Wednesday 28 February 2007

Almost like a real job ...

Our painters' group, Figure 8, had a good day today. We took some work to the Library Gallery and talked with the deputy curator.

It's a good gallery, with good lighting, display cases for sketchbooks and the like, and constantly passing public.

By the end of the meeting, we'd arranged a show there next January for 8 weeks. Transport of works is available courtesy of the Council van, all publicity will be handled and paid for by the gallery; they'll arrange a private view for us and pay for it (including the wine)

Best of all - and this is the first time I've known anyone benefit in this way, despite the Arts Council's recommendation - the gallery will pay each of us £100 as Exhibition Payment Right.

I think we all went home with spirits uplifted. All we need now is a show this year.

Friday 23 February 2007

New Element Discovered

While I was in the US, a major research institution announced the discovery of the densest element yet known to science. The new element has been named "Bushcronium."

Bushcronium has one neutron, 12 assistant neutrons, 75 deputy neutrons, and 224 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 311. These particles are held together by dark forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons.

The symbol for Bushcronium is "W".

Bushcronium's mass actually increases over time, as morons randomly interact with various elements in the atmosphere and become assistant deputy neutrons in a Bushcronium molecule, forming isodopes.

This characteristic of moron-promotion leads some scientists to believe that Bushcronium is formed whenever morons reach a certain quantity in concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as "Critical Morass".

When catalyzed with money, Bushcronium activates Foxnewsium, an element that radiates orders of magnitude more energy, albeit incoherent noise, since it has ½ as many peons but twice as many morons.

Thursday 22 February 2007

Back in the UK

I got back from San Francisco last Saturday.

Despite having a two hour scheduled wait at Chicago O'Hare, we actually found we had less than 15 minutes to leg it from one gate to another, in order to catch the flight back to Heathrow. Haring down the concourse, trying not to fall over children with their imitation roller-cases or bump into elderly Chinese matrons with bigger than normal holdalls, is an exercise I'm not ready to undertake again any time soon.

Since Saturday, my body has resolutely refused to switch from San Franciscan time and although I feel fine, I seem to be completely out of phase with the world around me.

Wednesday 7 February 2007


This will be my last post for a short while. On Thursday morning, weather permitting, Patsy123 and I will start a convoluted journey to Austin, Texas, to party with some buddies.

Then we're off to San Francisco for a few days, before flying back via Chicago.

Be good, y'all! Yee-ha!

Monday 5 February 2007

Run, Zip, Run!

They're dropping like flies. Everybody. Round about. Turkeys too. Poor Patsy123 spent the night evacuating from both ends. I live in fear and trepidation. Can I escape this plague of intestinal disorders? At least until after I jet off to the Lone Star State on Thursday?

My friend Doctor Bob is full of good advice:

Hot curries in general help sweat things out by stimulating secretions from the linings in the nose & sinuses. Hence the chilli cure. Also cinnamon is an excellent antiviral and antibacterial. (Which is why you shouldn't mix cinnamon and live yogurt - it becomes cinnamon and *dead* yogurt.) The specific action of turmeric is as an anti-inflammatory - it is very good against arthritis for that reason.

That settles it . I intend to spend the next few days gorging on lime pickle to ward off the malaise.

Thursday 1 February 2007

Voyage of Discovery

I waited until the day was waning. There were fewer people about and, as I got on the bus to Newcastle, there was a huge moon low in the sky, already brilliant in its fullness.

"Gateshead, please," I said. Why did I do that? My mind must have been on other things and now, here I was with a ticket to Gateshead Interchange, when I had intended to go directly to Newcastle.

At the Interchange, I got off and when the next bus came along, I got on that one.

"Newcastle, please."

In Newcastle, I realised I had no particular reason for being there.

I wandered round town, looking in the Waterstones Twins, where I found a BBC CD of Betjeman reading some of his own poetry. I decided to come back and look at it some other time. In W H Smith's, I flicked idly through the pages of Mojo, toyed briefly with the idea of using my fingernail to slit open one of the other sealed music magazines, but eventually found I hadn't sufficient interest. I lingered a while in Fenwick's deli, but couldn't see anything to tempt me for dinner.

I was definitely in full flaneur mode.

When the novelty had worn off, I got the bus home. "Black Horse, please." That's in the next fare zone, I reminded myself.

Last week I would have paid £3.50 for my travelling. Today it cost me nothing at all.

I have made my first journey using my Concessionary Travel Card. I am sixty.


I've spoken before about the local free paper and it's penchant for non-news, but this week it carried a more solid item (lifted mainly from the Council's website) on the newest of Gateshead's public artworks.

There's a railway viaduct near the Tyne Bridge and in five of its archways there are now five words, each made of aluminium and LED lights, attached to plywood.

The words are NO, NO, NO, NO and yes, you've got it, NO.

Miles Thurlow and Cath Campbell are the artists responsible. Obviously, something as profound and complex does take two artists to create it. Thurlow said:

We were interested in the idea of installing a text piece that raises questions about its surroundings and what that could mean.

It's deliberately ambiguous. By giving an answer, it forces you to find a question. The meaning comes from the person who's looking at it, and not directly from the piece itself.

It works like a mirror, making you reflect and question your surroundings, political situations and perhaps even your personal life. It's very subtle and you almost don't notice it as you walk past.

It's designed to catch the corner of your eye and to start you thinking. We liked the idea of people just chancing upon it and wondering why it is there and what it might mean.

I think these people live in another world from my own, which only intersects with mine to the very slightest degree.

My dictionary gives some of the meanings of subtle as: mysterious or evasive, hard to grasp; perceptive or acute; ingenious, elaborate, clever.

None of these applies from my perspective and I wonder what the good folk of Gateshead will think . I don't think it "forces you to find a question," other than why someone should bother to have made this thing.

Rather than subtle, I think I'd go for vapid - insipid, lacking interest; flat, dull - but more likely pretentious - making an excessive claim to great merit or importance.

I'll say this about text-based art: it makes you value the meaning of words.