I was searching for something else which will feature on the blog soon when I came across the blog Ornamental Passions, dedicated to noticing all those small details on buildings’ windowframes and doormantels, carved plaques and now-baffling statues that London teems with. To my delight, one of the first posts I read shed light on this statue that I often pass in Lincolns Inn Fields.
1930s and 1940s Cairo, Alexandria and Paris mingle with elegance and sadness. I was reminded of it partly by Amy’s photos and partly by my latest book, Antonia Fraser’s memoir of wartime and post-war Oxford.
Beautiful photos from Amy Merrick’s Instagram feed, that remind me both of Mrs Smiling in Cold Comfort Farm, whom when abroad would wear lots of white dresses and all the young men in the hotels would fall in love with her, and my friend Sophia telling me that Cairo was a cheap and easy-to-reach place for a romantic weekend.
Sunday was spent at Cecil Sharp House, home to the English folk dance and song society, and also this wild mural and these carvings.
If you’re new to stumbling across these posts (welcome!), you may not know of my longing to be a shirt woman.
This was re-ignited by seeing Ann + Elizabeth on Friday; they are definitely shirt women.
Luckily here comes Maison Lebiche to the rescue, with their delicate embroidery as secret code on sweatshirts and collars. Images from the MB Instagram account.
A party of six settled at the next table, all countrymen in homespun, rawhide footgear and sashes, but two in broad-brimmed hats of plaited osier, the others in cloth caps…untroubled smiles and good-humoured wrinkles round their eyes and the corners of their mouths. Anyone would have felt calm and happy in their neighbourhood. Appropriately, as I divined…they were itinerant beekeepers travelling up and down the region and tidying up the hives for the winter.
One of many gentle passages in Patrick Leigh Fermor’s conclusion to his trilogy of his walk from Holland to Turkey in the mid-1930s, The Broken Road. I also liked his description of reading in bed in a loft above a wheelwright’s shop on a rainy day (“Dostoevsky ever since, and even the mention of his name, evokes a momentary impression of rain and fresh-sawed wood.”), or meeting the hotel-maid Rosa, who treated him to a nannyish scolding for wet shirts and lost belongings, and whom he treated in return by taking her to a showing of The Blue Angel, which evokes memories of her time in Vienna as lady’s maid to a grand hostess.
Looking forward to hearing these:
at King’s Place soon. I was there last night to hear these amazing women hold the room in their hand with tales of Miss Lalla (“she was just a precious person…she never went anywhere without her violin and her rifle.”), Jeanette and Jeanie, lullabies and dips in the archive.
Most heart-tearing of all was the 70 year writing to the Library of Congress in 1940, begging them to preserve the songs and stories of her now-vanished family in Maine. After a string of letters, and pair of white Christmas mittens, knitted each stitch with affection and a song, her wish was granted and we remember this:
It was 1883, and I was 12 the night before we left Nova Scotia for Maine. Everyone was singing and playing, pretending it was merry as usual and Mother was asked to sing this (Farewell, sweet Erin). In the middle of the song her voice broke and she left the room. I never heard her sing it again.
I feel I ought to go and see this Eduardo Paolozzi show at the Whitechapel Gallery – it would be like eating a bright bowl of kale (not as bad as you fear, and surprisingly energising) – and I do really want to know more about the artist whose Tottenham Court Road mosaics I’m getting increasingly fond of. But…
It’s the last weekend and I haven’t got there yet, which tells you a lot, especially as I’ve been seeing lots of art recently, like this and this. Something tells me I’m not getting there.
Tempting for a short break!
The days, the days they break to fade.
What fills them I’ll forget.
Every touch and smell and taste,
This sun, about to set
can never last. It breaks my heart,
Each joy feels like a threat:
Although there’s beauty everywhere,
its shadow is regret.
Still, something in the coming dusk
whispers not to fret.
Don’t matter that we’ll lose today.
It’s not tomorrow yet.
Shades of Maya Angelou and Emily Dickinson in Kate Tempest’s collection “Hold it Own”. Photos of small things that give me pleasure.