Sunday, October 22, 2006

Mervyn Peake, artistic licence and little legs.

Yesterday was spent with Cat, Alan and my goddaughter Ellie. We were looking at pictures and eating dumplings.

1. Mervyn Peake's pictures. We went to Chris Beetle's Art Gallery which has an exhibition of Peake's work. We saw the original drawings he did for Quest for Sita, which I have loved since the moment I first saw them. They so far out of my reach it's not even worth considering them. But the gallery man chatted to us and assured me that one day, I would own a Peake. I have faith, and I have a 30th birthday coming up. The gallery always has some Peakes in stock and will pull a selection out of the archives with a bit of notice. I am very much looking forward to a trip up to town a bit nearer the time to go and choose my Peake. Also exciting was that Peake's son Sebastian had come in to see how the sale was going. There was another exhibition -- Ronald Searle, who I know and love from Gerald Willan's Moleworth. We were told that he correpsonds only by telephone or preferably fax. His faxes scroll out covered in little doodles, 'So we want to keep our fax machine!'

2. Sitting in the National Gallery I overheard a mother and her little boy's conversation. The boy was copying a detail from a portrait of the Capel family and I was making notes for one of my Other Projects. My occasional comments to Cat, who was leaning against my back, wove in and out of the mother and son's dialogue: 'Look at his green stockings,' 'They remind me of Malvolio's [in Twelfth Night] yellow stockings with cross garters.' 'That little girl on the right is holding something. I bet it's a mouse.' 'Did you hear what that lady said? She thinks the little girl is holding a mouse.' 'What's the baby got?' 'It's a chilli pepper.' 'I think it's something for it to chew on.' 'That portrait over there of the King of France has one too, look.' 'I've got every colour but red, I'm afraid. You'll have to do the chair in black and colour it later.' 'Only the baby is looking at the artist.' 'The girl on the right looks so sad. She looks as if she's about to burst into tears.' 'She has tummy ache and wants to go to the loo.' 'I think the mother is saying to the dad: can we have a break? She needs to go to the loo. But he's saying: no, just a bit longer.'

3. Obligatory Ellie Beautiful Things: She is trying to crawl, but can't quite work out how to get that second leg behind her. It's a tricky movement -- try sitting with your legs in front of you, knees akimbo, and see if you can tip forward on to all-fours. It helps if you imagine there is someting you are reaching for (probably something digusting that your parents don't want you to stuff in your mouth). It's funny to think that in a few weeks when she is scooting around clearing low shelves of books and poking things into electric sockets, Cat and Alan will be nostalgic for the time when she stayed where you put her.

And I love the way people respond to her. They say that Londoners are unfriendly, but the number of people who smiled at her sleeping in her pushchair with her hood pulled over her face was phenomenal.


  1. Londoners may be unfriendly like they say but we cannot resisit the pure innocence of all those little peaceful babies in their various pushchairs. Tugs at our heartstrings. (smile)

  2. Clare
    That's spooky. I was trying to write a comment on your blog and things weren't happening properly so I logged out and back into my blog - only to see that you had been posting a comment on my blog at then same time! Perhaps we are inexorably linked! Thanks for taking another guess at my word of the day. Your guesses are great. I think it will inspire other contributors to "up their game"! What I had originally wanted to say was thanks for the first comment. Also to say, you were one of my 3BTs for the day! It was "Clare (of 3BT fame) visited my site and added a comment!" So thanks, Clare, for giving me such a happy moment. Now I'll be hanging out for the moment when you add me to your "sites which are quick" or "sites which divert". Not sure which I prefer... Also, what an interesting snatch of conversation you overheard and mentioned in today's post. Thanks for sharing it. I'm continuing to enjoy your blog and really appreciate your list of bloggers who also 3BT because it gives me a relatively reliable list of blogs to visit. It makes it easier to find blogs I can relate to. And now you've added more. Even cooler.

  3. 1. There was an old guy in a cowboy hat playing guitar on the subway platform - he was pretty good but no one had given him any money. I put a dollar in his guitar case and then, randomly and miraculously, he started playing my favorite song.

    2. Tall ships. Grey skies. Salt sea.

    3. A lousy and unfortunate dinner is counteracted by a scoop of almond cookie and a scoop of black sesame at the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory.

  4. Your postings are such a bright ray of sunshine in a dark cloudy day!

  5. I just wanted to echo Word Imp. I looked through "Blogs of Note" and didn't really find anything "notable." Your blog made such an impact with me. And I love Word Imps play with words. This is fun! I am glad I did check your blog. I wouldn't have found Word Imp's.


  6. Oh, Clare, this post was beautiful all-around!
    I do hope you get a Peake for your 30th!

  7. Oh, I've got some Searle seriographs - I like.


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