Monthly Archives: August 2009

Six Degrees

My friend Amina Z goes to the same gym as the X-Factor contestants. This means that I’m only one degree of separation from them and two degrees from Simon Cowell, Cheryl Cole, Dannii Minogue and Louis Walsh. I’m also only three degrees of separation from Sharon Osbourne, Will Young and SuBo.
Boll and I watched the first audition programme. We were most impressed by Danyl, but we thought Joe was good too and we’re rooting for him because he’s a Geordie.

Wow

As you may know, I’m dangerously addicted to A Place in the Sun, Escape to the Country, and Location, Location, Location. I may need to go on medication for it.
I’m attracted to such programmes because they’re based on the illusion that everyone’s rich and happy, and the only problem in life is having to make a decision about buying an expensive house in a lovely place.
One thing I’ve noticed about such shows is that all the featured couples blur into one after a while. I suspect it’s because they all say exactly the same things –
(1) Wow. They all say ‘wow’ whenever they walk into a room, even if they don’t like it. Sometimes, the husbands don’t say ‘wow’, choosing to refer to the ‘wow factor’ instead, which sounds more macho.
(2) They always frown on UPVC.
(3) They either want ‘modern’ or ‘cottagy’.
(4) They either love beams or hate them and talk about beams a lot. But they sometimes say they hate beams but then turn out to like them, which adds a nice twist.
(5) If they don’t like a room, they say it’s ‘different’ or ‘unusual’.
(6) If they like a room, they describe it as ‘nice’ or ‘light and airy’. The wife is much more likely to say ‘light and airy’ than the husband, who may occasionally say ‘I can see us living here’.
(7) They become unhealthily excited when they see an inglenook, wood-burning stove or en suite.
(8) The husband always objects violently to being ‘overlooked’.
(9) The wife has a thing about traffic noise.
(10) Any view – even if it’s a scruffy old sheep on a tussock of grass – is declared ‘stunning’.
After the break, Geoff and Janet visit a converted three-bedroom medieval brothel in Torremolinos, with a Juliet balcony and space for Janet’s chickens…

Hertford in 1700


I’ve just bought this hand-coloured print from a 1700 engraving of Hertford. The town’s viewed from the north, from Port Hill which goes up to Bengeo.
It was featured in some editions of Sir Henry Chauncy’s The Historical Antiquities of Hertfordshire. Chauncy lived in Lombard House on Bull Plain

Malicious Impostures of the Devil


I’ve just bought this hand-coloured print from a 1700 engraving of Hertford. The town’s viewed from the north, from Port Hill which goes up to Bengeo.

It was featured in some editions of Sir Henry Chauncy’s The Historical Antiquities of Hertfordshire. Chauncy lived in Lombard House on Bull Plain – now occupied by The Hertford Club.

If you know Hertford, you’ll notice that the Christ’s Hospital (Bluecoats) School gates are facing the wrong way – towards the river. That’s probably because the building wasn’t complete when the engraving was made and the artist used architect’s plans.

You’ll notice there are no houses yet on Folly Island. And there are very few trees, as they cut them down for timber and firewood.

The engraving is by John (aka Jan, Johannes) Drapentier (aka Drappentier), who came from The Netherlands but lived in London.

I like the fact that most of the buildings in the engraving are still there – recognisable too. And he’s really captured the picturesque rural feel of the town.


This one is entitled ‘It Ever Turns’ (it turns forever). As you can see, a bunch of fire-breathing demons and serpents have strapped two naked men to a wheel and are torturing them. Meanwhile, Old Father Time seems to have passed out. All very odd.


This one’s called ‘It Shall Not Dye’ – referring presumably to the monster tormenting the souls of the damned.

Prince of Whales


Another quirky Drapentier that caught my eye was this depiction of a whale, washed up on the bank of the Thames around 1690. It’s entitled ‘A Trew Draught of the Whale as he was seen at Blackwall Dock’.
This monstrous fish is 57 foot in length, near 40 foot about and 50 tunn in weight. He was fired at by a king

Adopt an Object

I discovered today that you can adopt whimsical objects from Hertford Museum – available in their online Adopt an Object brochure.

I was amused by one of the objects – an advert for a property on North Road.

The detached house (with freehold) cost an exorbitant ….. £750.

You can also adopt this old sign for The Blackbirds Pub on Parliament Square –

This ad is also up for adoption. As you can see, it assumes it’s totally acceptable for a man to give his wife a Hoover for Christmas, and takes it utterly for granted that it would be him giving the Hoover to her

Tickled in the Wee Small Hours

I dreamt I was being tickled last night and woke up during the tickling to discover I’d been joined in bed by … a small spider.
It was hogging the duvet, so I told it to sleep on the sofa.