Saturday, September 30, 2006

I don't know what I like but I do know about art.

Art Class, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

Just as one always wishes Morris Dancers possessed some kind of rhythm and did not prance around stiffly just missing the beat so I always wish that I could love the art of any of the pavement artists I have seen.

I am always reminded of an exhibition of Prisoner's art I once saw which seemed to comprise of surprisingly well crafted pictures of alsations and other pet manly dogs, garlands of flowers around the word mother, bikers sprouting angel wings and riding into heaven and (of course) pneumatic page three girls. There were no grounds, for me, to either appreciate or criticise what was on show because the aesthetic was so very different to mine own. It was so different, in fact, that I came away not feeling superior because of my better taste but reproaching myself for being a snob.

This guy has been chalking his pictures in the centre of Norwich for at least twenty years.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Sally Ann and the Devil's best tunes

Raising the Maypole, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

The Salvation Army is an entirely estimable organisation which works tirelessly for the least well off in Britain and I both admire them and the work they do. I do find it, however, a delightful irony that the Salvation Army rent a shop in Lower Goat Lane, Norwich which has seven protected by statute stained glass pictures depicting an imaginary and entirely pagan medieval world. That a temperate, straight laced organisation like the Sally Ann is forced to play host to a series of pictures depicting drunken revelry and in one case a picture full of sexually charged imagery has been a matter of joy to me since they first opened the Charity Shop in the early 1970s.
But then I probably need to get a life.

In the picture above three men, one stripped to the waist raise a sturdy maypole. In the background a woman lewdly plays the bagpipes. Next to her another woman tries to restrain a child. Not the average kind of image that appears in the War Cry.

This above is the only panel with any name or signature that I can find; It reads Yuletide P C H Bacon but whether this means they were the work of the London based stained glass manufactures Messrs Percy Bacon & Bros I am unable to say. The other six panels are not all yuletide scenes; which begs the question have some others in the shop been destroyed with time.

Were panels like this available 'off the shelf' to be put into pubs, shops and homes? Certainly we have all seen stain glass windows inserted into turn of the century homes and pubs.

The heads in all the panels look as if they could be used in other pictures. Witness the chap on the right above; He could be used for an Apostle or even Christ.

The Punch Bowl

Apologies for all the converging lines and strange angles in this series. I was having to duck behind and above furniture, cupboards and customers to take them.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Market Farces.

Much hot air has been expended about the recent reorganisation of the market. I feel it might be interesting to show the second reorganisation (the first was in Victorian times) that was completed in 1936. Market, Memorial Gardens and City Hall were designed to be one homogenous whole along with various improvements to roads and tree planting along the Walk and beneath the Guildhall.

This (probably copyright) picture is taken from the Souvenir programme for the opening of Norwich City Hall 1936. This is the sketch that was provided by the architects (C H James and S Rowland Pierce) after they won the the architectural competition held to choose a new design for the building. The layout for the market was designed by Robert Atkinson.

City Hall did not quite turn out as in this picture but the market did. Please note the presence of a tram in the foreground and also the statue of the Duke of Wellington which was later moved to the Cathedral Close. It was still envisaged that all the stalls would be cleared away at the end of each day allowing a space for meetings, dances etc. Ironically given how claustrophobic the market has become the programme says "It has been the aim of the Corporation to ensure that the new Market Place shall form part of a civic centre worthy of a City famous for its open spaces."

Edwin Lutyens' war memorial has been moved from below the Guildhall and placed in "a terrace garden which it is hoped, will make a colourful foreground to the new building and also a position of dignity for the War Memorial. Beneath the terrace a large vault has been constructed in which the Market Stalls will be stored when not in use."

"The Market Stalls for the most part will be open wooden stalls of the usual type, which will be of a uniform design. The fishmongers and butchers, however, will be provided with a box type stall designed to keep the fish and meat exposed for sale free from dust and dirt"

"All the stalls will be covered with canvas tilts of varying colours, so that the Market will lose nothing of its previous picturesque appearance."

The Angel Of The East

Long before Anthony Gormley had built The Angel Of The North. it was envisaged to have a 30 foot tall angel perched 185 feet above the City of Norwich. I am sorry that it never was built.

Monday, September 25, 2006

I wandered lonely as a clod

The morning after I took these photographs, what should fall out of my copy of The Guardian but a giveaway wallchart called Clouds identifying the more common types of (surprise, surprise) cloud.

I think that these are altocumulus stratiformis from looking at the pictures but I suppose they could be stratocumulus lenticularis

That is the problem of all handbooks and guides; You need to be an expert in the field in the first place to be able to interpretate the photographs. An ex-neighbour of mine used to get over this by refering to all flowers as geraniums and all birds as pigeons or robins. 'If you say it firmly enough' he would say, 'No one questions you.'

But conferring the ability to be confused while attempting to identify clouds is not the best thing about my free wall chart. At the bottom of it, written in letters so tiny that you need an electron microscope to read it, are the words "with thanks to the Cloud Appreciation Society" and yes they have a website. Full of lovely photographs but also (may God have mercy on our souls) poetry featuring (I quote) "members’ and visitors’ poems that are cloud related".

Mind you I am feeling very let down. I was brought up on

Red sky at night,
Shepherd's delight.
Red sky in morning,
Shepherd's Warning.

but instead of the warm and balmy weather this verse makes it my right to enjoy, it is really pissing down with rain this morning. I feel really betrayed. To whom does one complain about this sort of thing? Can I sue? We expected better under New Labour.

Over the garden wall: Sunset
Over the garden wall: sunset originally uploaded by Colonel Blink

Friday, September 22, 2006

Me and the one and only Billy Shears.

That the singer's going to sing a song
And he wants you all to sing along
So let me introduce to you
The one and only Billy Shears
And Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Walking through Norwich I saw this van stopped on double yellow lines.
I wanted to photograph the man who had taken the name of a character from one of the Fab Four's most famous songs but he would not let me. "You can photograph the van", he said "but not me in these clothes". (He was wearing pre-faded blue denim jeans and jacket, a black t-shirt and a black machine knitted wooly hat without a bobble if you are wondering). I offered him a light for his roll up and left him to his sartorial inelegance.

As I walked off to cross the road on my way home I caught him out of the corner my eye watching me go wistfully. Oh God seemed to be written on his face what if he was with the New Musical Express and I am watching opportunity stroll away?

Anyway let me introduce to you his one and only van.

Colonel Blink finds it necessary to point out that there are hundreds of musicians calling themselves "Billy Shears"; here for example is a Scottish group and here is a chap in Canada. None of them, to my knowledge, is the "real" Billy Shears. As far as I know the name Billy Shears came from the nickname of the man who used to cut the Beatle's hair (a dab hand with a pudding basin presumably but utterly crap on guitar). I could be wrong but I realy do not care. Please stop emailing me. It's only show-biz and therefore "nothing is real and nothing to get hungabout". Get a life.

Leather and Chrome

Leather and Chrome, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

I don't know who owns or rebuilt this Yamaha. It was parked on the pavement outside an amusement arcade (which somehow figures) with no one about to lay claim to it. A careful 0bserver will find divers portraits of the photographer reflected by the chrome.

This is not your average babe catching machine though because it is designed for a solitary rider. The exhaust pipes are presumably why there is no room for a passenger behind; anyone sitting pillion would have their feet burnt off.

In the interests of International Harmony I print these extracts from that excellant though entirely imaginary publication The Rough Guide English- American Dictionary

Pillion: noun
A seat behind the rider of a horse or motorbike etc.
Pavement: noun

Thursday, September 21, 2006

I went in for a tetnus booster and came out with an acute aphid infestation

No, this is not the counter of a garden centre. This is the reception desk of my doctor's surgery. It is a jungle out there. The waiting room may be full to bursting but over half the place is given up to a tropical rainforest.

Only we don't have doctor's surgeries any more: we have health centres. This is the Woodside Health Centre but perhaps Woodinside would be a more appropriate name.

No need to wonder where all the millions of pounds the government has poured into the health service has gone because it is quite plain: Its all been spent on bloody Baby Bio.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Night Terrors

Night Ridden, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

There is no need to believe in headless horseman and ghostly apparitions when steel and chrome can move so mysteriously in the night. In Hammer horror films they lock the doors and close the shutters to protect themselves from the undead; In the 21st century we do the same but to protect ourselves from our fellows.

Maybe the supernatural has updated itself for modern times and instead of the Flying Dutchman and spectral Carriages we have broken bicycles; only we have innoculated ourselves with countless viewings of Nightmare on Elm Street and the Texas Chain Saw Massacre and no longer can recognise the marvellous. Or maybe the manmade horrors of Darfur is more horrifying than anything the spirit world can produce.

The next day - morning is broken

The next day - morning is broken originally uploaded by Colonel Blink

Six hours later it has moved down the road under the cloak of darkness. By the next night it will probably be in the river. By coincidence that day I heard Jeremy Hardy on the radio say "Pavements are for pedestrians, roads are for cars and canals are for bicycles"

Thursday, September 14, 2006

How to talk like a toff.

Trowse, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

This sign seems to be making a derivational link between the village name Trowse and Tree-House. Trowse is pronounced to rhyme with house unless you are one of the upper classes when you will pronounce it trice. In the same way that they call a house - hice and trousers become tryzers. Similarly you will hear garage pronounced gararge (the second syllable pronounced to rhyme with the first syllable of Argentina.

Which reminds me.

In the 1980s a titled bigwig from the board of Debenhams decided to pay a call on it's Norwich branch to rally the troops and check everything was running smoothly. British Telecom had not long been privatised and the store manager proudly showed off the special display of telephones on sale. The window dressers had gone to town and they nestled in a jungle of house plants.

"How much is that fern?" said the bigwig. "There is no price ticket".
"The ferns are not for sale" explained the store manager "They are there for display purposes only which is why they are not marked with a price"
"How much is that fern?" insisted the bigwig in a louder voice.
The store manager felt harrassed now. It is not for sale he explained but if 'Sir' would like it, we can have the plant put in his car as a gift from the Norwich store.
"No. No" said the titled bigwig now quite cross 'I mean how much is that telefern"

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The damn dog

Sea sky and sand, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

'poorly' eye
Those of a sentimental nature may care to know that we cured his eye completely by using the traditional treatment of throwing twenty five quid at a vet.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A blood moon hangs overhead

A blood moon hangs overhead, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

Monday, September 04, 2006

'Give me the blandest thing on the menu'

You really can't make it up; a restaurant called Tasteless.

Presumably some kind of post-modernist ironic joke to catch the eye of passing punters. Yum I can't wait to have one of their pizzas. Unless of course by tasteless they mean that the burgers are all in the shape of willies and the waiting staff dress up as concentration camp guards.

I confidently expect the arrival of a burger house called Catmeat. Soon.

After all we already have in the City of Norwich the Silver fish and chip shop

Friday, September 01, 2006

There are a thousand stories in Norwich City and this is one of them

10pm. Wednesday August 30th.

I am walking through Norwich, going to the pub.

A man is sitting cross legged on a blanket and works on his Apple notebook in the open porch to Bethel Street Police Station. He is totally focused on the task in hand and as I walk past he does not lift his head. He gives no sign that what he is doing is anything other than ordinary.

The situation is similar to one of those Edward de Bono lateral thinking tests where an odd situation is postulated and you have to give a rational interpretation but truthfully no matter how hard you try you will not come up with a totally satisfactory explanation.

I stop, turn and take a photograph. Thus another strange occurance is catalogued and almost made safe. I reflect that I am not the only one to have mechanisms to keep the bizarre at bay. I light a Hamlet and continue my walk to the pub.