Tuesday, March 28, 2017


A couple of things slowly taking shape and I'm not pushing too hard. Artworks are like children, you can give them directions but there's no guarantee they'll obey and even if they do, it will be their way. I like to listen to where a particular work wants to go and that requires a lot of sitting and staring and waiting.

The box-things I make (recently named Pableaux) sometimes turn out as instigations/inspirations for paintings and vice-versa. The latest one is specifically a maquette, a 3-dimensional rough model for a painting. The painting will take quite a while to do but here's the miniature maquette for it, made of wood, cardboard, wire etc. The title is: The Cosmic Sadness of a Teen Age Girl Crying in the Shower.

Saturday, March 11, 2017


Had the echocardiogram today, done at hospital by excellent Portuguese doctor (yes, the blessed NHS is as grateful as we are to have so many 'foreigners' among its staff) and he said he was very happy with what he saw and heard on the machine. I was facing the other way from the screen so I couldn't see anything but I did hear occasional rumors of pumping blood.

So my heart is perfect - or as perfect as these things ever can be - in spite of my rather advanced years. I've been debating whether to come out of the closet where I hide exactly the number of that advancement but have decided against it. Maybe on my next birthday. Maybe not.

Thursday, March 09, 2017


Unbelievable but absolutely true sequel to my last post:

A few minutes ago I got a phone call from the hospital where I was due to have an echocardiogram yesterday morning (which I missed) offering me a new appointment this Saturday11th March, rather than on 27th April as they said yesterday. Of course I accepted very gratefully.

Even more amazing is the fact that the lady I spoke to had been trying to phone me, unsuccessfully, since yesterday. The reason she couldn't reach me was because my landline phone number was changed, against my wishes, when I changed telephone provider recently. (Don't get me started on that infernal story!) However the  lady did not give up: she took the trouble to get in touch with my local GP's practice to verify my phone number and fortunately, I had told them just a couple of days ago about the new number. So the saintly NHS lady found me and all's well.

May blessings and cash rain down upon the blessed NHS.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017


Sometimes there's a good reason to hate yourself. Missed an important medical appointment this morning because I overslept because I didn't get to bed until 4am because I was looking at something on the internet, can't even remember what, and I did set the alarm clock and it did go off at the proper time but I turned it off to just lie there and think for a minute and then when I woke up again it was an hour past my appointment and when I phoned to explain why I missed it they kept me waiting on the phone and then I was told I couldn't have another appointment until the end of April and I said no no no my GP said I need to have the echocardiogram and I know it's my fault but can I come later today and they said no you cannot so I had to accept the new appointment and I can't blame the NHS because it's all my fault mea culpa mea maxima maximosa culpa and I hate myself, yes.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017


There are quite a few print companies listed on the internet which tempt you with Special Offers to make a photobook with your own pictures, laid out in any way you wish, including text, all beautifully printed under hard covers, very reasonably priced and usually delivered in a week or less.

I've taken advantage of these offers on several occasions from two of these companies, sometimes for family birthday gifts (putting together a relative's pictorial life story) but mainly to gather together photos of some of my paintings, drawings, prints and bookworks in a series of catalogues. I've only ordered one print copy of each book for my own use - it would be ludicrously expensive to use this method for copies to sell and distribute in larger quantities. For that purpose, print-on-demand companies are much more economical and do a very good job as well.

I've previously posted slideshows which the photobook companies give you a link to, so that you can show your 'creation' to friends, but the annoying thing is that they use this as a means to advertise their products. So the first thing you see before looking at my slideshow is the company's sales-pitch as if it's me talking (it's not) asking if you want to buy my catalogue at £65....Are you kidding? No way! But that's what a 60-page book would have cost, had it been been printed without their Special Offer which costs me £30 plus postage.

Now you understand why I'm asking you to ignore the salestalk on the opening page of the slideshow You can set the viewing speed to slow, medium or fast and, if possible, I suggest you watch it on full screen, preferably on a computer or tablet rather than on a phone.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017



Loveable new soprano ukulele bought in Denmark Street music shop yesterday and they even fitted my strap and metal strap button to it. So now all I have to do is learn to play it. One year? Two? We'll see.

That thing sticking out of my head is not a horn. It's the top of an easel.

Monday, February 20, 2017


The classes in the pub were fun and instructive. I learned that pressing down firmly on the strings, fingers and wrist of left hand bent into required positions, then moving to different positions with new bends and stretches of every hand bone whilst simultaneously strumming down/down or up/down/up/ down in a carefree, rhythmical manner with the right hand, all the while hugging the uke flat against the body yet also managing to bend my neck forward to see where my fingers are on the instrument's neck... .

Well. I learned that it is not a walk in the park for a short-necked, short-arsed, short-fingered person with rather stiff hands. The teacher was good-humoured, patient, competent and, seeing my struggles, he kindly gave me the last lesson one-to-one. I now know what to do. It's only a matter of training my bones to obey my brain.

I decided that some improvements to the instrument itself were needed if I was to make any progress. A shoulder strap, so that I could forget about holding the uke, would also allow me to tilt it so that I might see where to place my fingers. To remember basic chord shapes I stuck coloured dots on the uke's neck and diagrams on its body. I bought a strap but, as my uke didn't have the posts to attach it, I cut and glued bits of wood for the screws to fit into. Then I got a set of good Aquila nylgut strings to replace the cheap nylon ones on my cheap little soprano uke, googled instruction videos on how to re-string the thing and proceeded to undertake this apparently simple task.

Not simple. More like fiendishly heart-stoppingly difficult. It's a long story but to summarise: the bridge broke when I was tightening a string. I thought I could save it it by gluing a new piece of wood over the broken section. I used Araldite, the strongest glue in the universe, everything looked perfect, I managed to restring the uke. I practiced. I was getting a tiny bit better at moving from one chord to another.

Then yesterday, without warning, suddenly, there was a loud bang or snap or bing or whatever sound four strings make when they've had enough and the entire bridge broke away, strings attached, from the ukulele's body. You can see the miserable wrecked little Aradilted bugger in the photos below as well as my now stringless and bridgeless ukulele. The strings are saved. I'm not giving up. I will buy another, slightly better uke and I will master a few chords, just enough to sing a few songs. I will.