Thursday 13 June 2013

A Sargent Attribution

I have just been prompted to attribute this painting of mine (from an old blog post here) entitled "Flamenco" to John Singer Sargent.  This I gladly do and apologise for not entitling it  "After Sargent" in the first place. 

I have been back to the original painting which is in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston  

and in the course of googling it I came across the impressive and invaluable John Singer Sargent Virtual Gallery  for which I am most grateful for Sargent's studies for the painting:

Tuesday 26 March 2013

Monday 25 March 2013

Dog Watch*

*Dog watch, in  marine or  naval terminology, is a watch, a period of work duty or a work shift, between 1600 and 2000 (4pm and 8pm). This period is split into two, with the 'first' dog watch from 1600 to 1800 (4pm to 6pm) and the 'last' dog watch from 1800 to 2000 (6pm to 8pm) (there is no 'second' dog watch). Each of these watches is half the length of a standard watch.  [Wikipedia]

Staying  with old friends in  Cornwall  at the weekend, we were greeted by this charming little sentinel on our return from a walk.  When I suggested to the wife that I might email her husband with this photograph, she said "Why?  He sees it every day."  It made Finny's lone vigil all the more poignant, I thought.

Here she is on my husband's lap feeling much more at home.  

Images © Rosie West 2013

Sunday 17 March 2013

I Come Clean..

Does anybody else suffer from  Intermittent Domestic Goddess/Domestic Whore syndrome?  Not much routine, not much motivation until you want to scream?  

The answer, I've found, is the humble kitchen timer.  Faced with some boring household chore I give myself so many minutes then  OFF  I  GO  and try to beat the clock. It's kinda fun.

Voila! Here is what I did to my study in 45 minutes today.  I'm sure some people will hardly be able to spot the difference (like my sisters?)  but this is how I like it.

This cartoon is by the late great David Austin, who worked on The Guardian.  Many years ago I cheekily wrote and asked him for it and he sent me the original.  It seemed to resonate with the wise advice of one of my kids' godfathers: "When you have children, keep your standards..  DOWN." 

All images © Rosie West

Sunday 10 March 2013

Mothering Sunday : England

We celebrate Mothering Sunday in Britain today.  I made this  drawing from a sculpture at the V and A's  Museum of Childhood  in  Bethnal Green, East London a couple of days ago. I regret I failed to make a note of its maker because there was a constant stream of excited kids stopping to touch its silky well-loved terracotta surface.

 The Museum of Childhood is just a short walk across Victoria Park from me and a favourite destination for my grandchildren as well as my own inner child.  Being the most benign and child-friendly of spaces, there can be a dementing amount of noise and clatter but never mind.

Have a look at the Museum's website and be transported and enchanted.  There is something nostalgic for all ages - the museum archives the latest trends in toys as well as some of the most exquisite antique dolls, doll houses and rocking horses.  Curators over time have made sure to document changing conditions of childhood, always with insight and tenderness. 

Inspired, I made this little animation  with the help of my i-phone to celebrate my grandson Storm's "white belt senior" in Choi Kwang Do.

images © Rosie West


Friday 21 December 2012

The only Christmas present I can think to give you is The Nutcracker performed by the Royal Ballet at London's Royal Opera House in 2009.   The Guardian presents a full-length film of the production (in two parts) on its website,  free, gratis and yes, on "the House".  Running on the website for a week from 19 December,catch it quick if you want to be enchanted and transported to the land of the sugar plum fairy. Absolutely magical.  Here.

I was lucky enough recently to be at a  concert featuring  The Nutcracker by the young Docklands Sinfonia Orchestra at St. Anne's Limehouse, a magnificent Hawksmoor church in London's East End.  Under the baton of the talented and imaginative Spencer Downs, it wasn't  just any performance however because it was illustrated in time to the music on a big screen by celebrated and much-loved children's author James Mayhew.  See his report of it and my tribute to him here. 

Monday 17 December 2012

BACK from the Blue

If you thought I had committed blog suicide, so did I, yikes - having posted nothing since August. So I am just back from the brink with  a desperate offering of random leaves from my sketch book until I get some more inspiration.  Hello to all my old chums whose blogs I've neglected to read as well. Why?  I dunno. Sorry!

 Flamenco after El Jaleo by John Singer Sargent


 Peep Toes


Toy horses


All images ©  Rosie West 2012

Thursday 16 August 2012

Listen Up!

image from

 May I recommend that as well as holiday reading you try holiday listening  at Read Me Something You Love.  Steve Wasserman invites people (and they're quite some people) to read him short stories or extracts from larger ones that, yes,  they love. The reading is accompanied by conversation and it's mostly pretty wonderful. 

The story, not for the faint-hearted, that really blew me away was Bones of the Inner Ear by Kiara Davenport here

I am off to the English seaside for a fortnight!

from The Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood © Rosie West

Wednesday 15 August 2012

Blue Sky Thinking

Blue Sky Thinking :
A management cliché, most commonly heard in the UK, referring to open-ended thinking and inspired by the idea that 'the (cloudless) blue sky is the limit'; it allows creative brainstorming unfettered by reality

I was tempted to call this my Olympic legacy since my car was parked not much more than a mile away from the Olympic Park for the duration, outside my house.  But on reflection I think it was probably one of me neighbours. 

Sunday 5 August 2012

When I wasn't watching The Olympics

They tried to chuck the elderly tramp off my train yesterday.  I noticed him on the platform at Portsmouth & Southsea: an intelligent head, a courteous demeanour, an interesting natural suede jacket now wreathed in bands of black grease,  longish shorts; oh I know that one, the shorts and the brown, purple and white spotted legs. Decent workish black boots, polythene bags for socks. He asked permission to sit in the booth in front of me and I could only see the young woman he was talking to.  She engaged with him politely at moments, her blue eyes widening before putting her magazine back in front of her face.
His voice began to rise as he warmed to his complaint about the state of the nation and I noticed he was central european, educated, somewhat barmy and most probably harmless.  Was he an eccentric millionaire, a refugee from Nazi Germany, emeritus professor of law with mental health issues? 

 He did get voluble so the young woman moved quickly a distance away and the female ticket inspector arrived to address him. I am not entirely sure
that they saw each other's point of view but I returned to the scenery, which is why I take this rather slow train along the South Downs and up through Sussex to London Victoria.  I particularly love the water meadows, where the River Arun winds, the grassy dykes, the big skies.  It could be Holland were it not for the majestic, knightly Arundel Castle on a high crag in the distance. 

 The train stops at Horsham and a bullying guard in good-customer-relations-mint-green arrives to chuck the old geezer off his journey.  The charge is abusing the ticket inspector and upsetting the other passengers.  My eyes roll and so do another passenger's.  The old man is getting louder but he's genuinely puzzled.  "I'm disabled, I'm not drunk, I don't drink, I've paid my fare, I live in South London. Can I get the next train?" ("No YOU CAN'T") Just as I am debating whether to throw my hat in the ring, a castle-sized man weighs in, "F***ing get off the f***ing train! I've got a  f***ing flight to catch! GET HIM OFF THE F***ING TRAIN." The situation is definitely confused and summoning the police is threatened but the guard has "another case in the toilet" to deal with and happily we move on towards our next stop, Gatwick (Airport). 

The old gent relaxes and I hear him do a perfect rendition of a steward advertising his wares "I've got a range of soft drinks, coffee, tea, donuts, ice-cream... Bring out your dead! Bring out your dead and kindly put them in the receptacle provided.."  

Uh oh, we've stopped at Gatwick and suddenly the carriage is flooded with the Old Bill: four officers in black airport anti-terrorist patrol uniforms and baseball caps.  "Excuse me sir, we've been asked to remove you from this train for abusing the ticket collector" blah blah blah. Well, I'm not having this and luckily, neither is the other eye-witness.  We intercede on his behalf and I'm impressed that the policemen are prepared to listen to us and negotiate with grandpa, who now behaves like a lamb .. until a young officer kneels beside him, politely requests a promise of good behaviour and, big mistake, asks for his details.  Oh god, he's about to blow it now, refusing to divulge anything, asserting his human rights, threatening to have the police impeached, telling them they're disgraceful.  Well, I'm not having that either as they've behaved with admirable patience and tact. I put down my needlepoint, lean over the seats and say "Look here matey, we've been sticking up for you, now you can bloody well sit down and behave!"   What on earth am I doing?  It's completely surreal.  The father and son alongside me, who've had an away-day to the Ralph Lauren shop at Gunwharf outlet park, are shrugging their shoulders and smirking. The irate air traveller is long gone, thank god. There's a crackle of police radio.

And then somehow it all settles down in a very decent British way, the coppers leave the train and the naughty old so-and-so is quiet as a mouse. Job done.  Except that a few minutes'  later there's an announcement: due to delays caused by an incident, the train will now terminate at East Croydon to regulate the service.  We all gather our belongings and shuffle along to the waiting platform. Our barrack-room lawyer is sitting there contentedly and there's still no sign that he has any intention of disembarking.

Drawing © Rosie West
Photos courtesy

Saturday 14 July 2012

Put the F back into Fashion

Fashion, by Polygoon-Profilti (producer) / Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision (curator), is licensed under Creative Commons – Attribution-Share Alike.

F is for Fun!

And  could be for Fed Up today with  Fashion's  aesthetic of  sick circus ponies
strutting balefully down the runway ?  I have no idea why Fashion takes itself so seriously and models in  Fabulous clothes must  look so totally tired of life.  

Oh to inject a little Vintage Verve into the whole game..

Friday 6 July 2012

Bad Girl - Or Am I?

I'm smoking again (after 18 months of being a good, boring girl). Shock horror!!!.  But I'm not because this isn't a real cig. yet see how realistic it is.  Last week I found myself having a cocktail in The Savoy with my chum Emily Evans Eerdmans, on a whistle stop visit to London researching her new book,  and then she took me along to Notting Hill to meet up with lovely Colette Van  Den Thillart who happens to live in this very apartment. Blimey.

Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy by David Hockney 1970/71

Feeling un peu sophisticated already, I couldn't have been more pleased when  Colette's associate, legendary interior designer Nicky Haslam arrived looking fit and fabulous in a crisp white shirt, navy jacket and sand-coloured cotton pants of a tres au courant cut.  His boots of distressed leather had a whiff of Mad Max about them and a clue to Haslam's wild hinterland as a fearless setter of individual style and an adventurer in many senses of the word, not least socially.  Call him a wicked old snob but he only does it because he knows it teases and the fact is, his company is intoxicating and he is charming and engaging with everyone.  Oh do read my profile of him here if you have a mo.

Anyway, the point is that he produced an elegant black cigarette and puffed away contentedly.  It glowed red when he drew on it and emitted a harmless odourless vapour.  But the smoker gets a hit of nicotine which whilst addictive, I admit, is proved to aid concentration and clinical tests have shown that it can stave off senile dementure. Devoutly to be wished in my book.  .. Oh where was I?

.. happy in my study with my Easyciggy working away through my 500 puffs before I put it
in my virtual ash can and start a new one.  Easy as that.

But oh dear, just as I was warming to the idea, there was a bonkers incident on the motorway yesterday when a coach passenger, observing another messing about with something vaporous, deemed it suspicious and called 999.   The response involved 16 fire engines, 15 police vans, 12 police cars, ten undercover cop cars, an ambulance and incident control vans. It is good to know that in the run-up to the Olympics terrorist threats are taken seriously.. but the motorway was shut for seven hours causing untold grief and chaos.  Have a look here. (Oddly enough the article was written by my son who was just about to be given an easy-cig by me.)

I guess this has put paid to my childish fantasies of using my virtual cigarette in a restaurant or other congenial spot, now that smoking is universally outlawed, and waiting for the hysterical intervention  to occur. The sad thing is that smokers were inconsiderate of others' comfort but I was also shocked how rude and intolerant those others were becoming in a civilised society.   Let's hope there can be a truce with these totally harmless pleasure sticks now.  

Wednesday 27 June 2012

My Fair Lady

Monday 16 April 2012

Queen Elizabeth II : Here and Hair for Sixty Years

My modest tribute to Queen Elizabeth on her Diamond Jubilee is to wonder how many times and with what patience she has submitted to having her hair done.

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