Archive for September, 2003

Ikea for dogs

Friday, September 26th, 2003

It is no compensation for the absence of Dr Biswell in her blighted little world, but the pay and conditions of the foolish little labrador have been materially improved. By canine processes unguessable and better left unguessed, Miss Dog has gradually destroyed the beanbag on which she sleeps — she had an awfully good […]


Thursday, September 25th, 2003

We were in Fochabers this afternoon, and noticed a shabby little shop which advertised its wares as
It’s a man’s life in the army, or so they tell us: what the hell is army surplus haberdashery? Gold braid? Or do they take time out from roistering, wronging the ancientry, getting wenches with child and […]

Ravilious Alphabet Mug

Wednesday, September 24th, 2003

On behalf of the Northern Professor, I now attempt to offer all you semioticians and problem-solvers AN ACTUAL IMAGE of the artwork in question.
The Ravilious Alphabet Mug

with one laughing and one dropping eye

Wednesday, September 24th, 2003

The household in the Deep North is prey to grievously mixed feelings: Dr Biswell has gone off to gainful employment in Manchester. Miss Dog and Miss Cat are for once united: they both view this an an outrage & are holding indignation meetings on his landing. They evidently believe that he has gone to the […]

Ravilious clues and my godmother

Saturday, September 20th, 2003

Young Cryptographers! Fearless cub semioticians! Fathers of the Society!
Here is a further clue, supplied by Alan Powers, which seems to point us to a crossword type of solution using the words implied by the drawings on the alphabet mug.
The reference to the Alphabet mug comes in a letter from Thomas Balston
to Ravilious, 21 […]


Thursday, September 18th, 2003

Yesterday late afternoon a sound of juddering machinery heralded the Geordie Ambassador arriving on a Marshall Plan tractor. This rustcovered object, which looks as if it belongs in the Science Museum, works perfectly well except for not having a starter motor: once itís started it has to stay started. It spends its life parked at […]

Ancestral Expectations

Thursday, September 18th, 2003

First a note to the cyptographic circle. Inside the Mug are a Yacht and a Zepplin. I am awaiting a message of elucidation from Alan Powers who dug Ravilious’s hints at a cryptogram out of the archives in the first place, but he recollects Ravilious saying “like a crossword”, so I suspect that if you […]

Ravilious Deciphered

Sunday, September 14th, 2003

The Northern Professor, writing this entry under an alias, is much preoccupied at the moment with the English (very English) painter Eric Ravilious. This is because the book The Idea of North is inching towards its conclusion via a consideration of Ravilious’s wonderful arctic watercolours, painted while he was a war artist in 1940. He […]

Angels and Ministers of Grace

Saturday, September 13th, 2003

Blessed are the peacemakers. We very much hope that in the last couple of days we have successfully diplomatized our way around a major threat to our tranquil little pond. Insofar as we understand the situation at present, Barnyards, the local big farmer, promised a year ago to sell two acres of land to the […]

After Long Silence

Thursday, September 11th, 2003

The Northern Professor and the Lady Novelist have been in the Deep South, hence the lapse in communications. The tale of our misadventures is, like that of the Giant Rat of Sumatra, one for which the world is not yet ready. However, all of the following were involved in one way or another:
The Barbican
The library […]