Archives for the month of: February, 2011


Yes, once again it’s the Oscars!  In honour of Banksy, whose film Exit Through The Gift Shop is up for some award like best film in the world, take a look at his website




It’s still pretty cold here.  Yesterday my daughter pointed out this cat to me. She’d found a sheltered spot away from the snow to sit on the straw and enjoy the sunshine.

Occasionally a horse galloped through.

The cat didn’t leave, though she retreated.  You can just see (below) that she’s living in a hole in the wall, to the right of the horse (our right).

And then the cat came back.





It’s been months since we heard anything of Muntz.  Here’s a picture I just received.  Apparently he’s working as a nose rest for Champ.  It’s a tough job that looks much easier than it is, sort of like artist’s model where you have to stand still for hours and hope you don’t get cold.



I may have mentioned before that here on wordpess you get a lot more for your money with tall thin pictures than with short fat ones.  With that in mind I’ve turned the picture above sideways, below, so we can see it in a reasonable amount of detail.  It actually consists of five frames that I stuck together using Photoshop; I bet you can’t see the joins. It’s of the island at the North end of our triangular-shaped lake.  I’ve taken so many pictures of it over the past few years, and it’s hard to know why I find it so appealing; though it may be the animal-like ridge of its “back” with its bunny ears to the left.  And I like the dense green object on a white background.

I apologise if it’s taking half-an-hour to load on your machines.

I forgot to say that the bare branches in the centre remind me a lot of some of David Hockney’s recent paintings of trees in Yorkshire.  To me, one of the values of painting over, say, conceptual art is that, when it’s good enough, it can directly influence how I perceive the world.  His work has always done that for me.

In Manhattan there were always helicopters whizzing down the Hudson River and from my apartment window you could see the aircraft landing at Newark.  In central London when I was growing up a commercial aeroplane went over our house every four minutes.  For reasons I still don’t understand, we were on the flightpath to Heathrow even though it was many miles away – such marvelous precision.  I remember seeing the first jumbo jet on its final descent to London Airport on my way to school in about 1969.  Now I can’t recall if it was Pan Am or BOAC, what I do remember is how huge it seemed and almost still, just floating there above Hammersmith Broadway.  We hardly ever see an aircraft here; maybe twice a week, sometimes it’s the seaplane that lives on the fjord, sometimes a traffic helicopter. Occasionally, three Norwegian air force fighters come flying  low over the lake; they make a thrilling noise that echoes between the mountains, but  I miss all the planes I grew up with.

Queen on accession day
Queen Elizabeth II greets accession day crowds outside St Peter and St Paul Church in West Newton, Norfolk. Photograph: Chris Radburn/PA

Royal gun salutes are usually fired around the country on accession day. This year, they will be fired at noon tomorrow because accession day has fallen on a Sunday.

I read this in the Observer.  “Accession day”?  Apparently it’s 59 years today since the queen seized power.  My latest plan is leave the royal family in place. Everyone loves all the tradition, after all.

When the queen dies, what’s going to happen?  It’s going to be a terrible anticlimax.  I haven’t heard anyone say they can’t wait for the reign of King Charles III.  I suggest that on the death of the current monarch we phase out the Windsors and replace them with a royal family of pandas.  Everyone loves pandas, I know I do.

A link with China is what Britain needs.


You hardly ever see mongrels in Norway.  Including our dogs, Alex (a Yorkshire terrier),

and Topsy (an Irish wheaten terrier),

there were nine.  A whippet:

a bulldog:

a   setter:

– most of these dogs are looking down at Alex, on my left – a German pointer or Vorstehhund:

a Jack Russell terrier puppy:

some kind of basset hound (a petit basset griffon vendée, according to my daughter):

and a standard poodle:

And in the garden under some melting snow was a stone lion:

Gertrude. Photo by Damon Winter/NY Times

Language Hat told me about a story in the New York Times, by Elizabeth Giddens.  It is about a Rhode Island Red hen in Bedford-Stuyvesant.  Take a look.  One thing she says, about passers by who always ask the same questions of her, is:

We’ve considered posting an F.A.Q. sheet — yes, they’re hens; no, they don’t need a rooster to make eggs — but that would spoil the fun. People like working it out among themselves.

It’s true of our goats’ audience too, I’ve thought of painting a big sign: THEY’RE GOATS.  I’d never before reflected that people might actually enjoy asking the questions, but they probably do.

I read in Jonathan Jones’s column in today’s Guardian about  Google Art Project.  It works like the 3-D street-view part of Google Maps, except that you’re walking around some great art museums.  In addition, you can zoom in on the paintings; you can get a 15 cm-wide image of Captain Koch’s eyeball in The Nightwatch.  If you find that gratuitous, then zoom in on Lt. van Ruytenburch’s eyeballs, as I did, and see by comparing them how Rembrandt thought about drawing anatomy (or, at least, eyeballs).  That’s something you wouldn’t be able to do at the Rijksmuseum; the Nightwatch is so huge you’d need a stepladder to get anywhere near the figures.  Google has only catalogued a handful of museums so far.  I miss being able to take a butchers at the Velázquezs in the Prado, though Google will presumably be expanding their collection at a comparable rate to the maps’.  The Uffizi is already available; Jonathan Jones nudges us towards Piero di Cosimo’s painting of Perseus & Andromeda (above), which really is worth a detailed examination.

Update: I realise that if you blow up a detail of a painting, you can then take a screenshot to download it.  The resolution seems good; this is the tiny facet-headed sundial in Holbein’s The Ambassadors, at the National Gallery in London: