If you’ve missed the first five volumes of Speechification then further context can be found elsewhere, specifically:

here for Volume 001 (you have to start somewhere),
here for Volume 002 (adventures in sound),
here for Volume 003 (the cold war),
here for Volume 004 (the flatlands), and
here for Volume 005 (
Mr Richard Dawson).

Volume #6 features three pieces of radio, all the work of Chris Watson, “a founding member of the influential Sheffield based experimental music group Cabaret Voltaire” and then since a man who has “developed a particular and passionate interest in recording the wildlife sounds of animals and habitats from around the world”.

Watson’s involvement in a programme is always a good sign, I’ve enjoyed so much of his work over the years which is borne out by the fact that the first two pieces of radio included here are from blog posts from 2013 and 2014 respectively. Only the third is from recent listening, although this in turn was originally broadcast back in 2010 so if you’re here for what’s new you may need to continue your search.

BBCR4 ~ The Station / Chris Watson (from a blogpost on 3rd December 2013)
Over the years I’ve spent a good deal of time sat in Newcastle Central Station. Time normally spent waiting for a train to return me back to the flatlands. Today I visited the station as a destination rather than a point on my route home.

Not to take part in the noble art of trainspotting, but to listen to The Station – sound recordist Chris Watson’s twenty-four hour soundscape of Newcastle upon Tyne’s Central Station.

BBCR4 ~ The Castle / Chris Watson (from a blogpost on 16th December 2014)
A year ago today I posted the text below along with a couple of pictures of Dunstanburgh Castle (including the one above). The view of the castle across Embleton Bay is one which I’ve had the chance to enjoy many times over the years, and as panoramas go I think it’s one that’s going to be difficult to better.

Well if the handsome coast at Embleton Bay in Northumberland was good enough for Mr Joseph Mallord William Turner then it’s good enough for Mrs Weir and I.

To be frank there aren’t many places I’d up sticks from dear old Norfolk for but in another life I’d be happy to trade my time on the edge of the flatlands for the dark skies of Britain’s most northerly county.

So I was enormously pleased to stumble upon ‘The Castle: A Portrait in Sound’ yesterday over on BBC Radio 4 Extra, which sees the brilliant wildlife audio recordist Chris Watson capturing the sound of the ruins being slowly reclaimed by nature. It’s a extremely fine thirty minutes of radio which I recommend to you, and one which has reminded me to begin planning my return to Northumberland much sooner than later.

BBCR4 ~ Bridging The Gap
And finally a programme on what I suppose Newcastle is probably best known for (dissenters on this point can correspond with me at the usual address), namely its river and the Tyne Bridge.

 


I took the picture above earlier today while out at Sculthorpe Moor with Mrs Weir, and it triggered a memory. After checking my records – it always pays to keep meticulous records – I was able to confirm that I took an almost identical photograph on the very same day a year previously. 

Scanning further still through the records it seems I took another similar photo twelve months prior to that, albeit this time on November 12th. Not entirely sure how we’ve ended up at the same tree on the same day, however it’s clear the rewards speak for themselves.


Two Tribes

09Oct19

I had a few hours to spare in London on Sunday while Mrs Weir returned to the fourth-largest football stadium in England (it was the third biggest until recently, although given who has now nudged ahead of them I doubt it’s a fact they’ll now refer to quite so often), so I decided to continue my journey along the North Circular to the The National Archives in Kew for their Protect And Survive exhibition.

The exhibition was perfectly fine given the size of the space available, with a few interesting pieces on show, including a Special Branch report on a Mr Eric Blair who they accused of dressing “in a bohemian fashion both at his office and in his leisure hours”, however I would have liked to have seen more, much more, given that (I presume) the archive must hold a whole host of material relating to the subject.

That said, my visit did allow me to pick up an early copy of Taras Young’s new book Nuclear War in the UK (published today by the excellent Four Corners Books) which ticked many more boxes for me than the exhibition given that it’s packed full of some of the many fascinating pieces of ephemera produced during the period – really can’t recommend it enough.

Taras talks about the book (and the wider subject) on the latest episode of Atomic Hobo (another recommendation for you), a weekly podcast from Julie McDowall “about the ways in which Britain and the US prepared for nuclear attack during the cold war”. 

 


Risk Maps

05Oct19

Encountered Dangers #3 by Ace170 aka Richard Weston

After a enormously dull week at work it was heartening to return home yesterday to find a delivery from Ellipress – a digital print studio run by Jonathan Elliman, who produces work for a variety of artists including This Northern Boy (aka Rob Turpin, who he also produces the North V South podcast with (“the podcast that is, and isn’t about design”), Guy Warley and AceJet170 (aka Richard Weston).

The (handsomely packaged) delivery in question was a print from AceJet170’s new Encountered Dangers series which he describes as “edited map keys, repurposed for Peter-Saville-meets-Alfred-Wainwright-like prints intended to provoke thoughts of an unknown adventure”.

I’ve long been a fan of Richard’s work having been a reader of his consistently great blog on “found type, print and stuff” for a number of years, and one of his brilliant homages to Romek Marber’s grid sits just a few feet from where I type. So when I saw that he was working on something “extracted from Ordnance Survey map keys” I was reasonably confident that I’d be investing in whatever the finished product was, given that thanks to my dad I am a man that holds the world of all things cartographic in high regard.

Although a little late to the party I eventually got round to ordering Encountered Dangers #5 last week as a starting point to what I knew would no doubt become the whole collection in time, however in a stroke of good luck (and in an act of great generosity from Mr Elliman) all five arrived as I happened to be 500th customer of the Ellipress shop.

So a big thanks to Jonathan and a huge bravo to Richard Weston – because the prints are just great. Thoughtful pieces of everyday iconography (to some of us anyway) taken from their natural habitat and reframed to become something new, something perhaps of a journey not yet taken, or a cipher somehow, for a location unknown – once I work it out I’ll let you know. 

Encountered Dangers #5 by Ace170 aka Richard Weston

Encountered Dangers #2 by Ace170 aka Richard Weston

 


Next The Sea

24Aug19

An early (and misty) start to the day in Cley*. Early in order to avoid the incoming heat and those seeking to embrace it.

*Locally pronounced Cly, in the same way as Costessey is Cossy, Wymondham is Wind’m and Happisburgh Hayzbruh. No idea whether other counties have the same desire to confuse however it appears it is entirely normal for Norfolk.

(Which thanks to Mrs Weir takes us to The Tornadoes – rather than The Tordnados.)


I think it’s reasonable to assume that I was always going to enjoy an exhibition entitled The Wonderful World of the Ladbybird Book Artists, after all supporting evidence can be found here, here, here and here.

That said I’m not without some critical faculties and having to drive across the country to Leicester (which I haven’t visited in an age) to see it, did ensure that it had to make some efforts to impress me.

I didn’t need to worry though as Helen Day and the people at the New Walk Gallery have done a very fine job with this handsomely staged exhibition, full as it is of original artwork and associated ephemera.

Sadly it’s only open until 1st September, so if the world entomology is of interest to you you haven’t got long to plan a visit.

Addendum: Looking back on the photographs I took on the day there’s a great letter on show that I’d forgotten about from Lawrence du Garde Peach (author of many of the Adventure from History series) to Douglas Keen (Editorial Director of Ladybird Books) about the artistic roughs for the book King John and Magna Cartna, which does suggest that Ladybird’s attention to detail was second to none:

Page 07:
Should there not be more monks, otherwise it looks a poor turn out.

Page 10:
A good idea of Kenney’s to introduce a little glamour by showing the Emir disturbed at breakfast with members of his hareem – there is little enough glamour in the book otherwise. I am all for it.

Page 15:
Looks – as least in the rough – a little too much like the sort of cottage which commuters look for and convert. It should look really miserable and squalid, the sort of cottage which even a London stockbroker wouldn’t look at.

Page 21:
I am still a little worried about the “signing” of Magna Carta. I think that it should be so angled that the King might be affixing a seal or signing – thus we satisfy everybody and avoid complaints from wretched little perfectionists.

*Will make sense if you know your Ladybird Books.


Back To School

13Aug19

-/ the staircase at the end of the entrance-foyer to the assembly hall

As I increase in age I fear I repeat myself more often than I used to, so apologies if I’m re-treading old ground. That said repetition isn’t always a bad thing.

As I increase in age I fear I repeat myself more often than I used to, so apologies if I’m re-treading old ground. That said repetition isn’t always a bad thing.

So it’s back to school with this post, back to the school I last left sometime in the early summer of 1987, although this time via an article from a 1954 issue of The Architectural Review (the September issue to be specific).

As a pupil of (as is now) Smithdon High School I’ve been after a copy of this article for a while as the piece presents the school looking its very best i.e. empty of what you’d normally find in a school. In fact there’s a small footnote to the article which states that “All the interiors were photographed without furniture, at the architect’s request.” confirming the absence of anything that would possibly detract from the building is no accident.

I remain disappointed that so little was made of the school’s architectural fame when I attended as a pupil, but that’s maybe as much do to with the fact that by the 80s the buildings were growing tired through limited maintenance and the effects of the weather coming directly off the North Sea. Thankfully the school remains alive and seems relatively well, and they do at least now make reference to the buildings origins on their website, albeit as much as to allow them to shoehorn in references to their approach as a school than anything else, “The ground breaking design of our main building personifies the qualities that we still develop in our students today; strength, integrity and excellence.”

I hadn’t realised but on further investigation it appears that the photographs featured in the piece were taken by artist/photographer Nigel Henderson for the Parallel of Life and Art exhibition which I need to investigate this further.

-/ the assembly hall, looking north-east into east green-court with bicycle sheds beyond

-/ general purpose room, west of hall, with way up to projector box.

-/ gymnasium changing-room with galvanised wire racks for towels and clothing

-/ library, showing the skirting coil which prevents down-draughts from glazed areas

(I’ll scan the article in at some point and post if over onto flickr, so if you’re interested in reading further then come back at some point and I’ll link to it from here.)

 




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