Saturday 24 April 2010

England and Saint George

Blatant patriotism doesn't flow easily for the modern Englishman. The 23rd of April was Saint George's Day and I did my best to stoke the festival feeling.

Early on I got red enamel and white spirit all over my hands and the kitchen sink - an accidental act of symbolism, perhaps. After an afternoon sitting in the sun with Hampshire wine, Suffolk cider, cream teas and jelly and ice-cream, I was as pink as an old empire map.

Late in the day I asked Fred, Tom and Marianne for a few reasons to be proud of England:

We once ruled the world.
Our contribution to humanity (and science, art and music) vastly outweighs our size.
We led the fight against slavery.
Magna Carter, "the original Bill Of Rights".
Opportunity for young people in politics.

We have no dangerous animals, weather or seismic activity.
The countryside and coastline - the latter never being more than seventy-two miles away.
Small enough to travel around.
The multi-party system.

Polite and obstinate humility.
Stiff upper-lip.
The Queen. (Attribution uncertain)

My list (including many attributes that I want to live up to):
I am English and so is nearly everyone that I love.
An exciting lead-up to the election.
A history of excellence in science, invention, art and literature.
A genuine and active concern for the people all over the world.
Beautiful land.
A broad and impressive language.
The NHS.
Radio 4.
High aims: democracy, fairness, freedom, respect and constant self-scrutiny.

Now that I've addressed England, here's Saint George.

Thursday 22 April 2010

April Skies

When was it last remarkable to see vapour trails? I've been looking up in surprise all day because the planes have been switched back on after the Eyjafjallajökull eruption.

After another day of hearty sunshine, the fields on Southampton Common are dotted with small groups around barbecue fires in the dusk; the moon is particularly bright; the air isn't cold and I'm not entirely ashamed to say that I had a Traveling Wilburys moment.

On top of all of this I got 62% and 70% for the most recent project and essay.

Wednesday 21 April 2010


I've been in Oxford and it couldn't have been a better trip.
A coachload of us went up from college, to see the Ashmolean and Pitt Rivers museums.

My solo itinerary:
  • Tourist Information
  • the Sheldonian Theatre
  • the Bodleian Library
  • past the Radcliffe Camera
  • lunch in the Vaults & Garden caf√© at St. Mary The Virgin
  • the Museum Of Oxford
  • Modern Art Oxford
  • Oxford Castle and views from the mound
  • Worcester College and chapel
  • Uncle Sam's Vintage American Clothing
  • the Pitt Rivers Museum
  • Balliol College
  • the Ashmolean Museum
Here are a few of my sketches.

One of the statues on the Clarendon Building, viewed from the cupola of the Sheldonian Theatre.

Seen from the castle mound.

Worcester College chapel: the drama society rehearsing for Henry VIII.

Items in the Pitt Rivers Museum.

Balliol College gardens and chapel; displays in the Ashmolean Museum.

Number One Fantastic Day!

Monday 19 April 2010


The new term started today with life drawing. After a few hours I had warmed up and Paul Osborne, teaching us with ink, brushes and bamboo pens, liked these four of one pose.

Next time I hope Southampton Butchers, next door to the Solent drawing studio at the old cattle market, will have more pork pies.