Thursday, 29 January 2015

Freshwater Malarkey

Dearest Emily,

Knee deep in some research currently regarding Secret Societies and their Island history, I was delighted to discover one today- that's right up my Carrollian street!

Whaddya know Em, this was 1862- right at the time when dear Edward Lear was becoming famous for his Nonsense, and Dodgson was here-abouts lionising Tennyson, and scribing squibs and parodies a-plenty about his Oxford peers. Just down the lane in Norton was the HQ for a satirical 'Society'- with its own Poet Laureate, and Fizz/Lear/Punch-esque illustrator.

The 'Larky-Lot' met for the season at West-Cliff House. With members from society local and on North-Island (near where you live for example Em) their motto was Semper Roare.

A tongue-in-cheek bunch, they wrote verse, drew cartoons and generally involved themselves in silliness.

Here's another example of their nonsense- a Limerick about Norton, where GiGi lives.

There was a young person of Norton
Whose cloak was by no means a short 'un
When they asked " Is it long?"
She replied  "Get along"
That evasive young person of Norton

So, the fashion for nonsense didn't confine itself to children's verses, or the still to be written Alice and in particular- Through the Looking Glass. 'Twas something in the zeit-geist breeze Emily, and a less stuffy, straight-laced and repressed take on the Victorians than commonly opined.

Maybe it was just here in Freshwater that the daft-mood overcame our Victorian visitors- though I doubt it. But there is something in the air here Em, don't you think?

Your ever-loving Grand-mother,

GiGi xxxx

Monday, 19 January 2015

Birds of a Feather

Dearest Emily,

I am looking forward to your next visit. We shall have our tea-party at GiGi's new old shop. Last time you were here it was all sixes and sevens. Now it is a more ordered number.

My new route to work takes me over Golden Hill, where a Victorian Fort was built (now turned into apartments.) Golden Hill must take its name to the incredible golden light that the daily sunshine beams across the hill, with its myriad walks around its circumference. Then, again at sunset- its position allows golden vistas across towards Totland. I'm loving just drinking in the ever-changing light on my way to and home from work.

Daddy warns me that you now constantly dress as a Princess, and that you are going through a rather 'wilful' stage. Hmm, I cannot affect surprise there. Mummy and Daddy's gene pool have generated a mix to be reckoned with. Of course, GiGi was an angel-child with no predisposition to wearing whatever she felt like and causing imaginative mayhem whenever the mood overtook her- you must have inherited it elsewhere!

So- moving on (birds of a feather.) GiGi's painting challenge is to decide on the first of the month what to paint from the landscape around me. I am not allowed to predict it- just find something each first of the month- and paint it.

January first saw me plodding off to work at my new old shop. As I walked over Golden Hill, suddenly a flock of Pigeons swooped up above me. It was an overcast day- but still here-abouts there's that magical light that shines through whatever weather fronts abound.

I didn't like Pigeons. Neither did Uncle Joe- we used to walk together to school in Marylebone silently annoyed by their omnipresence, scavenging and flapping away at every corner it seemed. Eventually we spoke about it- and nick-named them 'flying-rats'. They seemed to be about more when take-aways were discarded in the streets, and everywhere after the markets off Lisson Grove.

They seemed to us- colourless, irritating creatures. So- why, here on the Isle of Wight did they seem less irksome? Bonkers, I thought, and even now Uncle Joe is a full-blown Teen-ager with less bent for unintelligent discussion with his mum about the merits of birds- he too announced that he didn't take against them here.

So, I started to paint what I saw on January first- and looked up examples of my quest.

Hah! The Pigeons here- very varied in colour aren't yer common or garden ferral variety. They are called 'Rock-Doves' that inhabit the Islands around the UK. They do- Em, rather look more like Doves, than the Pigeons you are used to from Fulham, and I imagine in Tonbridge Wells too.

And, they vary in colour.  All over the place, some fan-tailed with much white, some skewbald brown and white- and lots of shades in-between.

I shall use them as my example for my post to you this week, dear Em. Birds of a Feather still come in different sizes and guises. As we know, and you are showing us...

Your ever-loving Grand-mother, GiGi xxx