, so the entire effort was very low cost.  I don’t think the red box was originally made for this room, I think it was for a different article in the magazine, but it has drifted in there and, true to the spirit of this type of building it will stay until visited by a wrecking ball.

Of all the wonderful actors that made Rising Damp such a joy, I only see Don Warrington regularly, playing a police inspector in Death in Paradise.  He was so gorgeous when he was young.  Leonard Rossiter, who played Rigsby, and Richard Beckinsale, who played Alan, have shuffled off this mortal coil.  Frances De La Tour, who was the ever-hopeful Miss Jones, is still acting.

The comedy is still worth watching and still funny. It is timeless, being about the interplay between the characters, all hopeful, all going nowhere. It is a subject close to my heart, the joy of the mediocre, through it we laugh at ourselves.

We all will be rich, famous and whisked off somewhere very nice by someone who will adore us, just as we are. Any day now.

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Away

I’m going to be away from the keyboard for a while. I am having trouble with my intestines again, caused by adhesions from the cancer surgery.

I’m just looking after me and hoping to see the good surgeon who will put me right, as soon as possible, given the current situation.

Back soon, I hope.

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A view of a room.

I am faffing around, as is my wont, sadly.  Just like everyone on the planet who is sitting the pandemic out I have reached lethargy and beyond.  I am still trying to get rooms sorted out, in the execution of which tedious task I encountered two room boxes which have not seen the light of day since they were returned from photography for a magazine.

One was for an article I wrote for an edition of the magazine about Charles Rennie Mackintosh.  This extremely famous designer arrived on the scene around about the same time as electric lighting.  He revolutionised the appearance of the domestic home which had previously been suffering from all things Victorian and coal powered.  Dingy gas lighting, thick woven curtains, huge heavy furniture and everything in practical shades of dark brown, were swept away to make room for light, space, air, pastel colours and a general feeling of out with the old.  He built Hill House for the publisher, Walter Blackie, finishing in 1904.  Researching the article I visited the house, which is in Helensburgh, Scotland, while I was exhibiting at the Scottish Miniatura. I did a bit of drawing and measuring and finally produced this 12th scale room box of a corner of the bedroom.

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I have put the sign on the corner of it to hide a blot. When I was showing the room at Miniatura, a lady visitor brought me a clock which she had made after reading the article.  She produced it and stuck it on the corner.  Unfortunately she had coloured it with charcoal.  She was just joining in, really.  When I got home I put the room in a carboard box and stuck it on a shelf.  This is a pity, it’s quite authentic.  It took ages to measure and draw the fireplace.

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The chairs were a ‘how to’ made of plastic canvas.

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Another famous commission for Mackintosh was the Interior of the Willow Tea Rooms in Glasgow, which he designed for Mrs Cranston in 1903.  Here the chairs were along similar lines but massively tall. I spoke to locals who remembered the original.  They all said everything was about the looks, and the actual build quality was rubbish.  By the 1970s the rooms were dropping to bits. If you had known which rubbish skip to stand beside in the Seventies, you could have salvaged a fortune, with a bit of skip diving and a lorry.  The tea rooms reopened in the Eighties, however, echoing the fate of the Mackintoshes which was never to be in the right place at the right time.  They were not given the reception in their own country that they were abroad, where they were dragged through the streets in procession and generally given a pop star welcome.

They never had a family, either, though they loved children. Margaret Mackintoshes needlework is full of images of ladies and babies.  Their later lives were marred by loneliness and ill health. I spoke to a miniaturist who knew them when they were old and she was a little girl.  She recalled playing at their house, how much they enjoyed her visits and what a fuss they made of her.

The legacy of the designer lives in our homes today.  He was the first modern designer to consider white walls a viable option.  How many have you got?

I have retrieved this room box and put it on top of my cupboards, which I designed to display my houses.  It’s only made of poster board and it’s only a corner of a room but I think it coveys the reality of this architectural movement that buried Victorian width, opulence and acres of velvet and ushered in the verticality and lightness that we still enjoy today.

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The accumulation of junk.

One would imagine that having a purpose-built craft room added to the house would be a wellspring of endless joy.

Wouldn’t one?

Well, this one did, erroneously, as it turns out.

One had fondly imagined all the junk shut away in the purpose-built cupboards, designed by one to be not taller than one so one could put all one’s dolls’ houses on the top, decoratively, and one thought it would be tidy and all the junk would be out of sight.

What one forgot was that one’s…………let us call it creativity……had filled two downstairs rooms, a spare bedroom, a shed, the space under the stairs and the garage. In some places the creativity, let us name it that, reached the ceiling in piles.  Creative piles.

One does porcelain, sculpting, papercraft, cardmaking, dolls’ housering, quilting, dressmaking, writing, scrapbooking and gardening and one expected all of that to fit in one room?

One is a bit deranged, one surmises.

One also wanted one’s craft room to be perfectly organised prior to moving in.

A perfectionist clutter creator. No wonder I’m a bit conflicted.

Also, since the builders left I have spent three straight weeks tidying up.  It was so bad I had to stop in the middle and make thirty cards in the spare bedroom.

I have in the past known folk who lived in a castle.  It had many, many rooms on numerous floors and in turrets and extensive cellars.  Ancestors had developed the interesting habit of closing a room that was full and moving to a room that was empty.  In a hundred years they reopened the closed room.  For lo!  The contents had become valuable antiques, which, despatched to a sale room, funded the building of  a new wing, full of empty rooms.

I would follow this model were I in the same league of aristocratic spending.  What, alas, I am buying are lumps of clay that go mouldy, endless packs of paper (I have sooooooooooooooo much paper), acres of little bits of fabric just this big and a block of stone that’s going to take three strong man to lift it on to the reinforced table thingy so I can beat it up with a chisel and mallet.

Lock that lot away for a hundred years and you could clear it easily with a bulldozer without losing as much as a penny of value.

There were some friends of my parents, long gone, teachers both.  Two active minds in the same house had collected everything, tried everything and had artefacts pertaining to photography, (still, film and antique) books and bookbinding, ancient (place the name of any civilisation here), husbandry of livestock, bees, every type of art and print making, publishing and an aviary full of interestingly bred birds.  Naturally I loved them and found them fascinating.  Their house was a massive Regency mansion, it needed to be.

I could, of course just give or throw everything away. I could have no possessions and no worries.  Australian Zen.

The S&H will find a note upon my demise.

It will say: Get a bulldozer, clear the rooms, sell the house.

I will never get to space, the final frontier.  I think too much.

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Reader’s queries.

In these dark days (though to be fair, really sunny here for a long time.  I think it’s the absence of pollution.  Maybe that’s why all those Edwardian childhoods, celebrated in children’s novels, had much better weather.  You know, before traffic and aeroplanes.)

Anyway, in these potentially dark days (the nights are a lot lighter too, have you noticed?  It’s starlight, wonderful, and the moon – huge!)

In these theoretically darkish, rain later, days and nights, readers have written asking for advice. In fact I have been inundated with a couple of emails definitely for me and some that seem to have got misdirected.

Well, you know me (and if you don’t, hello!). I am never shy about giving unwarranted advice.

A reader writes.

At the moment I am unable to visit my nail technician, my hairdresser and my dental hygienist, and my personal trainer and life coach cannot visit me.  I look in the mirror and see someone else look back at me.  Are you having the same problem and what can I do about it and can you give life coaching tips and have you any idea what I can do about my roots and the back of my thighs?

Dear reader,

We are all having the same problem, it’s a dose of unimpaired reality.  Have you had a good laugh at television stars lately? I have always hacked at my own hair with the kitchen scissors, so it doesn’t look much different.  I found a photograph of myself thirty years ago, before I had style or any idea how to dress; I appear to have anti-aged.  This is partly because I watched the OH settle down in front of the TV every night, with interruptions only to go and fetch a new snack, because he had eaten the previous one, and I determined not to do that.  So I have lost weight a little and my clothes are slack.  Also I have been out of doors as much as possible and I have a bit of a tan.  And, particularly in my case, the builders have departed, so I am no longer covered in a layer of brick dust. I strongly recommend enjoying yourself as you are.  Turn off the TV.  Read a book, preferably a heavy one that takes two hands to hold so that the capacity for snacking is limited.  You can get powder to spray on your roots and the back of your thighs can be improved by getting up occasionally.  Then sitting down, nearly, then getting up, then sitting down, nearly.  Do this for half an hour every evening just as you are about to have dinner.  Keep it up until your dinner has got so cold you no longer fancy it and the thigh problem will cure itself in a month or two.

Another reader writes

My boyfriend moved in with me at the start of lockdown.  We didn’t have time to get the WiFi connected, or get a router and we are both on furlough and couldn’t find anything much to do.  We haven’t been sitting in the evenings eating, yet I am still putting on weight, so much that I am having difficulty doing up any waistbands.  Also I keep licking the iron balcony railings, I have no idea why.  Can you help?

Dear reader

Now is the time to take up a new hobby.  Try knitting baby bootees.

Another reader writes

I am having a struggle with my grub screws, due to being unable to access new driver ends. Any tips?

Dear reader

Try them by hand with the end of a nail file.  Or, look online, our local DIY has a click and collect going on, it’s quite fast.

Yet another reader writes

Hi Geoff, have you any tips on pruning for Black Spot?  My roses are bad this year and the garden centres are shut and I have nothing to spray on them.

Dear reader, possibly of a different blog altogether;

Yes. prune back to a healthy side shoot as usual.  The weather has been unseasonably hot and dry, make sure all plants are well hydrated.  I am expecting very early greenfly, which can be remedied with a spray of very dilute washing-up water.  Squirt close up and aim to knock the blighters off, as well as saturate them.  Soon ladybird larvae, which are black and yellow bugs like small deformed caterpillars, will be plentiful and you will be saved because they eat greenfly.

Another, other, reader writes

We was hot and hard at it on top of the washing machine, when it suddenly went into stained linens rinse and spin and my partner fell off into the mop bucket, grazing an ankle, should we

Dear reader, definitely of some other blog,

Sorry to interrupt, but have you never heard of social distancing?

Dear regular reader,

I’m just off to check my blog settings, I’ll be back when the security is tightened right up.

Right up and a belt round it and a thick corset and hand-knitted, coarse, scratchy knee-high football socks……

Hoho!  So!  I knew you was

Absolutely not.  Back soon regular reader.

Sorry.

No, really, very sorry.  Go back to enjoying the moon and what-have-you.

As I was saying, in these dark days people make their own entertainment.  Paper crafting, flower arranging and reverse glass painting on old jam jars are recommended.*

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*Nothing else.**

**Except making models of Blackpool Tower out of paperclips.  That’s OK.***

And walking.

Up and down a bit.  Primly****

****(Gvmt. approved recreation.)

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Faffing around.

Do you faff?  Faffez vouz?

The OH constantly accuses me of faffing around.  I ask him if he wants a cup of tea and three hours later he might get it because on the way to the kettle I cleaned the garage, did a load of washing, emptied the bins and cleaned my shoes.

I do it with everything.

I faff around particularly if it’s something I want to do and won’t allow myself the time to do it.

The Lockdown Dolls’ house is a case in point.

Why is this? Why do we faff?

It’s not just that  procrastination is the thief of time, though it is, it’s stolen my entire life one way and another; the likelihood of me being an Olympic thingumajig, whatsit?  That race where you run up to someone with a stick and they grab it off you, already running and rush off and give it to someone else and you flop forward and do some heavy breathing, holding your knees.  My chances of being in that, vanishingly small, I should have started years ago, though I can breathe heavily and hold my knees, I’ve got that off pat.  I don’t suit the vests at all, not with my bingo wings, and I would want Bermuda shorts and those in a generous size (we can’t stand it when they ride up your bum, us athletes.)

It might be something to do with creativity.  All the creativity happens on the last four inches of the table.  It takes a couple of hours minimum of sticking, sanding, chiselling, sewing, painting, whatever, for the creative bit of the brain to wake up and suddenly start having good ideas.  This is why yer actual artist is up all night – inspiration struck exactly at bedtime and that was that.  Until the muse awakes you’re just faffing. Must be tricky if you’re a dancer, having to kick a football round the stage, or paint the scenery until Terpsichore awakens.

I think it might have a lot to do with the difficult childhood thing.  Constant criticism feeds the fear that you simply aren’t good enough.  Wondering why I have the nerve to imagine I can sculpt when I’ve been doing it for thirty years, is deep seated lack of confidence. On the other hand I have interviewed people who thought, mistakenly, that they were wonderful, and I would far rather be the other way round.  I have also interviewed many artists working in all disciplines and trying harder because of childhood difficulties and they were amazing.

There is also a possibility that the better you are, the more self-critical you are. I have destroyed a lot of stuff that anyone else would happily put on a table and sell, I have occasionally put on a table stuff I think should not have been there.  One of the hardest tasks is to see yourself as you really are. In any way at all.  The bloke blowing kisses at himself in the mirror simply cannot see the bald spot, it is not available to view, by him.

It is also guilt.  I love doing all the creative things, so naturally I won’t allow myself to do them.  Hence all the shoe cleaning (tricky for sandals with your bare feet in them, if anyone has a cure for black instep, I’d be interested.)  I feel I don’t deserve it.  I will always look after everyone else first.  This of course is the effect of having difficult and demanding people in your life.  If it happens long enough you adopt a servant mentality.  Chains in your head, dangerous and limiting.  Quite a few famous people were, famously, horribly selfish and very focussed and also, not very nice.

Which is better, to be a nice person who faffs or a selfish person who achieves?

Perhaps it is the lack of realisation that we are not invincible or going to last forever.  You would think under the current circumstances that we would all be achingly aware of that, yet more people than ever are faffing around, fiddling, unable to settle.  Given all the time in the world to do nothing, choosing most of all to sleep and eat.

All we all have in common is time. We all have the time of our lives and the choice, once the hand to mouth basics are sorted, of how to spend it.

I appear to have chosen to spend my life faffing about.

I was, given that my Olympic career is on hold, going to be a famous authoress but I’m faffing around with the next novel instead of sending the first one off to a million publishers in a confident manner.  Either I can’t see the bald spot, have no idea why some others which are not that good, got published, or I secretly believe I don’t deserve it.

I think that afflicts a lot of miniaturists.  Believing in yourself may well lead to decisive action, until then I’m off to organise the books, tallest on the left.  I will then polish my instep and may make a cup of tea for lunch around four o clock, once the kettle is descaled.  Though first I have a couple of folk to look after – a thing to deliver – a letter to cheer someone up – a phone call to a lockdown – and then,

and then it will be bedtime.

Honestly!  Where do the days go?

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Lockdown scrap albums.

Another, other, other of my hobbies, many, many of which there are (let alone those I might do when I get the time, climbing Mount Everest isn’t one of which, not even to get to the ice cream parlour at the top) is scrapbooking.

I was alarmed (and I am not easily frit) to see on the television news that the Museum of the Home are asking for honest photographs of lockdown houses.

Horrors!

Allow me to show you my lockdown album.

And here, on this page which I have decorated with 3D roses and a nice paper with a pattern of flower buds, is a photograph of the dustbin, last emptied three weeks ago.

On this page with the clever pop-out balloons, look, close the page, no balloon, open the page, balloon! Close the page, no balloon, open the page, balloons round a photo of an unmade bed, five socks and a fallen over not-completely-finished cocoa mug.  I know. cocoa, how wartime is that?  You can’t get drinking chocolate, desperate people are cooking with it, desperately.

On this page with the seaside scene and the cut out whale, very droll, a photo of a million plastic toys strewn across the carpet, the thick plastic sandals necessary to venture in the direction of the curtains, never closed (have you seen what they are doing at number five?  What not from your house? Really, well you can come round, oh no you can’t, well…………..actually I’ll ring you later.)

Kitchen, lovely page with cut-out pans, Welsh dresser, antique cook, round a photo of bacon rinds draped over the post which no one can open for another thirty hours, orange peel because the bin is full, mixed up with the cleaning cloth which wouldn’t get the cocoa off the bed and some fish skin which I will worry about until the next postal delivery of clothing catalogues for Your Summer Look – same as Your Spring Look but with worse hair – goes on the pile.

I will no longer be nostalgic for student life because the realistic photos of the toilet are realistic.  I will swap five fish skins for a bottle of disinfectant, easily and throw in an orange peel.  (You could make fish marmalade, I’m sure someone is.)

Against a faded page of a stately home, a photo of what may be the sofa.  If the sofa is under there.  Oh hang on, is that a leg?  Has anyone seen George lately?

And these are the traditional five pages blank at the end of the book because I ran out of printer ink.

You know what to do with awful scrapbook albums don’t you?  (The clue is in the title and it isn’t book or album).

I did read in the paper today of a domestic service agency inundated with requests from the posh, wanting to know how to operate the washing machine.

Now their albums I would like to see.

‘This is a photo of Geoffrey, Lord Avelot, trying to feed the lions in the park………………….’

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