Friday, 5 May 2017

Tea and snozzcumber sandwiches

Take a sneaky peek at the bookshelves, or the dusty stack by their bed, or the dog-eared novels lying on the coffee table and you can tell a great deal about someone, can't you? 
It says even more if there are no bookcases to scope out.

And it's sort of stating the bleeding obvious about what makes me tick to reveal that the cafe in the spectacular British Library (pictured here) is one of my favourite places to have a cuppa and a play with words on my computer. Towering walls of leather-bound books.
Me dwarfed by the world in words.
The only down-side is that they're behind glass. 
I'm an unashamed book-sniffer. 
And I'm tipping a few of you are guilty of the same.

But anyway, for the past few months, a row of gorgeous pen and ink illustrations has been hanging, relatively unheralded, along one back wall on the second floor of the library. I'm not sure how many people visit them every day, but in my immaterial opinion, not enough, so I thought I'd bring a couple to you. 

Commissioned to celebrate what would have been Roald Dahl's 100th birthday are ten new visions of some of his most famous characters.

Sir Quentin Blake ( aged 84) said of the exhibition:
“The Roald Dahl Centenary Portraits ask you to imagine that a number of Dahl’s characters have been invited to come and sit for their portrait; they are depicted, not quite as they appear in the illustrations, but more formally... I hope visitors to the British Library will be happy to see this group of well-known characters treated as though they were real people – which, of course, to many of us they are.”

Here are three that took me back to many nights of reading aloud at bedtime:

I was even inspired to finally watch the latest movie of The BFG, which I'd been ignoring for two reasons: 
(1) critics gave it a total shit-canning, (2) I so adore Tim Minchin's Matilda that I doubted another recent re-imagining of Dahl could scratch up.
But I enjoyed it. I really did.

Granted, much of it would most certainly have given my daughter nightmares back in the day, but the final scene had us guffawing. 
A wind-driven comic scene to rival Blazing Saddles
It was the wizzpopping corgis that did me in.

As an almost completely irrelevant sidebar, here's something to further distract you when next you're watching TV. 
Remember how amazed you were when you first heard that 99% of phone numbers mentioned by American screen characters begin with 555? Well, prepare to be equally amazed.

If it's your turn to suggest the Friday-night drinking game but you're not in the mood, or you're having one of those non-alcohol nights that doctors recommend, suggest playing 'Spot the bookcase' in American-made TV shows and movies. 
Unless the room is an office, or the lead character is a professor-cum-educated- type like Frasier, a sober Friday night is a safe bet.

I wanted to finish with my favourite quote about books and reading, but I couldn't settle for just one, so you're getting two:

It's what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it.   Oscar Wilde

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.    Groucho Marx

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Z = Zonked at the zenith

So here we are. 
April 30th.
The letter Z.
The conclusion of 25 mind-expanding visits to the Wellcome Collection and the
full-stop of 25 frightening peeks into the mind of Wendy of the Rock, who has been sucked up the wormhole that leads from Oz to Wonderland.

To salute having reached the zenith of the mountain, I thought I'd make this a sing-along post, and bring you a chirpy song of celebration. 
Do join in as you read.

There were so many other wonderful things I photographed but couldn't wangle into any of my pieces. 
Like these:

Inuit snow goggles
Scold's bridle

Acupuncture model

My mate Sir Henry collected other such disparate and bizarre things as Napoleon's toothbrush and Florence Nightingale's moccasins. 
No matter how tenuous the link between the object and the world of medicine, or science, or to art that intersects and overlaps with those worlds, Sir Henry had both the desire and the wealth to add it to his collection. And today, the good people his amassed fortune continues to employ at the museum that bears his name keep his habits and dreams very much alive.

I can't leave without sharing these last fabulous objects displayed in the Reading Room.

There's a whole case full of these little rockstars, each about the height of a matchstick.

Shota Katsube, of the Souzou: Japanese Outsider Art school of thought, creates these way cool anime soldiers from twist-ties. 
You know, those things you use to stop your garbage from spilling out of the bag.

Yep, with the aid of a tiny pair of scissors and nail clippers, he whips up a new member for his army in around five minutes. 
Each one unique.
None copied from cartoons.

I have no idea how they connect to medicine, but I'm totally sure Sir Henry would have approved of them being on display at his place. 
He loved weird shit. 

So whether you've been with me for the whole oxygen-depleting scramble to the summit or merely called in at base camp to say hi, I thank you for your company. I would never have made it on my own.
Because, to use Dorothy Parker's immortal words: 
You can lead a horticulture, but you can't make her think.

Me on the stairs at Wellcome. (Thanks for the pic, Jo)
I took the photo at the start of this post from the top of this staircase, and edited it in Snapseed.

During the month of April, I am participating in the Blogging from A–Z Challenge.

Y = Yank

I wish this image was a bit clearer, but despite being an enthusiastic user of the camera, I still fall short of being a gifted amateur. But anyway, it looks like a beaded curtain, doesn't it? One of those clickety 60s-Asian-inspired jobs that send legions of Pinterest users into paroxysms of delight. 
Well, allow me to turn those ripples of glee to shudders of horror.
Those are not beads. 
They're teeth. Human teeth. 
It's a Chinese sign that apparently advertises a Doctor for treating miscellaneous diseases

What is it about dentists that makes so many of us avoid them? Not socially, just professionally. I know two mouth experts who are delightful young women. I'm fond of them both. Mind you, when I'm in their company, my tongue does spend much of the time guiltily poking about my pegs. 
And although I don't exactly fear a visit to the tooth doctor, I do recall the day that resulted in my reticence. I'm guessing I was about ten the day Dr Skinner yanked out that molar. 
I have large teeth. 
With long roots.
His face still looms clearly in my memory. Leaning close through the smell of disinfectant and his smoker's breath, he was grimacing. 
His eyes squinched to almost closed with the effort.
'It's a tough one,' he muttered in the direction of Mum, sitting supportively in the corner. ' Going to need a bit extra oomph.'

He braced his foot against the pedestal of the hydraulic chair for extra leverage. 
And yanked.
My right ear filled with an echoing grind and crack as my mouth filled with warm sweet blood.

Here for your viewing discomfort is a selection of images that help keep that memory alive for me. 

And I'm sadistically hoping they just might trigger something for you, too.


Are you there?


How about now?
Still with me?


Has your stomach done a Fosbury flop?

Can you feel that squishy wound where your tooth used to be?

Does the ghost of an ache haunt your jaw?  


Do tell....

During the month of April, I am participating in the Blogging from A–Z Challenge.