Mensa Mensae Mensam

Which as anyone who has had the misfortune to study Latin at school will be aware means table. This is the story of a table: (mensae).

A few days ago a friend was sorting out the garage and decided to get rid of a kitchen table, a heavy sturdy table with a tiled surface.

Collette saw the potential of this as a much better surface on which to use her sewing machine  than her present table which has been severely eroded by the cat using each of the legs in turn as a scratching post and has lost a certain degree of structural integrity as a result. The “new” table arrived on Saturday afternoon.

Before we put its legs back on we had to clear space in Collette’s studio which meant moving a variety of items into the kitchen first moving dishes etc off the expanding table, doing the washing up and extending the table.

The new table was duly be-legged and stood up in the middle of the studio. This left relatively little room for manoeuvre and so we started dismantling the plastic shelving in the corner only to discover it was next to the telephone socket and had also developed a complicated relationship with various leads and power cables running from the power socket on the other side of the room, supplying the router, cordless phone base  unit and wifi computer printer. This meant moving a chest of drawers ( drawers, which had to be taken out in order) into that corner. This chest (sans drawers) promptly shed one of its castors in protest and required a cork to be wedged underneath it instead ( thankfully we somehow have managed to acquire an abundance of these)

_plasticslidingpuzzleThe plastic shelving units started off being stood in the hallway where they teetered under a growing pile of displaced items as the rest of the surfaces in the studio were “systematically” cleared in order to move more furniture around.

A tall cabinet with small flat drawers was tentatively lowered down the rickety stairs into the basement where after the lugging around a couple of heavy table-top etching presses it has settled in with only a minor amount of disruption, one sheet of broken glass and the generation of two bin bags of rubbish.

One plastic shelving unit was eventually dispatched to the first floor where after moving the sofa it conveniently hides the patched hole in the wall left by the builders that came round last week. A second shelving unit has finally found a home in the bedroom (more corks required) after a brief sortie to the basement where it didn’t really gel with its neighbours. The small white table that was its predecessor has made its way down to the hall.

Sunday dawned on a bleak landscape of piled up stuff on most flat surfaces of the house.

The bathroom resisted all attempts at permanent assimilation  of refugee furniture whereas the kitchen succumbed. After moving the combination cooker/microwave, decanting several cupboards,  and coming perilously close to accidentally defrosting the freezer the final shelving unit managed to sneak in and make itself at home in the corner, where it is happily creaking under the various trays and tins that previously resided in the oven. A quick trip to Argos for two wheelie vegetable racks solved the tricky problem of where to store the provisions for 3 extremely picky cats with widely different tastes and also for the comprehensive biscuit collection that we appear to have acquired.

An evening trip to the off-license replenished our (not exactly dwindling, but you can’t be too sure) supply of corks and a set of heavy-duty castors has been ordered to facilitate the final manoeuvres of the new table.

Surfaces are starting to re-emerge from the debris , and whilst it may be weeks before we can find anything again it is indeed a very nice table!

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Snow Balls

east-hill-snow.jpgIts cold, its January, and its Britain. 

Cue weather topping the news; “Arctic blizzards cause travel chaos for millions”

Translation: a short spell of totally predictable seasonal weather causes the thermometer to dip below 0°, the rail “network” to grind to a halt (as opposed to running like clockwork (literally) the rest of the year), cars to be abandoned by the side of ungritted roads and planes to be diverted to places where snow is not a problem (all of Northern Europe).

The prime minister will don green wellies and a Barbour jacket and reassure the country that “everything that needs to be done will be done” after Googling those towns and villages suffering the most and discovering they’re nowhere near London and probably didn’t vote for the government.

There will be powercuts, people eating each other on stranded trains, schools closing and hordes of unfettered, behooded little darlings running riot. Pensioners will fall over and shatter. There will be massive conflagrations as a whole new batch of Brits discover fire, sales of brandy and vodka will soar and a Yeti will be spotted somewhere near Watford.

Not since a head grew legs and ran across the floor in “The Thing” will Britain have experienced such isolation and sheer horror….

There will of course be a silver lining.  Plumbers will  love all the frozen pipes, utility companies will have an excuse to crank up prices, I get to plug one of my snow pictures and above all we Brits get to talk officially about our favourite subject; THE WEATHER!

Me? Cold never bothered me anyway!

Pelham Plaice

A strange day. A couple of months back a sizeable chunk of the front of our (rented) house fell into Pelham Place, the wide stretch of pavement that separates us from the busy A259, the beach, the English Channel and ultimately, France.

Yesterday I bought a big bag of freshly caught plaice from the fishermen just along the road from  in front of the beach where the fishing boats are landed. (Hastings has the only beach launched fishing fleet in Britain).

Today was the day when an engineer, a surveyor, the landlord, the letting agent, two builders and several blokes who just tagged along for the free tea all turned up and proceeded to cut holes in the walls to try and determine what, if anything, was still holding our 19th Century building up.

All this whilst I beheaded, de-tailed, filleted and breadcrumbed 15 slippery plaice. The kitchen was knee-deep in finely crushed cornflakes (the best breadcrumbs!) and the hallway was full of sawdust.

It turned out the building (built sometime between 1815 and 1825) was originally timber framed, to which  an outer layer of bricks had been added, followed by a decorative render.

The town and cities of Britain are full of interesting buildings, thrown together in a completely haphazard manner with virtually no overall plan, sacked by invading armies, burnt down in Great fires, bombed,  ripped asunder by property developers and “improved” to fit the fashion of the day. New building are made to look old, Old buildings are made to look new(ish) and nearly every building has a story. A lot of architects in this country appear to have been early pioneers of the Microsoft operating system mode of thought; glue a bit on to what’s already there, add a few rooms, a floor or two and a bit of extra roof, brick up windows and doorways when no longer needed and pray to god the damn thing doesn’t collapse!

Ours was originally built by a master gunner, who having survived defending the Mediterranean from Napoleon’s navy decided to settle in Hastings and become its first coastguard – protecting the great, great, great, grandfathers of the fishermen who caught that bag of Plaice we will be eating for the next month!

hastings

… the deep end

So, my blog has finally been  launched, a champagne bottle has been ceremoniously smashed on the bow and the empty, inelegant hull has  slipped sideways into  the water, to a  round of applause from the small crowd of onlookers. All it requires now is “fitting out”!

Which to abandon the ship analogy means it needs a bit of layout tweaking and above all some posts!

I have been sifting through a vast pile of subjects all night – they rush me like  approaching waves, crash into my brain and swirl about in little half-formed sentences, foam up into the semblance of paragraphs and then recede leaving a few glistening words on the sand.

I could write about etching; I have spent a good 40(ish) years and wasted a couple of tons of copper on this branch of printmaking, Maybe screenprinting? The materials have changed dramatically since I used to print posters in a small squat in Kings Cross whereas I still etch using much the same methods as Rembrandt.

end-of-the-line-st-pancras
End of the Line – Kings Cross, Etching 1992

Certainly painting and art although my thoughts on these change by the minute.

Guitar? for a few years I wrote satirical songs and annoyed the loyal pubs and clubs with my “witty” warblings

Or cycling, longbow archery, swimming, food, computer games, politics, history, economics, films, TV, computers …Life, the universe and everything?

I am essentially a serial obsessive, much to the annoyance of my friends and family and I have no idea where this blog will wander off to!

Jumping in

Having had a website for almost as long as Google, I’ve decided to jump into the brave new world of blogging. Unfortunately my career has been a little more low profile than that of Google (so far, anyway – but here’s hoping). It seems to me that a blog is a much more immediate form of communication than a website – particularly my website, which is huge and full and consequently something of a nightmare to update. If you’re curious go have a look here http://www.ryepress.com  and don’t say I didn’t warn you!

I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to write abour disparate stuff, and not to have to limit myself to art. Politics, gaming, cooking, and living off thin air are all hobbyhorses of mine, and be warned, I can talk for England on any of those subjects!

Anyway, am off to cook the dinner now – but I feel great having made a start on the blog! Here’s a pretty, wintry picture of the town where I lived for over ten years and after which my art business is named.

slip-down-mermaid-street.jpg
Slip down Mermaid Street, Rye –  acrylic on paper