Friday, October 21, 2016

NFN Take 2 …

As Petrea couldn't see anything yesterday when clicking the link (Norfolk websites don't like crossing water), here's a screengrab …

Sunday, October 16, 2016

A Cure For Autumn

I make no excuses for playing this again (and again). It's a cold, dull, miserable Sunday morning here and there's only one antidote:

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Stop That Pigeon

Hokay … I defy you to get that theme tune out of your head.

My office - as has been noted before - is the local pigeon suicide spot. It's mostly glass and on a steep hill, so pigeons coming in over the river misjudge the climb and bang into my window.

On the side of the building, however, they fly straight out of the woods and slam into the windows at full tilt …

Er … POW!

Yup … that's how much dust a pigeon carries round with it; a walking squawking bag of psittacosis, stuffed to the gunwales with junk food and barreling out of the trees, straight into David D's window.

Pretty awesome, huh? You can make out the wing feathers and even the surprised look on its dumb little face.

Those of you of a more compassionate nature should know that it staggered around the balcony for a while and then flew off, presumably to gather some more dust.

This is what happens if the pigeon doesn't slam on the brakes …
Chris F's window at the rear of the building.
It must have hit beak-on with wings tucked in as it made a perfectly circular hole.

That one strutted around the office for a bit until we threw a tea towel over it and put it outside on the bridge, from whence if departed in high dudgeon.

So … with the peregrine falcons living on the Cathedral on one side of the river and our pigeon-eating building on the other, Norwich is doing its bit to eradicate the flying rats.

Monday, August 01, 2016

Tempting …

… and only slithtly rubbed, too!

(found while sleep-shopping on Abe Books)

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Pimp My Uppity Colonials

It's been a long time since "Pimp My Dante" and I feel the need for some more biblioporn and am lured by the sirens' call to fondle some leather.
This time it's the loving rebinding in period clothing of some tattered and disbound documents pertinent to my friends in the Colonies which I hope they might find diverting.

 Yes, it's all very brown.
I do love a bargain and the interweb is the perfect place to trawl the back rooms and musty corners of the world's bookshops, ready to pounce on any unwary prey that takes my fancy. Disbound or with their covers hanging off and spines broken they can be obtained for astonishingly few groats, and even if you don't re-skin them they make wonderful reading.
In particular I am obsessed (yes, I confess to obsession … sorry, Mum) with collecting old news as it happened and original documents and letters from revolutions and revolts, being pretty revolting myself.

The rather alarming duct tape binding above contains the first appearance in a printed book - as opposed to manuscript or pamphlet - of the American Declaration of Independence (amongst the Parliamentary State Papers for 1776, bound in with the hugely entertaining and divers debates and correspondence leading up to said Declaration and its wake of amusing spuffle, blather and faff from the outraged English Tories).
If, like me, you find duct tape an inappropriate cladding for the most sacred of uppity Colonial documents, read on.

 Here lay the tattered remains of many debates, rants, arguments and handbag fights in both the English Parliament and the Philadelphia Congress
It is distressing to see such distressed damsels déshabillé and so I sought the aid of Bald Bernard from the Basement in hope of restoring their dignity.

 And now here they sit betwixt first editions of Titus Groan, Gormenghast, Mishima and McCarthy and some beautiful Rivière Brothers bindings that - after some haggling regarding beards and gourds - some fool let me buy for £3.55 a volume, at least a hundred times less than their current value.
Like I say: I do love a bargain.

Anyhoo … Back to Bald Bernard from the Basement …
While I was working in London I used Shepherds' for my bookbinding needs. Not because they were only a few yards from my office on Rochester Row but because they are the current equivalent of Bayntun and Rivière; the best of the best of the best … Sir!
And down in their basement toiled bald Bernard, master of calf and hand-stitching, and his wife Sarah, queen of fine leather mosaic work.

When I returned to Norwich, Bernard and Sarah decided it was time to start their own bindery and by serendipitous chance, concluded that the best place for a bindery would be the UNESCO City of Literature … er … Norwich; home to more fine writers than you can shake a stick at (should you choose to do so).

 And so …
Our damsels are no longer déshabillé but clad in new mottled calf that I am instructed to fondle as often as possible, the natural oils from skin being the the perfect food and preservative for new, deliciously soft calf-bound books. As these are books that I will read and re-read and enjoy for as long as I live, fondling them is not going to be too Herculean a labour.

 For the endpapers we spent some time with marvellous rolls of hand-marbled paper, choosing a style and colour consistent with the 1770s. Bernard is as fussy about period veracity as I am.

 The hand-stitching matches the endpapers and Bernard worked really hard adjusting the raised bands on the spines to align across all the volumes.

 Here, starting in the last column is the first printed and published version of that most sacred of Colonial scriptures, clad no longer in duct tape but in a more fitting and dignified wrapper.

 And here is one of my very favourite documents. In essence it is a bonkers, Trump-style splenetic rant refuting in eye-popping apoplexy the document bound with it (see below).

The British Library's English Short Title Catalogue (they keep tabs on printed material from the 1470s up to 1800) lists three of these still in existence and I am rather chuffed that mine is the copy from the "New Exchange Coffee House Subscription Library" (copperplated over several pages to discourage pilfering).

The New Exchange (now the beautiful and dignified Old Exchange) was the stock exchange of its time, nestled between Threadneedle Street and Cornhill, whose coffee houses were the debating chambers for politicians, scientists and the more enlightened of Enlightenment society.
The New Exchange Coffee House was the grandest and would have seen Edmund Burke and John Dodsley, Charles James Fox and William Pitt (both versions) and on occasion Benjamin Franklin reading, debating and getting caffeinated to the gills.
Riff-raff like stockbrokers were not allowed in and had their own coffee house down the street.

Here's the document from July, 1775 (bound at the back of the above volume) that kicked off the petulant, foot-stamping temper tantrum, which, by the way, makes for hilarious and really quite shocking reading, though you'll have to take my word for that unless you manage to track down one of the other two remaining copies.
James Ranty MacPherson takes particular umbrage at the concept of no taxation without representation, citing that women and (let us say 'persons of colour') together with the poor have no vote and therefore no representation and yet are taxed by the divine right of the monarch. He then goes a leetle bit apeshit and his views are unfortunately those of the Tories (most of whom "owned" millions of square miles of Colonial soil by dint of having simply given it to themselves) and not those of reason. Regrettably his views are also those of today's "one percent" and those of the GOP. What the hell happened to the enlightened views of Jefferson, Franklin, Adams et al? Whither America in the 21st. Century?

At the lower left of the above photo, however, Bostonians may find some amusement.
The blustering, indignant and quite frankly chortlesome abuse MacPherson rains on Boston and its inhabitants in his main text would be unpublishable today. It is beyond Trump for sheer ignorant insanity. Pop round for a cuppa and I'll let you read it.

Good old Johnny Hancock really did know how to raise the hackles of the English Tories.
You can gauge the tone of the major part of the book by the paragraph at the top right.
The certain "Illustrious Band" referred to being the Whigs, whose arguments recorded in the Parliamentary Papers were rational, reasonable, occasionally hilariously sarcastic and personal. The Whigs of course sided wholly with the Americans and their perfectly reasonable grievances but unfortunately, as today, the Tories won the vote by lying, cheating (using rotten boroughs and bribery) and bullying and of course calamity ensued.

Here beginneth Colonial Independence.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

After Ten Years of Blogging He Posts His First Cat Video


Okay … I give up.

I was going to get out the ol' handcart this morning and head for Hell, but as Hell is coming to us now I didn't bother. I'm just going to sit here all week and watch pretty young girls bouncing around at Wimbledon while the world burns outside my window.

Rather than rant and rage at the wilful ignorance of a smidgeon over half of this soon-to-be third world country, I've done the only thing that could possibly prevent me from heading out there with a bag of handguns and a nervous twitch …

Post a cat video.

The internet is after all made of cats.
This is Fern; one half of Charlie and Fern who supposedly live next door, but as Gerry's in Germany with Heddy at the moment they tend to spend a lot of time snuggled up on my sofa.

Fern (she's getting on for twenty now, dear thing) has the most peculiar purr. She also chirrups at things, though not on this video.

So … make a cuppa and take a break from the insanity with two-and-a-half minutes of a purring cat.
It's about the only thing that makes sense in this world.

Monday, June 06, 2016

Better Living Through Sleep-Shopping

It never ceases to amaze me what you can pick up for a pittance on the interweb.

Herbert Morrison's personal, signed, pre-publication copy of the Victor Gollancz
"A Handbook of Marxism"
which will have sat on his shelf all through the War and his time as Churchill's Minister of Supply, then through the glorious birth of the NHS and his Deputy Prime-Ministership.
Now it's MINE! Bwa-ha-haaa …

Nobody seems to want lefty history, so for as little as £1.99 a book I've amassed quite a little lefty library of signed firsts from the likes of Harold Wilson, Ralph Miliband, Tony Benn, Michael Foot, Dennis Skinner, Clement Attlee and more.
They're great reads, one and all.
Somebody has to believe in Socialism's beautiful dream so it might as well be me.

I got this one sleep-shopping.
We had a cracking thunderstorm a few nights back and I remember waking up around three and going for a glass of water. I must have grabbed my laptop on the way back to bed and shopped in my sleep (I'm prone to it) as I have no memory of ordering this.
The confirmation email the following morning was a delightful surprise.

So … Happy Old Dive. I heartily recommend sleep-shopping.
I mean, what could possibly go wrong?

Monday, April 18, 2016

It's Gruesome … Ew. It's GrewSome More!

Apropos of nothing at all, I've been indulging in a particular passion of mine: the pre-1800 Annual Registers.
In the 1784 volume, after all the political and international events, state papers, book reviews, poetry and general goings-on, I came across this peculiarly gruesome article, which I lay before you for your curious pleasure (or to gross you out).

Doctor Martineau was uncle of the utterly splendid Harriet Martineau and I for one am glad that he felt the need to regale the world with his fat little lady and her 6,631 pints of water.

It is worth clicking on the photos to blow them up to readable size and then trying not to be put off your coffee.

Ew …

There are divers and numerous accounts of a peculiar nature in the Annual Registers - of which I own far too many/not nearly enough (delete where applicable, unless you're Mum who thinks I have enough books … HA).

Bodysnatchers, murder most horrid, guillotining Froggy toffs in the French Revolution, furious - and hugely entertaining - arguments with the uppity Colonials, leading to their independence, witches, madness and wildly inaccurate scientific speculation … and much more.

Look out for more of them in the coming months.