Thursday, June 28, 2007

Eeee Teeth & Gauge Eyes

This is an old collage from the mid 90's. It got turned into a postcard back then courtesy of Boomerang who set up racks of them to give away at cinema's and student unions. I never really understood why but for a time they took me under their wing and printed a few thousand of my collages which was nice. I got 500 to play with of each batch printed so it kept me in postcards for several years. I still have tons of the Beautiful Britain series if anybody wants any? This one is all gone though. It enjoyed brief fame when appearing on the C4 sit-com "Spaced" - you can see it stuck up on the fridge in the first series and in the second it moves to the side of the kitchen door.

Hazel has gone into town for some retail therapy . I went yesterday but didnt find much. I got soaked in several small showers. I found a DVD of the Coen Brothers "Miller's Crossing" for 99p. Not one of their funniest efforts but good to see again. Also some bread from Marks & Sparks ( no bagels!). Got the local papers but no mention of any boot sales this week.
Hazel is back from her shopping. She got some more anti-squirrel nut vendors as the pesky varmint chewed through the last couple and all the nuts went everywhere!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Grid Polaroids

Jane took these grid polaroids at the bar-b-q yesterday. I look slightly sozzled , which I was. Hazel in her "Happy Talky Talky" chinese dress. Archie and Wilf up the cute factor.


Had a small bar-b-q party today to celebrate my birthday and a chance for Hazel to get together with some of her colleagues at work and try and not talk about degree shows and students which was quite hard for them. Hazel bought tons of food so we shall be eating garlic bread and olives for the next few days! The kebabs were nice though the rain spoilt our plan of sitting outside so most of the food was grilled indoors on the stove which set the smoke alarm off. It's very sensitive and even goes off when nothing is being cooked and we are watching televison!
Got some more cards and presents including some nice metal printing blocks of a lawn mower and radiator from Jane & John. A puncture repair outfit and book light from Dave and a book about weird japanese inventions from Nick and Joan. Later the nice neighbour over the road spotted the balloons that Hazel had tied to the door and came over to wish me a happy birthday ( I can't believe you are 60!) and gave me a tin of lager and a candle holder. Hazel thinks he came with the candle stick for her just incase it was Hazel's 60th ! Most unlikely I said - he could see that I am a fan of the tea-light!

The rain hasnt stopped since. There is a river running down the garden path and slugs have climbed onto little rafts made from the slug traps to escape the worst ravages of the weather.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Birdbath Treats

It's wonderful to get a collage every year on my birthday from John Evans. I must have about 20 by now and some are framed all around the house. He's a busy man at the moment so delighted he remembered me this year.
Yesterday Hazel drove us to Chester to get a new CD recorder from Richer Sounds which is the only place you can get them it seems apart from the interweb. Sony have made the new one twice as big and twice as heavy as the old variety I bought 7 years ago for some weird reason only known to themselves when most gadgets are getting smaller and smaller! My arms were longer too by the time we got back to the bus stop and the "park and ride scheme". We also took the opportunity to pop into some charity shops but didn't find much. Hazel also bought me a light linen jacket for the summer as she hates the one I wear now. Trying on clothes in Gap is not my idea of fun - more like torture for someone more used to grabbing clothes from the rails of Oxfam!

Anyway, some hours later I am still trying to figure out how this thing works. It's a lot different from the other one and has less plugs for some reason which I find baffling! Hopefully will see the light over the next couple of days.

Good news too about the LULU book which has been dispatched and should be here soon. So looking forward to seeing my first proof copy. I expect there will be some tweaking to do before it's allowed out in public!

This is me in 1949 or thereabouts wearing a natty little outfit. I tried to find a baby photo but the family album is buried under tons of stuff. Hazel put this one in a frame and hung it on the stairs as it amuses her so much. I think my parents were still living in Highbury in London at the time in a one room flat. Just after the war logdings were hard to find because of all the bomb damage and the big rebuilding programme took awhile to get going. We spent several years with relatives before finding a small flat in Corringham in Essex above the Coots ,who used to shell shrimps for a living. Just down the road was the family who had the first TV in Corringham and they were very popular when the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth happened in 1952 ( or was it three?). They moved to Canada I seem to remember and had to sell the mink farm they owned. I can still smell their house now- a mixture of mink and hot valves! This was a couple of years after this photo was taken though. I think my Dad tried to apply for new life in Australia but he wasn't really that qualified - just out of the army and worked in various jobs including electricians mate and a wheel tapper's listener on the railways.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Happy Birdbaths To Me

Archie made this animated card for my 60th birthday. I love his sense of comic timing.

We tried to drive to Crewe this morning but got caught up in the traffic to the Cheshire Show which brought the A556 to a standstill. We drove over to pick up Audrey and she waited in Lostock for 30 minutes by the side of the road - being offered assistance by passing neighbours who thought she needed a chair or help crossing the road! Eventually we picked her up and drove into town instead . The rain held off thankfully. Did the usual tour of charity shops and the library etc. I bought a packet of pitted prunes and the papers.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Farther's Day

Archie made this nice design on some wrapping paper - inside wasa box of dark chocs. He also gave me a CD of 60's and 70's hits with a cover he had made - a self portrait again. I left it in the car so can't scan it yet. We listened to it - Sweet, Canned Heat and Santana as we drove over to Weaverham. The boot sale that Betty ( at Age Concern ) said would be there wasn't on! Betty is always right so this came as a bit of a shock! We drove around for a while trying to find others and eventually found one over at Peover in the "cow pat field" - so named as it was full of fresh cow pats when we first encountered it a few years ago. The indian chap who takes the pound as you drive in is famous for scratching his crotch just before you hand him the money so Hazel drops the money from a safe distance!
Not many stalls there - about 6 altogther and two of those are burger vans! I do find some bargains though - a stall full of cheap DVD's and plump for Hellboy ( we enjoyed Pan's Labyrinth recently by the same spanish director ) and one about J.M. Barrie with Johnny Depp. Also two CD's - "The Temperance Seven" Vol. 2 and some 50's rock 'n roll classics.
Hazel bought a book called "Bo**ock's To Alton Towers" written by people who write for Viz comic about unusual family days out - The Garden Mower Museum, Port Sunlight etc. Archie bought an old broken fob watch to give to his Mom for her birthday.

We stopped off on the way home for a walk around Shackerley and fed the duck's with invisible bread.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Degree Shows

Yesterday we went to the Interactive Arts third year students degree show at the MMU in Manchester. Archie and I went after he had got back from school and met Hazel in the Holden Gallery where the I.A. have been put this year. Its certainly a much bigger space and makes a change from all those awful abstract paintings that usually clutter up the place. The Private View was very crowded and noisy what with all the "sound art" and birds chirping, live music and chattering students etc.
Afterwards we went for a pizza before going back to the hotel we normally stay at on these ocassions.

The next day we had breakfast in a local health food cafe "The 8th Day" and I bought some vegetarian pies and huge fruit muffins for lunch. Was able to look round the shows without all the noise and hub-bub which was far better and enjoyed most of it. Hazel had to be around to oversee the Interactive Arts so stayed until four but Archie and I had enough by 1 so came home via Altringham on the tram as the railway was up the creek for some reason.

A general view of the Interactive Arts show with one of the more interesting exhibits - a chicken coop with a TV screen inside showing a film of chickens in a battery farm and voice-over by a member of some animal rights group who made a raid on it to set some chickens free. The "smallest art gallery" in the world just behind it made from a former porta-loo with photos of loo signs from around the world on it's walls.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Sorting Office

WE met Treena at the sorting office this morning to put up some mail art in the empty cabinets. Treena was already there with all her polish and dusters and cleaning the glass. It was surprising how much mail needs to fill up six quite small cabinets successfully. We barely had enough and I presumed we'd have loads left over to take home again. I took a selection of the "Handy Postcard Exchange" work and stuck them up in four cabinets. Thankfully Hazel helped or else it would have taken hours! A steady stream of people came in which was encouraging and one hopes that some will take the time to look at the postcards and envelopes etc. whilst waiting for their parcels or whatever. Not sure how long they will be up for. Treena is curator and so I leave that side of it to her. Maybe put up some more mail from the archive in the future if all goes well. Playing it very much by ear at the moment.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Warm Weekend

Archie has been picking up the guitar more and more just lately and his chord progressions sound pretty good now. Nice to see him more confident but he's not keen to show off his skills at the music night at school.
It wasa beautiful sunny weekend and on Sunday we went to a boot sale at Verdin Park in town and got a few bargains including an address rubber stamp kit for 70p - it has plastic tweezers to pick up the fiddly type to slot into a frame. Also some DVD's including Annie Hall and some old Fleischer Brothers "Betty Boop".
Hazel got a small tin of broken metal things and a gadget for twisting off screw caps off bottles. Archie didn't get anything and slouched around like a grumpy teenager. Hazel took her sister and Mom afterwards though they could quite easily have driven themselves over there.

We had a picnic lunch in Marbury Park which was very busy with mad dogs and children. A nice walk to feed the ducks etc.
Hoping the swifts would be weaving in and out of the avenue of trees as they did last year but none to be seen. Maybe it wasa bit later in the year when more insects are on the wing?

Saturday, June 09, 2007

After Hiroshige

This is a gummed paper collage I made back in 1976 when I was living briefly at my Dad's before moving to Stepney. I made quite a few of these garish things at the time - narrow boats, roses and castles, water lilies etc. probably trying to compensate for the dreariness of my surroundings in Basildon. The East End of London seemed very colourful and full of life by comparison.

Still suffering from an achey back thought it's not as bad as it's been previously. Hazel and Archie have gone out for their yearlyeye tests. I can't go into the front room as Hazel has washed the curtains so it's like a goldfish bowl in there - the room flooded with light.

The weather is really hot today - we had our lunch of "tear and share" cheesy bread and salad in the garden. Our neighbour is having an aerial or gate made( maybe both?) and so its quite noisy out there what with the chatting and sawing and hammering.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


Archie's latest flash animation he 's been working on over the half term break. It needs some fine tuning but looking good so far. I was pleased with my pigeon impressions!

Went for second visit to chiropractor today which was pretty uncomfortable - she said it would be. I feel like I've taken two steps back - my back hurting again like it was a week ago! I can't believe I'm actually paying for this torture. Seriously thinkng of not going back especially as she reckons I need a six week course of treament. Great - a tremendous way of emptying my bank account!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Goodbye Flo

Here's the red-eyed devil bunny in happier times. Not sure who took this photo. I had to go and get a carton from ther local shop and explained what it was for - they looked at me as if I were mad! In the end we didn't use the crisp carton but Hazel wrapped Flo - frozen like a sky diver with her paws out at her sides - in a tea towel and popped her in the deep grave we ( I did most of it despite the bad back ) dug under the tree house. It was full of gnarly roots of the apple tree and they had to be snipped off with the sharp spade. We placed soume of her favourite toys and carrots around her and put the dirt on top and a slab of stone with a pot of flowers on top.

Hazel doesnt want another rabbit - she said a cute bunny now just wouldnt be right and it would be hard to find another with the character that Flo had.

If this wasn't enough, a thoughtless teacher told Archie off today for not doing his homework that he was suppoed to do over half term. He'd taken in a note from his Mom explaining that he had an animation to finish off too and the deadline is in three weeks! They are happy to take all the credit when he gets his films into the Cornerhouse and shown in festivals abroad etc. but can't see that comments like "get your priorities right!" are crushing for a sensitive lad who spent all his holiday working on the thing he loves and wants to do when he leaves school. They should be encouraging him not making such negative remarks!

The mini-disc player doesn't work either - 4 days can be such a pain sometimes!

SWAPATORIUM: Shocking Find

Sad News

Sunday, June 03, 2007


My old chum Jim Benson from Basingstoke sent me word of this film of Chucklefoot on You Tube. I think he said his son took the film in Basingstoke recently. A great one-man band and he has puppets too!

This morning we went to three boot sales which seems a lot but they were all quite close and smallish. The one at the Winnington Scouts was the largest but I didnt find any bargains - I think Hazel got a box and medals and brooches. The next in Witton was by the Indian resturant and pub. I bought an old minidisc player for three quid - its quite chunky so imagine it was one of the early prototypes. Unfortunately it doesnt seem to have a proper plug for the mains so will have to get one to power up the internal lithiam battery. Not sure what Hazel bought. Surprised to see our old neighbours Louise and Nigel? who live over that way now with a stall , trying to sell some clutter they had accumulated. We compared notes of lower back pain as Louise suffers from it too. She scared me , telling me her chiropractor nearly pulled her head off last time she went!
The next sale was quite pitiful at Lostok Community Centre and only four or five stalls with mostly rubbish. I bought an Athlete CD for Archie for 50p which has a free DVD with it. Archie was embarressed by a lady inside the hall who tried to sell him some black bed sheets saying he looked like " a kinky sort".

Next to Granma's for tea and biscuits and the sunday papers whilst Hazel took Audrey to the pub bootsale again.
Poor Flo the rabbit looks rather sickly at the moment and typically its the weekend when no vets are open. Hopefully she will perk up by tomorrow.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Hobbies Magazine

From more innocent days of simple pleasures. Hobbies magazine from the late 50's. Fretwork and crystal sets, serviette rings and candle holders. Collectors Corner and great adverts for stamps, musical movements and bendy files.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Down On The Farm

This afternoon we went for a short walk around Shackerly to feed the geese and swans with the two crusts we had saved. It was a gorgeous sunny and warm day. The village on the way reaked of rotting fish for some reason - maybe they use it as fertiliser? I still ached a bit so made use of the many benches dotted round the perimeter. Took a few dogy time delay shots as I scrambled back into position and the camera hanging precariously from a nearby twig.
Afterwards we took a diversion to the Organic farm near us with lovely views of rolling fields and rolling cows etc. The had some baby chicks to coo over and organic ginger beer - just like an Enid Blyton novel! We bought some expensive organic produce from the farm shop for our dinner.

As well as the chicks there wasa flop eared rabbit in a pen and some sheep and lambs.
Kids are well catered for there as they have a big wendy house with three rooms and a "race track" outside with push along cars and trikes - games and a small cafe where parents can buy tea and coffee and cakes etc.


Archie has been working on this flash animation for a few weeks now and just getting round to adding a bit more this half term holiday. I did the pigeon "coos" in case you were wondering. I'm sure it will be even better when he finishes it.
The fledgling blue tits seem to have flown the nest box - at least I couldnt see or hear them anymore. I hope they are o.k. - Treacle the bird killer is roaming round the gardens .

My back is still aching and I woke at 5a.m. again and had to get up - my mouth like the bottom of a hamsters cage - ugh!
I have started a new blog of all the hand shaped postcards I got in 1997-2000. It might take me a while to scan them all as there are well over a hundred.

I just watched this through and realise something terribly wrong happened during the YouTube uploading and instead of the Grunta animation we have this weird pixelated but very colourful avant garde film! O well - maybe it's for the best. I will upload Archies film when he has finished it.