Recent Posts

Blogs I Follow

I have just fallen in love with Héloïse Letissier.


Chance had me discussing dreams today and I remembered that last night I had fallen in love. I had to explain it a bit further: I was on a studio set, as a writer or director or producer, or creative instigator of some kind. There were some 30 people, half performers half crew. During the course of the day or evening I fell in love with this girl. I’m 30 again. It was a delicious feeling. I could have drawn her face.

Chance had me trying out Amazon Music and my ‘Modern Folk’ choices had me listening to ‘Christine and the Queens’ who I immediately recognised.

Which is when I realised that I had seen her performing on Jools Hooland’s New Year’s Eve Hootennany and my mind had simply grabbed her from there and superimposed her as ‘the love interest’ in a sweet-dream romance.

Christine and the Queens


The Héloïse Letissier interview


Performing on the Graham Norton Show



Last night I fell in love with Héloïse Letissier aka ‘Christine and the Queens’

The dream was vivid and memorable in the sweetest of ways as I was in my early thirties and falling in love; we both were.

I thought nothing of the dream until this afternoon walking on the South Downs a friend mention a dream he’d had about flying and I shared my ideas on how to understand the meaning of dreams through a set of probing questions. I mentioned that I’d just fallen in love in a dream, that I was on film set of some kind: 15 performers, same number of crew. And I’d fallen in love with one of the team. I even said that I could draw her if asked.

Later today I’m playing around with Amazon music and amongst a set of modern folk singers I recognise a face from New Year’s Eve when we’d watched the last half hour or Jools Hooland. A few clicks and I’m watching ‘Christine and the Queens‘ and instantly recognise the face; so that is what my mind had done. The face had had to come from somewhere.

I love ‘Titled’. I’ve just been listening to ‘Jonathan‘.

A couple of hours ago, before any of this I jotted down a note to myself about a story I will struggle with all my life. I wrote: ‘he can only communicate through drawing’ while she can only communicate through dance’. In honesty I doubt there’s more than a music video in it, and a potentially corny one at that. But it intrigues to give characters I have developed and written about for over a decade such specific parameters. I had the protagonist of ‘Form Photo’ Robbie become an artist 18 months ago when I was working on this piece through ‘Start Writing Fiction’ with the Open University. Suzi’s world was overly complex but I had her leaving unexpectedly, even faking her death, to go and find herself in France. The story lasts a lifetime with Robbie, a kind of Damien Hirst cum David Hockney cum Paul Nash cum Lucien Freud eventually exhibiting massive pieces in the hall of his castle.

Inspiration has to come from somewhere.

Life Drawing

May – December 2016

For my record, as a learning exercise and experience and for comparative purposes over the next 6 months.

I am playing with materials, and tools, remembering old lessons and picking up new techniques and approaches.

My goal is to create at least life-size life-drawings, using blocks of charcoal.

The next step is to work on sheets of A1 and to study anatomy more closely.

All works created at sessions with Sussex Arts Club or at Charleston. Sessions typically 2 hours with drawing periods ranging from 5 x 1 minutes to 45 minute sessions. In 2017 I will also be trying the longer pose held over self weeks.

Simple lessons learnt:

  • Less is more
  • Size matters : hands are the size of the face
  • Shade not lines
  • Essence, mood and feeling
  • Pair up up the right tool and paper
  • Study the artists I admire.

Life Drawing

katecollage1Over the last six months I have attended some 16 life drawing sessions. I am noticing an improvement. I hear my later mother at my shoulder all the time. I heed her advice.

Last week I worked on hands and feet; this week I put the body back. I even dared to try to add a face rather than ignore it.

Over 2 hours we did 5 x 3 minutes, 3 x 5 minutes, 2 x 15 minutes and a break. Then 1 x 20, 1 x x 10 …

I keep everything. Mum’s rules.

I never throw anything out and when I start a drawing on a sheet of paper I keep going, just drawing over changes. I rarely use a rubber, unless to erase black to leave white …. so it is like using a crude white pencil.

There is little time to measure the way I was taught doing a 3 hour single portrait; so I muddle between a quick outline and then correcting it, or, as today, placing the key positions of everything that trying to get the lines right first time.



Laura Marling ‘Soothing’

A mesmerising song and an alluring, weird video.

Veggie Burgers

Christmas Veggie Burger

A slight adjustment to some of the ingredients here give it a Christmas flavour.







Chilli (depends)

Corriander (fresh)

Thyme (fresh)

1 cup Mushrooms

2 medium Aubergine


1 Celer rib

1 Red Pepper

3 Cloves Garlic

1 cup of pearl barley

1 tin of chickpeas or 1 tin of Kidney beans

1/4 / 1/2 cup flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon of  Marmite 

3 cups Panko breadcrumbs

(Optional chestnuts)

1) Bake the aubergine and mushrooms wrapped in tin foil with sprigs of Thyme. 30-45 mins ’til the aubergine is a soft pulp.

2) Meanwhile, slowly cook celery and leek until soft, then add garlic. 

3) Carefully bake a cup of mixed nuts: pistachio and pine nuts, or hazlenuts. 

3) Cook pearl barley – cover in water, bring to the boil and simmer for 25 mins.

4) In a food mixer, pulp chickpeas, flour, baking powder and aubergine pulp and mushrooms. Add Veggiemite.

5) Grind the nuts ’til fine then add to the food mixer.

6) Season the mixture: salt, pepper, Tumeric, Cardamon, Coriander, Chilli …

7) At this point the mixture is ‘prepped’ and can be set aside.

8) When you are about to cook mix in a generous quantity of Panko or other crisp breadcrumbs.

9) Fry  until both sides are brown then cook through in the oven for 10-20 minutes.

Study Sets … like the Polish resistance


Is this the perfect ‘Set’?


Serendipity has me at the home of my 91 year old father-in-law. Considerably less active than he once was, he still spends his day either reading from an iPad, or, with considerable difficulty, writing and reading emails. (He is blind in one eye with severely limited peripheral vision in the other). Reading only from a screen about 7 or 8 words fill the screen. A young granddaughter is researching a piece about being a ‘war child’. Zbigniew Pelczynski was 13 1/2 when the Germans invaded Poland. He revealed something about learning that I had not heard before.

You’ll soon understand the relevance to learning and the relevance of posting it here: I interviewed Dr Pelczynski on the Oxbridge Tutorial system in relation to learning and the Master of Arts: Open and Distance Education. He is a former Oxford Philosophy Tutor (Hegel) …  and East European Politics, and the founder of ‘The Schools for Leaders’ in Poland and other East European countries. Has he retired? Probably. He published his last book four or five years ago and made his last trip to Poland about three years ago.

One of his grandchildren, just started secondary school, had the following questions for him.

1). How old were you and your brother at the beginning of the war?

The war began 1st September 1939. I was then 13 1/2, and my brother was 12.

2). How did the war change everyday life e.g. did shops close?

Shops did not close and in many way life went on as before, however, with time food became more and more scarce and expensive. People who were poor had a very hard time. 

3). What did you do for family entertainment?

(I have read that in Poland things like cinema and football clubs were banned)

Well, entertainment was very much limited to the family and especially to birthday, christmas and Easters which in Poland are celebrated in a very big way. Cinemas were open, but the films were controlled so that one was only able to see that the occupiers, the Germans, wanted us to see. There were some interesting German films, but most of them were propaganda. I remember Jude Ze. about a a cruel Jew in the middle ages who caught children who cheated everybody and murdered children for blood. There was a tail that the Jews used the blood of Christian children for Jewish feasts. This was meant to make us feel very hostile to the Jews who were being greatly persecuted by the Germans at the time, put into Ghettos and later sent to extermination camps.

(The film he refers to is ‘The Eternal Jew’ )

There was no theatre, just light music entertainment, but only for the German soldiers who were stationed there and German officials. There were however some concerts in cafés, specially on Sunday at lunchtime which were very popular. 

Sport. The Germans didn’t allow any sport. All football pitches, running tracks and swimming pools were taken over by the Germans and used by their own soldiers or recovering soldiers. 

You were allowed to play handball or netball at home in your yard. Not allowed to play at school. Not allowed to kick a football about a schoolyard. So the only thing we did was play pingpong at school. In the school there were long corridors in there were several tables and you’d sign up to be allowed to play and there would be competitions. There was the Vistula in Warsaw, where we went swimming or canoeing or in a small sailing boat. 

4. Did you have rationing coupons for food & clothes?

There were no clothes coupons, but there were certainly rationing coupons for food. They would change from year to year, even month to mont and they kept being cut again and gain. Each family was registered in a particular greengrocers shop and you went to buy your rations once a week. However illegally food was imported from the countryside and sold under the counter in the same shops or others shops or in open market, but the price was very high compared to the official regulated price of the rations. 

Things were particularly during holidays when it was very difficult to get the various delicacies, for example ham for easter, or chicken or goose for Christmas. 

5. How did things change for children in primary school?

There was virtually no change. Some of the text books were banned as they were thought to be too patriotic of ante-German. 

6. How did things change for children in secondary school?

This was changed. The Germans did not allow any education whatsoever after the age of 16. And only if the secondary education was combined with ‘Fachschulen’ (specialist schools) – that is a ‘trades school’. I, for example, went to a school that was supposed to train electricians, one of my friends went to carpentry school and another went to gardening school. But very little time was spent on these trades, say a day a week, the other days were much similar to what we had before the war. The exceptions, no foreign language was allowed except German, Latin was banned, Polish history was banned. However, very early in the war, the teachers started organising secret courses called ‘sets’ where five children and one teacher taught Latin, French and Polish history. After age 16, moving to the equivalent of A’Levels there was no school education at all in the ordinary way. Those who continued with these sets of 5+1, would say meet on a Tuesday, and have 3 hours being taught Polish language and Geography, then another teacher would come and teach say Physics … so in this way, instead of studying in large classes, we had what you might call seminars. It was possible, the atmosphere was very informal, made it possible to ask question and disagree. This education was illegal. If the Germans had discovered these the teacher would have been arrested and sent to prison.

I went on like this until 1943 when I was 17 1/2. The Polish Secondary education was modelled on the French and German with four or more subject examination, I did Polish Language, German Language, Latin and Trigonometry. I passed this examination. 

7. What age did you start going to school in secret, tell me about what it was like.

See above

8. How did children help in the war effort?

It very much depended on your age. Children who were very young did not participate at all, expect  perhaps taking secret newspapers from one family to another. The Polish Secret army told their story of what was happening in the world, otherwise we were limited to German propaganda. Later on you could join a secret scout movement. You were trained in what was known as ‘little sabotage’ for example, painting slogans on public places, ‘Hitler Kaput’ meaning ‘Hitler is finished’. On one occasion we went to church on Easter morning very early, and the whole of Warsaw was covered in these ante-German slogans and symbols of the Polish Resistance (a symbol of hope).

Most Poles are Catholic. During the war people went to church for services and holidays and the Germans didn’t interfere with that. Some of the priests when they preached sermons put in some references to Poland was not free, but the time would come when it would be free again. If caught as there could be spies in the congregation they would be arrested and sent to a concentration camp.

I and my younger brother joined the Resistance Movement in 1943. Even before that he decided to help some friends in the resistance: the people who formed little units in the forests and attacked the Germans, and stole their weapons, and blew up their cars. Kazik had a friend who was very active, and this friend wanted to store submachine guns somewhere so Kazik agreed and would store them in our grand piano which was never used because neither he nor I played. I got suspicious because this friend would come and visit with a violin case. One day, this friend came, and Kazik locked himself in the sitting room, and I listen and realised they were putting something in the piano. I looked and there was a brand new Sten-gun in the grand piano. 

When I was older, 18 1/2 I joined the Resistance Movement and trained as a soldier. We were often asked to store hand-grenades and rifles. We would attach a rifle to a small fruit tree and put straw around it. 

9. What age did children join the Home Army?

There was some military training in the Scout Movement, at 14 or so, maybe 12. Then first of all they were involved in ‘small sabotages’; and then given military training so in 1944 they were involved. 

You joined the underground, the secret Military movement, when you were 16. When the uprising broke, out and the young people were the bravest of all. One friend of mine, who was 16, was awarded two medals. 

Distributing leaflets and illegal leaflets.

Training in the home army, we must in five + one, Meet in someone’s house, once a week, and a military instructor would come and tell us how to use a gun, or blew up houses.

Once a month there was a trip to the nearest forest. It was easy to go for the weekend. Military training was much more serious here, you played at setting an ambush, or crawling under barbed wire or attacking a position. Amazing that the Germans never discovered what was going on.

The point that had me wake in the dead of night having mulled this over was the importance to him of ‘the set’, or seminar, what in fact became for him the lifelong love for an commitment to the ‘tutorial’ : not a seminar, a class of students, but a small group, relaxed with tea, coffee (or sherry), reading over each other’s essays for the week, being able to falter, make mistakes, received praise and correction.

This works. I believe it works online too. I have had plenty of experiences of it on OU modules where from my tutor group a small ‘break-out’ group forms. These are never exclusive, but rathe a handful of people usually three or four, who form an affinity and begin to confer, converse and meet regularly online to discuss the course and its progres.

I recommend it. Blog, Use Facebook or LinkedIn or Google HangOuts. Make use of platforms offered by The OU. Be part of a group. Form a group, or what I will now call a ‘Set’ or perhaps, in Polish ‘Zestaw’. 

Here’s his biography.


21 November 2016 Seeing god’s face in the face of strangers


Onto the iMac at 6:00am but unable to use it – moved to the MacBook Air instead. From 8:30 I was on the phone to AppleCare and after a troublesome hour got it sorted. A truly wonderful example of the most genuine customer care – twice now in a few months.

On the First World War get some prep done on Trench Lines, and the rest of November’s ‘Diary of the War 1916’ uploaded : image and further notes especially from ‘Les 300 jours de Verdun’.

Walk Evie around a windy and wet Stanley Turner.

Cook butternut squash and root vegetable for soup and mash.



Reading ‘The Western Front : landscape, tourism and heritage’.

This is a review copy of a new publication. I review about three books on the First World War each month. I have another three open at any one time.

Beyond Belief

On the way to Swimming club catch much of ‘Beyond Belief?’ On BBC Radio 4, at around 4:45 Monday 21 November there was a fascinating discussion on the power of the painting over photography for expressing who a person truly is.

“A newborn prefers the face of its mother to that of other people within a day of being born; the experience of being in love involves gazing at the face of the beloved. Face to face encounters are at the heart of human intimacy for most people so its understandable that many religions choose to speak of the individuals relationship with God as a facial encounter. What are the advantages and dangers in giving God a face?

Ernie Rea’s guests are Dr Chetna Kang, consultation psychiatrist and Hindu priest in the Bhakti Yoga tradition, Aaron Rosen. Professor of Religious Thought & Director of Cultural Projects, Rocky Mountain College, Montana U.S.A and Ben Quash, Professor of Christianity and the Arts, Kings College, London.”
Vedic, God has a face. Judaism, absolutely not, but plenty of anthropomorphic, Christian, yet we have Christ.
Vedic, in a Hindu tradition god can be everything,human and animal. More intimate in form. So how did Moses have a face to face with God? Progress towards God up a mountain. Heart, energy, the person. (The Tripex). Krishna is always 16 years old and very attractive. Face of Jesus idealised in Christian tradition. Another image of perfection.


Mark Cazalet, seeing god’s face in the face of strangers.

Cazalet drew 153. One, actually Ben Quash, didn’t see himself but he saw his mother and father. This is not me, but this is an essence of me. I don ‘think see myself, but I see what other people see. Another where for 50 seconds the real person emerged. Better to leave people in a state of contemplation rather than see themselves. A person who saw themselves despite never having a photograph. Being seen by god. We behold a God through the faces of others. We invest so much in what we saw about ourselves through our face. We crave someone being that attentive to us.when we are ashamed we hide. Who is holding the camera : God or society? What is the true essence beyond the appearance of things? C.S.Lewis. Getting rid of our masks to see the real face. There’s something spiritual in Kassalat’s work. Wanting to see God in the faces of strangers. 153 – loads.

My art includes : Eileen Cooper, Barthélémy Toguo, my photographs and drawings  …

Why do drawings from photographs dail to achieve this,  and why David Hockey’s recent mass of paintings do not achieve this either, nor do street artists knocking out likenesses because they never penetrate the surface.

The vulnerability of seeing your face in the mirror, before you compose yourself.

I enjoyed the French film ‘Renoir’ which exposes the relationship that can develop between an artist and sitter.

Starts and turns, so a warm up on all strokes, with some emphasis on fixing techniques, then ‘S,T,Fs’ with a large float in the middle of the pool and emphasis on starts (stance, response, flight, entry, transition), turn (approach, turn as pivot or tumble, push off and transition) and then finish (approach and touch). My grade 4s, most age 9 or 10 were terrific: three of them even have butterfly.

Home to make supper: line caught wild sall

20 November 2016

Today is… so dreary I could sleep the day away.

Instead waking up to take in the damage of storm Angus I find a lot of wet fluff stuck in clumps around the back door – a few bins over. I walk Evie around Piddinghoe and despite the wind find a couple of nutters out and fairing well even raising the Spinnaker and almost surfing they go so fast. I regret not having a good camera with me.


Take Evie home then go down to check my boat down at Seaford : fine, but others have gone over.


Late lunch pasta and bacon with a tomato sauce : we cannot condemn TBT to being Vegan and I will eat a little meat, or fish or milk product from tie to time – not more than fortnightly.

On the way to Swimming club catch much of ‘Beyond Belief’ On BBC Radio 4

At around 4:45 Monday 21 November there was a fascinating discussion on the power of the painting over photography for expressing who a person truly is.

Swimming Club

Starts and turns, so a warm up on all strokes, with some emphasis on fixing techniques, then ‘S,T,Fs’ with a large float in the middle of the pool and emphasis on starts (stance, response, flight, entry, transition), turn (approach, turn as pivot or tumble, push off and transition) and then finish (approach and touch). My grade 4s, most age 9 or 10 were terrific: three of them even have butterfly.

19 November 2016 ‘Every time you remember something your mind changes it a little bit …’


The Expanse

‘Every time you remember something your mind changes it a little bit until your best memories are the biggest illusion’.

Reading : Kitchener’s Army: The Raising of the New Armies 1914-1916 – Peter Simkins.

Read on through ‘Kitchener’ with the impact of soldiers on the towns where they were sent to train; most notably for me, Lewes 14 September 1914 – 2 October 1914 when 11,000 men from South Wales and the North West turned up and had to be billeted at very short notice on the town (pop. At 1911 Census

First World War

My early morning starts with a quick check of the WFA website where these days I find DGW is missing an image and there is no ROTD. I fix both. Amongst 19 emails I find yet another new face at Pen & Sword keen to send books out for review and excited by the reviews done to date. Too many of the 300+ are a struggle to find on the website, but I locate the P&S reviews since October and provide links. I guess I post three or four of these each month.

Woke three times in the night as dehydrated and have a migraine like headache.


Final assessments of two lanes of Grade 5 swimmers and a couple of Grade 7 swimmers. Most will be promoted. Most I can push beyond their grade.

The Expanse – Netflix

‘Every time you remember something your mind changed it a little but until your best memories are the biggest illusion’.

%d bloggers like this: