Next The Sea


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


-/ 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.)


Richard Dawson's 2020

If you’ve missed the first three volumes of Speechification then further context can be found elsewhere, specifically here (for Volume #1), here (for Volume #2), here (for Volume #3), and here (for Volume #4).

To be honest I’m stretching the point a little with this one as it’s been instigated by the heartening news of a new record from Richard Dawson and reverse engineered to fit from there on in. Still, given that it’s unlikely that anyone is going to argue the point I’ll carry on regardless.

The record in question is Jogging, the first single from Richard’s new album 2020, and is seven(ish) brilliant minutes that prove the point that “the magical can sit next to the mundane”.

2020 comes out later this year, so if Mr Dawson is new to you I’d suggest that in the meantime you head over to his previous solo album Peasant, released in 2017, and Mogic an album from the band Hen Ogled whose line up features Richard (alongside Sally Pilkington, Dawn Bothwell and Rhodri Davies) which came out in late 2018. Both these records come very highly recommended

Anyway, to the radio.

New Weird Britain
The first piece, is in fact (once again) several pieces, namely the four episodes of Luke Doran’s investigation into the “radical music being made in the margins” of New Weird Britain. Richard Dawson doesn’t actually make an appearance until the third episode on Post-Industrial Towns – however the other three are well worth your time too so I’ve included them for the completists.

Pleasingly the first of the four opens in my hometown of King’s Lynn with Cosey Fanni Tutti, which is marginally confusing though not the most confusing thing featured in these episodes, “I’m sitting in a wood panelled old studio in Swansea, watching the sound artist Lee Patterson burning a hazelnut.”

There’s a great deal to investigate further from these programmes if you choose to, and while I’ve started to dig a little deeper than I would normally there’s plainly still plenty more to unearth.

The Voices of… Richard Dawson
Next is an episode from Radio 4’s The Voices of…
 series which sees presenter Alan Hall interview a somewhat anxious and reluctant Dawson who gently deflects the questions asked of him towards Trouble the cat, a cat who he considers an “ancient”, albeit one that he didn’t realise would “vomit so much around the house”.

It’s a shame that the programme only has thirty minutes to spend with him because I’m sure that further time invested would be rewarding for all concerned.

Late Junction
And finally, after a great deal of talking about music an actual proper tune. This is (I think*) from an appearance Richard made on BBC Radio 3’s Late Junction some time ago, and is a version of The Bamburgh Beast from his album The Magic Bridge released back in 2011. It’s a bit good.

*poor labelling on my part so I may be wrong.

Earlier this year I attended Boring IX, a conference dedicated to the “celebration of the mundane, the ordinary, the obvious and the overlooked”. As ever the day was anything but boring, with my personal highlight being the talk from Joyce Smith.

Joyce spoke about her love of box certificates, the circular stamps that contain essential shipping information that are found on cardboard boxes – a subject perfectly suited to the day, and during her talk reminded me (presumably not just me) that two of anything is a collection.

So given that the image above shows the second QSL card that has come into my ownership I’d like to welcome you to my new collection.

(I don’t know much about the cards. However they seem be have been used (are being used? not sure if people still use them post internet) since the 1920s by amateur radio broadcasters to confirm how far their signals were being received.)

BLOG - The Fens

If you’ve missed the first three volumes of Speechification then further context can be found elsewhere, specifically here (for Volume #1), here (for Volume #2) and here (for Volume #3).

The Fens: Discovering England’s Ancient Depths
First up is five pieces of radio rather than one (principally because I haven’t had the time to work out how to bolt the separate pieces together), which feature archaeologist Francis Pryor reading from his new book The Fens: Discovering England’s Ancient Depth*. I have a great love for the flatlands, so I’m looking forward to educating myself further in the history of a landscape that continues to be largely ignored. 

As an aside (an important one mind), I’m particularly keen to add a physical copy of the book to the library here at Weir HQ as it comes with cover art from the mighty Fred Ingrams, a painter who acts (albeit unofficially) as the area’s artist in residence. I’ve long been a fan of his work, as it seems has a certain Mr Jonathan Meades, who recently contributed an introduction to the catalogue for Ingrams’ latest exhibition Edge of Landscape, in which he said: 

“Ingrams nags at the land and the water in a one-way exchange, squeezing out of them new colours, making them yield fresh forms, rendering himself suggestive to this meld of elements which is in constant mutation – if you keep your eyes open: the clouds and the immense sky, the murmurations, the purl of water caught by a gust, the shadow of a pike in the reeds, the distant rain moving like a ghost ship.”

*Actually on further reference the readings were done by actor Sam Dale.

In Our Time – Doggerland
Connecting the first pieces of radio above with the last below is this episode of In Our Time on Doggerland, where the oddly stern (is he always like this?) Melyvn Bragg discusses the “people, plants and animals once living on land now under the North Sea” with Vince Gaffney (Anniversary Professor of Landscape Archaeology at the University of Bradford)Carol Cotterill (Marine Geoscientist at the British Geological Survey) and Rachel Bynoe (Lecturer in Archaeology at the University of Southampton).

Boring Talks – Dutch Landscape Paintings
And finally one of James Ward’s Boring Talks (which have already had a mention in Volume #2) in which Andrew Male talks about his fondness for the “banal Dutch landscape paintings of the 17th century” defending them against those who consider “these sober deserted paintings devoid of wonder”. A really great (and enormously calming) piece of radio to finish with.

In order to bring things full circle, albeit by straying from the world of radio, now would seem as good a moment as any to point you in the direction of Mr Meades’ programme about the Fens, Double Dutch, originally broadcast in March 1997, which sees him (amongst other things) juggling tomatoes on the high street of my home town. 

In Hindesight


2WS12 Upper Mostyn Street and Great Orme, Llandudno. Photo: E Nägele

“Just a postcard to say all is OK. We think we will enjoy it here. Went to an open air service at Great Orme, all outside the church sitting on gravestones, very interesting, good singing. Don’t know if the money will last, will have to borrow off Frank? Will phone Mrs Grange 8.00pm Wednesday.” 23rd August 1976


Home from a week away in the North of Wales, staying on the fringes of “the finest seaside resort in Western Europe”, highly recommended if you get the chance.

While we were in the land of my fathers (although for accuracy I should point out that my dad was actually born in Kent) I acquired a number of postcards to add to my John Hinde collection, and as a result have spent a number of hours since returning reacquainting myself with those I’ve gathered together so far.

A few years ago I did start scanning and featuring them (as above) over at Wishing I Was Here, but I eventually lost the thread given that others had the archive far more thoroughly in hand, and others still were detailing the “fragments of life in real messages from old postcards” more successfully too.

That said, given how impossibly handsome many of the cards are, I may dig out more to share.