Sunday, 23 September 2012

A Fitting Experience

Well, after its Odyssey, I had a look at the print and it seemed fine so I took it to be framed.

I went along to Thames Gallery on the East Dulwich Road - which for the sake of argument I will count as outer Nunhead, and had a very enjoyable experience.

The shop wasn't very busy and I didn't have to wait very long - and then I got personal attention.  We (the person serving and I) laid the print out on the floor and tried various colours of framing card (is that what you call it?) and wooden frame, to see what would work best together, and with the print.  It was a complex, long and wholly pleasurable aesthetic process, involving quite personal choices. 

I have to admit that it reminded me most of having a made-to-measure suit chosen and fitted.  Anyway, the print is away being framed now - it will take a couple of weeks.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

After a Long Odyssey...

My Print appears to have arrived!

(I haven't yet dared to open the packaging...)

Olympics Problems

This is worth a look: Five Things the Olympics Got Wrong.

Monday, 10 September 2012

The Nunhead Olympics - 2

Moving on.  I didn't make it to the Olympic Park, but other members of the family did.  Here are some of the things they saw.
Their visit included the Olympic Stadium and the wonderful Cauldron, Usain Bolt in the heats (did you spot him?), the wild flower meadows and the cable car.  I think I'm jealous of all except the last of those...

Poem of the Week

Do Not Stand at my Grave and Weep
Mary Elizabeth Frye

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.

Sunday, 9 September 2012


While we were on Dartmoor we didn't just climb tors, visit pubs, look at ponies and try archery.  We also visited Buckfastleigh.  Home of butterflies, otters and a preserved steam railway...

The butterfly sheds are hot and humid, with tropical (I guess) plants.  The camera lens steamed over very quickly, and could get very few pictures.
And the butterflies were so quick, they were hard to catch.
The otters were alert, lively and endearing.  The otter sanctuary has several types.  We watched them being fed.
And then there were the trains.  Buckfastleigh is on the South Devon Railway, and of course is ex-GWR.
We stood and looked rather than rode.  And then went to the caff, and I ogled the model railway stuff in the shop (it really is quite comprehensive...).  And then farewell...

Saturday, 8 September 2012

First World Problems

Following a promotion a few months ago at work, I thought I'd like something original for my new office wall (my predecessor quite rightly took all his prints with him when he left). 

So after some thought, I thought I'd buy a print of a piece by Martin Herbert.  I was at college with Martin many years ago, and at home we have one of his original pieces ('Small Dragon on the Rye'), so this seemed a natural choice.

Anyway, I decided I'd like a copy of "Design for a Flying Machine to Escape the Bank Manager" - the original of which Martin put on sale for a price which was exactly the size of his overdraft at the time...
Martin and his artist wife are based in the middle of Wales, so I originally thought it might be nice to go up and see them, and pick up the print that way, rather than use an online service.  Also, that way he could keep the handling, shipping fees etc for himself.  Cut out the middle man, kinda thing.

However, Martin told me that I really had to buy the print from Saatchi, where he currently has it placed  - but he would upload a higher-resolution image, to allow a better range of sizes.  So I went online and placed my order. 

The shipping costs added 39% to the price, which was marginally underwhelming.   What was even more underwhelming was that the shipping number they emailed to me (a UPS parcel tracking number) provided a link that told me my package had been delivered over a year ago! 

Eventually, after a complaint and email exchange this was sorted out (it seems it was all to do with UPS re-using their tracking numbers, which does appear on the face of it to be abominally stupid).

And I discovered the print was being shipped from California.  Well, that does mean it will take a little longer, I thought, but at least it is some kind of reason for the high shipping costs.  Although, why a print from a Welsh artist delivered via theWeb site of a company owned by a Brit has to be shipped from the US is beyond me.

And then a couple of days ago I received a letter from ParcelForce - who now seem to be responsible for delivery.  Those shipping costs hadn't included UK import duty.  So my new print was being held at customs until the import duties were paid.  

I must stress again, this image originated in Wales.

Anyway, it isn't so much the amount of the duty (it doesn't amount to all that much although it does cause the total delivery costs to increase to over half the cost of the print itself) - but why was there no mention of this, that I could see, on the Saatchi site?  More to the point, why wasn't it just invoiced for when I bought the print?

So with a heavy heart I went online again, to pay the duty, only to find the ParcelForce site was abominably slow.  But at least, after three attempts, it seemed to work.

They say it will arrive Tuesday.

Oh, and when I last spoke to Martin, he still hadn't had any indication from Saatchi that one of his prints had been sold.... nor any deposit in his bank.  So, strictly seen as a 'machine to escape the bank manager', this online stuff isn't working.

You know, perhaps it would have been better to nip up to Wales, have a pint with the artist, and pick up the print after all...

Friday, 7 September 2012


... from a whistlestop trip to Newcastle.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

... and Worse Still...

He also appears to have gone on record to defend homeopathy...

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

At a loss for words...

So. The much-reviled Andrew Lansley is moved away from Health, where he has done so much damage, to scenes of great National jubilation ...

... and he is replaced by Jeremy Hunt.

Sorry, did I miss a memo?

Sunday, 2 September 2012

An Experience

Today on the Green we had the annual Nunhead Experience.  With the usual blacksmith, facepainters, stalls and bike-powered band...
Tonuight we get bike-powered free cinema!  (With other stuff in Peckham). 

Poem of the Week

The Big Rock Candy Mountain
Harry McClintock

One evening as the sun went down
And the jungle fires were burning,
Down the track came a hobo hiking,
And he said, "Boys, I'm not turning
I'm headed for a land that's far away
Besides the crystal fountains
So come with me, we'll go and see
The Big Rock Candy Mountains

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains,
There's a land that's fair and bright,
Where the handouts grow on bushes
And you sleep out every night.
Where the boxcars all are empty
And the sun shines every day
And the birds and the bees
And the cigarette trees
The lemonade springs
Where the bluebird sings
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains.

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains
All the cops have wooden legs
And the bulldogs all have rubber teeth
And the hens lay soft-boiled eggs
The farmers' trees are full of fruit
And the barns are full of hay
Oh I'm bound to go
Where there ain't no snow
Where the rain don't fall
The winds don't blow
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains.

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains
You never change your socks
And the little streams of alcohol
Come trickling down the rocks
The brakemen have to tip their hats
And the railway bulls are blind
There's a lake of stew
And of whiskey too
You can paddle all around it
In a big canoe
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains,
The jails are made of tin.
And you can walk right out again,
As soon as you are in.
There ain't no short-handled shovels,
No axes, saws nor picks,
I'm bound to stay
Where you sleep all day,
Where they hung the jerk
That invented work
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains.


I'll see you all this coming fall
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Gregory's Again

Good to hear Clare Grogan on Radio 4 this morning.  Her voice sounded almost completely unchanged from the 80s.  Rather like all those nice HHGTTG people.