Happy St Andrew's Day! It doesn't count for much in Scotland, but it's a good excuse for some tartanalia and a chance to reflect on some of the good things that Scots have given the world. Inventions: (NB. Scots invented everything) - television, telephone, radar, the decimal point (but not the question mark), the monorail, hypnosis, ultrasound, penicillin, the bicycle, the steam ship, the adhesive postage stamp, the macintosh, tarmac, the kaleidoscope, marmalade, lime cordial, Bovril (all these from Scottish inventions). Music: - Donovan, Teenage Fanclub, Belle & Sebastian, Franz Ferdinand, Edwyn Collins and Orange Juice, Boards of Canada, Aztec Camera, Lloyd Cole & the Commotions, The Beta Band, The Fire Engines, Josef K, The Poets, The Marmalade, David Byrne, The Associates. People: Ivor Cutler, Alasdair Gray, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Eduardo Paolozzi, Shirley Henderson, Shrek, Alan Cumming, Jock Stein, Alastair Sim, Chic Murray, Groundskeeper Willie, David Niven, Norman McLaren, Andrew Carnegie, Oor Wullie, Gregory and his girl. Things: Tunnocks teacakes, Irn Bru, Still Game, Scottie dogs, Vitamin Q, heather, thistles, shortbread.
Bright and shiny:
I like the intrigue you get on the backs of postcards, sometimes they're as colourful as the front. I'd love to know what Graham's gift was - the underlining makes it sound saucy, or as if it caused great offence. This is one of my favourite John Hinde postcards; it's totally brilliant. I dug it out because I was thinking there are never enough pictures here, then got sidetracked thinking about its journey from Barry Island to Cardiff. Surely someone must have made art out of the backs of postcards, like Obscure does for things in general? I can see it now, 'Wish you were here - the solipsism of travel', Arts Council funding and an introduction from Martin Parr. Any takers?
Back to the future:
I walk through this housing estate every day on the way to work. It's like being Montag in Fahrenheit 451 (shot, I think, on the Alton Estate in Roehampton). I like the boxiness and the uniformity. Worth mentioning George Shaw again for his paintings of Tile Hill estate in Coventry. He doesn't glorify it and he doesn't condemn it. There's a kind of beautiful neutrality to it all, well explained in this excellent article which ties in fellow Coventry observer and I like favourite Philip Larkin. There was also an Art Show about him, The Late George Shaw and two books This Was Life and What I Did This Summer. Similar, but grittier is David Rayson, and literary equivalent is Andrew Collins' autobiography Where did it all go right? about a 70s childhood in Northampton - 'a memoir about being normal, coming from nowhere and not doing much' which also comes with a nice Larkin ref - 'They tucked him up, his mum and dad'.
It's a sad day. Cheer yourself up:
I had trouble finding 6 likes this month. I'm not reading much, or looking at the internet, and there are lots of things I like at the moment that I couldn't find a proper website for. Other sites like PCL Linkdump are brilliant but taking a break, cute things doesn't get updated very much, George Shaw doesn't have a proper website. It all seems a bit of a guddle this month. Still, big plug for Special Item which features photos of your favourite possessions. I'm hoping to have mine there when I can make up my mind. So many precious things! Hayley, who runs the site, is looking for submissions so get in touch. This is the kind of site I love.
I like recommends:
The Kinks are The Village Green Preservation Society by Andy Miller. Great little book. Part of the 33 1/3 series from Continuum Books.
Just above the mantlepiece: mass market masterpieces by Wayne Hemingway. Beautiful books of paintings by J. H. Lynch, Tretchikoff and others.