Wednesday, March 29, 2017

EU-GB (2)

And here is "Man with a Polish Wife"'s imagining...

Slowly, slowly the truth dawned.  Well, that is, if you define slowly as a couple of minutes. It only seemed slow because time froze – flashbulb memory and all that.  Nobody would ever forget the enormity of what was happening around them – Europe Day, May 9th, 2017 – the 67th anniversary of the Schumann declaration.

At precisely noon, bells rang out, chimes, hooters and klaxons, a cacophony of sound from all directions.  Strategically placed devices covered the country – no-one was not in earshot. TV stations, computer screens and mobile phones all came to life. Phone conversations were ended, programs interrupted – the ring of stars displayed – then a smiling face….

"Dear subjects", pronounced President Blair, "today is a great day for all Europeans, our regional policy is complete, and the Dunkirk Treaty which we have just agreed is to be implemented with immediate effect.   Henceforth England and English have ceased to exist, and I have the great privilege of saying these words for the last time, as of NOW it will be a criminal offence to use these words again – they have no meaning.

And, once this broadcast is over, peoples of Trans Manche, you will only communicate in French, peoples of North Sea you will only communicate in Danish, and peoples of Atlantic you will only communicate in Portuguese, not forgetting of course, our friends in Northern Periphery where you will now only communicate in Swedish.

What a day for Europe, our integration is complete, and I would like to pay great thanks to my fellow leaders, Edward Heath, Margaret Thatcher, John Major and, you know, not forgetting the illustrious Gordon Brown, all of whom demonstrated great leadership in enabling previous Treaties, and now Theresa May, standing here with me today in her last act as your now ex-Prime Minister.  I look forward to working with her in her new position as Secretary General of the United Nations – never was a person more suited to this role.

Congratulations to them, and congratulations to you my subjects for your co-operation and participation as you adjust to your new way of life. Detailed instructions have been downloaded to all your devices, and following this broadcast programs will run continuously to help you adjust.  Common Law no longer exists, Code Napoleon now rules – you are free to do whatever you have been permitted to do.

By my grace you are all now permitted one drink this afternoon, to celebrate and toast your new leaders, and, you know, this wasn’t easy for me - persuading my Council of Ministers to agree to it, so come on, make the most of it.

Then, all males between the ages of 16 and 36 must report to your interreg capital by noon tomorrow for conscription – no exceptions. Please proceed to your nearest high speed rail hub for processing.

Félicitations! Tillykke! Parabéns! Grattis!"

The ring of stars suddenly replaces Blair's visage, an image of a bottle of champagne with cork popping at its centre.

"What are we going to do", John Bull mutters to himself, as he breaks out of his trance, and immediately starts to head home to be with his wife, his desk abandoned, his midday cup of tea going slowly cold - never to be drunk...

EU-GB - a parallel-universe story

In which I accept my own challenge: (

From “The War In The North” by Prof. Noah Williams, Monash University Publishing (2nd edn, 2042)

"…The background to the conflict in the Eastern Mediterranean was as complex as in the years leading up to WWI, and as full of dangerously tempting opportunities for lower order players. Over a long time, Turkey’s President Yildiz pitted greater Powers against each other with all the wiliness of, and considerably greater resources than, Malta’s Dom Mintoff in the 1950s. For Turkey stood over the crossroads of history.

Following the destruction of the Highland Regiments at Dnipro[i] (the first moment when the use of battlefield nuclear weapons was seriously contemplated), Europa resiled from its policy of progressive eastward enlargement and the Ukraine was finally allowed to split into West Ukraine and Donbass, largely along the linguistic and racial outlines that had long existed.

It seemed as though an uneasy but mutually beneficial balance had been achieved. The abandonment of imperial ambitions in Ukraine allowed Europa to redirect its attention southwards to the African littoral, and Moscow’s now-heavy protection around the Soyuz and Blue Stream pipelines in Donbass was not only a safeguard for Russian economic interests but also insurance for Europan consumers against terrorist disruption to their energy consumption.

However, the Odessa Treaty also tightened the Russian hold on the Crimea and the eastern end of the Black Sea. To the infrastructure built up at Sochi under the cover of preparations for the 2014 Winter Olympics had been added similar developments further up the coast at Novorossiisk and Anapa, while under another pretext (guarding the projected South Stream Pipeline, a project that was never definitively cancelled but remained on the back burner) the port at Sevastopol had also enjoyed considerable improvement. The surreptitious nuclear hardening of certain underground buildings at all four sites had been carefully noted by the West, but without public comment.

The situation became unstable when Russia started to strengthen its links with Greece. As in Blair’s Britain, the Greek economy had been hollowed-out after joining the Eurozone. Irrecoverably in debt and suffering massive unemployment and the withering of essential public services, Greeks remembered that they had nearly installed a communist government a century before, and warmed to the approaches from the now-nationalist but also socially-sensitive Moscow regime. There had been talks about a spur from South Stream through Greece, headed off by Europa and a nervous US State Department, but the alternative Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), though it ran to Thessaloniki via Turkey, was bringing gas from Azerbaijan, which was part of the nascent Eurasian Economic Union sponsored by the Russians.  The cafes and hotels of Thessaloniki prospered as foreign agents developed their contacts and spied on each other.

Less obvious, yet for that reason possibly more effective, was the de facto intelligence hub of Alexandropouli, 300 km to the east and correspondingly closer to the Turkish border and the Sea of Marmara, in turn the gateway to the Bosphorus and Black Sea. Then there was the listening station built at Mount Athos under the feet of the Russian monks of Panteleimenos, which President Putin visited in 2006 and again a decade later. It was rumoured in intelligence circles that some advanced short-range weapons had also been assembled and stored there. A CIA joke was that one could see Spetsnaz boots under the Orthodox robes.

Amid these clandestine manoeuvrings President Yildiz saw a chance for his aggrandisement.  The rapprochement between the Greeks and the Russians had enhanced the importance of Turkey in bottling up the Muscovite genie. Russia had limited Turkey’s military ambitions in Syria in the mid-2010s but was less interested in the migrant flow through Turkish territory. These unfortunates, some fleeing conflict zones and others the poverty of Pakistan, Afghanistan etc could be weaponised. The 1951 UNHCR Refugee Convention required signatories to offer shelter to refugees in the first safe land to which they came. Europa was now one country, and under pressure from the US State Department had conferred associate status on Turkey. Yildiz realized what this meant: since the Convention did not specify where within that land they had to be accommodated, refugees could be forwarded en masse to anywhere in Europa.

Berlin was reluctant to accept a further influx into the sub-territories of Germany, France, Bulgaria etc because of the political consequences, not least the rise of right-wing and secessionist parties. However, the impoverishment of Britain that had already resulted in the sale of the Channel Islands to secret consortia of billionaires meant that Westminster was prepared to accept responsibility for “Yildiz’ sheep” if money were provided for the building of facilities and crucially, the creation of employment for the local population.

The money would come from Europa and would not benefit Istanbul - but that was not what Yildiz wanted. He wished to eliminate the expatriate Opposition who had been given sanctuary in Britain. Threatening an unlimited number of trainloads westward via the Bosphorus  Express and Channel Tunnel, he secured an agreement to issue Europan Arrest Warrants for the return of the dissident Turks in sealed trains. The British police forces were unhappy and made representations to the National Government, but were overridden by a Presidential decree from Holzhauer.

Had it ended there, in Western shame and the blood of hundreds of innocents, the Continent would not be the wasteland it is today. But unsuspected by almost everybody, Yildiz turned out not to be merely a secularist: the Mahdi planned to go to Damascus…"

[i] This led to another attempt, this time near-successful, at secession from Europa by the Scottish National Party-led Government in Holyrood. Berlin’s response was the forcible replacement of the Sturgeon administration by Mackintosh’s Coalition. Lacking any support from the Nationalists, the Coalition quickly proved unable to maintain its authority locally and capitulated to the reintroduction of regional rule from Westminster.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Stand clear - we've got the threepenny bits!

The new pound coin comes into circulation today...

Reposted from March 12, 2014:

Osborne gives us the threepenny bits

Pic source: BBC
The proposed new-style pound coin is publicised on the day of UK Chancellor George Osborne's Budget speech to Parliament.

The 12-sided design resembles the pre-decimal brass threepenny piece first issued in the reign of Edward VIII. The resemblance is more than physical, as we shall see.

Before 1937, threepence coins had always been based on silver, but the silver content reduced over the years and the coin eventually became inconveniently small. Why? Inflation, the curse of the twentieth century.

This year marks the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War of 1914-18. The Daily Mail's purchasing power calculator [Sackerson: try BoE now!] shows that one pound in 1915 was equivalent to £87 today. Coincidentally, under the old coinage system, there were 240 pence to the pound, or 80 "thrupenny bits". So a modern pound coin is worth much the same as a WWI threepenny bit.

The Chancellor introduced his Budget with the words, "Our country still borrows too much. We still don’t invest enough, export enough or save enough. So today we do more to put that right. This is a Budget for building a resilient economy. If you’re a maker, a doer or a saver: this Budget is for you. "

Actually, it's still not one for savers. I'm on Day 647 of my attempts to get my MP to ask questions in Parliament about NS&I Index-Linked Savings Certificates. All I've had so far is substandard, ill-informed guff in written answers from three different Treasury ministers (see right-hand sidebar on the Money blog).

In Cockney rhyming slang, the "threepenny bits" stands for "the shits". Funny how all these things link up.

Addendum 28.03.2017: Coin-cidentally, Big Maple Leaf has just been stolen:

Monday, March 27, 2017

Secret valediction: Charles Rennie Mackintosh's 'Cyclamens', by Catherine Beaumont

Charles Rennie Mackintosh is an icon of design - his style is unmistakable and his name synonymous with art nouveau.

Born in Glasgow in 1868, Mackintosh had a prolific output of work throughout his life across many spheres, from designing some of the most influential architecture of the 20th century to creating a whole new language of interior décor in everything from stained glass to textiles, from art schools to high backed chairs; but Mackintosh is little known as the gifted painter that he was.

Painted between 1922 and 1923, 'Cyclamens' breaks with Mackintosh's iconic stylised designs, being a vivid yet realist piece that looks more like oil than its true medium of airy watercolour. The giveaway of this painting's origin is the artist's delight in pattern and surface design, the rich swathes of crimson backdrop here resembling a Mackintosh textile swatch. The piece is a melting pot of organic abstraction, even the cyclamen leaves contorting with pattern until reality is reasserted by the stark white blooms. The deep background makes the pure petals shine like silver on a dark Scottish winter night, yet the picture was painted in southern light, Mackintosh having fled from Glasgow to London.

It seems there may be a deeper, symbolic meaning to what appears to be simply a decorative still life... Mackintosh was part of a group of likeminded artists and designers in Glasgow known as 'the Four', the others being the designer Herbert McNair and the artist sisters Margaret and Frances Macdonald.

'Sleeping Princess' by Frances Macdonald 1909 - image: Wikipedia

The group were bound together not only by work but also in their personal relationships, Margaret becoming Mackintosh's wife and Frances marrying Herbert McNair. Also named the 'Spook School' for their eerily elongated style, their use of Celtic imagery bled into their paintings and decorative style, drawing from the natural world like botanists.

Within the wider association known as the Glasgow School, they were also part of a slightly larger circle called “The Immortals”:

Left: Charles Rennie Mackintosh surrounded by Frances Macdonald, Agnes Rayburn, 
Janet Aitken, Katherine Cameron, Jessie Keppie and Margaret Macdonald. 
Right: Herbert McNair and Mackintosh in front of the 'Immortals' c.1893 
(c) Glasgow School of Art archives

The swooning virginal petals of Mackintosh's cyclamens remind one of 'the Immortals' as they appear in early photographs, languorously nymph-like in Edwardian white dresses set against open Scottish fields. The petals of the two upper cyclamens touch as though in reluctant parting, like the hands of Janet Aitken and Katherine Cameron.

The year before 'Cyclamens' was painted Frances Macdonald, Margaret's sister had died. Her husband Herbert McNair was distraught, vowing never to paint again and burning most of his wife's work. Looking at the piece in this context, one wonders if Mackintosh might have been alluding to the loss of Frances from the Immortals - cyclamens are one of the few plants to flower during the cruelest months of winter, defying cold death with their white buds, and signalling new life. The Four's delight in Celtic imagery and symbolism allows room for such an interpretation, especially bearing in mind Victorian flower language, where cyclamen means resignation and 'goodbye’.

Detail of 'Cyclamens', 1922-23 overlaying 'the Immortals' (Glasgow School of Art archives) c. 1893

However, another farewell may be intended. 'Cyclamens' was painted two or three years after Mackintosh’s final unrealised designs for studios in Chelsea, his last completed commission having been six years earlier with the dark, jazz-age remodelling of 78 Derngate, Northampton. Perhaps it is not so much an allegory of the lost immortals, of Frances' death and McNair's dissolution, but instead the end of Mackintosh's prolific career and artistic vision. The parting touch may be a symbol of Mackintosh's defeat, closing the door with sadness on his past magnificent success before moving to the South of France, living there in poverty for the last of his days and never realising another large-scale project.

We can only guess at the enigma of Mackintosh's true meaning in this piece, knowing only that it's decorative allure is not as elusive as its symbolism. 'Cyclamens' brings Mackintosh's career to its crescendo as both artist and designer, with a creative output that could never die, like the dancing cyclamen blooms and the beaming eyes of 'the Immortals'.

Left to right; Textile designs, stylised daisies, purple on black, c1922; 78 Derngate, Northampton, 'Faded Roses' watercolour 1905
(c) The 78 Derngate Northampton Trust - see for more

Sackerson adds -

David Walsh, Assistant Manager at The Charles Rennie Mackintosh House, says:

"This is our Centenary Year and we have a special exhibition "Charles Rennie Mackintosh & The Great War" - ( , ) - the largest display of Mackintosh design in England, until 29th April. If you or readers are able to visit, a warm welcome awaits."

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Sunday Music: Trumpet Voluntary, by Wiggia

The first of what would be considered modern jazz recordings featuring a lead trumpet would be during the period ‘49 to ‘51 and featured Kenny Dorham, Fats Navarro, Dizzy Gillespie, and Miles Davis. The Davis album Morpheus, Whispering Down was his first of many for the Prestige label and only his second as leader, the beginning of a long influential career.

The Trumpet or Cornet was always the front line instrument in early jazz and ditto here in the early days of modern jazz, not so much nowadays with the saxophone more prominent in most groups.

For a start we have the wonderful soft lyrical style of Fats Navarro, this is a ‘47 version of a tune he was always associated with:

Fats was a pioneer of the be bop style and after a touring start to his career where he learned the ropes he settled in NY. His career was short as was his life despite success with many big bands, becoming a life long friend with Mingus and playing with Charlie Parker amongst others. Given poor health, TB, a weight problem and the inevitable drug addiction of that period of time he died in 1950 at the age of 27.

Much longer lived and a flag waver for jazz of all kinds world wide was one of the other founders of be bop Dizzy Gillespie, his puff cheeks and 45 degree trumpet horn became a trade mark that was instantly recognised everywhere plus a personality that meant he was in much demand.

His style was not an easy one to emulate and few did but his influence was enormous both on the trumpet and be bop. Davis, Navarro, Lee Morgan, Clifford Brown right up to the modern day were all influenced by Dizzy who himself took much from Roy Eldridge and then over layered it with his own harmonic complexity. Born in 1917 he went on to have a sixty year playing career, he saw it all and played with all during his life; a true jazz great.

This recording of A Night in Tunisia is as good a showcase of his skills as any available on download sites. The tune, a Gillespie composition, was written by him whilst with the Earl Hines band in ‘42. Around that time he had this to say about the evolution of modern jazz….

Gillespie said of the Hines band, "People talk about the Hines band being 'the incubator of bop' and the leading exponents of that music ended up in the Hines band. But people also have the erroneous impression that the music was new. It was not. The music evolved from what went before. It was the same basic music. The difference was in how you got from here to here to here ... naturally each age has got its own shit".

Miles Davis along with Gillespie could occupy several pages on their own and I may come back to a better tribute to them later if demand requires. Davis epitomises “cool jazz” from his earliest work; that easily recognisable style was instantly recognised whether live or on record over a five decade period. He embarked on several changes of direction during those years including flirting with rock and funk fusion, African rhythms and electronic technology. Much of his later work had a rather dubious connection to jazz and many stalwarts of the genre deserted him, yet his fusion album Bitches Brew was a huge commercial success as was much of his rock tinged music and certainly brought him more universal appeal and income.

You can make your own mind up about those later years, but regardless he remains one of the pillars of be bop and a great innovator as well as a superb trumpeter.

His early years are somewhat fragmented so as this is not a Miles bio I will skip through his early fifties period when he played Europe and France in particular as many black musicians did, being relieved of the racism back home they often stayed, and his association with the actress Juliette Greco whom after he split from her he blamed for his subsequent depression and four years of heroin addiction .

Back in the states ‘56 saw the release of the album “Birth of the Cool” and cool jazz was launched, a style he would successfully be associated with for some years.

At the same time in those early to mid fifties several albums of importance were released on Prestige and later Blue Note that firmly put him in the vanguard of hard bop. Using slower tempos and a less radical approach it was his first step away from cool jazz as well as be bop.

Here is an early Miles playing a masterful version of So What. From the opening chorus it could only be one musician. This was tremendous trumpet playing and what all jazz lovers wanted to hear from Miles.

And this from ‘64 On Green Dolphin Street with John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, Jimmy Cobb on drums and Bill Evans on piano, not a bad line up !

I will return to Miles at a later date.

Clifford Brown “Brownie” was another with a short life in music and on planet Earth: he died in ‘56 at the age of 25 after a car accident yet still left a legacy of four years of recording and a lot of influence to many who followed including Donald Byrd, Booker Little, Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard and more lately Arturo Sandoval. His composition Daahoud became a jazz standard.

Daahoud is here performed in ‘54 by “Brownie” and the Max Roach quintet.

Lee Morgan achieved fame through his album “Sidewinder” a sort of cross over album, a theme he toyed with and indulged in for some time but he went back to Art Blakey where he is fondly remembered as one of the stars of the Jazz Messengers at that time. He is another who left this mortal coil far too young at the age of 33, not drugs this time, though he was an addict, he died of his injuries when his long term girlfriend shot him at Slugs Saloon where he was playing and he bled to death as the ambulance could not get there in time owing to adverse weather conditions!


Freddie Hubbard is another from that era that found fame and recognition after joining Blakey's Messengers in ‘61 replacing Lee Morgan. He left Blakey in ‘66 and started to form his own groups and developed his own sound, distancing himself from Morgan and Clifford Brown, and he was a sideman on several very important albums during the sixties.

His early seventies albums, Red Clay brought him commercial success and acclaim but his later seventies albums were slated for their commercialism. This is a 1970 recording from the album Straight Life, Mr Clean with a stellar line up shown in the credits.

Whatever one does when putting something like this together it is as said before inevitable that many just as worthy are left out, many will be featured in further episodes with groups bands etc so will not be totally forgotten, but the likes of Chet Baker, Art Farmer, Donald Byrd, Don Cherry etc etc should be here but space does not permit.

However one or two others I will include to bring the section more up to date. Tom Harrell is one of my personal favourites: born in ‘46 makes him positively adolescent in the general scheme of those on here yet has been around some time, he started playing trumpet at eight and joined Kenton after studying at Stanford University and receiving a degree in music composition. He toured with Kenton that year, ‘69 and joined Woody Herman for the following year and then Horace Silvers quintet from 73 – 77 during which time he made five albums with them. He joined or played with various bands until he joined Phil Woods in ‘83 through to ‘87. He made seven albums with Woods and many others with various groups and a few as leader in his own right but it was after leaving Woods that his own groups came to the fore.

His latter years have shown his skill as an arranger composer more and more and many ventures outside the strictly jazz only world have involved chamber music and ensembles with classical tones, and as an arranger Harrell works in many different genres including classical. Naturally I prefer the earlier jazz work and this more current number, Miles Davis's Milestones in 2011:

Many who know of modern jazz will wonder why I have not finished with Wynton Marsalis or Arturo Sandoval.

The latter is not in my HO truly a jazz trumpeter despite his incredible technique; I have been, and I may be wrong, but I never heard anything I could truly say fits in with my view of what jazz is. Probably my loss but there you go.

As for Marsalis, he is another who has run the full gamut of genres but much of his work does not again fit in with what you could really ascribe to being jazz. He certainly did in his earlier days but very little of that is available on video. However he can’t be really left out as he is one of today's leading lights in music - education, arranging and everything else, so I did find a video that in all honesty is only a bit part for Wynton but gives a wonderful excuse for showing the Jazz Messengers and Art Blakey at Antibes in 1980 with Wynton on trumpet in another reincarnation of the Messengers line up:

Say, Dr . "J" - Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers in Antibes (France) from Wynton Marsalis on Vimeo.

I show a personal bias with Marsalis, a wonderful technician who can play in almost any genre, and does, plus his teaching and arranging skills. He has it all, yet for me rarely holds my interest, why I cannot explain, it is just the way it is. Anyway, not to be hasty and upset his legions I include a final item by him, the piece and personnel are in the credits:

Friday, March 24, 2017

Friday Night Is Music Night: Denez Prigent, by JD

Denez Prigent is a Breton folk singer who gained a much wider audience after appearing at Transmusicales de Rennes in 1992: 

"France’s premier seen-them-here-first festival, Transmusical de Rennes sweeps through the genre spectrum from rock, pop and folk to RnB, hip-hop and electronic music, picking up cartloads of gems year after year."

[The song 'Copsa Mica' refers to a town in Romania which is said to be the most polluted town in Europe.]

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

ART: The use of paint in paintings, by JD

As a follow on from this recent post -, a few thoughts on paints and painting.

This first painting is a copy of Goya's "El Quitasol" which I did more than thirty years ago. I used Winsor & Newton oil paints and, as you can see, the colours are clear and vibrant. It is about A4 size on canvas-textured paper suitable for oil painting. It has been stuck to the wall with blu-tack for the last twenty years!

This is the original by Francisco de Goya y Lucientes, in the Prado Museum in Madrid:

Prado weblink:

Wikipedia's copy:

Obviously I am nowhere near as good as Goya but I am pleased with my effort and it is surprising how much you can learn just by copying one of the masters.

As stated previously, real life tends to get in the way and I was drawing and painting intermittently and then, with a bit more spare time, I was able to paint on a regular basis with some expert tutelage to help me along the way.

This time I was using watercolour paints and eventually settled on Van Gogh watercolours in tubes because, once again, it gave me the vibrant colours. (W/colour in tubes can also be applied more thickly, which I like to do now and then) Here's a sample. It is 8" x 6" - most watercolour paintings are small scale, I think the largest pads I have are 15" x 11". If you want to know how I did the highlights on these oranges, it was done with a few dabs of gouache which is basically opaque watercolour paint.

Eventually I started to use acrylic paints as well as continuing with the watercolours. Acrylic is like oil paint but with the pigment bound in plastic (polymer) instead of oil. The advantage is that it is quick drying and the brushes can easily be cleaned in water without too much effort. Quick drying is a disadvantage also in that any paint left on the palette dries and, unlike oils, cannot be revived.

But the colours of acrylic paint are very bright and their introduction commercially in the 1950s brought a lot of new colours including iridescent and pearl and interference colours made by adding powdered mica to create unusual shimmering or reflective visual effects. (In earlier times gold leaf would be used in painting religious icons which, in flickering candlelight, would have produced similar effects.)

I have used mainly Liquitex or Winsor & Newton acrylic paints and here is a sample. It is on 8" x 8" canvas and thanks to Cherie for providing the photograph.

Eventually I came back recently to using oil paint once again. But there was something wrong this time. The colours didn't seem to be as bright as they used to be and mixing colour from the tubes they very quickly lost their sheen, becoming 'muddy' and unsatisfactory. Didn't know why until I was told that manufacturers were saving costs by reducing the amount of pigment and replacing it with some sort of filler, usually magnesium silicate. So I looked at other paints on the market and got hold of some Old Holland oils and these proved to be excellent, saturated colours I think is the right description. These little mini masterpieces are all on 2" x 2" canvases using Old Holland paint.

But Old Holland paints are not available locally and I have given up trying to buy things from the internet. It takes far too long to plough through page after page and getting a sore finger going clickety click. In reality, it is much quicker to use a catalogue and fill in the order form and post it off but the world is mesmerised by the novelty of technology and brains are now redundant. I knew that Michael Harding oil paints were available locally because I had seen them in the shop and, from what I have read and heard, they are reputed to be the best oils on the market endorsed by the likes of David Hockney and Howard Hodgkin.

On YouTube I found some demonstrations of the MH oils; this is the colour amethyst.

Very impressive so I have bought a few tubes of MH paints and have been trying them. They are indeed very good and vibrant colours. I will have to get used to their different characteristics but so far I like them and the first result is here which is also an 8" x 8" canvas -

Just a note on the colours: The background was originally indian yellow and the trees were done in pthalo blue. After a couple of days I decided it wasn't quite right, the yellow was too strong so I covered it with cadmium yellow mixed with titanium white and a wee bit of the indian yellow to give it some warmth. Then I muted the blue of the trees by going over it loosely with pthalo blue mixed with unbleached titanium. Much improved.

Not bad for a first attempt and it is currently being framed after which it will soon be hanging somewhere on my crowded walls.

I'm still learning, this is a never ending process. When I am 100, if I get that far, I might eventually know what I am doing!

Now you are probably wondering why I am so keen on bright, vibrant colours. That's easy, they remind me of heaven! That is not as daft as it sounds because throughout history most if not all religious and spiritual traditions make great use of colour in festivals and often in daily life for exactly the same reason, to remind them of heaven.

In Revelations 21 in the Bible, John describes the new Jerusalem* thus: "And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.... And the twelve gates were twelve pearls: every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass."

The whole city is made entirely of precious stones, all glittering in 'the light'.

It is only the puritans of all creeds who want a monochrome world devoid of colour, of decoration, of ornament; all colour and life and joy removed.

*Sackerson notes: also described in the heartbreaking mediaeval poem "Pearl" - see translation here from l. 985 onwards:



Winsor & Newton

Van Gogh watercolour paints

Liquitex paints

Old Holland oil paints

Michael Harding oil paints

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

"EU-GB" - a writing challenge

Now that Len Deighton's "SS-GB" alternative history thriller has been screened, I'd like to challenge readers to write an outline for a different alternative history.

Imagine that PM Tony Blair had succeeded in getting the UK to ditch the pound in favour of the Euro; and some years later, the Council of Ministers finally completed its metamorphosis into the Cabinet of a new country called Europe, with a single President as its head, able to issue directives like the US President.

What (plausibly) could you see happening?

You could write it as an extract from a thriller, or as an entry from some future history book or encyclopaedia.

Shall we say, length 400 - 1200 words and a deadline of 29 March 2017 (when Article 50 is set to be triggered)?

Entries submitted as comments to this post, then reposted on 29.03.17 , as a celebration - other than that, copyright remains the writer's. Or put it on your own blog/site and let me know so I can post a link to it.

Like the idea?