Well first I caught up with this classic from 1950 which it happened I’ve never read before.  In these healthandsafety days it is extraordinary how they just fired themselves off into the vast blue with an untried craft and a vague theory.  I’m glad they didn’t drown.


Then there was this discussion about why Alfred achieved his mythic status when others didn’t (and why Arthur became even more mythic on even less evidence).  Given Horspool’s contention that the real king was very separate from the symbolic hero, I thought perhaps he could have called his historical guy Ælfred, which would be the authentic spelling and would remind readers he was not talking about Alfred the Cake (except when he was).


I went on a Cook’s tour as part of the theology jag, which suffered from the usual problem:  simplification leads to falsification.  How do you pot hundreds of pages of theological subtlety into three pages?  Not only that, but which theologians do you include in and out?  Well written, and some delightful anecdotes to keep the attention. I still don’t know my Tillich from my Rahner without looking them up, but I’m getting a handle on Augustine and Gregory of Nyssa and Aquinas.


Not entirely sure how this one took up residence, as I am not a Holmes fan.  This seems fairly faithful to the original in that after reading it I am still not a Holmes fan.


Like eating crisps, you keep reading just one more letter … and then one more.  Between them the sisters seem to have met EVERYONE at some point.  The most disturbing letters are of course Unity’s before her head injury, and Diana’s thereafter.  The embedded antisemitism before the war must have been enormous to allow cultivated and intelligent people to blind themselves to the implications of the Nazi regime.  I fear that Diana’s insistence on the charm and intelligence of the Nazi leaders was probably correct, though it caused such a fuss every time she said it after the war; unfortunately charm and intelligence can belong to horrible people.  Lessons for our time?  There’s also a subtext running through the book about witty writers being tempted into falsity and cruelty, because it allows them to write such good lines.  The correspondence comprises an enormous pageturner of a family saga, with some descriptions of pure and blissful absurdity to sweeten it.


Moomins … all my copies are loved to bits like this one.  They look cute, but have an arbitrariness and unpredictability which keeps them from the icky swamp.  The Groke doesn’t crop up in this one, but the curious sacrifice of the shy Hemulen poses a question which I’d like to hear Anselm or Luther discuss.


The power of the clerihew.  I can never hear of Sir Humphrey Davy without remembering that he detested gravy.  Similarly, my only information about Heidegger is that he was a boozy beggar.  I therefore chose this to establish some sense of the borderland between philosophy and theology.  I found it difficult to identify what the expected readership for the volume was – intelligent fourteen-year-olds, perhaps. Where Hill and Warburton both summarise the same thinkers, it is sometimes difficult to believe they are talking about the same person.  On the whole I felt that Warburton’s simplifications were cruder than those of Hill and  I am definitely not getting embroiled with philosophy.



Last and not least, this curiosity.  Written with what now comes over as a mixture of pomposity, facetiousness, and pedantry, it can never have been a best seller, although I notice that the Caird Library at the National Maritime Museum has a copy, and, bizarrely, there is some sort of print on demand version available via the web.  Yes, I did enjoy it. Weirdly.


I’ve called a halt to the binge.  Instead – the tricky business of trying to make a teeny weeny pelvis in clay.  Long bones are fine though.  There’s a project hatching for a local school ….


…. and another section of my library is being called into action.



Reading reading reading reading sleep reading sleep reading

Reading and walking reading and sitting reading and writing reading

Reading reading reading reading 2007 reading

Reading reading just one more reading reading look around reading

Reading reading high reading reading disorientation reading 1975 reading

Reading and tea reading reading swap other reading reading

Reading reading reading and washing up reading reading


Coming to; always the same from forever to now, mislaid in the places where the books took me.  So that’s all right then.

Marginally kippered


Raining raining raining (and on).

Mud pies are the first remedy.  I’m experimenting with paper clay, so I tried some hand-building.


Since I fully intend to abuse these pots in all sorts of ways until I’ve tested them to destruction, I’m not bothering with niceties like getting their curves symmetrical.  They are ponderous for their size, and, perhaps because it’s Sunday, and I’m half expecting it to explode at some point, I couldn’t help thinking of this one as the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, à la Pythons.


After mud pies, setting fire to stuff is a good thing to do, so I tried a miniature barrel smoke-firing with some biscuit fired gash pots.  As the house is luckily in possession of a chimney, I could do this without annoying the neighbours or going out in the rain 🙂


I was aiming for a quick cool burn so as not to crack the pots, and that sort of worked.  Without a draft into the materials, the combustion is brief and incomplete.  I could make holes in the sides of the bucket or invest in a small incinerator if I want to get a thorough burn, but then again I do want smoke rather than hot intense flame.


Some interesting marks; and a lot of work to do before I get the process under any sort of control.  Still – proof of concept.




for a brief wander.  (Click a thumbnail for the gallery)

On a budget


Time enough to bless an impoverished town council who yet squeeze a dribble from the funds –

When you don’t know where to start


This has been a week resented, as lost time I’ll never get back again.  But when you don’t know where to start, don’t waste the facilities you already have, especially the low-investment ones.  In this case, a couple of gash plates and an open fireplace.

Ascertaining a): biscuit fired plates don’t automatically go ping if you light small fires in them


Ascertaining b):  the assorted combustibles used may indeed produce marks worth having (with due diligence in the learning process).  I’m particularly intrigued by these green marks and filaments.


So grumpy, yes; but fractionally less grumpy.

In which nothing much happens


Waiting by a row of variously muddy jugs for three days, it occurs to me that my efforts may be otiose.  I picked the most evenly-textured bit of landslip for the terra sigillata experiment, and it’s possible that, hundreds of aeons gone, the coastal marshes did all this levigation stuff already.  Certainly the clay particles are so fine that they seem capable of remaining in suspension almost indefinitely.


A clear inch of water did eventually form on top, which I decanted; and then decanted the next few inches of the jug, which poured smooth as milk (never mind the smell).   In case I want to use it, the thicker layer from the bottom of the first sedimentation is drying out on newspaper, and as I continue to wait there is plenty of time to appreciate its subtle perfections.


First, make your terra sigillata



Still in denial about the date, especially as we have scarcely seen daylight.  However:  no resolutions, but one can make an action of intent.


First try.  Inlaid with beach clay medallion, bought animal bead, glass beads.  The white candles came slick from the moulds, the smooth finish making them look more incompetent (I thought) than the woggly hand-dipped layer I subsequently added.  Don’t like the maroon (hand did literally slip) and it was also full of tiny bubbles, due to maker ignorance, I presume.  That left me fooling about with the white beads, so as not to quarrel with the bubbles.


Has a claim to be the earliest SF story going, as an imagination of gravity and Copernicus’ theory form part of the story.  Also has in a slightly immature form the classic SF twist:  the lunar civilisation seems utopian, with food, shelter, ordered society without friction, no need for legislation or punishment, until you find out that the newborn are inspected for signs of incipient deviancy and, if dodgy, are deported briskly to planet Earth.  This neatly places a query over utopia, while marrying new science with the mediaeval world view in which change and imperfection reside in the sublunary world.


Also a particularly enjoyable title page, especially the verso.


And then there is this one, which is rather like being given a cordon bleu cookery book, though much more interesting.  Instructions about how to modify your propane burner or construct a flue with your angle grinder place most of this beyond my skills, and I didn’t much care for the casual references to vaporised hydrochloric acid.  I have used a top hat raku kiln, though, (supervised!), and have done naughty raku from my electric kiln, and made bonfire clamps to fire beach clay pots, so a good deal of it spoke to me.


So start where you can:  make some terra sigillata.  In theory it is a perfectly simple levigation process, requiring only water and patience.  If emulating the ancients, I won’t even need a rubber tube to siphon, as it should be possible to decant the layers.  Luckily beach clay is free and plentiful for experiments where you don’t know what you are doing.  As I, of course, do not.

A case of travelling hopefully?   Happy *** ****, fellow bloggers.

Making mucks



Yesterday’s sunshine gave way to dense fog which today gave way to a heavy dimness, paralysing even for these parts.  Although the light was so poor, the sea in this bay held its colour – the colour of salted clarity.


Of course I am the one to pretend that 2017 isn’t happening soon.  So I decided to make some little mucks, though in the event the muck has spread, rather.  So that’s all right.