Welcome to my blog, where I take pleasure in words and pictures, be they my own or those of others. I'm a creative individual, and the crafty side I explore on my 'other blog', Picking Up The Threads, which I hope you'll visit too. I'm sure you understand that I have sole copyright of my original work and any of my contributions, so please ask if you want to use them. A polite request is rarely refused. So, as they used to say on the BBC's 'Listen With Mother' radio programme, many years ago: "Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin."

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Kitchen Nightmares

Yerka Yacek. Between Heaven and Hell

This was going to be a tough one,
The place was alive with allegories,
A miasma of metaphors,
Where the artist had dipped his brush
in his soul, and drawn an analogy.

The similes were stacked as high,
As an elephant’s eye,
There was a suspension of disbelief 
on the table, and enjambment oozed 
from broken jars. A caesura put a stop to that.

Every surface was crawling with hyperbole,
Could he clear the clutter of rhetoric?
Gain a victory for verisimilitude?
He rolled up his sleeves, kicked the cat,
and swore to conquer Hell’s Kitchen.

©Marilyn Brindley

Kitchen Nightmares and Hell's Kitchen are of course, both T.V. programmes, shown in the U.K. and The U.S.A. The star was Gordon Ramsay, who would think nothing of swearing and 'kicking the cat' (1) to achieve a result. My nephew's newly acquired restaurant was the subject of a programme in the first series of Kitchen Nightmares; Gordon came in and acted as troubleshooter for my nephew and his partner. It was great entertainment and Gordon, by all accounts was a thoroughly nice guy. He hardly swore at all!

Tess Kincaid at The Mag gave us the picture as a prompt, and this was my response. Why not venture over there and see what other hellish scenes (or heavenly delights) it conjured up for other poets and writers. Or perhaps they found something in between the two.
"Every artist dips his brush in his own soul,
and paints his own nature into his pictures."

Henry Ward Beecher

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Lincoln and the Lounge Lizards

The title of my post isn't the name of a new pop group; it's about coffee! The Sepia Saturday prompt this week features the corner doorway of the Lincoln Coffee Lounge in Sydney, Australia, a haunt for artists and writers. I've pretty much covered the coffee theme in 'Let's Have Another Cup O' Coffee', but the English city of Lincoln was one of my own haunts back in the early seventies. I was at teacher training college there for four years and I lived and taught near the city for a further four years until 1978. As a student most of my coffee was consumed back at college and we were more familiar with local pubs than cafés. However, when my parents came to visit we would go to the High Bridge, overlooking the busy main street, or find one of the other quaint cafés or restaurants nestling amidst the ancient houses and shops of this historic city.

The picture above is of Newport Arch, Lincoln, probably at the turn of the last century. There is a corner doorway, but it's not a café or restaurant. The arch was the north gate of the Roman city Lindum Colonia. It was remodelled in the medieval period and has suffered damage from vehicles in modern times. Last year it was added to the English Heritage 'At Risk' register and has become a danger to the public as they pass through the arch. I have passed through on countless occasions, and probably became a little blasé about its significance. However, take a moment to consider the archway; fascinating as it is for us to peer at the sepia figures in the picture above, and carry out our usual musings about their lives, how much more thrilling is it to imagine Roman vehicles and people passing through on entry to the city? I hope a solution can be found as it remains the only arched Roman gate in the UK still used by traffic.

The building above stands on Lincoln's Strait Street and is known as The Jew's House. This dates from the twelfth century, and is one of the earliest town houses still in existence in England. It stands on Steep Hill (and yes, it is) and was associated with the thriving Jewish community of the medieval period in the city. Since then, it has had many lives and today, where M. Pickering once plied his trade, there is a restaurant. Click here to see how it looks now.  I expect they serve a decent cup of coffee. and I wouldn't be at all surprised if artists and writers frequent the place. There are certainly many students in Lincoln; in my day it was the teacher training college (Bishop Grosseteste) but today there is also a modern university. *Both images courtesy of Cornell University's Flickr photostream

Back in the 1930's there was a group  of like-minded young bohemians, including the poets, Vernon Watkins and Dylan Thomas who would meet in a café in Swansea to put the world to rights, in a similar way to those in the prompt picture. They were known as the Kardomah Gang. Kardomahs were a chain of cafés long before Starbucks arrived, and they had branches in most of the major towns in UK. When I was fifteen I was a 'Saturday girl' in the Nottingham branch on King Street. I didn't serve in the café itself but I worked at the counter upstairs where the coffee beans were weighed and sold. We also ground and bagged the coffee for individual customer's requirements. It was hard work as I was on my feet all day and I was paid very little, but I did enjoy meeting people. I would inevitably get the comment that it was lovely to work with the smell of freshly ground coffee all day; it wasn't. That part soon lost its novelty as I would go home with the fine dust of ground coffee in my hair, ears and nostrils! As far as I know that particular branch wasn't a meeting place for the poets either!

The Kardomah Gang are remembered in a radio play 'Return Journey' which has Thomas, on a winter's day, visiting Swansea after the war, when the Kardomah has been 'razed to the snow'. He is in search of his younger self and engages with various people to see if they have any memory of him. A passer-by says he hasn't seen him since the old Kardomah days when they would be drinking coffee-dashes and arguing the toss. Thomas asks him what they were arguing about:

Music and poetry and paintings and politics. Einstein and Epstein, Stravinsky and Greta Garbo, death and religion, Picasso and girls..........

And then?

Communism, symbolism, Bradman, Braque, the Watch Committee, free love, free beer, murder, Michaelangelo, ping-pong, ambition, Sibelius, and girls.......

Is that all?

How Dan Jones was going to compose the most prodigious symphony, Fred Jones paint the most miraculously meticulous picture, Charlie Fisher catch the poshest trout, Vernon Watkins and young Thomas write the most boiling poems, how they would ring the bells of London and paint it like a tart....

And after that?

Oh the hissing of the butt ends in the drains of the coffee dashes, and the tinkle and the gibble-gabble of the morning young lounge lizards as they talked about Augustus John, Emil Jannings, Carnera, Dracula, Amy Johnson, trial marriage, pocket money, the Welsh sea, the London stars, King Kong, anarchy, darts, T.S. Eliot and girls.........

 I wonder what the 'young lounge lizards' in the prompt picture discussed, and if it was half as interesting or as poetically remembered.

Join our own Café Society over at Sepia Saturday, where the subjects are bound to be as varied as the above, depending on how others have interpreted the prompt. If you are a true lover of all things sepia we also have a lively Facebook page.

Sunday, 24 March 2013


It was still light outside on a warm June evening, and as she drowsed, she had an awareness of a waking-world soundscape: older children playing in the street; a radio orchestra, her parents’ hushed conversation rising and falling, rising and falling; a lazy fly uselessly attempting an escape against the fluttering window blind, buzzing, droning, resting, buzzing; the mantel clock ticking away the minutes towards reluctant sleep. The sounds began to merge into one lullaby: music, chat, laughter, tick-tock-tick, buzz, buzz, buzzzz, until her book fell from her hands onto the bed.

Then came a different, discordant sound; the street door beneath her window echoed to a sharp, insistent rapping, reverberating through the house and jolting her awake. At that moment it seemed to her, the fly gave up its futile and half-hearted escape bid, the cosy summer parlour chat and music ceased and even the clock halted, poised between ‘tick’ and ‘tock’.

A new, deeper, unfamiliar voice rose between the carpet-muffled floorboards. Occasional words drifted up to her: sorry, inform, son, accident, dead, sorry, sorry, sorry. She strained to make sense of the broken string of sounds as she clambered from the bed, her book falling to the floor. A second’s silence followed in which she heard her own heart thudding and the blood rushing in her ears; and then her mother’s cry, her father’s sobs.

She fumbled the bedroom doorknob with numb and useless fingers as the sounds of anguish overtook reality. Standing at the top of the stairs, she watched her girlish self descend. No feet trod on the steps. No hands gripped the polished rail. She could almost reach out and touch her own pillow-tangled curls, falling down her back. She saw her thin cotton nightgown, clinging to her tiny frame. Almost at once she felt the carpeted tread of the last step beneath her bare feet as she stumbled into the room of blinding grief and despair.

©Marilyn Brindley

 *O.B.E. here stands for 'Out of Body Experience'. The description above records the one and only time my mother had an O.B.E. Her beloved brother, only a little older than herself, had gone out for the evening to his Boys Brigade meeting. His last words as he left the house, my grandmother would often tell me, were, "Goodnight my dears." A policeman brought the news that he had died in a tragic and freak accident. My mother, aged thirteen must have sensed something awful had happened and the sheer stress and sense of impending doom must have brought on this strange phenomenon. You can read more about this here

I'm linking this to Tess Kincaid's The Mag where the image below reminded me of of my mother's vivid description of seeing the back of her young self almost 'floating' downstairs.

Rene Magritte. 'Not to Be Reproduced' 1937
Why not see what other surreal experiences this image has evoked in other contributors.

Friday, 22 March 2013

We All Shine On

"We all shine on....like the moon and the stars and the sun..we all shine on, Everyone" John Lennon

We are celebrating artists this week in Sepia Saturday, and our prompt picture shows both photographic artists and those who work with paint, pastels and canvas. My own picture shows my late father, who was the real artist of our family. He had a talent for drawing from an early age, and illustrated his wartime journal with small line drawings and cartoons. Both he and my mother, who was equally talented at drawing, would sketch small pictures for me as a child, so that I could apply my own colours. Dad was a founder member of his local Art Society, where he became both Chairman and President and was made an honorary life member in recognition for his work. When Dad died last November, one of my painful duties was to write to the webmaster and ask him to remove Dad's work from their online gallery.

In the picture above, I don't think the peacock was the focus of his attention, but a fellow artist clearly thought it made an interesting image, and I'm glad they did. Peacocks are symbolic in art history and are often found in early Christian paintings and mosaics where they represent both immortality and renewal. Their feathers can be used to decorate churches during Easter. Through his paintings and pictures, and now through my blog, Dad is living on and our memory of him is greatly strengthened. As a Christian himself he would have been interested and delighted by the analogy.

"There is no death daughter. People only die when we forget them,' my mother explained shortly before she left me. 'If you can remember me, I will be with you always." Isabel Allende, Eva Luna.

Here he is again sketching on a family holiday in Northumberland some twenty five years ago. My daughter is sitting next to him, learning and gaining advice. At this age, my son was more concerned with running up the slope.

Dad also liked to take photographs, and as regular followers will know, he was always looking for unusual angles, poses and lighting. He may have been an amateur, but without his unique interpretations some of my Sepia Saturday posts would have been far less interesting.

In this shot he snapped the photographers from behind as we climbed onto an old tree trunk, the better to capture the breathtaking views. It was 1963 and I was on holiday with my parents in the Lake District. The daughter of family friends came along too. She looks as if she's looking down into the viewfinder whilst I try and steady myself and take my camera from the case. The view was of Lake Thirlmere.

This time I was the one who caught him on camera. The occasion was our Silver Wedding celebrations in 2000, and Dad had spotted a statue he wanted to record on film.

In 1988 my children took their cameras on a walk in the local country park near my parents' house. Dad snapped them both framing their shots of Alexandria Lodge in Bestwood Park, Nottinghamshire.

I wish I had the companion photograph to the one on the right but so far I have been unable to unearth it.

This one must have been taken a moment or two later and Dad's camera has been tucked away, but the image is frozen in time and Dad's smile shines on reminding us of a happy occasion; time spent with his grandchildren in a place he loved.

The artistic genes also live on. Here is my daughter that same year, and possibly during that same visit to her grandparents' house, as I recognise the decor.

And here is my son in 1994, fascinated by minibeasts and committing the images to movie film.

For more images saved for posterity go to Sepia Saturday and see what artistry other contributors have come up with using the prompt below.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

A Taste of Madrid

A year ago, for my 60th birthday we flew to Madrid for a short break. We were able to take advantage of discounts on our flights because we have resident status. We booked a hotel that was close enough to the centre to be able walk easily to the bars and restaurants. It was evening when we arrived at the Hotel Opera, which was situated close to the Teatro Royal.

The hotel's restaurant boasted opera singing waiters, but we decided to take a stroll into the city centre.

We found it a bit chilly, coming from Lanzarote, and it has to be remembered that mainland Spain does tend to be cool at this time of year. In the summer months one avoids the city at all costs, as it swelters in extreme heat.

There were many fountains, statues and beautiful buildings to see, but these could wait until morning as we went in search of a bar where we could enjoy some tapas. We weren't disappointed and were pleasantly surprised at the prices. For about seven euros we had a bowl of meaty stew, with crusty bread and a complimentary glass of wine. Fortified once more we enjoyed a further stroll, peering into brightly lit shop windows, before returning to our hotel.

No danger of getting the wrong room with numbers as large as this!

There were many old and interesting shop fronts to admire. Window displays were colourful and eye-catching, and of course it was nearly Easter!

We weren't here to shop however, and we needed to get an early start at the Prado Museum if we were going to see all the masterpieces on our list. I spent my actual birthday getting my art fix. We walked the floors for seven hours, with a brief rest at lunchtime in the museum restaurant. With works by Goya, Velasquez, El Greco, Bosch, Raphael and Tintoretto, I was in heaven. There were many famous pieces of course, such as Goya's two Majas, naked and clothed, but the most enjoyable part was discovering works of art which were not known to me before. I loved the work of Mariano Fortuny (1838-1874), especially the painting of his children relaxing in the Japanese Salon. Unlike London's National Gallery, which is free, the entrance fee to the Prado was quite hefty; however for a few euros more the ticket also included the museum guide, a fat, weighty full colour tome, which serves as a permanent souvenir. In the evening we could only manage to walk a few steps to a nearby restaurant and settled on La Vaca Argentina where we enjoyed a hearty steak and a bottle of wine with good service and in very pleasant surroundings.

You would think we'd sleep well after all that, but one of the problems of a hotel in the city is the street sounds, no so much of drunken revellers, as the refuse collections taking place in the small hours. Nevertheless, after a good hotel breakfast we once more set off, taking the metro, a few stops to the Reina Sofia Museum, having carefully checked opening times on the website. This however is all we saw of it.

The guard on the door told us that (unusually) it was closed for the day for special visitors. Undeterred we set off once more on foot to enjoy the sights.

The Plaza Mayor is not to be missed. This huge square is full of history, having been used in the past for parades, executions, markets and even bullfights.

Anxious to pack in as much culture as we could, we decided to visit the Palacio Real De Madrid (the Royal Palace). This was pretty much what you expect of a Royal Palace, generously decorated with paintings, furniture and other works of art, it was the epitome of opulence and just a little too much for our tastes. After the Prado the previous day, it was rather like a too rich pudding following on a from a satisfying main course, and sat just as heavily on the stomach. The favourite rooms here were the Royal Pharmacy where all kinds of of cures could be found in large porcelain jars.

We decided a visit to the Mercado de San Miguel would be a nice way to counterbalance the excesses of the Palace. An indoor food market billed as temple to gastronomy with thirty-three stalls selling tapas, wines, pastries and so on, to be consumed there or taken home to enjoy later.

Tempting and colourful displays meant we didn't go home empty-handed.

The locals think nothing of stopping off here for a bite to eat and a large glass of wine. This young mother obviously found it helped ward off the cold...or something!

Well, it was my birthday - Salud!!

This has been just a brief glimpse of the sights of this wonderful city. You can click on any photo to enlarge or view a slide-show in lightbox. If you click here you can see my Madrid Flickr gallery: everything from doorknobs to a whole street of shops selling stamps; a philately paradise.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

The Myth

Faun, Horse and Bird, Picasso 1936

Breathless, clutching at his throat,
Metamorphosis now complete,
Gone the hind legs of the goat,
He stands once more on human feet.

Uncertain, pushing as he stands,
With swollen tongue and aching head,  
He levers up with shaking hands,
And sways and rocks beside the bed.

Awakening, facing this new dawn,
The tortured dreams now fading fast,
Of horse and bird and muscular faun,
All merging into one at last.

Recalling now the night’s excess,
The sweat-stained sheets and fetid stink,
The nightmares and life’s tangled mess
He vowed to give up on the drink.

© Marilyn Brindley

Linking to Tess Kincaid's The Mag, where Tess provides the prompt to get our creative juices flowing.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Where We Were Then

This week's Sepia Saturday prompt is a picture of heads of state meeting for the Potsdam Conference in 1945. I haven't got any pictures of meetings, or round tables or famous politicians in my album, and although technically speaking I've been to Potsdam, it was only the railway station, where the engine of our train was checked by East German officials before our onward journey. I have, however, been to Potsdamer Platz in Berlin, which is named after the city where the prompt picture took place. What's more, it's nearly thirty years since my visit and the Berlin Wall was still in place. So, for this week's post I'm offering a few of the pictures from my 1984 three-day visit to Berlin, courtesy of the Royal Air Force, in which my husband was serving at the time.

Potsdamer Platz East Berlin 1984
The information board below shows some landmark dates in the history of Potsdamer Platz. I'm not going to write about it here as there is a wealth of information on the internet for those who care to look. Wikipedia alone has a very comprehensive page with many links. This is about our own personal visit.

We were stationed at RAF Rheindahlen when the opportunity arose, and we would have been foolish not to have taken it. We travelled on 'The Berliner' British Military Train with The Royal Corps of Transport. Our travel document shows the stages of our journey and marks points of interest. You can see them on Flickr here. The train was boarded and documents checked at various stages and and there is the stark message telling us that  between Helmstedt and Marienborn we should look out on both sides for guard dogs, barbed wire, minefields and watch towers.

The overriding impression from the train windows of the East was of an austere, colourless and gloomy landscape. The contrast on arrival in West Berlin came as a relief. We were able to see the sights of East Berlin but we were ferried around in a military coach from which we were not allowed to alight and which once more came under scrutiny constantly. We were told to hold our British passports up at the coach window and were not allowed to show anything else.

At the famous 'Checkpoint Charlie' we were warned that we were 'Now leaving the American sector' as can be seen on the sign on the right of this picture. This was a crossing point in the Berlin Wall for foreigners and members of the allied forces. It frequently features in spy books and movies.

 Another, much older, landmark, the Brandenburg Gate, was enclosed and inaccessible, sited next to the wall itself. I was only able to photograph it through the windows of the coach, hence the reflections of buildings and trees, which add to the ghostly and unreal feel. The gate dates from the 18th century, and was commissioned by King Frederick William II of Prussia as a sign of peace. Over the years it was the site of many historic events and stood as a symbol of a tumultuous Europe. Since the fall of the wall, only five years after these photos were taken, it once more represents a time of European unity and peace.

In the East we were able to visit what was then Germany's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Neue Wache. In 1984 it still represented a memorial 'to the victims of Fascism and Militarism'. After re-unification it was re-dedicated as 'The Central Memorial of the Federal Republic of Germany for the Victims of War and Tyranny'.

During our visit it was guarded by goose-stepping soldiers who made the very ground beneath our feet tremble as they marched past; even the memory makes me shudder.

Another memorable sight was the war-damaged church, Kaiser Wilhelm Gedaechtniskirche, nicknamed 'The Broken Tooth' by Berliners and left as a symbol of the ravages of war. The church still stands in former West Berlin, but is currently under new threat from traffic and water damage as this Reuters article explains. Even at that time it was covered in scaffold but was joined by new buildings on either side, also given the nicknames of the lipstick and the powder box, because of their distinctive shape.

The Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park was one of the most moving sights. The monument also served as a tomb for 5000 of the 80,000 Soviet troops killed in the Battle for Berlin in 1945.

All members of the Forces had to wear their uniform whilst on this trip. Here is my husband in front of one of the memorials in Treptower Park.

We did get to see some of Berlin by night. This is Theodore Heuss Platz, where our hotel, Edinburgh House was. I seem to remember we even visited some of the bars and 'nightclubs' very briefly, but this wasn't the Berlin of  'Cabaret'. Recently David Bowie recalled his time in Berlin (from 1976- 9) in his single, 'Where Are We Now?' and he recalls shopping in KadeWe, a huge department store similar to Harrods. He also took the train from Potsdamer Platz, bringing us full circle to where this post began.

That's where we were in April 1984; so where are we now? Well we Sepians are in the best place, as we can visit other contributors to this week's Sepia Saturday and see what they made of the picture prompt. Why not join us? We also have a Facebook group where we share further ideas and pictures.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

After the Storm

After the Storm, Playa Blanca, Lanzarote, March 2013

All night long we heard the crash and roar of waves upon the rocks,
Reaching a crescendo at dawn and encroaching on our dreams.

With the rising of the sun, came the lulling of the storm,
And an end to restless sleep and fears of shipwrecks.

We clung to the lifeboat of hope and the rafts of a new dawn,
The driftwood of despair now buried in the shifting sands.

Time to open the shutters and breathe the salty air of a new day,
Feel the hushed breath of the balmy breeze.

A new day begins; the warmth infuses our morning bones,
We stretch and listen sleepily to the calm, familiar lapping waves.

And now we smile and knowingly admit our thoughts,
Safe at last, we share a smile of confidence and relief.

© Marilyn Brindley

Linking to Tess Kincaid's Magpie Tales

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Mad March Days

Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack,
Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,
With a cargo of Tyne coal,
Road rails, pig lead,
Firewood, iron ware, and cheap tin trays.

We're back with John Masefield again this week, following on from my Box of Delights last week. I learned his poem 'Cargoes' at school and the rhythm of the verse rolls along just like the waves. The description of the three vessels has stayed with me, and was the first thing which came into my mind when Alan suggested boats as a possible theme for this week's Sepia  Saturday.

The Thames Steamboat Company's paddle steamer 'Mermaid', National Maritime Museum c1900
The picture is not of a 'Dirty British steamer' nor is it 'butting through the Channel, but as we are well into the 'Mad March days', I think I can get away with it. Our prompt picture actually features a steamer on the river at Mosman in Australia, about a hundred years ago. Also in the picture are buildings, trees, boats and a pier, all of which would have made admirable theme choices.

I was quite taken with the picture of 'Mermaid' but even more by this one. Now there's a poem waiting to be written!

Sail and Steam. Changing Tides. The Museum of Hartlepool
Researching John Masefield (1878-1967) for both last week and this week's post, I was fascinated by his story. After an unhappy start in life he was sent to train to for a life at sea, to break his addiction to reading, which is aunt, who was his guardian, thought little of. Poor John; fortunately her ploy didn't work or we would have been deprived of the rich heritage of his many stories and poems which stemmed from his love of words. Listening to stories of sea-lore on board ship only served to develop his craft. Unfortunately he suffered badly from seasickness and eventually he deserted ship. He lived as a vagrant for several months and then took odd jobs in New York, including as an assistant to a barkeeper. By the time he was 24 his first collection, 'Salt Water Ballads' was published, containing that other poem well-known to schoolchildren, 'Sea Fever'.

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship, and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face, and a grey dawn breaking.

Evidently, although he was a poor sailor, his love of the sea and ships was undiminished. There's no room to write the details of his life here, but he went on to become British Poet Laureate and garnered doctorates from Yale and Harvard universities, in America, and from Oxford University, among many others, in England. He continued to be a colourful and interesting character, numbering bee-keeping, goatherding and poultry-keeping amongst his pursuits. He continued his duties as Laureate into old age, publishing his last book at the age of 88. He died in 1967 and his ashes rest in Poet's Corner, in Westminster Abbey.

I can't let you steam away without sharing this remarkable three-minute movie clip of a 1900 paddle steamer, 'Brighton Queen', pulling into a jetty. There is an interesting parade of disembarking passengers, some of whom wave to the camera, and one gentleman even doffs his cap. It could even be the young John Masefield, gathering more material for the book he was about to publish.


If you've found your sea-legs by now, roll over to Sepia Saturday to find what other contributors have made of the prompt. If you have a love of old photos, or are just overtaken by waves of nostalgia you could even join in the fun of our Facebook group.

Sunday, 3 March 2013



Here lies one who drowned in bitter tears,
Weighed down by sorrows, grief and fears.
Her stormy life a shipwreck of emotions,
A sea of troubles, and abstracted oceans.

Twice drown’d; in real time on the day,
And then once more in memory’s replay.
Tempestuous loves and stormy lovers,
A raft of heartaches from which none recovers.

Dragged down by torments and by tangled hair,
She opens wide her mouth and breathes no air,
Instead succumbs to soothing waves of balm,
And offers up her soul, and now is calm.

©Marilyn Brindley

Submitted to Tess Kincaid's 'The Mag' where the image above, by 'The Fox and The Raven' was given to us  as a prompt. 

For those who are interested in such things, here are the references , mostly from Shakespeare.

“She is drown’d already sir, with salt water, though I seem to drown her remembrance again with more.”
(Sebastian, Twelfth Night: Act 2, Scene 1 by William Shakespeare)

“Alas, poor duke, the task he undertakes
Is numb’ring sands and drinking oceans dry.”
(Green, King Richard II :Act 2, Scene 2)

“To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether 'tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles.”
(Hamlet: Act 3,Scene 1)

Friday, 1 March 2013

The Box of Delights

'The Box of Delights' by John Masefield is a 1935 children's classic. It has been reprinted many times with different illustrations and its 1980 televised version became a TV cult classic in its own right. John Masefield was an English Poet Laureate, and although the style is very much of the 1930s, it is also beautifully written prose, with elements of poetry.

Here is my daughter in Christmas 1981 opening her very own 'box of delights'. The picture is a family favourite as it encapsulates the sheer joy of a four year old girl opening her presents on Christmas morning. There were more delightful boxes to be opened that day but none seemed to match the pleasure that this box of Lego Fabuland could bring. This was the hospital set with its buildings and cartoon animal characters. My daughter spent many happy hours playing with it and eventually it was passed on to my son's twins.

And here they are with another 'box of delights'.

This box is obviously not the original container of the farm models, which were collected over a number of years on a weekly basis with pocket money. How do I know this? Yes, you've guessed it, these were my very own delights, the Britains Farm set from the 1960s. They were played with by me, added to in the seventies by my own children, and now give pleasure to my grandchildren; what could be more delightful than that?

Our photo prompt for this week's Sepia Saturday challenge was a worker in a cardboard box factory.

As a student I worked in the Boots Company printing works in Nottingham in the early 1970s. Unfortunately I have no images, nor could I find any on the web. I do have my memories of some of the jobs we did. As well as printing cardboard packages, we produced flyers, posters, patient information leaflets to insert in drug packets, labels for the many Boots products and the famous Boots Diaries. The latter were a favourite amongst the students as we often worked together as a team on the production line. One of the jobs was simply to insert the little pencil in the spine; do diaries come with pencils these days? I don't know. We would often be so busy chatting that it wasn't unknown to send a whole set down the conveyor belt without the pencils! When we left at the end of the six weeks a parcel of the various diaries would be given to us, the favourite being the giant Scribbling Diary'.

I only worked in there one year; the other summer holidays I was employed at the Boots vast factory plant at Beeston, in the building called 'Pastes'. The pastes were filled in their individual containers, checked and packaged in boxes all on one conveyor belt. It was one of the most mindlessly boring and repetitive jobs I have ever done. I remember 'Horses' Cough Paste' and 'Piglet Anaemia Paste', but also 'Udsal Cream' for protecting cows' udders from cracks and mastitis. It contained lanolin and my hands had never been so soft!

For more delights unboxed clock in at Sepia Saturday where Alan is the overseer and others have been busy on their own production lines. You may like to join us in our Facebook Group, where we also have a productive and delightful time.