Friday, January 30, 2009


Originally uploaded by sophie.addison

One of my images (the one on the right) used in Sophie Addison's new book "White As A Colour" raising money for Multiple Sclerosis. I am really pleased to have been involved with this: my Grandmother - on my mum's side of the family - died of MS.

White as a colour

The original image looks like this:

White Door 1

Thursday, January 22, 2009

burns, baby, burns

Oh, it's come to that time in Scotland when the place goes crazy for tartan, haggis, bagpipes and a drunken, misogynist, mason, a hack "poet" whom most of them have never read.

I am, of course, talking about the dreadful Robert Burns, whom I have read. Unlike most of the unthinking masses who will next week attend the grim event called a "Burns Supper", I understand the majority of the language Burns used - a curious cobbled-together mass of dialects from around the country, toned down with a lot of standard English to ensure his popularity beyond the realms of the country of his birth. I also understand the completely unfounded myth that he was a poor farm boy when he was, in fact, a fairly wealthy tenant farmer, with a good handful of "socialist" principles which he could afford to both espouse and ignore (his published correspondences include endless letters to dukes, bishops and the aristocracy in general).

It all adds up to a fine example of the hypocritical self-mythologising at which this country (Scotland) excels and which is exemplified nowhere more than in the pathetic and insulting "Homecoming" event, thought up by the Scottish executive to try and entice ex-pat Scots to return to the country of their roots.

I would not deny that "Tam O'Shanter" is fun; nor would I say that his output is universally poor, but the vast majority of it is certainly mediocre. The most curious thing about the ghastly "Burns Supper" is that it will feature a reading of the TURGID "To A Haggis". Should you want to read this woeful doggerel before you next eat a delicious haggis, you can find it at Gutenberg. I would forgo the poem and eat the haggis while it is still hot.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


As I mentioned yesterday, I was in Brussels over the weekend. Never been before and while it is interesting enough, it is not somewhere I would rush back to, being rather dirty and possessed of some of the rudest service staff I have ever encountered. Still, the main square is very attractive and worth seeing:

Grand Place

I was there to meet up with Janos and talk about jewellery things, which we did endlessly and we also went to the flea-market, which would have been better, but it was raining. The best bit about that was all the scrap metal found between the paving stones and not the stuff on the stalls!

Brussels Booty

Only two of these pieces - the escutcheon at the top and the handle next to it - were bought. The rest were all found in the pavement cracks!

I found a most intriguing shop in the very beautiful Galleries Royales St. Hubert:

Galleries Royales St. Hubert My Sort Of Clothes Shop

Even cultural centres are not immune from the flea-market curse of bad art:

Kitch and Krap

Where I bought a waistcoat and copped the MOST attitude I have ever copped in my life. Now, my spoken French is not the best, but it is not the worst either: the incredible rudeness of the woman in refusing to understand my requests was breathtaking. I would have been offended but she was quite horrible to a Belgian couple who were also in the shop and I understood that without even understanding everything said! So, you might be wondering why I still bought the waistcoat... well, I'll post a picture of it later in the week.
I know, I'm weak.

The e-book, reader or whatever it is going to be called is brilliant. I used it extensively over the weekend. There is something about it that makes it easier to read than a book. I can't work out what it is. Since I got it, I've read:

  • The Two Destinies by Wilkie Collins: one of his later books. Not his best. A bit too tied up with supernatural nonsense for my tastes.

  • The Child of the Cavern by Jules Verne: set in a mine in Fife, more proto-science-fiction from the master of the genre. Enjoyable though not as fantastical as his better-known work.

  • Michael by E.F. Benson. Better known for the "Lucia" books, this is Benson's first novel, set at the start of the first world war. It is exceptionally well-written and the characters are good but it is marred somewhat by a highly unbelievable turn of the plot towards the end.

  • My Man, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse. Classic Wodehouse!

  • Grand Hotel Babylon by Arnold Bennett. I downloaded this to read simply on the grounds that the dish "Omelette Arnold Bennett" was created after Bennett wrote the character "Rocco" in the book, based on the actual chef at the Savoy, Jean Baptist Virlogeux. Though it has to be said that Rocco is none to complimentary a character, Virlogeux created the famous dish in honour of the writer. Anyway, from omelettes to literature, this is a great little period "caper" about wealthy socialites, murder, kidnapped princes and the like. Well worth reading.

  • Back to the workshop and as everything is working, it has been a great couple of days. I finished "The Seventh Terrace" pendant:

    The Seventh Terrace 13

    And started work on the "Four Cocktail Rings of the Apocalypse" again.

    Tuesday, January 20, 2009

    "Blue Monday" Rubbish!

    I have been reading that yesterday was supposed to have been the bleakest and most depressing day of the year. Some (no-doubt-pseudo-)scientists have done some spurious calculation to show that we are most likely to be depressed yesterday.

  • George Bush was removed from office yesterday

  • Yesterday was the first full day in the workshop with all facilities operational

  • It snowed very pleasantly for a few hours, making everything look nice, then thawed before neds could make snowballs

  • After travelling all weekend, I slept really well

  • All in all, it was a really good day for me. Probably the best in weeks.
    I'm not really sure what all these "studies" are about: they seem to be increasingly common, but it seems to me that it is all too easy to talk the population in general into ways of thinking, backed up by spurious formulae based on vague notions by these pseudo-scientists called sociologists.

    I'll post pictures of my excellent visit to Brussels later this evening.

    Wednesday, January 14, 2009

    Lovely Day

    I had to get my finger checked out at the hospital yesterday and my boss, David, very kindly let me take the whole day off to do so. Knowing that I wasn't going into work, I slept brilliantly. The weather was lovely and I went to Edinburgh after being at the hospital. Everything was absolutely dead: even the train, so I had a most pleasant journey, during which I could read my E-reader/E-book - or whatever you want to call it - and drink coffee. (Reading EF Benson's completely unknown "Michael".)

    Didn't do very much there, but it was nice to wander around.

    At last we have gas in the workshop!!!

    Wednesday, January 07, 2009

    why be blue?

    What a dismal start to the year: bankruptcies, unemployment, rising prices, a war in Palestine and "Celebrity Big Brother". Also, my workshops still haven't been finished. It is not all bad, however...


    Finance: it is really exceptionally annoying that I have spent the last 10 years NOT over-stretching myself, saving my money and working hard to have it all blown by the government on baling out those who squandered it all away, something we are all going to have to pay for from taxes for the next fifty years. AND savings are only getting 0.2% return (I was reading yesterday that it is possible that savings might attract negative interest, in other words, paying the bank for holding your money. It has happened before, though not in the UK.)

    War: a bunch of idiots. The vast majority of people in Palestine and Israel do not want fighting, wars or death. Typically, it is dogmatic religion - and not a little "blood and soil" nationalism - which, once more, leads to destruction. The Palestinians and Israelis are the same flesh and blood with more in common than separates them. Their leaders should grow up, ditch their outmoded beliefs and realise that things are not going to change unless they do.

    Celebrity Big Brother: it is not "news", it is "entertainment" (supposedly). It should not be reported on in newspapers, on the radio and on television as such. Self-serving, self-obsessed buffoons full of their own self-importance, unable to accept that their "careers" are over do NOT deserve reporting in the same manner as actual matters of life-and-death.

    Workshops: Not working. After 5 working weeks (seven if you count the holiday). The plus side of that is that I've been forced to work with the Oxy-Hydrogen microwelder and the micro-TIG welder, which has been interesting.


    A package which was posted to me in early October finally arrived after having been given up as lost. It was from my colleague, Dee, in the US and had some little tiny bird-skulls made from polymer clay:

    She very kindly also enclosed an incredible piece of polymer clay which immediately made me want to make something with it:

    The Seventh Terrace 3

    Inspired by my vague memories of Dante's "Purgatorio".

    In addition, I was part of an online "Secret Santa" swap for contemporary makers. I made this piece for Alisa Miller in the US:

    Blue Goddess 7

    Which generated this blog post from Alisa!

    I got a Sony Reader at Christmas. It's great. An e-book reader with a display which looks like a proper book: no backlight, so - unlike a laptop - it is possible to read it for prolonged periods, as one might a paper-based book. I've downloaded loads of my favourite Victorian literature for it: mostly Wilkie Collins and Jules Verne. There is something very pleasing about using an electronic book to read that master of future-fiction, Jules Verne!

    Thursday, January 01, 2009