micromuseum trees

Botánica Tomo II

This is the 2nd Chilean post in the micromuseum section. For the first one go here. A couple of weeks ago I included a drawing which pointed an accusatory finger towards this micromuseocosmic instance. That was here. The monkeys illustration was from a Chilean textbook from 1927 that my father had when he was at school there. It must have been shortly before he was sent to boarding school in England.

Here’s the front of one of the other books.

And now some illustrations from this book. Firstly this is what I take to be a baobab tree and I’m not even checking to find out whether I’m right or not. The drawing suggests to me a tree that reproduces by spreading itself out rather than dropping seeds. It’s a typical ploy by a lot of plants that come from a tropical latitude.

The 2nd illustration has something that is reminiscent of a painter I mentioned recently which is Magritte. The cabbage and roots suspended in the air has a somewhat surrealistic feel to it. It’s interesting that photomontage was a favourite device of many of that movement’s artists. Ernst in particular immediately springs to mind.

And here’s a rare colour picture. That must have been pretty exciting back in 1927.

Finally my pièce de résistance. This one would make a lovely tea towel or tray design, maybe even an apron. I intend to earn a fortune selling it via National Trust outlets.

micromuseum music trees

as regards tintin street

At last I have managed to finish the demo I started a while ago. It gives me a chance to put up a couple more bits of Hergé artwork in an unassuming manner. I can’t see the harm in it myself. I’ve called it RV Marche RG which is pronounced as if you were speaking French to give it an English quasi-phonetic spelling it would be ‘ervay marsh erjay’ or something like that but really you need to get that guttural French R to give it it’s most satisfying rendition. Really I know that properly my initials should be reversed and be ‘vayeur’ rather than ‘ervay’ but the thing is I’ve never reversed my initials – yeh sure I’ve reversed the letters of the name because that makes Trebor Yesav which could easily be a Georgian sculptor or a Macedonian boat-builder – but Georges Remi did reverse his initials which gave him his distinctive pen-name.

The song stems from a street near where I live which for some reason I call Tintin Street. Quite often when I’m coming home late at night I pause for a while on this street (which is quite a steep hill) and reflect. I’ve thought a lot about why I call it Tintin Street but I can’t quite pin it down. It was sort of an instinctive thing. I’ve looked through the various books trying to find some point of reference but with no success so far. Here follow some street and house images from the cartoons.

My Tintin Street is very different from the actual street that Tintin lived on. We just get glimpses of that. Here seen from a vantage point slightly higher than the 2nd floor window suspended in the air outside the building.

And here from the middle of the road outside. It’s quite a busy street in the middle of town. As you can see the glimpses of the street usually coincide with a dramatic incident – abduction in both these cases. Firstly Bunji Kuraki of the Yokohama police force and secondly Tintin himself.

So what is the reference point? The madeleine in the tisane? Is it the balconied window?

Or maybe just the shutters?

It could be the long, high concrete wall that I refer to in the 3rd verse of the song. Plain walls are popular with cartoonists for obvious reasons.

Or possibly it’s all a mistake and I was thinking of another famous Belgian.

[René Magritte L’Empire des Lumières (detail)]

Anyway here’s the track.

RV Marche RG

gigs literature micromuseum music nonsense

What will be and what’s gone past

This is just an interim post to jot down a few things that may be coming and a few that may not. A few follow-ups and advertisements where the 3rd syllable sounds like eyes and is stressed accordingly.

There will be a Neureille gig at the Kingsdown Vaults in Bristol on Saturday 3rd December. Proposed line-up will be Paul Wigens on drums & percussion (small kit), Everton Hartley on bass guitar & guitar as well sometimes probably, Tom Ranby on whichever saxophone he fancies that night. I will be playing my Spanish guitar rather than my Strat. Laura Lambell might make it too to do some vocals. We will be playing songs from the 2 albums, disparue & amanogawa plus possibly doing some other things. And I hope to have a few guests to do some cameo appearances plus some sets. I will provide more details when I’ve worked that out. Unfortunately Ant Noel won’t be able to make it as he’s playing a solo gig that night.

But I will be doing a couple of things with Ant over the next couple of weeks – Sunday 13th November at the Somerset House in Clifton Village and Tuesday 22nd November at the Merchant’s Arms in Hotwells. I’m not sure exactly what sort of thing the session on the 13th will be, but I’ve done a couple of the Tuesday night sessions already with Ant and my contribution has been as a quartet with Everton and myself on guitar, Ant on mandoline and James Stallwood on clarinet as we did at the event I described in an earlier post. It’s a great line-up. We’ve only played 4 songs so far but we could easily do a 45 minute set at the drop of a hat because there’s a lot of freedom and improvisational possiblities there.

I’m a bit behind at posting things here, but I’m working on a demo of a new song which will make a nice post with some more artwork from The Adventures of Tintin. Too much day-work right now is slowing me down, but that is due to finish at the beginning of December. Other posts I have promised are

  • Wintersol – sequel to Musrum (another one for the Nonsense category)
  • Edward Gorey Part II (again Nonsense)

One that I promised which I decided not to do was on the wreck of the Medusa. I found that this had been covered pretty extensively in a work by Julian Barnes. There’s something a bit plagiaristic I find about that sort of thing. Borges was able to do it ok and Umberto Eco also does it in a way I find acceptable, though I must admit I can’t call myself a huge fan of either of those writers. In other words, I think covering the Medusa raft story is ok for a blog post but to me it shows a lack of inventiveness to rewrite the narrative in a novel, however nice a style you have. So sorry about that.

To conclude the Fool’s Gold saga I will be putting up the track that I recorded back in 1983 or so which uses random snippets from the text. This easily ties in again with Nonsense as does another post which I’ve been meaning to write based on the work of NF Simpson who died earlier this year.

I’ve mentioned Kafka in the last two posts and so I’ve just made that a run of 3, but at the moment I’m simultaneously re-reading The Complete Short Stories and also The Diaries. After that I’ll re-read the Walter Benjamin essays and then maybe write further on the writer who I feel in many ways made me write the way I do. All this takes time and creative energy so may not happen until next year.

On the micromuseum front I should like to do another postage stamp set + I took some photos of some strange Chilean artefacts which need to be manipulated and I also need to think what possibly I can write about them, for they are mysterious and very difficult to research. Other micromuseum things I planned were a post on Alfred Wainwright’s book, Fellwanderer, some of John S Goodall’s illustrated small books and probably some other things, but now it is late – gone 3am and I must be up soon after 7.

I couldn’t be bothered to put the usual links I put in, in this post. Occasional sloppiness can only lead to perpetual sloppiness, but the excuses are there.


micromuseum 6

Here’s another book for the micromuseum. This is a collector’s item selected for me by a collector, my old friend Nick Fielding, who I haven’t seen for years but one of these days… I’ve known Nick since we were both students and soon learned of his ability to spot collectible items. I think it must have been a birthday present and can’t remember him ever giving me anything else though he probably did but it wasn’t a collectible item. It’s a book which is called Paris Salon 1893 (or something similar) and is a catalogue of pictures and sculptures for the exhibition that year at (as the titlepiece shows us) the Champs Élysées Grand Palace.

I have selected 3 pictures to represent what was on display. There is a great deal of variety and by no means are these necessarily typical, my reasons for selection are as usual totally selfishly whimsical. Here’s the first.

Aurélie Léontine Malbet’s touching foray into the world of the rat apparently was not unusual for her as you can see if you follow this link to an image of her exhibit for the 1888 salon. But female artists were definitely unusual for the late 19th century salons. It would be pleasant to find out more about Mlle. Malbet’s life and work, but she is somewhat obscure. This thirteen year old notice of a sale at Christies in New York suggests that her work may be worth investing in.

The 2nd picture shows that image reproduction left a bit to be desired in those days. Again it’s a bizarre subject. Danton was one of the leaders of the French Revolution, responsible for sending many to the guillotine and ending up as victim himself. It seems he was devoted to his wife and after she had died while he was away (possibly visiting the army?) on his return he had her body dug up so that he could see her one last time. As far as I know, it is not recorded whether he regretted having gone to that extreme. I don’t know how long she had been dead but unless she had somehow been purifyingly embalmed in some fashion, the body would have been stiff and starting to decay. It’s not the way I’d like to remember somebody.

The artist, J-N Sylvestre can also be found on an auction lot, ten years old in this case. Not quite as valuable as the Malbet but if an ancestor of yours had bought it for a few francs 120 years ago, I’m sure you’d be happy to sell it for a couple of thousand euros.

Finally this is a picture by probably the best-known artist today of the 1893 salon – Eugene Delacroix. I’ve not got anything to say about this picture. I’m reproducing it purely as a sort of prelude or precursor to a future post I intend to write related to one of Delacroix’s famous paintings – the Raft of the Medusa.

micromuseum vinyl

micromuseum 5

The vast majority of my vinyl collection consists of LPs but I have a small number of singles. Some of them have great covers. Here is a selection.

This is a re-packaging of music probably about 30 or 40 years old at the time of release. Being a child of the time I particularly love the late 50s early 60s design style.

This one’s not so tasteful though. It’s from 1958 and possibly shows that UK design standards were behind US at this time. Still it’s colourful and is not totally without charm. And another example of the then booming market in 45 inch singles. Here’s the liner notes.

Yes, indeed it’s Party Time – and there’s nothing like a good old sing-song to get YOUR party under way. The drinks may be flowing nicely, the cigarette smoke curling up to the ceiling… and here’s the record to get even that non-drinker non-smoker sitting over there in the corner, to join in the fun.

You couldn’t have better guests than the Embassy Singers and Players, champion ice-breakers when you want things to go with a swing. They’ve brought along a dozen of the most popular songs of the century – so gather round your record-player, turn up the volume control (if all your neighbours are present) and let it rip. All together now…

I love this portrait of Los Llopis. It’s obvious that the outer pair are brothers (presumably Manuel & Francisco Llopis). But I like to think that the two in the middle are brothers too. All I can find is that the other two musicians are called Manolo Vegas (vocals) and Leandro (saxophone). So Leandro could have been a Vegas too. Maybe he didn’t use his surname so people wouldn’t know.

Finally a younger single – from 1967 this one. I bought it a few years ago from a charity shop. Not much to say about its design qualities. Not too much to it other than choosing between a couple of fonts and matching colours, but it’s an interesting enough photograph of what looks to be a press conference promoting Chaplin‘s last ever film. Sitting alongside the director is the film’s female star, Sophia Loren,while the male lead, Marlon Brando, is behind on the left. I’ve never seen this film, which pretty much bombed apparently on first release. I’d like to see it some time, because it strikes me that Chaplin wasn’t capable of making a bad film.

micromuseum quotations vinyl

Not Lear But Lehrer

When I was about 8 or 9 my dad bought a record and encouraged everyone in the family to listen to it. I was the youngest. We all enjoyed it and to me then it was sort of a breakthrough into what you could find funny. It was sick but it was also very clever and made you think about things. The songs on the record were copyrighted in 1952 and 1953. Lynch’s Blue Velvet is like an 80s remake. Samuel Franklin George Dwight Gloop, son of Mayor Gloop, turns into Frank Booth

I still have the 10″ record which I guess didn’t hit the British market until the early 60s about the time my dad bought it. Here’s the front cover.

Below I’ve embedded a clip of Lehrer performing 2 songs the 2nd of which is from this album. But before that here’s a few quotations from the great man from an interview he gave about 10 years ago.

Laughter is involuntary. If it’s funny you laugh. But you can easily clap just to say ‘A ha, that’s funny, I think that’s funny.’ Sometimes they cut to the audience and you can see they are applauding madly. But they’re not laughing.

I have become, you might call it mature I would call it senile and I can see both sides. But you can’t write a satirical song with ‘but on the other hand’ in it, or ‘however’. It’s got to be one-sided.

The people who go to comedy shows are kids that don’t know anything, I think, and so you have to make jokes about your girlfriend or your family or that kind of thing only, make them as vulgar as possible.

The audience usually has to be with you, I’m afraid. I always regarded myself as not even preaching to the converted, I was titillating the converted.

micromuseum stamps trees

Tree Stamps

It’s been a long time since I last posted a stamp series so this time I’m combining another category to try and keep the whole category thing meaningful.

Malaysia gained independance in 1963 so this stamp must precede that. Trees usually feature on stamps as incidental but in this case they are central to the image. Deforestation rates are greater in Malaysia than anywhere else in the world.

The rand became currency of South Africa in 1961. The random quality of the criss-cross background to the fruit tree is weird.

Early shields of Ceylon under Portuguese, Dutch and British dominion all featured coconut trees (and elephants). It’s hardly surprising that Sri Lankan cuisine should feature coconuts so much. In 1432 a Chinese gentleman called Ma-Huan visited Hsi-Lan-Kuo (as he called it) and wrote

The cocoa-nut, which they have in abundance, supplies them with oil, wine, sugar, and food.

I think this is a commemoration of 50 years of Danish nature conservation

Finally a stamp from my own fair country, Britain I mean, not Sussex. I have 3 more from this series of paintings by Leonard Rosoman, who if he is still alive is about 98 years old. They feature Harlech Castle, The Cairngorms and Antrim. In 2002 Rosoman was the guest on the radio programme Desert Island Discs. The luxury item he chose to have on the desert island was a sloping lawn. I think to maintain a sloping lawn on a desert island would require magical powers.

One final point. The first and last stamps both feature the head of Elizabeth II. I think it’s highly probable that no other head has been featured on stamps more often than hers nor ever will be.

micromuseum music vinyl

micromuseum 4

The bulkiest category within the micromuseum is vinyl. About 800 items. This is the first one I actually bought back in the summer of 1971 while I was visiting my sister in London. I bought it from HMV on Oxford Street. It was something I wouldn’t have been able to get in the North-East where I lived at the time.

Most of the music I listened to at that time was on the radio or something I had taped from the radio. The piece of Ligeti‘s I’d taped was Lux Aeterna and I thought it was about the best music ever at that time. I might have had some more of his stuff but that one stood out. Somehow I’ve never actually seen the film 2001: A Space Odyssey so I didn’t know that Lux Aeterna and Atmospheres were some of the most heard pieces of contemporary classical music (for want of a better description) ever. I’m always interested in the fact that people can accept certain types of music as soundtrack to a film which they wouldn’t care to listen to without the visual element (especially if they have no memory even of the visual element).

Ok that’s the first one I bought, but the oldest member of the archive is this.

That’s not necessarily the oldest item in that I might have bought something older second-hand since then. In fact, it’s just the oldest survivor. I had more vinyl given to me before then, but it’s all now gone. I remember in the mid-sixties, my father bought a new turntable and it was the first he had which could no longer play 78″ records. To celebrate he joined in with my brother and sister and I and we smashed up the whole collection of 78s. In retrospect a mistake although I’m glad I haven’t been carrying them round with me all those years since then. I wonder how far they have regressed to natural mineral elements in some landfill somewhere in North Yorkshire. Probably hardly at all.

Actually Ligeti means a lot more to me than Rossini, but those are great overtures. La Gazza Ladra in particular means a lot to me. I can almost feel another Tintin post coming on.


Chilean Baskets

Sometime around 1910 my grandfather took a job in Chile as foreman or manager of a large wood mill. As a result of this there are a number of Chilean artefacts in the family some of which are in my care.

The featured micromuseum exhibit is one such. It’s a useless ornament, possibly a child’s toy, but tells a story of many of hours of skilled labour for probably very little reward. One wonders of the life of the person (or persons?) who made it. And was there a market for such objects outside the European emigrés?

Within the main basket are 11 nested baskets. This is the smallest one…

…and here is one of the larger ones from the bottom…

…that’s all

micromuseum stamps

Buildings Stamps

Time for some more stamps this time of an inanimate nature. The theme is buildings. What type of buildings appear on stamps? Usually there has to be some sort of significance – its picturesque quality. The first example is in my guess a religious building.

The Cuban Palacio de Comunicaciones on the other hand is a boast of modernity. Actually I really like the fact that there seems to be a gigantic brick wall behind it.

And now another religious building. Partly ruined? A ghostly presence drifts through the cloisters while in the light above the LIQ of REPUBLIQUE is that someone sitting in tranquil contemplation or is it a piece of modern sculpture? We have a name H.CHEFFER which is Henri-Louis Cheffer. Some websites think he was born in 1860, others 1880 but everyone seems to agree that he died in 1957.

If only I knew some Greek I would be able to explain what this building might possibly be. Looks like it could be a monastery. I’m more interested in what appear to be houses further up the hillside. They could be just ordinary dwellings and maybe that’s unusual.

And finally, from Japan. This building has probably got some sacred purpose too. So maybe most buildings on stamps have religious significance or otherwise it could be that the stamps I’ve chosen just happen to be that way.