Saturday 31 December 2016


Wishing you all you wish yourself for 2017

[Photo: David Weeks © 2016]

Thursday 29 December 2016


Here's an odd-oddity from the Sibley cabinet of curiosities...

It's a pin badge celebrating 'Shore Leave', Episode #15 of the original Star Trek science-fiction television series first broadcast – fifty years ago today – on 29 December 1966.

Repeated on June 8, 1967 'Shore Leave' was scripted by the distinguished science-fiction author, Theodore Sturgeon, and directed by Robert Sparr. 

It is Stardate 3025.3 and the Federation Starship USS Enterprise, under the command of Captain James T Kirk, arrives at a planet in the Omicron Delta system. Scans reveal the planet as congenial, and since the crew is exhausted from three months of continuous operations, Kirk announces shore leave for all off-duty personnel.

Not long after beaming down, the landing parties experience strange occurrences. Chief Medical Officer Dr Leonard McCoy sees a large, anthropomorphic White Rabbit hop by in a hurry followed, a moment later, by Alice from Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, who asks McCoy if he's seen a rabbit has pass by.

The story was novelized in the first volume of Star Trek stories published by Bantam Books in 1967, adapted from the original scripts by another sci-fi legend, James Blish, whom I fleetingly met when he was for a short time a member of the Lewis Carroll Society and I was its secretary...

Sunday 25 December 2016


Sometimes, in Venice, it's had to know whether some people are really here or there –– or not...

[Photo: David Weeks]


When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

Nativity, Santa Maria della Salute, Venice, 2015
[Photo: David Weeks]

Saturday 24 December 2016


Christmas lights in the Venetian equivalent of London's Oxford Street (our favourite restaurant, La Caravella, is on the left)...

Thursday 15 December 2016

THE DEATH OF INNOCENCE event I am recalling happened fifty years ago today...

I am getting ready for school and, suddenly, my father is calling up the stairs: "Brian, Walt Disney has died..."

Downstairs, I heard the murmuring drone of radio voices as my father – busy brewing early-morning tea – listens, as he does every day, to the BBC’s morning news programme.

I ought, perhaps, to have dashed downstairs to listen to the reports, absorb the details, gather up the tributes. After all, Walt Disney was my hero. A strange idol for a teenage lad, maybe – but that is what he was.

I collected every book, magazine and trivial snippet that I could find about Disney and his studio. I was forever copying pictures of Disney characters in my sketchbooks – in fact my youthful ambition was to be a Disney artist, to animate those fabulous beings that appeared in his films. I longed to be a part of that mystical process that created characters out of ink and paint and then imbued them with a power to move people to laughter or tears; I was obsessed by the man and his movies.

Later that morning, on my way to school, I would buy the daily newspapers and – in a corner of the playground at morning break – pore over the obituaries; but, at the moment of first hearing the news, I had only one response: I sat on the edge of my bed and wept.

For the first time in my young life I experienced that bizarre phenomenon: a feeling of overwhelming grief at the death of someone whom I did not know. Not only had I never met Walt Disney, I had – rather surprisingly – never even written him a fan letter. Yet, I had been bereaved of someone who held a truly unique place in my affections and the loss felt achingly huge.

During the fifty years since that day, I have continued to study and, occasionally, write about the life and work of Walt Disney and, in the process, had the privilege of meeting many of those who knew, loved and (occasionally) loathed the man. Now, once again, I am working on a book about Disney and am realising that I am passing on a torch to those who will come after who will not have the familiarity of having lived when Disney was still known throughout the world as a flesh-and-blood person as opposed to just a corporate name represented by a copyrighted signature.

That knowledge, as much as anything else, is what fires my enthusiasm, because, whilst my experiences and encounters have brought me very close to feeling that I understand much about the personality and character of Walter Elias Disney, I have never been – and never will be – as close to him as I was on that morning when my father called upstairs to tell me the news that Walt Disney had died.

Wednesday 14 December 2016


Now on at Chris Beetles Gallery in London, an exhibition featuring 194 pieces of original art by one of the great modern illustrators available for sale.

JOHN BURNINGHAM: An illustrator for all ages – from 'Avocado Baby' to 'Granpa' exhibits five decades of original illustrations – all filled with a wonderfully sophisticated naivety – from much-loved children's books across five decades.

You can view all the items for sale here.

The exhibition is catalogued in an 88-page publication containing all the items exhibited accompanied by an excellent appreciation of Burningham's work by David Wootton. The catalogue can be ordered here.

Chris Beetles Gallery
8 & 10 Ryder Street
St James's
Telephone: 020 7839 7551

Gallery Opening Times: