Archive for January, 2022

Blackpaint 697 – The House of Usher

January 30, 2022

I’m just going to use some of my recent stuff to break up the blocks of type. They’re not illustrations of the text, just markers.

Since Marion died, things are falling apart. Without a discernible reason, thick layers of grey dust and lint appear where none did before; hairline cracks in plaster are widening; appliances are dying at various paces. The dishwasher leaks occasionally, enough to have swollen and distorted the composition floorboards, and it no longer gets things properly clean. I now have to wash plates and cutlery before I put them in the machine: thoroughly, I mean, not just a rinse. Light bulbs are dimming, flickering and dying after years of faithful service – but they didn’t when she was here, My Ipod no longer charges up.

I can’t work out why all this is – I did all the hoovering for years, the cooking mostly, washing up and general cleaning so no reason why all this should be happening. It’s as if the house has lost heart, as if the fact of her being here alive cast a clean spell and kept things going. Has anyone else experienced anything similar?

Vanessa in Studio

The Mystery of Edwin Drood – Dickens’ and my unfinished novel

I took a break after the last section to put dishes in the washer – it overspilled again, so clearly it knows what I’ve written about it and is taking its revenge:my guess is that the computer informed on me as I wrote.

As a last example (for now) of tech failure – or, more likely, intentional sabotage – I was reading Edwin Drood on my Kindle. I came to a place where new characters were introduced, with a complex back story, outlined at length by Dickens. A new love interest was introduced, a young Swiss girl and Obenreiser, her overbearing and sinister guardian. The scene shifted to the Swiss Alps; I read on, waiting patiently for Dickens to tie these new characters in with the earlier story. It didn’t happen – I finished the book and discovered that I’d been reading “No Thoroughfare”, a short book written in instalments by Dickens and Wilkie Collins. Somehow, I’d skipped out of the world of Drood into the Swiss Alps. I know Edwin Drood is unfinished, but the one thing I do know about the content is that it has a spontaneous combustion scene, which I was keen to read and I’m sure it didn’t go past without me noticing. I blame the Kindle. Trouble is, the Dickens is one of those collected works without a “page” you can go to with the novels listed, so very difficult to navigate and find your place. I fear I’ll never get to read the combustion scene now.

Peach Orchard Mama

The Alpinist (Sky Documentaries)

This channel is constantly showing really excellent and varied material and this is one of the best docs I’ve seen since “Positive”, the three parter on the history of HIV/AIDS in Britain (for which my son got a producer’s credit, but that didn’t affect my judgement in the slightest).

Marc – Andre Leclerc, a young Canadian climber from Squamish, British Columbia is the subject. He climbs vertical faces of alternate rock and ice, changing his shoes when necessary while clinging by his fingers or hanging from one of the two ice axes he uses (he sometimes hangs one from his shoulder). He doesn’t use ropes; sometimes he climbs without detailed route planning – just finds his way as he goes. He hates to be filmed or watched climbing and disappears without telling the documentary team where he’s going; they chase him over half the world, following rumours.

In one sequence, he is on a huge curved sheet of ice, trying things out, hacking in with his axe, pulling on it to see will it stick? The camera pulls back too, a little- and we can see that the ice sheet is separated from the wall of rock by a couple of feet, maybe more. Toe curling (mine, not his) literally.

I won’t tell you how it ends.

Adrian in Studio

I haven’t been to an exhibition or done much painting since last blog, but hoping to rectify that in the coming weeks, so that I can write about more interesting things – unless of course the house does a full Edgar Allan Poe; collapses and swallows me in a pile of broken bricks.

Francoise on wet, tatty cardboard

Blackpaint 696 – Get Back, Gone Fishing on Knot Island

January 6, 2022

OK, I’m having difficulties obtaining illustrations for my magnificent prose today (no doubt due to climate change or Brexit) so I’m just going to bung in some of my old pictures, purely gratuitously, to break up the chunks of text.

Get Back, Peter Jackson 1969, Disney

Three episodes, each feature length, of the Beatles filmed in the studio, rehearsing, composing, bickering, clowning – but above all, smoking – in an attempt to write, learn, rehearse and record an album AND put on a live show to package it. Yoko Ono is a constant watchful presence, occasionally screeching unbearably for minutes at a time, as the vocalist in a sort of improvised freak out. Paul, generously bearded and authoritative in a huge tweed overcoat, tries to keep things focused, but often succumbs to the collective urge to jam old rock songs – Little Richard, Eddie Cochran, Carl Perkins, Elvis – which seems to serve the function of relaxing them and “getting the juices flowing” (cliche, sorry).

John comes across as a total arsehole; he sneers, fools around, calls Glyn the sound engineer “Glynis”, sabotages attempts to get things done, is clearly involved in an undeclared power struggle with Paul and shows off to the cameras of the film maker, Michael Lindsay Hogg and to Yoko. Linda and Paul’s children show up a couple of times, but unlike Yoko, Linda shows no signs here of thinking she has a role in the band’s strategies.

There comes a point where George just declares that he’s leaving the band and walks out. It’s pretty clear his grievances are related not only to the plans of their management team to stage the show at a huge ruin in Libya (!) but also to the general wrangling in the band; Paul and John and Yoko.

The last episode is the best – things to watch for:

The arrival of old Hamburg mate Billy Preston, just visiting. The band is delighted and all the wrangling stops – for a while (how did they pay him? Equal shares, I hope).

John’s awe of Allan Kline; “He’s incredible – he knows everything!”

The amazing tolerance they all show of Yoko’s awful howling during the daily freakouts.

George Martin’s astounding good temper throughout.

The change in Lennon when the rooftop concert begins. Suddenly he’s all about business, and it turns out he knows every song perfectly; that’s him, not George, playing the solo on “Get Back”.

The police. They are great, all of them, authoritative and yet completely powerless in the face of friendly and apparently cooperative non – cooperation.

Gone Fishing, Paul Whitehouse and Bob Mortimer

I’ve been transfixed in a very gentle way (is that possible? Not really, is it?) by this pair’s wanderings, bickering and surprisingly successful angling adventures over Christmas. They are very funny and the humour appears to be natural and effortless; the frequent pathos is always undercut by irony (Bob’s account of his father’s death in a crash with a lorry-load of tinned peaches, for example).

Trouble is, at some stage, they must have sat down and pitched this thing to TV executives. You want it to be really real – maybe a TV crew just happened to see them fishing one day, followed them unobtrusively filming from a distance…. It must have been difficult and expensive to get access to all these rivers – I thought angling clubs pretty much had British rivers parcelled out and locked down to members. Great series, whatever.

One last thing on this series – I’m usually really irritated when I find I’ve recorded a version of a programme with a signer in the right hand corner. Possibly opening myself to a hate speech accusation, but it’s a distraction, for me anyway. But the episode on South Uist was it? where they were after sea trout was graced by a lovely woman signer, who was obviously enjoying the programme as much as I was. She was a joy to watch.

Knot Island

I thought I’d put up the three stages of my latest painting – after all, de Kooning did it with one of his “Woman”s, and there’s a series of 10 or 12 different stages of “Guernica” – so why not me? It’s my blog, after all….

Knot Island (original- 10 years old)

Knot Island (well, maybe….)

Knot Island (final) – yes, inverted, but also some extra charcoal and green paint…

OK – Fed up wrestling with this thing tonight, so I’m going to stop now. Hopefully, atmospheric conditions will allow me to be more connected up next time….


12th Night, 2022