Sunday, 13 December 2015

Time for Tea-pots (and Mrs Cameron's Old China!)

Dearest Emily,

Looking forwards to our Christmas lunch on Sunday! When we go back to the Shop for tea, we now have a choice of Teapots to serve from.

I expect you might choose this one...


Or this which is my favourite Victorian one;



Erm- or actually I love these two as well!



The reason for the Teapots is because GiGi has decided that she's just not over running a Tearoom. It's now two years since we were in full swing at Dimbola- and getting to grips with the Tearoom was such fun, Em!
I just haven't moved on- I shall simply have to open my own.

So that's what we're about Em- it is to be called 'The Rabbit-Hole' (as in you can say- "I'll meet you down the Rabbit-Hole" heheh) and we get in on New Years Day.

No late night for me then Emily- as will be sprucing and painting on the first of January. Then, there's counters to put in, bookshelves (of course) and somewhere to display a few (!) Teapots.

Via a friend- I was introduced to the Doyenne of Teapot Collectors last week. She has over 600- and has been collecting since she was six- she's 84 now. Lovely Rae, has lent me some books on the subject- which I'm cramming on, before buying more Victorian ones to use.

I have this one too Emily- an important Victorian 'Brown Betty'. It'll be lovely to use all these antique vessels every day at our Tea-Room!


Now, did you know that Julia Margaret Cameron's Dinner Service is still in use to this day? She gave it as a Wedding present to her model Mary Hillier- and the family have used it ever since. Marvelling over the years about who ate off these plates- Darwin? Tennyson? it has been a talking point for 150 years.

It's great for me to see it Emily- in colours I thought she favoured too...



Big thanks to Marianne for letting me see these. I'd love to know more about them Emily. Shame you and I know nothing about China- yet!

See you next weekend my cherubs,

Your ever-loving Grand-mother, GiGi xxx




Sunday, 29 November 2015

The eye of the Beholder


Dearest Emily,

Our heroine Mrs C, has her bi-centenary exhibition finally opening on Wednesday night at the V & A. Big day for her...

A mere 150 years has gone by since she first exhibited there. Of course, when she first exhibited all those years ago- she wasn't a Museum piece. It was the South Kensington Museum and she- and her mate G.F.Watts were the Contemporary Gallery exhibitions at the time!

G.F.Watts photographs kept by himself and his descendents found their way to the V & A in the 1960's- and it's only now- that we begin to see her in her true light.

For example- the damaged plates she sent to Watts were at his request- he wanted her to save her perfect work to sell- he was merely her friend and critiquing them.

We can finally today, understand what she was aiming at achieving with a better understanding of her works in progress, and with Marta Weiss' fabulous catalogue ( Photographs to Electrify you with delight and Startle the World ) we are given valuable insight into her sense of fun and somewhat comedic personality.

A recent acquisition of some of Julia's jewelry to Dimbola, has got me inspired Em. We got it out for our recent Woman's Hour interview (I'll let you know when that's to be broadcast.)

The more I thought about it- the more interesting I find it. Here are the pieces...


They are Indian Silver, here's Mrs C wearing the locket with her daughter in 1858/9- a photograph maybe attributed to Lewis Carroll. Thanks be to Kimberly Eve for her sharp eyes and sending it to us.


The jewelry appears to have been given to her maid and model- Mary Hillier on the occasion of her wedding, and passed down to her descendents.

What intrigues me, is the diversity of these pieces- an apparently Pagan cross, with a locket showing a Shiva Hindu God, and a diamond shaped brooch, depicting possibly the Hindu Monkey God- Hanuman.

These- for a devoutly religious Woman, who depicted Madonnas and pious scenes, is interesting. The diversity interests me. Charles, her husband was a Bentham Utilitarianism devotee. It seems Julia's icons were all-inclusive of religion. How refreshing.

It got me thinking- and I rang Mrs Avery , about who we might shoot in the jewelry (photographically, Em) and she came up with Jo Brand to be photographed by fab photographer husband- Mr Avery.

Fast-forward a week and there we were this morning with the lovely Jo Brand.

She told me about how she had been to Dimbola, when her children were young with her husband- as they were into Art, and liked to visit family-friendly places. She likened it in feel to Charleston- and we were off- and running, me saying how I had come to Dimbola with the same realisation- and ending up with the never-ending quest of how JMC influenced Bloomsbury, and how these Women were a type outside of easy definition- outside of their time- and strong, individual characters...

It was easy then, to see Jo as a JMC study. Simon used available light, and swathed the windows with cloths. Jo was swathed in a  Paisley shawl, caught up with the Monkey-God brooch, and holding a crucifix.

It worked rather splendidly Em, and I'll show you the final portrait when it is ready. The first, in a series to be entitled Julia's Great Women. 

Jo, mentioned that she had landed a passenger plane recently. Just like that- having been nvited into the Cockpit. I was rather amazed by this and said so. "Well, I won't tell you the airline." she said.

Next week, Emily- I'm off to see Julia's Tea set. It's still in use.

Your ever-loving Grandmother, GiGi xxx

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Lady in Waiting

Dearest Emily,

I'm not sure why your little sister' portrait has turned out  with the feel of a little old woman- however, I make no apologies.


Here's my thinking.


Here you are at the same age, and I remember thinking how you struck me as a little old lady, with your handbag and your cardi.



See- more evidence!

So- today my post is about us girls- all being old ladies in training. GiGi is further on with her training than you two- and with luck I fully intend to embrace the status.

However Em, I also intend to never leave the child behind. The joys, the excitement, the wonder of discovery- and the sense of fun, and the fantastic.

For example Em- I've been in a state of excitement all week- as this friday- we did an interview for Woman's Hour- can you imagine! Fave radio station- fave programme- and absolutely ideal platform for Mrs Cameron and her £20 Note Campaign.

The way it came about was a bit of magic Emily.

It was back in May, when at one of the old 'Board Meetings' someone mentioned that Woman's Hour had suggested Julia Margaret Cameron as a possible candidate for the visual artist on the new £20 note.

I went home and pulled out one of my old fake £20's that I made as gift tokens when I ran the shop there. I'd put Julia on as the Queen (treasonable, I was told) and the next thing I knew I was writing to On the Wight about campaigning to nominate her from the Island- including the link to the Bank of England's web-site. The lovely On the Wight published straight away...

Little known to me- all the way across in Newport- a lovely lady called Julie had heard the programme too- and had written away to The County Press with the same intention as me. The County Press made up a much more appropriate fake note than I- so, they won't go to the Tower.

Next thing I knew- joint friend Tracy was on the phone- and put Julie the lovely lady from Newport on. We decided to join forces, and the first time we met was a few days later- in a car-park outside Isle of Wight Radio. We're now firm friends.

Campaigning has been huge fun- and really seemed to garner public support. Fast-forward to September, and there we are at Bestival in the Feminist tent- performing a fringe talk on Mrs C.

A lady comes up to us at the end, saying how much she enjoyed it- and it turns out she was the Producer of the actual programme that inspired us both!

She thinks about running a piece to coincide with the up-coming V & A Exhibition of Julia's work- and hey presto- we're fixed up for friday.

Here are some pics Em- it was great fun- Louise was a joy to work with- and let's see what makes it on air.


We had fun, hope you and Annabel are too,

Your ever-loving Grandmother,

GiGi xxx





Saturday, 31 October 2015

Daleks and Baby-Witches

Dearest Emily,

It was lovely to see you this week. Thank-you for turning my book-shop into a cafe and charging customers 3 imaginary pounds for their imaginary pizzas.

This week being Half-term has brought lots of small people through the door. Here's our Halloween window;


I was originally going to do a Doctor Who themed Hallows Eve window- but after purchasing a large Dalek, five minutes later, a young collector arrived and bought my entire stock! More about Daleks another time Em, I need to re-stock first.

Back to the small people. We are en-route for the local primary school- and at least once a day, a little foot appears on the doormat- followed by a yell- "Don't go in there, we haven't time!" followed by small peoples yelling back "I just want to look!"
At weekends, some of the larger small people come along on their own, by bike, or with Best-Friend and pocket money.
One particular smallie- races into the shop scurries around the corner to the back, and hides amongst the shelves, as his mother grunts across the mat. "Get out, get out!" 'I just want to look!" as he slips past her and into the window display. Not a word is said to myself or Wendy, my assistant. It has become quite an amusing game- and I rather suspect that smallie will win one day, and get to choose something to read.

We also have a lovely eleven-and-three-quarters year old girl called Alice (of course) who regularly asks for a job "because I am saving up. I don't know what for yet." Another, comes in on Sunday mornings to talk about her favourite authors and to hold the really really old books in her hands. This she does until she feels its a bit late- because her mum wants her to help prepare the vegetables for Sunday lunch. Every time she leaves she turns and says "I'll be back soon".

It's nice that in a fast-paced changing world, with E-books, and Reality shows, that small people are drawn in to a Bookshop. The other day, a sheepish face enquired- "Can I come in? I haven't got money". Books are friendly...

But today it is Halloween Em, so I've found a scary picture for you. It is from a family album that came from a big house hereabouts. It was taken in about 1890, and it is the inside of a Portuguese Church. Goodness knows how old the skeleton bones are.


I rather like it. This is really for 'All Hallows Eve' and more in tune with the Hispanic celebration than a commercialised Trick or Treat that we've adopted on these Isles. It does look to me, a celebration of those loved and lost, look at the thought, care and attention to making this display.

I shall save the Dalek for another time Emily, your Great Grand-dad manufactured these, back in the 1960's, so that's another story.

I hope Annabel still has the China Pig that I gave her intact. It did look a bit threatened when she banged it on the car window.

See you soon, 

Your ever-loving Grandmother, GiGi xxxx



Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Cider with Lorna

Dearest Emily,

This October has been adorned by the most glorious weather. Indian Summer again- seems as though the last four have been just so, and it certainly makes up for the lack of summer sunshine in August.

Something lately has jogged my memory back to early autumn in 1991.

A group of friends- myself, my partner Rudge, Chrissie, and Julie set off from London to visit Tim and Sussex friend Rob, for the weekend-staying over in an old Caravan at Binstead.

Tim lived in this Caravan, in the grounds of a farm, in order to keep an eye on an elderly lady- Mrs Wishart who lived in the big house at the end of the drive.



We bumbled down on friday night in Rudge's old work van, followed by Chrissie's mini- and parked up- unloaded and set off for the local pub. A game of darts was played, and conversation gave snippets of info about where we were.

It was described to us that Mrs Wishart was the last surviving member of the Bloomsbury Set, and that her artist son, had asked Tim to keep an eye out for the still fiercely independent lady. Tim had lived agreeably in this manner for the last six months.

The evening was passed pleasantly at the pub, tucked away down a lane- with no apparent regard for licensing hours. Old friends Rob, Tim, Rudge and myself caught up on life's happenings- and London friends Julie and Chrissie enjoying their weekend in the country.

Eventually, we all ambled back to the caravan, and set about designating sleeping areas.

At some point in the night- I was awoken by a jolt. The big old caravan seemed to move- not really of course- but it felt like it. I looked around- no-one awake here- just Rob issuing a loud snore, and turning over on the bunk nearby.

The next day, we all decided upon a barbeque that evening, and purchased all we needed in nearby Arundel.

In the afternoon- we all set off for a walk across the fields, Tim telling us more about the land (he was working on the gardens at Arundel Castle at the time.)

The barbeque was fashioned by bricks and a grill, and guitars were brought out to accompany our party- now set up in the gardens of the house. The overgrown lawns were interspersed with statues, and we pressed down areas for rugs, made up tables from crates, and the cider started flowing.

Another atmospheric, heady enjoyable night- accompanied by Tim and Rob singing and playing guitars, we ate, we drank, we wandered and chatted- eventually settling down once more to sleep in our quarters.

Again- I was awoken by a jolt. Again- no-one else appeared apart from Rob, who grumbled this time- and turned over again.

Late the next morning- one by one and bleary-eyed we appeared for breakfast- sitting outside the caravan at the bottom of the drive to the house.

Mrs Wishart appeared and Tim went off to talk to her. I remember a striking looking old lady with dark hair and wide soulful eyes.

Chrissie sat on a stone mushroom, next to a barn- and Tim mentioned that in the barn was the Hogarth Press- which was presumed lost, he said.

No-one paid too much attention to this, accepting it as a fact, along with everything else in this strange, forgotten place.

As we cleared away the detritus of our barbeque- I asked Tim whether he, Chrissie and Julie had been  woken by a jolt over the last two nights.

"Oh, that happens all the time. I just ignore it. According to Mrs Wishart, it's the Old Gamekeeper- who came up one day to shoot her."

Okay... That's that solved then.

Years later- the Hogarth Press comments ignited my interest. All I could glean was that Mr Ernest Wishart had his own Printing Press. That was more likely I thought- and filed it away in my memory box.

Until earlier this year.

An artist friend was researching D.H Lawrence in Sussex, and I told her about Binstead, as she was heading for Arundel.

A week later- a box of books was brought in to my shop for perusal. These had belonged to an artist who lived in Brighton, and his son was trying to sell them. There was a book of works by Michael Wishart- the son of the Lady on the farm. I've used one of his works to decorate my story here Em. (It is called 'Chinoiserie- Cache'.

Leafing through the pages, I started looking up more about Lorna- Michael's mother.

Absurdly- it turns out- that she was Laurie Lee's mistress- and her long-suffering husband Ernest- used to turn a blind eye, as she set off to meet him for lovers trysts- in the caravan we stayed in!

Even more absurdly- the story about a 'Gamekeeper' who came up to shoot Mrs Wishart- wasn't quite true...

The truth of the identity of the man who came up to shoot Mrs Wishart- was jealous lover- Lucien Freud.

Oh, well, that's that story explained properly then!

Looking forwards to seeing you and Annabel for half-term next week dear Em. We may even have a barbeque if the weather holds. No game-keepers here though!

Your ever-loving Grandmother,

GiGi XX





Thursday, 27 August 2015

Ever drifting down the stream- Life, what is it but a dream?”

Dearest Emily,

We are moving shop- I expect Mummy told you.

Also- it has been raining- A LOT.

Our soon to be old/old shoppe, suited us well as we set out our stall, and tested the water.

Our new old/shoppe is opposite a stream- with a lovely view for us from its big windows...




You may have picked up here Em, that a theme is coming up in my train of thought...

WATER.

Water and books don't mix.

Our new shop, has water running from the tap, and water in a stream across the road.

That'll do us nicely.

Our old shop- had water coming up through the foundations, seeping in through the back-door that was plonked in without any threshold to prevent it. Soaking wet joists rotted and fungus grew on rotting floorboards. Three de-humidifiers changed daily- merely elevated the situation to a dry-rot one.

Enough said.

We slip off down the stream, to our newly refurbished shop- with sound floorboards, and leave our de-humidifiers behind!


See you on the other-side of the Green dear Em,

Your ever-loving Grandmother,

GiGi xxx

Friday, 21 August 2015

Grotesque Sovreignity

Dearest Emily,

This week's Carrollian pensive is such a simple one- I really don't know why it hasn't crossed our path before.

Picture this-

A rather exquisite publication comes into my shop from the 1920's. It's called The Bookman. It would cost a fortune to produce these days, and very few preserved copies remain in circulation today. My new/old copies were rather mildewed, so in the process of drying them out- one by one (and a collector snapping up two 'Annual Specials', I popped a Pre-Raphaelite Special into my basket to read whilst Grumpa was at the Chiropractor. My interest was to read contemporary critiques and reviews on the PRB's from the literati of the next generation (the old inter-textuality stuff again Em, I find it helps me to get a feel of the zeitgeist at the time.)

Being rather a fan of the Grotesque cariacature, I was delighted to find that Rossetti had dabbled in this genre in 1846, with these Comic Court cards,


Something started bubbling. These were drawn fifteen years before Alice In Wonderland was penned, and very much in the Charivari (French Satirist publication to become a contemporary of Punch.)
The P.R.B's and Bohemian types of the day of course all hung out together- and the language of squib and parody was almost a secret language at Oxford and amongst the Literarty.

William Rossetti was one of the very few who tackled Dodgson on his squibbbing in the Alice's, and as we see here Dante Gabriel toyed with the Dark Art of Cariacature.

So- when a Chap comes into the Bookshop yesterday and after requesting Science and Railway books, and holding a book entitled 'How to Read Maps'- he asks'

"Do you have any Lewis Carroll?'

I point him to the relevant shelves as he tells me that he wants an edition  of Alice and Through the Looking Glass, with Tenniel illustrations- as he finds the illustrations curious.

This transpires to be because the previous day he had gone to Osborne House, and been struck by a small Bust of Queen Victoria. It was apparently with a collection of gifts given to the Royal family by Indiginous peoples.

He said he was struck by an impression that this made Victoria look like Tenniel's Queen of Hearts.

Well, you know me Em, ever on the trail. I started looking up some stuff I'd read before- which had begun a muse about the whole of the Trial and garden scene being an impression given to Dodgson when Queen Victoria and Prince Albert visited Christchurch Deanery in 1860, following the Prince of Wales going to Christ Church as an Undergraduate.

Then, a bit more ferreting in my notes and here we have another Playing Card reference- this time from 1836...


Excerpt from Queen Victoria first Media Monarch by John Blunkett-


Followed by this-


Tenniel's trademarks in cariacature for me- always begins with the nose- he was quite particular when drawing noses- they became the first point of reference for my 'clues' in Through the Looking Glass/Freshwater Circle characters.

Here's young Victoria in profile-

And here's Tenniel's grotesque-


Considering the possibilities is still fun for me Em- could Dodgson and Tenniel have concocted such a Punk-like anarchy in a little Children's book?

And would it have been 'Off with their Heads', if Queen Victoria had not been bemused, by Lewis Carroll?

These things cross my mind, dear Emily. 

Looking forwards to coming to  stay with you in your new house!

your ever-loving Grandmother,

GiGi xxx

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Six Impossible Things before Breakfast- Freshwater Style.

Dearest Emily,

It was lovely to see you and Annabel this weekend. I shall always remember telling you off in a very serious voice "Emily, we do not bite. Biting people is not polite," and how you looked at me equally seriously and said "GiGi, did you know that rhymes?"



This weeks post is all about that old Isle of Wight magic I was telling you about. Ok, its not abracadabra stuff, but it happens here, and when you least expect it. Here's a few recent examples;

1. The Truffle- part One-

There we are Em, sitting in the Secret Tea Garden, enjoying an impromptu Birthday party. A lovely customer who I met at the Rhythm Tree festival has come over to buy her Angelo Tee shirt, and brought her red-haired daughter Matilda along too.
Pete and Becky the dog accompany, and we are all enjoying Matilda's antics, which involve guessing who she's acting (though, we must admit, it's a tricky game to play, as most of the people we are guessing are friends of hers that we do not know!)
All of a sudden- a voice is heard coming from the shop "Oi- Oi-where's the red-haired girl?" and a man appears bearing gifts.
I go along with this Em thinking it's something they had planned, and take charge of a very large truffle.
Said truffle has been foraged here-abouts, and said forager is called Russell- now instantly named Truffle-Russell.
We are all absorbed in the truffle, and detailed instructions are given on how to dessicate it, and serve once all the dessicating bit is done.
It is some time afterwards that it suddenly dawns upon all of us, that this delightful and rare gift has nothing to do with any of us...
The truffle receiver was meant to be another red-haired friend who was planning on moving in upstairs. Somehow Truffle-Russell has decided she's here already and we are the right destination.
Graciously, Truffle-Russell decides that we are to have half, and he shall deliver the other half to the correct red-head (so that she can train her dog to truffle-hunt.)
Everybody's happy- and we divide our half again, birthday girl goes off with a quarter, and so do I.
Back at home, as directed, I get rock-salt, and finely grate the truffle (with the dogs going potty for the smell beside me.) I carefully pack the salt over the top of the grated truffle, and place it on top of the bread-bin, away from Marley's long reach, to do its dessicating thing.
We shall come back to this one later Em...

2. The Curious Co-incidence of the Ghost-story, and the Ghost-Story-teller's Host.

Several years ago now, a man had an extraordinary experience at a Paranormal Evening at Dimbola (they do these things here Em- it seems quite the thing.)

This man, was a Surveyor, and not the impressionable kind. He had gone along to the event grudgingly, as his wife- who normally accompanied his sister-in-law, didn't fancy it. These particular events were hosted by a chap who is very entertaining, and holds evenings like these regularly all over the Island- a Mr Tuckey.

Now, the way I came to hear his story was curious too, Emily.

It was two and a half years ago- when I was working at The Bookroom, and writing your sister's little book. I blogged about it at the time- here's an excerpt..

Chap comes in and searches the Local History shelves. He's been in before, so I know his face. Somehow- upon choosing his purchase, we get chatting about Dimbola. The long and short of it Em, is that he tells me a story about a Medium or two- and what he is telling me- mirrors the theme of my tale. SPOOKY! - Keeping details to myself- as requested, but it sent me into a bit of a 'Writers Block' until dear Prof. Bob, upon hearing what I've said to you- told me it's an 'ism type thing. Got a name- like Factor X, or something similar. Will look up when I have time- and when you are older, will tell you the back-story.

Back to the present-time Emily, and Mr Tuckey the 'Ghost-Man' has become a regular customer at my shop over the last few months. Whenever I mention that he's been in to Grumpa, he tickles himself by retorting "Did you see the Ghost-Man?" and then visibly appreciates his own wit.
Now, I have told Mr T, about this tale, however though I have a written report of it- I was asked by the teller not to send it on to anyone. 

Mr T, is very interested because that particular night was significant for all of his troupe, and since that night they had decided not to go back to Dimbola- until now. 

As you know Em, my own theory is that there is some kind of 'negative' energy there-abouts that pervades today. I've written about it in Annabel's book (which I was amidst when the man told his story, as you recall.) Mr T decided it was time to go back, and had just come to my shop after booking the session in- when...

Hey-presto! - The story-teller appears in my shop, and recognises Mr T. He tells him the story- and gives me the ok to send on his report.

Curious co-incidence.

3. About Bartering Lobster and WiFi...

This one is quite a simple one.

Our neighbour in Terrace Lane was a fisherman, who runs a shop in Freshwater. I used to get a lobster freshly caught from him now and again for our supper. He would deliver it live, with his little black-cat Storm following him up the lane. They were an amusing sight approaching our doostep- all six-foot five of Andy, with bucket and lobsters, and little Storm-cat acompanying a few steps behind.

The preparation of supper, once heralded much barking by Milly, who had seen a lobster (and a crab) trying to crawl out of a bucket in the kitchen- and witnessing me drop them into boiling water, and then eat them- caused a rather strange expression. The impression that her owner was now a murderer, and she never knew she had it in her springs to mind.

Nowadays, Andy has moved his Fishing Tackle shop, next door to GiGi. So, we are neighbours again.

This time round I get my lobster already cooked, and bartered for my WiFi.

We do enjoy a bit of lobster and salad for lunch Em.

You remember Storm-cat, he is in Annabel's story...



4. Returning Books.

Do you remember the story about the man who sold me your first edition Alice in Wonderland?
It was again back at the time I was working in The Bookroom. 
Well, a chap turns up at my shop last week- mistaking the sign outside for antique valuations- pertaining to the Estate Agents next door, and realising his mistake, offers me some books.
It's our lovely Alice man Emily, and I get to buy more of his fabulous stash!
He's ninety-two now, and still asking cheekily "Do I look my age?" (he does not.)

5. Tumbling Towers.

I have to say at this point Emily, that the last few months have been, let's say, a little bit trying on the tenant-front. The rotten floor boards we knew about when we moved in, and the Landlords feeble attempts at 'mending' them, by hammering bits of rotten wood to equally rotten joints did not inspire confidence in his ability to maintain the building. Grumpa bought new joists to make good the worst of them, and all winter (and every time it rains) I keep up a complicated regime of 2 de-humidifiers, and bleaching the mould that encroaches. A further clue as to his regard for the building and its inhabitants was given when the cast iron pipe dangled precariously above the kitchen door (he had gaily nailed in a plastic pipe behind it some time previously, and time had granted the dislodging of the cast-iron pipe in front and its ability to fall on someones head to come to fruition.) No amount of urgency became of our concern- and all hope of a tenancy with landlord doing repairs diminished.

So- wishing to stay, I offered to buy it. We shall do our own repairs. A price was agreed, put in writing and off to the solicitors I go.

We hear nothing. I write to him. Eventually, two weeks ago, he turns up. "Oh, I was worried you didn't want to buy it", says he. " I do" says I, and we are back on. Except the game has changed. The freehold, is now leasehold, and the garden is now not a part of it. 

10 days ago- the tenants on the top floor move out. I go to see the top flat- which is spacious and crumbling, but a fair rent, and my friend with the red hair quite fancies it. She sees it, he accepts her references, and off she goes planning redecoration etc.

Suddenly- that changes and he has decided to sell the flat instead. He comes to me and tells me I can buy it along with my shop and get the freehold to boot. I ask the price- and we are in a very strange place. The price is akin to the asking price for a refurbished one next door. Flying a kite methinks, so decide a structural survey will highlight this, and look around for a good one. In the mean-time- the garden story is getting even more complicated. The builder next door had spun me some yarn a couple of weeks ago about my landlord wanting to get in touch with him, and did I have his number? "I'll phone him and see what he wants then, don't know why he came to find me...I'll just ring him now and see." It transpires that what he was actually doing was offering our landlord money for the garden to turn into parking spaces for his refurbished flats next door. 

Okay, so I'm a little confused about my own plans- as the swirling scenarios about what is on offer and at what price change almost daily, as I'm emptying dehumidifiers, and bleaching floorboards. 
The floor gives up- and two bookcases descend. So, I brace that part of the floor, and call in a trusty joiner friend for a price to renew the sinking battleship.

Add into the mix- the builder next door is waging war on the old Bank Vault. Bringing in a JCB, and letting me know at 4pm the day before I have Open Studios in the garden, wasn't ideal, but we dealt with it. Neither, was the even larger JCB, that arrived two days ago- the night before we were holding a Talk. "Oh, don't worry" he says "We'll be finished before then." 

Swirling scenarios continue in my head as I approach my little Noah's Ark of a shop as he says "You might want to be careful."

"Why? " I ask without being naive- as things are right now- it could be anything.

It was quite something.

The Landlord had taken it upon himself to drill out the markings for a window- in the top floor, facing over the street above our shop door. I watched incredulously as brick fell down in front of me, and people gathered in the street shouting up at him.

Even more incredulously, the scene became even more fantastic as, when challenged by the Police, and the public- he was heard to say "It's all right. This is a private pavement" as he brought out a door and a ladder to barricade himself in, whilst he continued to drill out 30 feet above and falling masonry tumbled down into the street below.

About this time, the JCB started up out the back. It was loud.

The policeman called the Council, and stood watching the Landlord, who whistled away, walked up and down, was heard drilling inside, and eventually told "If you do not stop, I shall arrest you."

He did stop- and today we await the council's decision. I can't think it will be favourable to the landlord, and I rather suspect there is no lintel involved in said work, and that the roof is now in danger of moving. Watch this space Em...

In the meantime- the JCB shows no signs of stopping for our Talk- so we hold it indoors- with drilling sounds to accompany it.

I'm not so sure I want to buy the shop here anymore Em- just got the estimate for the floor. At £4,000, I can't see our Landlord stumping up for it, can you?

6. Trifling with Truffles. Part two-

Mean-while Emily, back at the ranch- I had been patiently awaiting dessication. My somewhat fertile imagination, was playing with ideas of '13 O'clock Brunches', next year in the Secret Tea Garden- sometimes accompanied by Lobster, sometimes by the odd Isle of Wight Truffle. You can see where I'm coming from here Em.
So, I enter the kitchen, and go to the top of the bread-bin. Hmm, no truffle. 
I look outside in case Marley has sprouted Mr Incredible paws and managed to reach the Top Prize.
Nope- no tell-tale ramekins 'ere in the garden.
Whew, must be somewhere then.
I search high, I search low, but no Truffle to be seen.
Grumpa is called and I ask about the little ramekin.
"Oh, I threw that out" He says, and I don't believe him, because he often joshes like that.

But its true Emily. He was in OCD overdrive and decided it was 'sugar that had gone-off'.

So, now he has googled Truffle foraging, and has a little kit and goes off with the dogs in tow- in search of a replacement.

Life can be a little strange around here sometimes Emily, but I expect you have already noticed that.

I await the results of todays Council meeting with the landlord, and have planned my evening.

I have turfed out the lawnmower, the barbeque and some tools from the summer-house.

I have set myself up a table and chair.

I shall purchase a nice bottle of Sancerre. (Yes, Emily, I can see that that rhymes too.)

There I shall sit and ponder the future plans for Mrs Middleton's Shop!

Your ever-loving Grandmother,

GiGi xxxx






Sunday, 12 July 2015

The Anniversary

Dearest Emily,

I'm feeling in celebratory mood today-on account of this morning's trip to the tip. The reason for my jollity is two-fold. At long last my weekend loads of rubbish gathered from the back garden (or should I say former building-site) that have tooed and froed in my trusty Moggie, are done with! To celebrate, the chaps at the tip presented me with a lemon sherbet and a broom-stick...

Plus- I have finished my twelve paintings for Open Studios next week- here's the last one.


I've called it The Anniversary, because I painted it in the week of Grumpa and GiGi's eighth wedding anniversary. Two chairs- one for Grumpa and one for me. The hat represents laying it at our new old home, and the book is obviously a part of life hereabouts- as are shawls and summer shoes.

Grumpa hasn't left anything on the chair, because he's off on the Lifeboat of course, and doesn't like leaving anything anywhere. Eight years ago- on the day Andy Murray won the tennis- we had our Wedding blessing at Dimbola, and Wedding Breakfast at the Farringford, spending our honeymoon night in Alfred's room.

Nine years ago this month- I first stumbled over the doorstep and Dimbola, quite unaware of what an impact its one-time resident Julia Margaret Cameron was to have on my life. From in the beginning being delighted to see her links to Bloomsbury (my previous obsesh) to becoming a Trustee at the house, discovering that JMC was the muse for Lewis Carroll's White Queen. To choosing not to go to Paris to work back in the fashion business, and instead moving here to fabulous Freshwater.

What a journey it's been so far! Full of co-incidences and happenstances. Not surprising that Carroll was inspired hereabouts!

Now- we're all about campaigning for Mrs C to be on our currency. Makes sense to me.

A bit of fun for you Em- if JMC were alive today- and in her inimitable obsessive letter writing style- penned a plea to Mark Carney at the Bank of England for her cause to be the nominated £20 noter- it might just go something like this...

My Dear Mr Carney,
I write to ask you to kindly portray my image on the new £20 note.
Since your most gracious request to the public to nominate last month, coupled with my recent 200th birthday, it seems that my mission to ennoble the Art of Photography is finally becoming a common knowledge.
You of course, being of Canadian birth, will be aware of my legacy to Art and Portraiture, as the Getty Museum of America had the foresight to acquire most of my best works.
The Metropolitan Museum in New York also had the grace to support solo show last year, and the latest exhibition of my photographs tours the globe, ending at my dearest V&A this November.
We have not met, of course, owing to the fact that I departed this world a century or so before you were born- however, you will have noticed my portrait of Charles Darwin on the current £10 note. It was a triumph! In 1868, Charles was holidaying next door- he described my likeness of him as his favourite and I must say paid me handsomely for the honour!
In short, Mr Carney, my work changed the course of Photography for ever. I was as you call it today- a Game  Changer!
I, pioneered the 'Close-Up'. I tirelessly worked with the dangerous chemicals and sought technical advice from an old friend of the Mint and myself- Sir John Herschel ( I made a very fine portrait of him ) I sought Artistic Counsel from the very best, my friend G.F.Watts (I made a very fine portrait or two of him also) Dear Mr Henry Cole of the then South Kensington Museum (now known as the V&A) lent me two rooms as a studio, when, back in the 1860's it was not a simple path to follow what is now termed as a 'Career'. I needed to pay attention to my position in the Family and consider myself an 'Amateur'. My dear invalided husband was supposed to be the 'bread-Winner'.
My friends here in the living world have brought you some very kind support for your focus-group.. They have consulted with Academic Experts and provided a Bibilography pertaining to me..They are delivering written nominations collected from my beloved Isle of Wight (to be noted these are from dwellers and tourists) You will also find Dear Mr Carney, that I fulfil all of your criteria. I was born in India- which assists in your diversity area. I have never been considered divisive...
In fact, Mr Carney, it must be remarked that though in my own conceit- in all roundness- I am Perfect Perfection for the Cause!
My regards to your Wife- The Old Lady of Threadneedle St (though I suspect it might be better these days to drop the 'Old' tag)

Yours, Ever,

Julia Margaret Cameron

P.S
Again, in my conceit, I should like to add that if you were fortunate enough to meet me living today, I should like to make a portrait of you.
I think you would find that the likeness would electrify and startle you!


Not long now until your next visit here Em- can't wait to see you and Annabel again!

Your ever-loving Grandmother,

GiGi xxx


Thursday, 25 June 2015

Book-Shop Bread

Dearest Emily,

With my tongue firmly in cheek, a soupcon of self-parody and a sprinkling of Freshwater Fairy-dust I thought we'd celebrate our half-birthday at Mrs Middleton's Shop with a recipe...



Book-Shop Bread.

Difficulty level- Risky

Ingredients;

Dough- Very little indeed

Fermentation- Brew until the time is right

Oil- For pouring on troubled water

Water- enough not to dampen spirit

A pinch of Magic-Dust (essential)

Method- Or how we made ours

(On account of there being hardly any dough- the kneading will necessitate an artisanal approach)

1. Find a suitable building in which to create the Book-Shop bread.

(Ours was- let's say- 'untouched' for quite some time.)

2. Take all of your wits, a paintbrush, hammer and application, and smooth over any rough edges. Discover Victorian fireplace. Replace a few joists, and floorboards and deal with the fungus that's rotting the building.

3. Fill shop with bookshelves and furnishings accquired from local Charity shops.

4. Deploy books lavishly

Now, as the consistency begins to take shape, use artisan skills to arrange product in an appealing manner.

Sprinkle with magic dust, and wait for the dough to rise.

Manna from heaven Em, loving my bookshop bread!


See you soonest,

Your ever-loving Grandmother,

GiGi xxx

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

"It's got some Age to It"- Perfect Perfection.

Dearest Emily,

The first part of the title of this post, is a bit of a Bookseller's term. Yes, I know I'm getting all book-shoppy speaky- but hey, so I shall. The last bit belongs to Julia Margaret Cameron in a letter to Henry Cole (more of which last the end of this post.)

Anyhow, it's a phrase I've heard Mike say several times, and its something I've been relating to my life and even me in my early antiquity.

Because I decided a few things when I moved out of lovely London. I'd had several well-meaning friends who said that maybe it was too early for me to bury myself on the Island, and leave the metropolis. That didn't sit right with me Em, and it turned into a decision about my hair. I've always done that- made a decision about my hair when compromised about life. Well, I'm female, and I like to live with froth on the coffee decisions.

So- the decision was to never cut my hair again. Selfishly, I didn't want to search for a new hairdresser- or to be tied to making appointments in London every couple of months. I also really wanted grey hair. Long silver grey hair overnight.

                                                                                                      photo- Simon Avery

Didn't happen of course, and as I grew out the colour, wisps formed of grey at my temples instead. Tell it as it is, older bold ladies (well, one at least, which probably meant others thought so) asked if it was really a good idea to tie my hair back. Severe perhaps dear... but it got in my eyes, so styling it and spraying it and all that nonsense just wasn't going to happen- even in my fifties.

So, I stuck with it- and now my hair reaches my waist, and I'm rather happy with it. I tie it back, and my age is neither hidden or accentuated. It's a bother Em, when you see little lines deepen, and a jowel pattern developing on your visage. But, better than that- I've earned them, and that I mean with joy.

Physically I'm getting little signs of difficulties to put up with in the coming years- but dearest Em, the wisdom that each year provides, is priceless. Someone in the shop the other day said- 'Old age is not for cissies'. I like that attitude. You really do see some beacons of examples of seniority in age on this Island. Walkers who yomp past you on the Down who are decades ahead of you, and vibrant examples of ninety year olds who still carry on doing 'far too much'.

I've always liked to have a muse or two to look up to. In my teens it was the fabulous Lou-lou de la Falaise, and the indomitable Patti Smith. Dear Lou-lou is now departed sadly, but I hold her sparkling memory close, and Patti remains supremely as a muse to this day.

Then there's Freshwater Muses- and one in particular you know very well Emily. Our Mrs Cameron. An inspiration to many just by taking up a new career at 48, for me, she's a tantalising force of nature. A Woman so ahead of her time, she had to suffer fools gladly throughout her life- and after it. I reckon her time is coming now Em, 200 years after her birth!

I love the way the following passage from her niece Laura Troubridge (Memories and Reflections 1925) sums her and the rest of the Pattle sisters up-

(speaking of Anne Thackeray’s memoirs)


‘They too, laughed at her, though they loved her; for she was utterly oblivious to clothes, and in Mrs Prinsep’s eyes that was almost a sin. She was forgetful and unpunctual, and in some ways not unlike the White Queen in “Alice in Wonderland”. Still, in spite of their respective peculiarities, I cannot help thinking these women lived on a higher plane than most women seem to now. They cared nothing for the feminist movement and the rights and wrongs of their sex. But they knew that they were here to serve and to bless. They were the ladies, or loaf-givers, of whom Ruskin dreamed’

Another example I must share with you Emily, I read today in the fabulous new V and A book published for her Bi-Centenary-
Julia was friends with the Founder of the South Kensington Museum (now the V and A.) A copious and effusive letter-writer, she certainly shares Auntie Lotty's descrition of herself 'not suffering from low self-esteem'-; (albeit Em, I should add before you read this- I believe JMC had a certain 'tongue-in cheekiness)





' My dear Mr Cole,

I write to ask you if you will be having any Photographic Soiree or meeting soon, at which I may send to the Science & Art dept. for you to exhibit at the South Kensington Museum a set of prints that I intend should electrify you & startle the world. I hope it is no vain imagination of mine to say that the like have never been produced & can never be surpassed! I am waxing mad in my own conceit you will say. All I beg is that you show this assertion to our own Annie Thackeray & sister Minnie & ask them if they take my assurance upon trust! Seeing is believing & you shall see & the world shall see if you can create for me a great occasion! because these wonderful photographs should come out all at once & take the world by surprise!Thet are quite ready quite ready- a new series of 12 & if you watch my oport for me & acquaint me I will answer at once by sending the supply. Mr Thurston Thompson I hope will be delighted this time.
Won't the South Kensington Museum give me a crown.
Not of diamond stones but those better diamond laurel leaves- or a Medal or honourable mention if this series of Photographs of mine surpasses all others- Talk of roundness I have it in perfect perfection.!


Ah dear Julia!!!


You'll probably work out all this for yourself as you get older Emily, but I just wanted to tell you anyhow- every age brings gifts...

Your ever-loving Grandmother,


GiGi xxxx

Thursday, 11 June 2015

The Origin of the £10 note Species

Dearest Em,

It's Julia Margaret Cameron's 200th birthday today, and we're all about a-marching to celebrate and raise awareness for her billing on the new £20 note.

Whilst we're about it- it occurred to me- and to Julie as Mr Evans thinks so too- that maybe, just maybe, our Julia has previous with folding wedge.

Here's her photo of Darwin, taken most likely when he was staying in Terrace Lane (at what is Mary and Bob's house now)


And here's the £10 note image.


I wonder Em, if this was an engraving after JMC's portrait. As does Julie- who won't let it lie- and has contacted the Bank of England to try to find out more.

Julia's work was certainly copied by etchers previously and used in Cassell's for example where her photograph of Sir John Herschel was printed as an engraving after Julia Margaret Cameron.

Watch this space. We'll be digging.

Your ever-loving Grand-mother,

GiGi xx


Monday, 8 June 2015

There's no Place like Home

Dearest Emily,

This month's painting project ended up being one of our little Chocolate box Thatch.





I hope you like it. You will be moving too soon, boxing up all your things and re-arranging them in your new bedroom.

I remember your Daddy when he was away at University and it was his eighteenth birthday. I asked him what he wanted. He set me a task. This was to create something that he could have wherever he was that made him feel at home.

I wrote him a scroll that he could keep in a box. It explained that home is a feeling. A warm glowing hearth that is inside of you at all times. It represents family and all those who love you. Apparently, it was exactly what he wanted.

So my little one- ask Daddy if he still has it, and can it be yours one day too.

Over and out for today,

Your ever-loving Grandmother, GiGi xxxx


Saturday, 30 May 2015

Females of Note

Dearest Emily,

HAPPY FOURTH BIRTHDAY!

Now you are four- so grown up with a little sister to look after. I love this pic that Mummy shared when you got Annabel's new shoes.



When people ask me what you are like, it is quite hard not to seem biased seeing as how I'm your Grand-mother. However, I say with all confidence in my partiality that you have all the makings of a Woman of Note. My reasons for this are:-

1.Your sense of humour.
2. The way you address everybody you meet and include them in your world.
3. Your confidence and fearlessness.
4. Your sense of fairness.
5. Your kindness to others.
6. Your generosity.
7. Your appreciation of the efforts of others.
8. Your strong sense of self and doing things your own way.
9. Your whacky take on subjects.
10. Your trust in others who you know love you.

Those are stirling qualities my little one, I trust you shall use them well.

In fact, I could apply each and every-one of those to the lady whose photographs you and Mummy admire so much, and here's the one I have chosen for your birthday. I'm sure you remember- it is called 'The Rosebud Garden of Girls'.

 

Julia Margaret Cameron is a leading example of a Woman of Note. So much so, Em that there's a little band of us banging a drum to have here as our new £20 note portrait figure. There's her groundbreaking work of course- and you will be one who knows this well, having grown up around it. Wishfully, if the campaign proves successful, so will many more on our own British Isles. It's a sorry state that JMC is known and appreciated better in the States for example, on account of the Getty museum buying up so many of her prints. 
When the legendary Patti Smith played a private gig at Farringford a few years ago- her vocal appreciation of JMC as one of her muses, alongside Rimbaud, made it clear to me how across the Pond many grew up knowing her work as a matter of course.
That all aside Em, what was Julia really like as a person? Well, I shall relate some anecdotes from my studies of her, prompted by the qualities I admire in yourself...

Julia was often observed in letters by contemporaries as having a great sense of enjoying herself, and making others enjoy themselves too. Her 'other favourite poet' Henry Taylor remarked upon this in his autobiography. More-over he described Dimbola as a place where everybody was welcome, and laughter, and enjoyment abounded.
Julia presided matriarchal, commending the beauty around her, be it flower, maid or hat-box.
Dances were held in the 'Ball-room' (euphemistically called Em, and how she fitted in the musicians, and dancers one can only guess.) however, on long full-moon-lit summer evenings, these young guests, laughed and danced and spilled out onto the Down, the girls having been told to let their hair down by Tennyson- who declared it suited them better.
Mrs C was not afraid to speak her mind. A gathering in Mortlake included Tennyson and Ruskin, the latter being most voluble on declaiming that Photography was 'not Art'. This was too much for Julia, who argued the pro case vociferously, and Ruskin as vociferous back. A heated Julia, clumped him on the back, and he turned tail and fled, Julia following, bonnet ribbons trailling behind her.
They both returned arm in arm sometime later.
Anne Thackeray Ritchie gave testament to her sense of the comedic, her benevolence unbounded.
She was considered 'bossy' and her husky voice boomed, and cajoled others to do her bidding.
She once decided that Edward Lear needed a Piano up at Farringford, and promptly despatched hers, carried by several burly men, up Bedbury lane without waiting for agreement.
The Henry Taylor's returned home from holiday once, to find that Julia had been in and redecorated a room as a gift!
Marianne North, admired her cashmere shawl when she stayed with her in Ceylon, so Julia tore it in half and gave one half to Marianne, pulling her remaining half closer around her shoulders.
She nursed the dying Phillip Worsley who lived two doors away, and looked out for the young children of Horatio Tennyson, living at Terrace House, since their mother's death- who appeared to her a pallid colour and needed attention.
She adopted several children, invited her maids to table to dine, and generally threw convention to her bohemian wind.
Dressing in a style confined to her and her society 'Pattle' sisters, who had grown up in colourful India and chic Versailles, she did not fit in with the Crinolined and Corsetted fashion of the day. Ann Thackeray mentions her 'funny red open work shawl' for example. Her dresses were made by hand in the company of her sisters, from vibrant silks. Bright dye had just been invented and Julia loved a bright colour. She marked her waistline simply by a tasseled cord, more normally seen on a curtain.
My last anecdote today, is about her desire to please her adored invalid husband Charles Hay Cameron. Charles appears to have been a semi-invalid most of the time, fruitlessly applying for a governance post- having been a part of Macaulay's fall-out of favour over rule in India. Julia quietly kept the family purse together, with a mixture of extravagant largesse, under-cover earnings from her 'amateur' photography, and money from lodgings in a half of her house. 
Never embarrassing her husband as 'Head of the Family' she earned herself, and an example of her desire to please follows-
Charles liked to walk around the garden, as a semi recluse, he did not go out much, but liked to walk and study the classics.
Julia used stealth and planning, and whilst he slept had a great expanse of lawn laid overnight, to please her older husband whom she heralded as-
'Behold! The most beautiful old man on earth'
Here he is photographed by her,


I reckon she was a rather lovely force of nature Emily,

as I think you are too, birthday girl!

Your ever-loving Grandmother,

GiGi xxx

Monday, 25 May 2015

Telling Tales at the Bookroom- Down the Rabbit-hole again!

Dearest Emily,

Today we held an event in our new Secret Tea Garden. The idea was to hold a 'poetry Speakeasy', where people come along and hop up on the lecturn and read a bit of poetry- whatever they like, or just enjoy complimentary tea and cake.

It has been no mean feat turning a builders yard into a back garden- but as it is a real sun-trap, we thought we'd go ahead. Everything's a bit higgledy-piggledy- but that seems to work too.






We opened with Fraser Munro- who had composed a little verse following a visit one day. Here it is;




Then, I read the Jabberwocky for Hallam and Morgan ( you remember meeting them Em?)





So far so good, and dear old DBH read a scary poem, and Uncle Joe even had written some verses about being a teenager ( he wouldn't let me film him though Em (you know how it is with teenageboys.) A few more people came along, and then it quietened down- until teatime.

Suddenly we were in full-swing. Guests arrived, new ones we didn't yet know, DBH read again- some of his work this time, and a lovely lady called Elizabeth read a charming local story.

Then, all of an instant- everyone started 'story-telling', ghost stories, local stories, snippets of local lives. It was fascinating Em, people unknown to each other swapping tales.

So- we'll do this quite often I think- Tea-time Tales it is!

Maybe you'll be here for one of them, and can tell your own!

Your ever-loving Grand-mother,

GiGi xxx

Sunday, 10 May 2015

The Forest of Parody- Tangled Tales

Dearest Emily,


Pricing up some new/olde books for the shop the other day, my attention was diverted from my task by three volumes in separate deliveries. I put them aside to delve into later.

The first caught my eye as you know I love to read anything by Anne Thackeray-Ritchie. This was a volume of Thackeray's works with a Biographical introduction by his daughter.

When I started to read 'The Roundabout Papers' (which were produced in 1861 when Thackeray was not content simply to be the Editor of the magazine,) something Carrollian seemed to be about.

Reading Anne's biography I found that these papers were autiobiographical- and had already read and remembered a journey that Anne had written about in her childhood to Oxford.

It appears from the text, and Dodgson's diary at the time- that Thackeray is referring to the reception at Oxford for him in 1857. Is the Polymath he is referring to- our Dodgson?

A little later he ascribes two similar characters as 'Tweedledumski, and Tweedlestein'.

Here they are-

First, Stuart Collingwood - The Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll;

A note in Mr. Dodgson's Journal, May 9, 1857, describes his introduction to Thackeray:—

I breakfasted this morning with Fowler of Lincoln to meet Thackeray (the author), who delivered his lecture on George III. in Oxford last night. I was much pleased with what I saw of him; his manner is simple and unaffected; he shows no anxiety to shine in conversation, though full of fun and anecdote when drawn out. He seemed delighted with the reception he had met with last night: the undergraduates seem to have behaved with most unusual moderation.

And second;

SMALL-BEER CHRONICLE.

‘Not long since, at a certain banquet, I had the good fortune to sit by Doctor Polymathesis, who knows everything, and who, about the time when the claret made its appearance, mentioned that old dictum of the grumbling Oxford Don, that "ALL CLARET would be port if it could!" Imbibing a bumper of one or the other not ungratefully, I thought to myself, "Here surely, Mr. Roundabout, is a good text for one of your reverence's sermons." Let us apply to the human race, dear brethren, what is here said of the vintages of Portugal and Gascony, and we shall have no difficulty in perceiving how many clarets aspire to be ports in their way; how most men and women of our acquaintance, how we ourselves, are Aquitanians giving ourselves Lusitanian airs; how we wish to have credit for being stronger, braver, more beautiful, more worthy than we really are.’
........

‘Ask Tweedledumski his opinion of Tweedledeestein's performance. "A quack, my tear sir! an ignoramus, I geef you my vort? He gombose an opera! He is not fit to make dance a bear!" Ask Paddington and Buckminster, those two "swells" of fashion, what they think of each other? They are notorious ordinaire. You and I remember when they passed for very small wine, and now how high and mighty they have become.’

The Roundabout Papers ( Cornhill Magazine from 1860/61 published 1863)

So, dear Em, could Mr Thackeray- as Mr Roundabout- be having a parody-pop at our Dodgson's personality bent for social-climbing? If so, it would not have escaped our wide-reading Don.

If so, would he have recognised the slight? Most probably, I think.

This example at the least, brings to our attention, the fashion for having a go at peers in print was the thing in the mid-Victorian social scene.

Dodgson's legacy is a children's masterpiece that has never been out of print. Something his parodying peers have not equalled.

Game, set and match to Carroll.


We like that idea, don't we Em!


See you soon,

your ever-loving Grandmother, GiGi xxx