Thursday, 28 July 2016

The last couple of weeks.

So what have I done in the last couple of weeks? Bits and pieces. I finished some Lewis Carroll work, and went with my friend to see "Men and Chicken" one of the weirdest films I've seen. In it, five seriously dysfunctional brothers make gruesome blackly humorous discoveries on a remote Danish island.  I can't describe it. And I certainly don't recommend you to watch the trailer. Like most trailers, it makes you not want to see the movie.   I'd say it's not very politically correct, but my friend adored it. 

We saw the last of the roses, at least for now. Some of the bushes will bloom again at the end of the summer. 


 On Wednesday I happened to be passing the Jewish Museum in London's Camden Town and realised I'd never ever been inside.  It's a modern building hidden inside an old one, and larger than it looks at first. My favourite exhibit was this cape, the property of Doris Benjamin, a nurse in World War 2.  Like the other nurses, apparently Doris begged  regimental badges and shoulder flashes from the men that she nursed, and sewed them on her cape. A nice way to remember them, and a discussion point for the patients, too, I bet.  


About half a mile away, in Primrose Hill, I spotted some bas-reliefs decorating the large, grand 1950s stone doorway of Cecil Sharp House. Named after England's most famous folk-song collector, Cecil Sharp House is the HQ of the English Folk Dance and Song Society and its library is a treasure trove of curious customs and songs going back centuries.  


This carving shows a Hobby Horse, a creature in English folk dancing.  The Hobby takes all shapes and forms and often disrupts the dance by weaving in and out of the dancers, or else it dances on its own.  They must go back many hundreds of years, possibly even before Christianity. This one makes me think of a witchdoctor as it capers about.  


Cecil Sharp House runs all kinds of activities, some rather unexpected - I even once attended a class to learn how to dance the quadrille (don't ask) and last time I went with T's cousin, there was a whole Regency costume ball going on in the basement. I snapped this pair queuing up for coffee in the interval. 

 At present Cecil Sharp House has a display of artworks it has commissioned or bought over the ages, including a gigantic patchwork quilt from 1992. This is one of the panels. 


And for those of you who have not had enough of English folk dancing, this is the Shepherd's Hey mentioned in the panel. The first few minutes will probably be enough, and the jingly sound is the bells on their legs, in case you aren't familiar with morris dancing. 


T and I went to the British Library's exhibition "Shakespeare in Ten Acts" about the way Shakespeare performances have been reinterpreted over the centuries. It reminded me of all kinds of movies and performances I've seen, and made me long to see Derek Jarman's wonderful "Tempest" again. (Here's one of my favourite clips -  Elisabeth Welch singing "Stormy Weather."


And I spotted this Shakespeare teapot, which I would love to own. 


Saw a White Admiral butterfly - don't remember having seen one before. 


And the heather was out in a sandy bit of Hampstead Heath, London felt as if it was miles away. 


I had a staring match with Ol' Four Eyes, the cat. First time I saw him peering in through the window, those markings gave me quite a shock. 



And caught the end of a beautiful sunset.



66 comments:

  1. That is an interesting cape. And what a gorgeous cat!

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  2. Ah Cecil Sharp house - last time I was there was the millennium, with two of my girls, when they had a 24hour cellidh - a stage at each end of a hall so there was no break between them. We decided we'd danced for 13hours. It was such a struggle getting downstairs to feed the cat the next morning!

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    1. You must have been quite astonishingly fit to dance 13 hours! amazed you could get out of bed the next day at all!!

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  3. A post filled with items of interest. Thank you. I really wish there was more like this where I live. You reminded me that it is about time I visited Stratford-on-Avon again to indulge in a bit of Shakespeare. I live quite close so I ought to go more often.

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    1. Yes, it is usually worth the effort to get out and the cost of paying for it - a good live play can take you into a different world, can't it?

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  4. Wonderful roses, and I love the picture of the heather and of course the sunset, and the cat!
    I wouldn't mind participating in a Regency Ball - I think the style of dress of that era was very becoming and probably more comfortable than what came before and after.

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    1. More comfortable than corsets... but awfully cold with all that muslin unless you're having a bit of a heatwave in the weather!

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  5. I like your travel posts but this one on your home turf was really special. Funny how day outs can feel like travelling if you have a mindset to notice the wonders.

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    1. It is interesting how often there is something to see that you've never noticed or thought about before, even in places you've visited a few times.

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  6. Your posts are always so interesting and fun to read, Jenny. I did love hearing Stormy Weather sung so well.

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I think it's my favourite performance of this wonderful song.

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  7. It looks like you've been busy! Your posts often cover so much territory, all of it entertaining or educational or enlightening, that i'm not sure where to start commenting, i might forget something or else i might not stop!

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  8. Goodness - where do I begin? Every time I see photos of roses I get the sense that I can actually smell the heavenly fragrance. That Shakespeare teapot is incredible! And that's a striking photo of the cat- his markings are really unusual.

    I love Elisabeth Welch singing "Stormy Weather", and I actually like the Shepherd's Hey with the jingling bells - although a few hours of it might inspire me to use a shotgun (*smile*).

    I watched the trailer of "Men and Chicken" and didn't like it at all. I do like weird things, but that was a bit too strong.

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    1. I agree with you about Men and Chicken. I half wondered whether to link to the trailer if i was going to tell people not to view it, but there are always some that do (and that would include me). What amazes me is how so many trailers seem designed to put you off. The film was different -wackier and more gripping - that the trailer made it seem .Anyhow that was the only movie on in the cinema that did the cheap tickets, so that's where we went. I've seen a few interesting films with her over time!

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  9. Wonderful roses, Jenny! I loved the song Stormy weather and read the lyrics to understand better. I also recollected Hampstead Heath watching your photo, it reminded me the Pergola there.
    Interesting post as always!

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    1. Thank you for reading the lyrics. I always feel it is such a sad song and it's great that it can be made so enjoyable (usually I hate sad things, but not this time)

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  10. Playing catch up on my blogs, after a family camping trip to Wisconsin! What a lovely set of photos and such an incredible place to visit and share with us. Sweet kitty face too. Enjoy your weekend!

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    1. I know several people who holiday in Wisconsin. I've often thought it must be a very beautiful place, since so many folks love it, but i have rarely seen photos of where they go!

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  11. Now, I'd love to go to Cecil Sharp House and I'd give a lot to wander on Hampstead Heath again. A lovely post full of the riches of London. Thank you, Jenny!

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    1. I hope you get the chance to visit someday. Some of their events are so much fun.

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  12. Wow, you've had an interesting last few weeks! Sadly, I have not. Your roses are beautiful! Mine are still in bloom. Those people from the costume ball almost look like they came right out of a painting or something.

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    1. When I saw them standing in line for their coffee at the break of their dance, I thought that they looked like they came out of a movie!

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  13. Great pictures. That Shakespeare teapot is wonderful, even though I don't drink much tea.

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    1. I think it's to admire rather than use. It's quite tiny, so you'd have to have a rather dainty appetite for tea!

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  14. I don't recommend staring competitions with cats.
    A nice tour and fun to find things missed before.

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    1. Nobdoy would ever win a staring competition with cats!

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  15. I must write that was a fun journey through English history. It is all new to me and fascinating. The horse dance is much like the ancient Chinese dragon dances.

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    1. Someone else said the same thing. I thought it was really quite primitive in some ways, quite powerful too.

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  16. Beautiful array there. I would love to know more about the museum and Ms. Benjamin and I too loved the Shakespeare teapot, and the lovely cat...I caught wind of portions of a conversation between two teens on a bus the other day about Lewis Carroll, apparently still controversial? Hope you have a good weekend.

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    1. Seems like poor old LC is always in the news, but nobody really knows anything, which is the best grounds for gossip IMO! :( I wish I could have found out more about Ms. Benjamin too, but that's all they had about her. I'm glad she and her patients could get a bit of fun out of the situation.

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  17. So much to see in this post. From the cat to the cape--loved it all.
    I'm used to hearing Lena Horne's version of Stormy Weather, so this was interesting to see.
    We don't really have folk dancing that's American, I don't think. Any we do have is probably brought over and borrowed from various ancestry so it was interesting to me. Well, the only true American folk dances would have to be the American Indian dances. :)

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    1. You are so right about the American Indian dances. But modern USA was made of such a variety of nations, that it has developed its own traditions that don't have too much to do with any of the individual races. I sometimes think that "typically American" these days means America of the 1950s! :)
      By the way Rita I left a long comment on your last post and also a couple more, I don't know if they ever got to you but I have found my iPad is playing up again with Blogger, both replies to posts on my blog and on other peoples blogs seem to have vanished.
      I am doing this on a laptop! :)

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  18. The Shakespeare teapot is wonderful. You wouldn't know it was a teapot unless you happen to notice the handle and spout. To pour or not to pour, that is the question....

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    1. Yes, some teapots must be very hard to use, I often think. I suppose most folks simply put them in a cupboard to admire. That one is actually quite small, too, would only manage 1 cup of tea.

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  19. You live in such an amazing city!!! Every time you post I learn something new. I love the cape.

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    1. A group was looking round the museum when we visited, and so many people were talking about that cape. The idea seemed to tickle everyone's fancy.

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  20. Sometimes it's fun to play tourist in your own city!

    The cat's face does look striking.

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    1. Nice thing about playing tourist in your own city is that you are in the loop about the stuff everyone's talking about so you always see the coolest things! :)

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    2. Nice thing about playing tourist in your own city is that you are in the loop about the stuff everyone's talking about so you always see the coolest things! :)

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  21. Ol' Four Eyes is a lovely-looking cat. His markings are not dissimilar to my Shama...except hers are a little darker.

    Love the roses. :)

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    1. Thanks Lee. Shama must be quite startling. Even Ol Four Eyes shook me somewhat the first time I saw her, I had to do a double take!

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  22. The story behind the cap was fascinating. You certainly get about in London don't you? And well done for capturing the shot of the butterfly so well. Every time I attempt to take a photo of one, they fly away or close their wings. :D

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    1. That is usually my experience too. Eventually the law of averages means one keeps its wings open!

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  23. I love Morris Dancers! That piece from the quilt? That is AMAZING! Roses in England are always gorgeous. Thanks for sharing the "Stormy Weather" video also. I have always loved that song and the clip makes me want to see the film.

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    1. I hope you enjoy the film, if you see it, Kay. It is really unusual and "Stormy Weather" comes at a very dramatic moment, somehow. Thanks for the information about Eastbourne, by the way! :)

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  24. Sounds like being a tourist in your own town -- and whatta town! I think I should like to have tagged along with you for all of these. I used to do a lot of contradancing here -- I know it is different from the English dances, yet in a sense, the same concept. So I think I'd love that museum. And the cape! Wow! And of course you knew I would love Ol' Four Eys. Very handsome!

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    1. Photos of Hampstead Heath always make me feel nostalgic for London! Used to fly my kite on Parliament Hill (apologies if I've told you before - I tend to go on about it!). I like cats wherever they are, though. Ours is ol' 3 legs.

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    2. You haven't told me about Hampstead Heath. I might well have come up and watched you fly your kite in the past though, although of course I would not have recognised you :)

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    3. Contradancing - wow, that is a word I have never heard before! I just looked it up. I remember doing "country dancing" like that in school, and enjoyed it. I wonder if "contra" is a corruption of "country" (or vice versa)

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  25. Sometimes I wished I lived in London...
    Kind regards
    Anna :o]

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  26. So many interesting things in this post. That Hobby Horse dance is also similar to the Chinese Dragon dance. How on erth did you manage that shot of the butterfly? They always close their wings when I try.

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    1. I hadn't thought about it but yes, it is like the Chinese dragon dances. I don't know how much of that is about the way anyone looks when dancing around with a giant papier mache creature engulfing them though. I am quite proud of my picture, and the only answer can be that one can't lose 'em all. Every now and then the damn things do stay long enough with their wings open!

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  27. Men and Chicken, eh? That sounds encouragingly weird. The nurses' cape is fun; I can imagine young women good-naturedly comparing their badge collections. And I love the dancers in costume. I am working on imagining people from the past as being more or less just like us, rather than being like strutting Shakespearean actors. It's hard to overcome the brainwashing of the entertainment industry. Every little bit of real history helps!

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    1. Yes, I aim to get away from the costume drama too. I love to imagine people of the past as being people like us - although not exactly, to be sure. they certainly had some very strange beliefs and customs, don't you think?

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  28. A bountiful post as always dearest Jenny!Learning a piece of history that way it's a real pleasure even if for a stranger like me is a little bit difficult to understand everything you mention.Thank you so much for visiting me, your comments are such a treat for me.
    Wishing you a happy August
    Olympia

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    1. Thank you Olympia for your gracious comment, and I'm glad the posts please you even if they deal with unfamiliar things!

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  29. Your posts are always so interesting - and often incredibly varied, like this one. A vastly enjoyable little tour! I've never visited the Jewish Museum either, and I should. What a fabulous idea for the cape - though was she kind of collecting people..?! The hobby horse is fascinating - though a little creepy, I think.

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    1. I wouldn't be surprised if there was some rivalry between the nurses about who got given the most badges. I daresay the young blokes entered into the spirit of the thing. I think if you've been in a war there must be a great desire to do simple and childish things like this, just because they are the antithesis of war. And yes, there is always something odd about any folk traditions, although the English ones always seem merrier than most, with people decorating themselves with flowers and jingling bells. Mind you, the cheery songs of English folk tunes don't stop them having blood curdling words sometimes, do they? Hmmmm...... all very interesting !!

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  30. So many wonderful things Jenny! I love the cat with the fabulous eyebrows and the detail of the tapestry. I was lucky enough to visit the Shakespeare exhibition at Eton Library and swooned over so many unique and quirky books. Have a happy August. Jane xx

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    1. There are so many interesting Shakespeare exhibitions all over the place right now. I wonder if he has any particular connection with Eton - not that one is necessary of course.

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  31. Lots of variety for you Jenny. The hobby horse relief is very appealing, but I think I'd prefer to go to a Regency Costume Ball than do the hobby horse dance :)
    I have always loved Stormy Weather, and what a great rendition, with a fabulous costume. Brilliant!

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    1. Glad you liked it. I think I'd go for the hobby horse dance, although it looks a lot more energetic than a regency ball, and with fewer breaks for drinks and food! :)

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  32. As usual, you took me to places I've never seen and things I know nothing about. I found the hobby horse interesting. I've heard an old saying something like "he's riding his hobby horse". Wonder what the connection is. I also likes the cape a lot.

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  33. I think to say someone's riding their hobby horse means that they are going on about their pet subject or pushing their views. I don't know what it has to do with folk dancing hobby horses though, interesting point!

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