poetry & plasterwork

Yesterday, I went to a breakfast meeting at Stoneleigh Abbey.

Stoneleigh Abbey
We ate in the saloon, whose ceiling features this magnificent plaster relief depicting Hercules being welcomed by the gods after his death:
Stoneleigh Abbey Blue Saloon
I visited the Abbey a couple of years ago and went on a tour of the house; sadly, the photos I took then are currently on a computer that won’t boot, so I only have a couple of pictures I took on my phone as discreetly as possible during the meeting.
Continue reading “poetry & plasterwork”

capture that moment

 

Ellen Terry takes a selfie

Ellen Terry takes a selfie

la Inmaculada

Tiepolo: inmaculada concepción
Although I now spend most of my time in the UK, I still work with people in Spain and – due mostly to the lack of response to my phone calls – I am very conscious of the fact that today is a fiesta.

In fact it’s the fiesta de la inmaculada concepción – celebrating the immaculate conception of Mary, mother of Jesus.
Continue reading “la Inmaculada”

light relief

Midnight Moths owl: Birmingham  Big Hoot Art Trail. Artist: Alyn Smith
When I told a friend that I’d been looking through old poems trying to find one to send to a competition with the theme darkness, he laughed and said I should find that easy: after all, I write lots of dark poems.

In fact he was wrong. The subject matter isn’t always the most cheerful, but I do tend to find a bright twist to things. Like the owl in the photo – the Midnight Moths owl from Birmingham’s Big Hoot Art Trail – I can’t help but see the stars.

Coincidentally, yesterday I came across the word eigengrau: the colour that we see when there is zero light.

It seems that even in perfect darkness we don’t actually see black: our optic nerves make us see a dark grey instead. Perhaps we should re-name them optimistic nerves. Perhaps I should write a poem about that.

“the birdcage”

For reasons irrelevant, last night I stayed in a strange hotel in London. “Strange” in the sense that I had never stayed there before, and “strange” in the sense that it was not like any hotel I had ever stayed in previously.

chandelier and stained glass
Continue reading ““the birdcage””

roaring drunk

I spent an interesting morning on a private visit to Stoneleigh Abbey in Warwickshire, where I found the beast in the photo.

white plaster lion

The young lady who showed us around told us that the word “plastered”, meaning “drunk”, derives from the habit of adding white wine to plaster to keep it malleable: the artisans who worked with the mix were exposed to the alcoholic fumes all day. What’s more, she said, they were allowed to keep and drink the wine that remained unused at the end of the day.

I’m really not convinced that a drunken artisan could produce the spectacular plasterwork of which the lordly lion was just a tiny motif. I note, though, that the decoration was in the room known as “the saloon”.

the next big thing: “hope street”

Lance Tooks drawing from Sketches from Spain
Fellow-writer Karin Bachmann has asked me to join in “The Next Big Thing”, an internet project where authors from different countries, different ways of life and different writing backgrounds answer the same ten questions about a work in progress.

For her own contribution, Karin talked about Mord in Switzerland, an anthology of crime stories from around Switzerland; you can read about it on her stories47277 blog in the post The Next Big Thing.

As part of the project, I, too, will invite five fellow-writers to write their own TNBT page and will link to them on this page below my own answers. As Karin put it: “It’s like a chain letter, only that no bad luck will come out of your not participating ;-)”

So, here are my answers about an up-coming poetry book:
Continue reading “the next big thing: “hope street””