Tag Archives: writing

19th and 20th century lithographs + angels, art and advertising

American Crescent Cycles par Winthrop Ramsdell 1899

La Tournée du Chat Noir par Thoéphile Steinlen. 1896. Tin plate.


Cats That Come Back. At a poster store in Montmartre you spent your final few euros on cards depicting the lithographic advertising styles of the late 19th and early 20th century. You took photos of the outside of the poster store, and had one taken of yourself and your youngest son, a part of you indulging in some late-afternoon fantasy that you were the proprietors of said store. What fun, surrounded by art originally intended to part one from one’s cash – and a hundred years later it’s still doing the same, only selling itself this time around. What a sale, what a fine boutique did those Parisian streets make for you. For it’s easy to get lost in the culture, art and spirit of expression when it surrounds you in all its breath-taking vibrancy. There is a deep yearning. A searching back through history to find a part of yourself you may recognise. Print advertising is consumerism’s cocky high art. A brassy exhibition of wonders. A sly yet alluring gallery that invites you inside. It’s everything you love and loathe in the same moment. You pitch these paper testimonials to commercialism with all the integrity and enthusiasm of a loving archivist. But you are also an artist. Those Paris streets and galleries and windows and walls whispered to your heart. Hell, sometimes they yelled at you, told you they remembered, recalled your angels & fey (born from the snippets and slivers of glossy ads in magazines in case you didn’t know), the exhibitions, the foreign shores, the hours spent holding brushes and conjuring colours. You sold it well, they said. You made an impression. You left a mark. People were happy. Sometimes that’s the least you have to do. From: The Artist and the Four Hats




Job par Alfons Mucha 1896

Job done?

For a bit

Too busy writing

To try and score another hit

It’s a circle you see

A merry go round

You jump on and off at certain points

feet touch the ground

Back up again

Always looking for those special connections


Palooka N° 5


Words, Angel & Fey artwork by the editor.
Colour Angels & Fey scans taken from Palooka issue 5.
Lithograph adverts scanned from commercial postcards and tin plates are shown for illustrative purposes only. No infringement of copyright is intended.
Cat count: we spotted at least 26 images of cats in this blog post. A new TVTA record!

Poem: The ever-growing, space-consuming giant Mish-mash tree

Words and illustrations by the Editor.

For Adam.

I grew from a seed in my garden one day
A giant Mish-mash tree with purple fruit and pink spray.
It began at fourteen inches and had such an appetite
That it ate all my tomatoes and grew four foot overnight.
The next day it rained on my giant Mish-mash tree
And the sun shone so brightly that by quarter-past three
It was bigger than my house and had scoffed my runner beans.
Oh how hungry you are, my giant Mish-mash tree!

The following morning as I tended to my flowers,
My shock and my horror, they had all been devoured.
The pansies and the bluebells and my pretty rose borders,
Chomped down to their stalks, this was so out of order!
At first I blamed the slugs then the dog then the cat,
Then I realised in my garden there was only one thing so fat…
Only one thing so portly, porky, podgy, plump to see…
My ever-growing space-consuming giant Mish-mash tree!

Its trunk I measured fifty feet, its height three thousand inches tall,
Each purple fruit weighed sixteen stone and looked like cannonballs.
“She’s a lively little grower,” my old neighbour remarked,
“You’ll need to sell your garden soon and buy a blimmin’ park!”
Pah and utter tish-tosh, how I scoffed at what he said,
But then three hours later the tree had eaten up my shed!
You greedy, gluttonous, gobbling, gulping giant Mish-mash tree,
Where am I to store my tools now my shed is in your tummy?

Enough was enough, there could be no truce or pardon,
At this rate by tomorrow I would no longer have a garden.
Angrily I shook my fist up at the Mish-mash tree,
But all it did was snigger and snort and grow another ten feet.
And then it rumbled and it grumbled and I had to act fast…
I could see it had intentions on my prize strawberry patch.
And worse, my greenhouse, full of little bonsai trees,
“You leave those tiny trees alone!” I warned my Mish-mash tree.

I rushed inside and quickly dialled
The emergency action garden line…
The botanical gardens and the local nursery…
The national parks and the forestry committee…
Gardens Weekly and Gardeners’ World…
What Garden, Which Garden and The Gardening Herald…
A tree surgeon, a lumberjack, a professor of trees…
But they all thought me mad and put the phone down on me!

And so I chanced upon a book at the local lending library,
‘How to Win Friends and Influence People With a Nice Cup of Tea’…
Well, if it can work for humans why not plants?
So I borrowed the book and took my chance!
And the very next day I approached the Mish-mash tree
With an honest invitation for a nice cup of tea.
Just him and me, in my conservatory,
And if he behaved I would chuck in a pack of custard creams!

The tree it shook with gladness and glee,
Said: “Oh I do so love a cup of tea! I’ll come, I’ll come, quite happily!”
“There’s just one problem,” I warned the tree,
“You’re far too big for my conservatory…
You’re far too big for Buckingham Palace,
And you won’t need a cup you’ll need a king-size chalice!
If only you could shrink to a reasonable size…
I’m certain you would have such a lovely time.”

The Mish-mash tree looked down at me and gave a gentle smile,
Said: “Earl Grey, Indian, Chinese, mint, green and camomile,
Are all my favourite types of brew, and I’m quite partial to a custard cream too,
So I’ll gladly shrink to a dinky thing and join you for a high tea for two!”
“Oh thank you!” I cheered. “Let me find you a pot,
And put you on my table in the sunniest spot.
Come join me indoors, we’ll drink gallons of tea,
My ever-shrinking, not space-consuming, tiny Mish-mash tree.
Drink tea, drink tea, drink gallons of tea,
Just you and me in my conservatory.”

The End

Writers of the world your carriage awaits

Petite – the written world at your small fingertips

1980. Fair-Play. France.

How many of us began our mechanical word journeys on a Petite typewriter? In the 80s I didn’t have a Petite, but I did inherit my auntie’s Scout typewriter that she used for college in the 60s – a small, compact, pastel blue thing of some elegance and which weighed a ton. I wonder how many times my fingers pushed those creamy white keys, how my ears attuned to the striking of hammers against the ribbon onto the page?

The Scout was dethroned by an early 90s electronic word processor, a Brother, which weighed two tons and took up all the space on my desk. It came with a screen about the size of a  letterbox on a front door and could save to floppy disks as well as print. Both the manual and electronic machines served me well as a young writer, popping out page after page of poems and stories (of which a certain few were published. And there is a charm now to that old-school way of submitting typed work by post with an SAE that you had to do back then – but that’s another story for another time). Back to the machines, and I still have pages that were churned out from them which have survived the years and all the moves. It’s funny looking over them again, not just the words I wrote but the typeface, the indents, the smudges and marks. The time-yellowed correction fluid blobs.

When the electronic Brother became redundant, with parts increasingly difficult to get hold of, it was replaced by my first laptop and MS Word package. It’s satisfying seeing words, sentences and paragraphs organise and compose themselves on a computer screen. The tools available make searching and editing simple and fast. With that said, you still can’t beat the elemental feel of a pen in your hand, its shaft working magic from the flicks and swirls of your wrist.

To the left of me right now are hillocks of paper marked by Bics and Papermates and HB pencils – precious notes. To the right is a coffee cup. And in the centre of these is the keyboard, and the screen that I stare into every day, the screen upon which those pen-made notes find their order and place.

I’ll let the artist Stella Marrs have the last word(s) at the end of this post. For now, please enjoy these images of what is possibly the equivalent of the writer’s first car, the Petite typewriter! Plus, a sewing machine, and an activity centre …

It’s all about creation, right?


1980. Fair-Play. France.


1980. Fair-Play. France.


1980. Fair-Play. France.


1980. Fair-Play. France.


1980. Fair-Play. France.


Hamleys. UK. 1983.


stellamarrs.com


Thanks for carbon copying with us 🙂

The Nutella Poem part two

Qui Est-Ce? / Guess Who?

Hypocrisy

Nutella Nigella, your Pater has audacity far thicker than blood

Mixed with water and palm oil and gathered in the gutter

Such hypocrisy to mutter about tiresome hoops

Of bureaucracy he may have to haul his arse through

Watches his nuts as he jumps, palm-oiled and bright red as a propaganda bus

That suggests money saved from Europe could go to the NHS

Oh whore-brandy, weak scarlet-mouthed rock shandy-dandy

Piss-taker extraordinaire, serpent-tongue brass shiner

Slop-deliverer of rank duplicity, Baboon-arsed quackery

And slime-lipped pecksniffery of the highest merit

Utter Cant. May your carte de séjour receive no rubber stamp

And please purchase your Nutella from the Britain you wanted

No single market nuts, free movement or customs union trust

And enough forms to fill in to make even a French person blush

(Love never ends) We’ll always be together

Together in Brexit dreams


Words by the editor.


 

Poem – The fisher and the sun

 

This fisher has had far too much sun.

Nowhere to sit, she stands on her raft which is a thin broken biscuit

Floating on the tea of the sea. 

The sun weighs down on her head like an iron press,

With nothing else better to do than to squeeze and burn her.

It claimed the colour from her hair long ago.

Turned her arms into dangling crisp bacon.

Turned her shoulders into bronze epaulettes of no rank or division.

Made her thin, her pot belly as hard as a pumpkin,

Her legs as stringy and black as liquorice sticks,

And skin so leathery you could line writing desks with it.

But every day she still went out – this fisher –

Waiting for her rod to twitch with fish so that she could return to her village the hero.

The sun waited with her. Patient and simmering,

As time and skin blistered, peeled, repaired, repeated, went raw again.

 

Then one morning …

Hoy! Her rod bends into an arc,

A bamboo rainbow between the raft and the sea.

The line goes TWANG and the surface ripples, froths, is ready to spew.

Quick to react she seizes the rod and bends her back,

Her bacon-y arms now taught and rippling with willing muscle,

Her shoelace legs like steel anchors fusing feet to raft.

She sucks in her belly, her abdominals are cubes of frozen tuna

Lined up on a chopping board, her sweat coming fast, wetting, glossing her,

Making her marble, a statue, a goddess, a hunter of the sea.

The sun becomes interested and pours heat on her like a furious kiln.

She ignores its spiteful baiting and struggles on with the fish.

Then her eyes bulge as the water breaks, and a shark erupts from the cold depths

Like a pale blue missile which lands on the raft with a boom that almost sinks her.

It writhes there for a moment, flipping and flopping, its teeth bared savagely,

A single black pupil throbbing in its socket that nails her to that bobbing drift of wood.

Exhausted, she watches the shark die. Her arms turn back to bacon, her legs to jelly.

Her belly pops out like a seed from a pod.

 

The sun is impressed and immediately sets about boiling her sweat…

But she’s seen too much of this cruel sun, has this fisher,

And she looks up at that moody blood orange in the sky and says:

Here, sun, see what I’ve done! A fish taken from its cold city,

And placed before the sky on a matchstick boat.

I ask you, oh mighty you, could you do this?

And the sun thinks could I? Should I?

A pensive sun. Enjoying this unexpected inquisition.

Then it blinks and has to close its eyes,

As an enormous white cloud chugs slowly by.

Time. Stilled for a while. Clouds are not to be hurried the elders say.

And when later the sky breaks and the sun looks again,

The fisher, the raft and the shark have all gone.

And the sun, deceived, vows to furiously torch all the gulls in the sky

That have the audacity to fly above the wake of the fisher

Who has long since moored her raft and summoned the children

To help drag the shark across the beach

For butchering up for the night of the feast.

The cool night that comes to put suns to sleep.

 


Words by the editor.