#129 – The Popman!


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Who remembers the Popman?

Who even had one?

Did they exist outside the North of England?

Growing up in the 60s and 70s, a visit from the Popman was almost as exciting as one from the ice cream van. (But not quite.)

Two bottles of Dandelion & Burdock, a bottle of Lucozade and a bottle of Cream Soda, please. (You’d even get money back for returning empties.)

I don’t suppose there’s any call for them any more what with the advent of supermarkets.

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#106-128 Electricity


Where would we be without electricity106, eh? Well, I’ll tell you, here’s where…

candle-in-the-darkness

It’s incredible to think how many of us take this miraculous discovery for granted. Here are some of the things I use on an every day basis that require electricity: ceiling lights107, lamps108, CD player109, TV110, Sky+ box111, DVD112, MacBook113, iPhone114, fridge115, freezer116, oven extractor fan117, oven118, toaster119, modem120, vacuum cleaner121, iron122, washing machine123, kettle124, microwave125, iPod126, handheld vacuum127, my car128 and me.

Maybe the last one has its own internal power supply and not reliant on United Utilities. God forbid I’d have to wait for an engineer to come out and fix me some time between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. (Usually, five minutes before the latter.)

I’m also grateful for all of the above devices and gadgets, which I find indispensable. Okay, maybe I could live without an oven or an iron. But there’s no way I could live without my Sky+ box.

Who do we have to thank for this amazing invention? Well, tons of people. Because lots of different people invented and discovered different elements related to electricity over a couple of hundred years.

Here are a few notables:

Benjamin Franklin – proved existence of electricity in nature, 1752;

Luigi Galvani – bioelectricity, 1791;

Alessandro Volta – battery, 1800;

Michael Faraday – electric motor, 1821;

Alexander Graham Bell – telephone, 1875;

Thomas Edison – light bulb, 1879.

 

 

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Kurt Vonnegut – #105/365


As you’ve probably gathered, writers make up a large part of ‘things I am grateful for’. Most of them thus far have been poets. Here’s one of my favourite prose writers – Kurt Vonnegut.

He’s written masses of short stories and a good few novels too. His most famous of which, (and one of my faves), is Slaughterhouse 5.

It’s partly based on his own experiences as an American POW in Dresden, (the Slaughterhouse was where the prisoners were held captive), when he witnessed the aftermath of Allied bombing which not only leveled the city killing 25,000 people, but created a huge firestorm which sucked the air out of the atmosphere so that many victims didn’t burn to death but were suffocated.

The story flicks back and forth in time from the 40s to the 70s to the future, where Billy Pilgrim is abducted by aliens, taken to a planet billions of miles away and put in a zoo along with a porn star so they can observe how humans behave.

It’s a profoundly funny and satirical look on war, life and death. In one very amusing scene in the book, the aliens watch an old Earth war documentary and come to the conclusion that humans must be very kind. Unfortunately, they have watched the film in reverse, so rather than watching a bombing raid, they see planes sucking fire up out of the ground, flying home and dismantling bombs.

vonnegut

Here’s a wonderfully amusing short film where Mr. Vonnegut explains the ‘Shapes of  Stories’. It’s both very enlightening and very funny, if you’ve got 5 minutes to spare.

In later life, he also turned his hand to art and sculpture. (Click on his image to see his work.)

US Army portrait.

US Army portrait.

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#104/365 – Modigliani


Amedeo_Modigliani_Photo

Amedeo Clemente Modigliani
Born 12th July 1884 – Died 24th January 1920

 

Tragically, Modigliani died of tubercular meningitis on the 24th January 1920, aged just 35.

What is equally as tragic is that his wife, and muse, Jeanne Hébuterne, was so devastated that the following day she threw herself from the 5th floor of her parents’ home, killing herself and her unborn second child.

Fortunately, their first child, Jeanne Modigliani (1918 – 1984), was adopted by Amedeo’s sister and was brought up in Florence, Italy.

Jeanne Hébuterne

Jeanne Hébuterne

Jeanne Modigliani, daughter.

Jeanne Modigliani, daughter.

I was first introduced to Modigliani’s work by my mate, Markham, who very kindly gave me a sumptuously framed print of this piece…

Seated Nude

Seated Nude

As you can see, Modigliani was very heavily influenced by African masks and sculpture, creating elongated forms and mask-like faces.

He died a pauper. But, as is the way of the world, in 2010 “La belle Romaine” sold for $69 million.

His work inspired me to write a short story, and subsequent screenplay, entitled: “Jeanne, reclining nude, 1917″, about a First World War veteran recuperating in the South of France after losing his left hand.

It isn’t a biographical piece, but moreover, explores the themes of physical and emotional cripples when he begins a relationship with his prostitute model.

Jeanne Hébuterene

Jeanne Hébuterene

Lunia Czechovska

Lunia Czechovska

Leopold Zborowski II

Leopold Zborowski II

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Reclining Nude

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He was an extremely prolific artist, so if you get the chance to see any of his work in the flesh, I urge you to do so.

 

Jeanne Hébuterne

Jeanne Hébuterne

Reclining Nude with Loose Hair

Reclining Nude with Loose Hair

Reclining-Nude,-Head-Resting-on-Right-Arm

Recumbent-act-with-arms-crossed-behind-the-head

Recumbent-Nude

Sleeping-Nude-With-Arms-Open---Red-Nude-large

 

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#103/365 – My mother.


before1

Picture courtesy of Katya Knyazeva

Before You Were Mine

By Carol Ann Duffy.

 

I’m ten years away from the corner you laugh on

with your pals, Maggie McGeeney and Jean Duff.

The three of you bend from the waist, holding

each other, or your knees, and shriek at the pavement.

Your polka-dot dress blows round your legs. Marilyn.

 

I’m not here yet. The thought of me doesn’t occur

in the ballroom with the thousand eyes, the fizzy, movie tomorrows

the right walk home could bring. I knew you would dance

like that. Before you were mine, your Ma stands at the close

with a hiding for the late one. You reckon it’s worth it.

 

The decade ahead of my loud, possessive yell was the best one, eh?

I remember my hands in those high-heeled red shoes, relics,

and now your ghost clatters toward me over George Square

till I see you, clear as scent, under the tree,

with its lights, and whose small bites on your neck, sweetheart?

 

Cha cha cha! You’d teach me the steps on the way home from Mass,

stamping stars from the wrong pavement. Even then

I wanted the bold girl winking in Portobello, somewhere

in Scotland, before I was born. That glamorous love lasts

where you sparkle and waltz and laugh before you were mine.

 

[For the day that's in it - Happy Mother's Day.]

Thanks to Georgia for sharing.

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#102/365 – Yorkshire Sculpture Park


David Nash

I love the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. I’ve been many times now with my family and although my kids may not appreciate the subtleties of modern art, they do love a good run around and a clamber over seemingly randomly placed rocks.

There are permanent works by Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Antony Gormley, Andy Goldsworthy and Sophie Ryder amongst others.

Elisabeth Frink

Elisabeth Frink

 

people dressed as ants for some reason...

People dressed as ants for some reason…

 

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Andy Goldsworthy

Andy Goldsworthy

 

Antony Gormley

Antony Gormley

 

Niki de Saint Phalle

Niki de Saint Phalle

 

Peter Liversidge

Peter Liversidge

David Nash

YSP is a pretty unique place. Set in vast grounds, (if you want acreage you can look on their website), it’s just as much fun going for a stroll around the park, worrying sheep and enjoying a picnic as it is perusing the indoor galleries.

It’s free in, but parking’s £7.50 for the day, £5 for two hours or £2.50 for one hour. They have a cracking gift shop full of all manner of unique and quirky crafty things and the restaurant serves fantastic food, though the prices are a tiny bit steep for my liking. (Well, I am a Yorkshireman, after all.)

It’s somewhere between Wakefield and Barnsley in south, West Yorkshire and north, South Yorkshire. Er… I’d Google map it if I were you. We go over from sunny Stocky which is a lovely jaunt over the Woodhead Pass, then up the M1 for a junction, and Bob’s your uncle.

I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone. If you like art, you’ll love it. If you like nature, you’ll love it. If you like great food, you’ll love it. If you want to buy an original gift, you’ll love it. If you’ve got kids, they’ll love it. If you like oxygen, you’ll love it.

Very unworried sheep

Sophie Ryder. (The sculpture, not my daughter.)

Barbara Hepworth

Henry Moore

Henry Moore?

Sophie Ryder

Sophie Ryder

David Nash

David Nash

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#101/365


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Sylvia Plath

27th October, 1932 – February 11th, 1963

 

Lady Lazarus

I have done it again.
One year in every ten
I manage it——

A sort of walking miracle, my skin
Bright as a Nazi lampshade,
My right foot

A paperweight,
My face a featureless, fine
Jew linen.

Peel off the napkin
0 my enemy.
Do I terrify?——

The nose, the eye pits, the full set of teeth?
The sour breath
Will vanish in a day.

Soon, soon the flesh
The grave cave ate will be
At home on me

And I a smiling woman.
I am only thirty.
And like the cat I have nine times to die.

This is Number Three.
What a trash
To annihilate each decade.

What a million filaments.
The peanut-crunching crowd
Shoves in to see

Them unwrap me hand and foot
The big strip tease.
Gentlemen, ladies

These are my hands
My knees.
I may be skin and bone,

Nevertheless, I am the same, identical woman.
The first time it happened I was ten.
It was an accident.

The second time I meant
To last it out and not come back at all.
I rocked shut

As a seashell.
They had to call and call
And pick the worms off me like sticky pearls.

Dying
Is an art, like everything else,
I do it exceptionally well.

I do it so it feels like hell.
I do it so it feels real.
I guess you could say I’ve a call.

It’s easy enough to do it in a cell.
It’s easy enough to do it and stay put.
It’s the theatrical

Comeback in broad day
To the same place, the same face, the same brute
Amused shout:

‘A miracle!’
That knocks me out.
There is a charge

For the eyeing of my scars, there is a charge
For the hearing of my heart——
It really goes.

And there is a charge, a very large charge
For a word or a touch
Or a bit of blood

Or a piece of my hair or my clothes.
So, so, Herr Doktor.
So, Herr Enemy.

I am your opus,
I am your valuable,
The pure gold baby

That melts to a shriek.
I turn and burn.
Do not think I underestimate your great concern.

Ash, ash —-
You poke and stir.
Flesh, bone, there is nothing there——

A cake of soap,
A wedding ring,
A gold filling.

Herr God, Herr Lucifer
Beware
Beware.

Out of the ash
I rise with my red hair
And I eat men like air.

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