Monday, September 27, 2010

Other people's weddings

If you have a camera in hand and there's a wedding nearby, it's hard not to take a snap. They're just so darn photogenic, the folks in their finery.

At the weekend, we were in Richmond Park and parked at Pembroke Lodge which now hosts many a wedding. In fact, there are often two weddings at the same time, and as lovely a venue as it is - I'm not sure I would choose it, given that you could easily find yourself mixing with hikers in muddy boots or a small messy child who does not follow directions (like mine). When we were there, a wedding party was taking up the picnic area. It was a beautiful day, but a bit chilly. Standing around doing the chit chat may have been uncomfortably cool.

On our way back to car, the wedding party seemed to have broken up and we caught the tail end of a photo shoot with one of the nuptual couples. Richmond Park is beautiful and it looked like the photographer was getting some good shots. As they were reviewing the thumbnails on the back of his digital camera, the bride must have shivered or complained of cold. The groom shrugged off his coat and gave it to her. How wonderful. What a lovely touch.

Finishing the photo shoot

If you ask me, I think that photographer missed a trick but not turning around and shooting that. On the bad days, for all marriages have them, it would have been a lovely reminder to consider each other in the small things that make a big difference.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Checking the score: Tennessee and the Labour leadership contest

Cos where else do you get Tennessee football and British politics in the same post?

I meant to do two things yesterday when I came back from the park. Check up on the Tennessee v. UAB game and find out who won the Labour leadership. I did neither til late in the evening, when I checked the score.

Tennessee squeaked through - against a team that we really shouldn't have had to squeak against. If you're of a mind, go and check out what a squeaker it was at this animated drive chart. UAB missed an astonishing number of field goals and with a score of 32-29 and two overtimes - it was only by the slimmest of margins and perhaps a shift of the wind that made the difference. I think I'm kinda glad I didn't see it, especially through the long (and what must have been miserable) second half.

As Vol blogger Will writes:

Any Kool-Aid that was left in the orange solo cup was spilled on the floor in disbelief today. And while it's exponentially less painful to see in victory than in defeat, today was a stunning and very real picture of where Tennessee Football is right now.
Still, nothin' like a nail biter.

Go Vols

Labour leadership

I didn't even manage to check the Labour leadership scores until this morning. But I don' t really have a dog in that fight. I've maintained only a dim interest in contest over the summer - and it seemed David Miliband was a dead cert, until - well, yesterday. When his younger (shorter, dimmer?, less attractive) brother became the bookies' favourite and then finally won it after four elimination rounds.

The voting process itself - somewhat reminiscent of X-Factor or American Idol - see the votes tallied on first preferences first. David wins. Diane Abbot (perhaps the most entertaining of the lot) was eliminated. All of her 2nd, 3rd and 4th preferences are re-distributed and then... wait a minute. That doesn't sound right. Eee gads that must have been a headache counting all that up after each elimination round - what a complicated system. Anything that crazy surely would never be foisted upon the British public. Anyway, David came out the 'winner' of each round, right up until the end. He musta felt just about like UAB, if not but for one missed field goal - i.e. glad handing with union reps or lurching just slightly to the left. I shouldn't like to be at the Miliband house for Hanukkah dinner.

Anyway, brilliant news for the rest of us. Ed Miliband won't be as spectacularly bad as some of his opponents would have been for the Labour party. But y'all just keep drinking the Kool-Aid from your red solo cup. I suspect he'll have a lovely honeymoon period and then his true colours - whatever they may be - will shine through.

Photo credits: Valerie Everett and Arvind Grover

Sunday, September 19, 2010

And bombs bursting in air

Last week, the boy and I went to the Wimbledon Stables Open Day expecting to get into the windmill museum for free. A commenter set me straight and informed me that the 18th of September would be the Windmill open day. And chided me for my cheapness. So, we headed on down to the Windmill for our free entry after many years of standing outside and wondering whether it was worth the price of entry.

Wimbledon Common windmill
(Photo credit Adrian Short)

And now that we've been in...

Anyway, there was a lot more to the windmill museum than I imagined. I didn't get to poke around all the exhibits as I spent most of my time chasing the boy around the upper level above the treacherous stairway to the workings of the mill. But there were working windmill models of all types and diaromas featuring threshing men and moth-eaten cats.


The boy had a wonderful time. He enjoyed the hands on opportunity to grind some wheat using two handy-sized millstones and he loved the pully. Pullies are fantastic for kids - demonstrating how a small machine can turn you into a weight lifting super hero.


And, of course, he loved climbing up into the workings of the windmill.


I think there was probably a lot more to see than I managed. But I will remember one thing - writ large was the fact No one ever built a windmill if they could have a water mill. Surely, these are words to live by.

And the Vol-in-Law spotted another bit of history. You know the bombs bursting in air from the Star Spangled Banner? Well, apparently back during the War of 1812 (the last time we were at war with the Brits) those particular munitions were a bit of an advance and those bombs were developed by a Wimbledon resident and were tested right there on Wimbledon Common in the shadow or future shadow of the windmill. (Not sure when the windmill was built - the model above shows it was in operation in 1825).

They had a pretty good turnout for the open day, but I'm quite sure it would have been better had the visiting Pope not been staying across the street with the attendant police presence and full parking lot of Pope well-wishers.

So all in all, I'd recommend stumping up the cash for a visit to the Windmill Museum. I've certainly paid a lot more to see a lot worse.


It's International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Pirate Bill

Avast ye mateys. The Good Ship Vol Abroad has been taken over by pirates.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Florida time

Oh, dear. It's Florida time. I'm not holding out much hope. But for me, this is when football season truly begins - and not just because it's the first SEC game but mainly because a 3:30 kickoff means that I can actually watch the game (by hook or by crook) or at least listen to it. I love my Vols, but I'm already working on a sleep deficit so when a game starts at midnight my time. - I'm just dreaming of a win.

At least Buddy seems happy enough about the prospects.

I'll show you what we do to Gators

Let's hope we're smiling on Sunday morning - if not over a win - at least over a decent performance.

Not being on the ground, it's difficult to tell what folks are thinking of Derek Dooley. Vols fans are notorious for the grumble-grumble. But for me, I want to be behind him. I like what I've seen of his style. I want him to be a legendary coach for Tennessee and I'm willing to wait for that to happen.

Former coach Phil Fulmer has given an interesting (ahem) interview about the current state of things. Didn't really expect a giant mea culpa, he says he supports Dooley, but he's working like heck to lay the blame at the feet of 'the other one'.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


I've been collecting images of floral tributes - sculptural floral displays at funerals for several years. These range from simple hearts and stars to complex constructions depicting Royal Mail vans or football shirts or crests. When the boy was very small, we took daily walks in the nearby cemetery and this period is from when most of the images I have originate.

I've been in a bit of dry spell regarding floral tributes. I haven't had a good image in ages. This is partly because I'm haunting the graveyard with much less frequency and partly because summer isn't a good season for floral tributes. Probably fewer people are dying, but also when they do the floral tributes aren't lasting as long and so even really good one may not be worth photographing after it's wilted in the heat of the sun. And the really complex floral tributes seem to be fading out of fashion. It may be the recession - these things are apparently very expensive.

But when I checked Sunday - jackpot - I spotted this one.

Meerkat floral tribute

Meerkat floral tribute

A meerkat.

Meerkats are always quite popular and are the symbol of many a neighbourhood watch. Including ours.

Wandsworth Neighbourhood Watch stickers

But they also feature in a long-running and quite amusing series of tv ads in the UK where the meerkats are used to peddle insurance with the catch phrase "Simples" which has insinuated itself into everyday language. And this has made them even more popular. Anyway, first time I've seen a meerkat depicted in chrysanthemums.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Pope is coming to town

I noticed police presence on Wimbledon Park Road the other day. And could see they were standing in front of some big swanky house (not that most of the houses on Wimbledon Park Road aren't super swanky). And when I passed by there again today they had blocked off the sidewalk in front of the house, closed the road, and there were cops galore. With guns. Very, very big guns. And bored expressions.

I had noticed there was a sign on the entrance pillar, but couldn't manage to read it. Today I slowed down just enough to read it...or sort of...I thought it said "Apostolic Nunciate" which basically made me none the wiser. But then I put 2 and 2 together and realised the Pontiff was comin' to town tomorrow for the first Papal state visit to the UK in over 500 years and that the sign probably said Apostolic Nunciature which probably means Pope Hotel.

the pope and coca cola


One of the Pope's pals won't be coming with him. Apparently he said that Britain is like a 3rd World Country. In darker moments, I may have occasionally said the same thing. Don't kick me out.

According to The Telegraph, Cardinal Kasper Walter made some disparaging remarks about the UK including that it was an aggressive new atheism was rife (which I think may also be true). In an article headlined “A Third World country” he was quoted as saying: “When you arrive at Heathrow you think at times that you’ve landed in a Third World country.”

Well, exactly. Heathrow is skank. It's better now. But used to be you'd think "Look, I bought a ticket, I told you I was coming - along with the tens of thousands of other people who are arriving today - the least you could have done was tidy up a bit. Run the vacuum, maybe? But really, it's ok, don't put yourself out on my account." I've been in genuine 3rd World airports that were cleaner and classier.

But in order to clarify his comments, it's apparently because of Britain's "multi-cultural diversity". Really? Yes, don't let the UK think you're just a snobby German neat-freak, make a comment that could be interpreted as just a teensy bit racist.

Who's handing the Vatican's PR these days? 'Cos I want me some of that media goodness.

But it's not because he's so 'plain spoken' that he's not coming, but rather because Cardinal Walter has gout.


All this puts the dodgy memo about possible activities for the Pontiff by a junior member of Foreign and Commonwealth office staff in a new light. This young fellow 'brainstormed' that an ideal papal visit* could include a special edition brand of condoms, sacking of dodgy bishops, ordination of a female priest and apologising to the British people for Spanish Armada (which received both papal blessing and Vatican cash). Then he was foolish enough to actually distribute that as a memo. And even though the then Foreign Secretary David Milliband made a 'grovelling apology' apparently that was not enough:

A well-placed aide in the Vatican said: 'This could have very severe repercussions and is embarrassing for the British Government - one has to question whether the action taken is enough. It is disgusting.'

Oh really? Like a Cardinal making some seriously off colour remarks just days before showing up (and then not). One has to question whether the action taken is enough.


*OK, all the other ones are clearly a no-go and trashy. But I always thought the Armada apology was inspired.

(Photo credit filip1)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Wimbledon Common Open Day

We were a bit lame yesterday, but suddenly, and after an embarrasingly large number of Sponge Bob episodes, I remembered that it was open day at Wimbledon Common. Hurrah. For years, I've wondered what it looks like on the inside of the windmill at Wimbledon Common and this was my chance. A daunting entry fee prohibited me from entering all these years and when last year - the price doubled to £2 (about $3) I knew paying entry was not likely. But on an open day, I'd have free entry, free to gambol in the 20 square feet of history of the windmill display.

Imagine the shock and horror I felt when I saw a sign which dashed my hopes of free entry. I was pissed. But then, much to my amazement, the wide field on the left hand side of the long drive normally full of kite flyers and dog walkers was I couldn't imagine why that many people could have made the same mistake I did about the windmill, so there must have been something else going on.

And indeed there was! It was a village fete, with tents and stalls and masses of people and what looked like pony rides. I couldn't believe I hadn't realised. And then I had a sinking feeling, fetes mean lots of spending small amounts of money at stalls. And I had very little money in my pocket (I thought we were going to have a free look-see at the windmill and leave, remember) - and there were two young soldiers guarding the parking lot and they were holding a bucket. For the wounded. Of Afghanistan. Really, you can't say no to that. And thus went a good proportion of my cash.

Danger boy

The first thing the boy wanted to see was some tractors parked up. A whole gaggle of children were climbing on one of those extendable platform utility vehicles - something I would call a cherry picker. It looked quite unsafe. I even saw a boy about the same size of my three year old climbing on the extendable arm.


Which I think made me allowing him up onto the platform which was at least 6 feet off the ground look quite reasonable by comparison.

We made our way to a recruiting stand for the Household Cavalry. Now, let me tell you something, I am no longer a young lady in the first blush of youth, but I nearly felt a swoon coming in the proximity of these fine young men in their dress uniforms and their high boots with a deep shine. The boy was impressed and told me he wanted to be a soldier, too. I wanted to tell him that those who administrate also serve. But given the chance to try on the regalia, I doubt if it would have carried much weight.

Household Cavalry Helmet

And the sword.


I could not believe it when the man handed my 3 yrd old a sword. Since the boy had the hilt I figured he had more chance of endangering others than himself. I stood well away.

More fun and frolics

The Wimbledon and Putney Common Open Day had loads more to see. Birds of prey. Endless tug of war. An ambulance you could go in and poke around. Intubation and choking dummies. Waggiest tail on a dog competitions. Horse grooming demonstrations. The boy went mad for horse named Chance and demanded riding lessons. I was very pleased to discover that he was still a year too young for that. Among children's hobbies, I'm not sure if you can find one that costs more.

Choking training dummy

The boy demanded a horseshoe (£1), a piece of ginger cake raising money for wounded soldiers (£1) - which made me think of the old saying:

It'll be a great day when education gets all the money it wants and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy bombers. ~Author unknown, quoted in You Said a Mouthful edited by Ronald D. Fuchs

But I'm not sure if bake sales in support for returning soldiers quite qualifies.

And then he wanted a donkey ride (£3), which lasted about 45 seconds and made the riding lessons or paid entry to the windmill museum seem a really good deal. And that was the end of my cash.

It really was a fantastic day out and I imagined that it was quite like attending a village fete, but without having to leave the comforting embrace of the M25.

Of all the things we saw though, I think I liked this best:

Lost keys

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Sarah Palin talks smarts

I've never been one of the people who were tempted to slam on Sarah Palin for being an idiot or denigrate her achievement at becoming Governor of Alaska (oh, it's only a small state population wise), which seems a bit ridiculous unless you yourself have served as the governor of a larger state, and if you have it's still not classy.

But it's fair to say that I agree with her on practically nada. But today I do: In the Daily Mail, she was reported as saying about the proposed burn-a-koran day at a Florida church.

Book burning is antithetical to American ideals,' she wrote.

'People have a constitutional right to burn a Koran if they want to, but doing so is insensitive and an unnecessary provocation - much like building a mosque at Ground Zero.'

She finished by saying: 'We don't need to agree with each other on theological matters, but tolerating each other without unnecessarily provoking strife is how we ensure a civil society.

'In this as in all things, we should remember the Golden Rule. Isn't that what the Ground Zero mosque debate has been about?'

And on this I tend to agree. Burning Korans, deliberately insensitive and provocative. Building a mosque near Ground Zero, probably not deliberately insensitive - just in the fact that I bet suitable properties in Manhattan aren't super easy to source and that's where that happened to be - but it strikes me as a touch inappropriate all the same.

That's one dead duck

Here's a lovely image of canard a l'orange from Flickr user franziskas garten. That is for sure one dead duck. Let's hope the resurgent UT can cook up a similar dish on Saturday against Oregon, with some extra zingy orange flavor on top. Chef Dooley (fingers crossed) can provide the instructions for gutting and roasting.

Turnover here is key and notice that in this recipe, you don't.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Citizenship criteria and starting off on the right foot

Although I've lived in the UK for a long time, I'm not a citizen. I've never quite taken the plunge. I've been meaning to, but just never got around to it. The previous Labour government had made it harder to become a citizen - introducing a test on life in the UK and a citizenship ceremony. In essence that can only be a good thing. Citizenship is a big deal and should be treated as such. There should be a moment of celebration where the mutual duties and obligations of state and citizen are marked publicly, rather than just a letter in the post.

And they were about to make it harder still, introducing a kind of 'good citizen' requirement - a probationary period of volunteering. I was against this. Not so much in theory - it's a good thing. And not so much because of personal impact, as I've been serving as a School Governor for almost four years (for American readers, it's kinda like a school board, but without any real power and every school has one) and I've volunteered for a political party which also counts. But I was iffy about it because of the bureaucratic nature of it. How would you prove that you'd done work? Would there be spot checks to make sure there wasn't some kind of weird black market in the volunteering certificates? But these requirements may be scrapped by the new Coalition government (Telegraph)

And apparently there's going to be a shakeup in the quiz, too. Good. Although the Life in the UK was as a big a phone book in a medium sized city and packed full of Battle of Britain and parliamentary procedure and Magna Carta and so forth, the quiz emphasis was on quirky etiquette - What does one do if one spills someone's pint on them in the pub? Offer to duke it out the car park or buy them a new drink? - and navigating the benefits system. Really. Navigating the benefits system. Now, it's good to know that sort of thing I guess, but that's a bit like setting down rules for your matrimonial partner to be on just how much cheating you'll tolerate before you call it a day. I'd like to think that at the beginning of a relationship, there's a slightly rosier view of the role of the productive citizen rather than assuming that they'll be taking more than they'll be contributing.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Privateer Lad

Alright, so we promised to take the boy to the beach - and we'd already chickened out from finding and driving down to a real beach and decided to take him down to some pollution blackened sands on the south bank of the Thames and let him play amongst the rubble.

The boy was so excited. He made me round up a bucket and spade and found a beach shirt and some shorts and some 'beach shoes' and got dressed almost on his own. He was literally skipping down the pavement and asking at every stop on the Northern line if this was where we got off for the beach.

Before we arrived at the sand, we soaked in some of the festival atmosphere of the South Bank. There were Morris dancers and we stopped to watch some acrobat cum magicians doing a bartending based routine complete with flying ice and glasses performing for free in front of the National Theatre.

But when we arrived at the beach I'd spotted from the boat the other day, the gate down to the sand was locked. Sure there was an artist down there building sand sculptures, but he'd successfully blocked access to the beach with his demand for money literally written in the sands and his clearly hungover girlfriend was lying on the top steps sleeping off last night's gin. The boy was grievously disappointed and cried and moaned and raised a racket. We promised to move on down the Southbank to see if we could find access to the shore some other way, but I inwardly assured myself that if we couldn't get down there, I'd push past that booze-soaked floozy and the access hogging sand artist and let my boy frolic in whatever the Thames had coughed up onto the shore.

Fortunately, we found an open gate at Gabriel's Wharf - and though it looked like civilians weren't allowed - for there was a collection of sand sculptors at work and not very good busker, there was no way we weren't going down there. The boy took off down the treacherous stairs to the sands below. And he had a blast!

On the Thames beach, Gabriel's Wharf

After we'd had enough sand play, we had lunch at Gourmet Pizza which was only just up the steps to the Southbank. We hadn't been in ages - in fact, I'm not sure we'd ever been there with the boy. But it was still as good and they have very reasonably price, nice pizzas for children.

We walked on down the Southbank to the Tate Modern, housed in an old power station, where we had a bit of wander and like every child of a certain age, the boy had to roll around on the turbine hall floor like a work of performance art. The Tate was crowded and the boy was in his finest crowd dodging, 'do not enter' sign ignoring best. In fact, he wandered through one room singing. "Bad art. Bad art. This is bad art." And although Tate Modern has its share of really bad art, he was singing his disparaging verse in a room Rothkos and Calders.


So we decided to head out, but not before stopping in at the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) peregrine falcon observing station just outside. Some falcons have taken roost on the towers of the museum. The RSPB volunteers were very enthusiastic, but apparently the falcons were out for the day. We still thought it was worth looking through the scope which was trained on where the birds normally hang out - and sure enough no birds, but you could see the smear of falcon poo.

Looking for falcons

On the way to our departing station, London Bridge, we came across the Golden Hinde. Sir Francis Drake's privateer galleon. They boy demanded that we go on the ship, but it had been hired out for a wedding reception. And no matter how much he screamed and cried, the wedding party did not soften and let him aboard. Imagine! In order to placate him, we took him to the pirate shop nearby and bribed him into quiet with some pirate swords and a hat.

Pirate at the Golden Hinde

He was so excited he forgot about the ship and continued pointing his enormous pirate pistol at passers by and duelling with his father in front of Southwark Cathedral.

I'm sure the bishop would not approve..

Saturday, September 04, 2010

It's football time in Tennessee

After some disastrous seasons and some meh seasons, the firing of one coach and the midnight flit of another, we're ready for some football. OK, we've got a new coach - and this one might be a keeper. He seems a better fit.

I hope he is. I'm ready to go the long haul with Dooley.

Go Vols.

Friday, September 03, 2010

An idea

The boy is not the best talker, but he's making rapid improvement. And he's surprising me with introductions of new concepts - like "maybe"

Today I was talking to him about what we'd have for dinner, and he said that he wanted to go to a local cafe. Well, really a caf, a greasy spoon. We go there pretty regularly because the food is good in that greasy spoon kinda way, but really we go because they've always been amazingly welcoming to the boy - from the breastfeeding infant days to the squalling times, to the days when he couldn't manage being at the table without spilling - and even the time (when I was reading a tabloid paper instead of paying attention) when he scrawled on their formica table top with a ball point pen. All that, and they always greet us with a smile. Not only that, but when we gave them a Christmas card with his picture on it - they displayed it - and again the following year. They're still up. They have more pictures of my son prominently on show than we do.

Messing with the condiments

But they close at mid-afternoon. And when they close, their windows and doors are shuttered with metal, so you know they are really closed. So I had to tell him that we couldn't have dinner there. He was disappointed, but seemed to accept that maybe we could eat there for breakfast or lunch sometime this weekend.

We'd moved on from talking about dinner to talking about animal sounds.

And then he turned around, raised a finger as a kind of point of order and said "I have an idea." I had to ask him to repeat himself - as he'd never said "I have an idea," before and I was a little surprised.

"Ok Buddy," I said "What's your idea?"

And he went into a quite convoluted explanation, complete with hand motions of sawing and sounds and actions.

His idea was to break into the cafe. Great. His first ever proposal of a plan was a heist. Criminal activity in the pursuit of fried eggs. It looks like it's gonna be fun years ahead.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

A trip to the beach

The boy, all of sudden, has decided that he wants to go to the beach. And since this is an island, a beach isn't too far away. But it could take an hour and a half or even longer if the traffic is bad. And all the nearest beaches are pebble beaches. Which suck. It all seems like a lot of work for a bit of seaside frolics.


Yesterday, I had a meeting near London Bridge and then decided I wanted to head on over to the RSA to do some work (nearest tube Embankment). There's not really a super-duper easy way to get from one to the other. But there is a boat. And since I'd overshot the cut-through from the south bank to London Bridge station and the boat was pulling up and it was a beautiful day. So, even though it was the more expensive option and I'm not clear if it was the faster option, I took the boat.

And out on the back deck of the boat (is that the stern?), it was gorgeous. Beautiful views of London, Tower Bridge, HMS Belfast and the Houses of Parliament as I reached my stop (port? landing?). Oh, and I also saw a beach. On the Thames. I guess somebody from Southwark or maybe the mayor's office has dumped a bunch of sand on the muddy banks of the Thames and opened the hitherto shut gates down to the river.

Thames, beachside

So, looks like the trip to the beach might be a little more handy and convenient. I feel the slight guilt of the slacker parent, but being a slacker parent - it doesn't last long. Not sure how I'm gonna keep the boy out of that filthy ol' river, though.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Bad Romance

Tate Britain was once known as The Tate. A magnificent old building overlooking the Thames with views across the river to the big spy building (MI6 or MI5, I can never remember). But then the The Tate expanded, and there was Tate Modern - housed in a wonderful old power plant and Tate (insert regional city name here which you probably wouldn't want to visit) and so forth.

Tate Britain specialises in British artists and rather confusingly includes modern works. But most of them are too good for the Tate Modern which specialises in spectacular rubbish mainly - with occasional pools of really good pieces in their collection. And even though I walk past Tate Britain regularly on my way to work meetings, I rarely ever go in. In fact, I haven't been since their Hogarth Exhibition, almost four years ago - except for stopping in to use their loo.

Since we currently have a visitor, I can use this as an excuse to do the tourist thing. He's never been to Tate Britain and I'd been meaning to go since they re-organised their collection of Pre-Raphaelite works. But somehow we ended up in the Romantics section which was being billed as a new exhibition- an easy to mistake to make, since I tend to view the style of pre-raphaelite art as romantic.

But no, Romantics at the Tate means Turner and associated artists. Which I had forgotten. Which put me in a very bad mood.

Confession time: I hate Turner

Turner is one of two British artists whom the Brits hold most dear. Him and Constable. Whom I also hate. To me they produce stuff like a camera with a white balance gone horribly wrong. I hate Constable's speckiness and cutesyness. I hate Turners smudgy figures and white shwooshiness.(You can see a whole bunch of that here, if you must) I can't really explain quite why I hate them so much. Or rather, I can explain why I don't like them. Maybe the hate seems to spring mostly from the fact that I just don't get them or why they're so loved. And perhaps after having lived in a country for so long and just not getting why everyone else loves them but I think they're rubbish, it makes me hate them. It's a sign that no matter how much I acculturate, I can never truly fit in.

It's not that I hate all British painters. Not at all. I can wander round Tate Britain and find much to admire and some to love. But not Turner and not Constable. Blechhh.

And I'm afraid I didn't hold back. I grumbled about Turner and demanded that we move on. People looked at me like I had spit on the Queen. Except that there are some republicans in the UK and people who hate the monarchy, but it seems that everybody loves Turner.


Some things go both ways. I've generally found that Brits don't like the works of Andrew Wyeth who I think is a genius.