Tuesday, 25 July 2017

BIRD-BRAINED

Some may suppose that the American Eagle is still the national bird of the USA, but I think there may be a contender hoping to rule the roost.

This usurper comes to you via the talents of my friend, artist and mosaicist, Martin Cheek, who has created this mosaic portrait of 'Donald'...


Martin writes...
Media: My own hand made murrini and glass fusions, Mexican Smalti and Sicis Iridium 

Description: ‘Donald’ is a golden pheasant. Pheasants are related to peacocks and just like their relatives they like to strut their stuff. Donald is very pleased with himself…..and wants everyone to know it! In China people think of Golden Pheasant as a sign of good luck, best fate and prosperity.

If you are interested in owning this mosaic then please message me for more details on Facebook (click here for link)
Donald, you say...? Ah, yes, of course!

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

ALL ON A GOLDEN AFTERNOON

Two hundred and fifty-five years ago, today, the Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson and an Oxford colleague, the Reverend Robinson Duckworth, took the three daughters of the Dean of Christ Church – Lorina, Alice and Edith Liddell – on a boating trip.

As they rowed along on that 'golden afternoon', Dodgson improvised a fantasy about the curious adventures of a little girl named (like one of the girls on the trip) 'Alice', who followed a White Rabbit in a waistcoat with a watch down a rabbit-hole and found herself in a true land of wonders...

At Alice’s request, Dodgson wrote out the story – first calling it Alice’s Adventures Under Ground – and added his own distinctively idosyncratic illustrations.



By 1865, it had grown (like someone who had nibbled an EAT ME cake) into Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and was published under the authorship of 'Lewis Carroll' with illustrations by the legendary Punch cartoonist, Sir John Tenniel.


The book was made Mr Dodgson’s alter ego one of the most famous men in Victorian England. It also revolutionised children’s literature by abandoning, at a stroke, the long and piously-held tradition of moral-and-improving tales for the young in favour of zany, witty nonsense that had no underlying message other than fun...

July the 4th is also, of course, American Independence Day and is interesting to note how many true literary successors to Lewis Carroll – among them L Frank Baum, James Thurber, Ogden Nash and Maurice Sendak – have sprung up in America.

But then perhaps this shouldn’t really surprise us, since the Americans have always shown themselves to be far greater lovers and defenders of Wonderland (and Looking-glass World) than the English have ever been…

Maybe there are reasons for this affinity between the American sensibility and Carroll’s nonsense realm: for one thing, Alice is a highly independent and self-determining individual (a truly revolutionary notion for a child’s book of the 1800s); for another, the Wonderlanders with whom she mixes are a wildly disparate conglomeration of diverse species – animals, humans, animals-dressed-as-humans and humans-with-animal-masks – all of whom (for the most part) rub along together but who are, together, fiercely territorial!


I find it fascinating – and humbling – that, in 1948 (by which time the original manuscript of
Alice’s Adventures Under Ground
had been sold and was in the possession of an American collector), a group of US well-wishers, led by the Librarian of Congress, should have started a fund to raise the considerable sum of money required to buy back the manuscript and send it home to us!



That first foray into Carroll's underground wonderworld now resides in the British Library and maybe we should remember the American act of selfless generosity which made that possible the next time we look at, say, the Elgin Marbles…

Meanwhile, time to raise a cup of tea (courtesy of Hatter, Hare & Dormouse: 'Specialist Teas for the Discerning Palette') and join in the toast-----

Happy 155th Birthday, Alice!

Happy 241st Birthday, America!


This blog post is a edited reprint of a post from 2007

Friday, 30 June 2017

A DAY FOR ALICE

Oxford's annual 'Alice's Day' commemorates that legendary day – 4 July 1862 – when the Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson and his friend the Reverend Robinson Duckworth took Alice, Lorina and Edith Liddell, the three daughters of the Dean of Christ Church on a boating trip during which he told the girls a story that would become Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

This year the Lewis Carroll Society is participating with a trio of talks at The Story Museum...


Click to Enlarge

Thursday, 29 June 2017

EXIT PURSUED BY A BEAR...

As a young man in my twenties, I developed a friendship with Michael Bond, the creator of Paddington Bear, who died Tuesday aged 91. We corresponded regularly and I spent time with him and his family at their then home in Haslemere.

Following a change in Michael's marital status, we lost touch for over 30 years until, in 2014, BBC Radio 2's Arts Show reunited us by sending me to talk to Michael about his new book, LOVE FROM PADDINGTON. As a small tribute to a gentle man with a real gift for storytelling, here's our last conversation...



Saturday, 24 June 2017

FIREBRANDS

Mid-summer madness: intrepid fire-jumpers at Emborios on Kalymnos – you just have to hop through three fires and then dive off the end of the jetty straight into the sea!


Friday, 23 June 2017

Monday, 19 June 2017

Sunday, 18 June 2017

TRANQUILITY

What could be prettier than the sight of a typical little blue-and-white Greek boat moored in a peaceful harbour...

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Friday, 9 June 2017