Brightness falls from the air

I spent the day in the Vinegar Works, dealing with mountains of essays and stuff. I have to admit that the business of shuffling all the evidence of each individual’s meritorious term, in alphabetic order, filling in spreadsheets and all that, drives me distracted. Anyway, it has to be done, it took most of the day, and when I had done it, I returned to our redoubt and realised that something had happened. After about two years, we have been visited by a window cleaner. I haven’t seen it in the light yet, but even looking at a lit house from outside, we sparkle. The previous window cleaner doubtless sloped off to do something else, as they do, and it took quite a lot of enquiry before anyone put us on the trail of a new one, who had ministered in my absence. The only place where this has not been an unmitigated good is our bathroom. Wee Stoned Mark, putting in tongue and groove panelling a few years back, absent-mindedly panelled in the internal double-glazing: unfortunately, this was among our principal reasons for finding a window-cleaner in the first place, since the system was not spider-proof and we have some horrid, dusty, depressing cobwebs, somehow rendered yet more depressing by the certainty that they never caught a fly. However, they couldn’t be got at, so the cobwebs remain. Also sadly, our black on white Ravilous ‘alphabet’ cafe-curtains are declared dead. We came across a couple of yards of this classic print at an antiques fair in a church in I think Gloucestershire about 15 years ago — the fabric dates to the 40s or so. We made them into screens for the bathroom windows, but light eventually rots and destroys fabric and it had got so fragile that once disturbed, it clearly couldn’t be put back up. A real shame. but even longer ago than that, perhaps twenty years ago, I bought two four-foot-square silk scarves, plain, thick madras silk (in ‘Fifth Dimension’, a shop which may be fondly remembered by some London readers — it was run by a charming little Indian lady & lay on the direct route between Tottenham Court Road station and the British Museum, and I bought Indian scarves and skirts and so on there from the ages, roughly, of 14 to 44, till the little lady, who was quite grey by then, retired. I certainly remember the place with affection). Anyway, the scarves, held with bulldog clips, just fill the space, and till we get ourselves together to make proper curtains of some grey linen we have sitting about, they will do very well. Meanwhile, until Taste once more resumes her sway, it will be something, on these rather colourless late winter mornings, to see the matutinal light filtered through Vermeer blue (north), and crimson lake (east). It casts a certain light on the demise of the Ravilious curtains to find that someone is selling a 21″ square piece of another fabric, ‘Garden Implements’, framed and glazed, for £850. O what profligate skunks we are, using things for the purpose they were meant for …

8 Responses to “Brightness falls from the air”

  1. The Man From Maryport Says:

    Oh the bizarre twists of economically rational behaviour - our window cleaner comes all the way from Burnley to clean our windows (& many others’ too in the Whitehaven area, I might add). His predecessor came all the way from Reading to perform the same task (no, I am not making this up).
    On a lighter note, sad to learn that Fifth Dimension has gone the same way as 70s style retail icons Che Guevara & Cuddly Dudley . . (on a related subject, the Missus insisted on dragging me through the marbled halls of what I still think of as Kendal Milne’s in Manchester a couple of weeks ago and we debouched from a lift to find ourselves staring with a wild surmise at an in-store retail experience proudly flaunting itself as ‘Biba’, complete with original 60s brand logos & all . . .

  2. Jane Says:

    I hope the Manchester Biba is a little more sensible than Ms Hulanicki’s original version — I only set foot once or twice, and the most memorable features, apart from the fug of patchouli, were that the interior was painted aubergine, deep purple & chocolate brown, and lit with 20 watt bulbs … in consequence, I’m told, half the stock vanished inside people’s Afghan maxi coats without troubling the girls on the tills. The other problem was that people mostly came to gawp (or shoplift), not to buy. All I ever bought there myself was some frosted black eyeshadow (’eeeeuw’, you may say, and you’d be right, but it was 1974 at the time).

  3. Jane Says:

    PS. frosted black eyeshadow. Looked a treat on Marc Bolan (in its way), but requires hollow eyes and cheekbones. Neither was in my case, as a round-faced mid-teen, to be had, so I can only think I was hoping for a triumph of Mind over Matter. It’s a question, though: why do so many teenagers like the idea of looking like vampires?

  4. The Man From Maryport Says:

    I’d better ask the younger step-daughter - she spends most of her time barely visible beneath several archaeological layers of the stuff . .

  5. The Man From Maryport Says:

    Hold the front page - news from the cutting edge of teen culture. Apparently vampires are cool becuase (i) they have pale skin; (ii) they don’t eat; and (iii) they ‘treat girls really well’. Oh and ‘cus they’re dead sexy’.
    How different from the days of my own youth when the appeal of the vampire was simple & straightforward - Ingrid Pitt getting naked . . .

  6. Jon Says:

    I think I was suggesting that I think teenagers

  7. Jane Says:

    It seems particularly inconsiderate of Wordpress to consign you to the spam pit when it’s you that hosts the blog!

  8. Jon Says:

    Ooh, I think it lost the revived comment anyway. Summary:

    I think vampires fit a common teenage self-image: vitamin-deficient, lanky, affected world-weariness. There’s probably a confusion of cause & effect, but no question in my mind of a fit.

    The other point was that the earliest accounts of vampires, where the locals displayed a nasty tendency to blame and therefore exhume the recently deceased, focused on the bloated and ruddy look of the vampire found in the coffin. Not, perhaps, such an ideal teenage look.

Leave a Reply