Many years ago, I went to a John Ruskin Exhibition.
I cant even remember which gallery it was in, but I do remember how impressed I was with some of the detailed drawings,small studies of lichen and mosses, and the beauty of Venetian architecture on a completely different scale.
Most of all, I remember his Bit Book, a notebook with all kinds of tiny detail and notes in it.
Two of my favourite people kept similar notebooks.
Gerard Manley Hopkins, the poet,would use a whole page on one word and its associations,and his poetry was much enriched by this.
My father always kept a little notebook in his jacket pocket, and after he died it was like being with him on a walk to look at it; he drew architectural detail, commented on things he saw,and added anything he wanted to save for future reference, not forgetting things he saw that made him laugh!
I know that Constable would make colour notes while he was walking, a page maybe to capture the changing tints of a sky or cornfield or tree-shadow, much as G.M.H did with words, and use them as reference when creating a picture in the studio.
For a short time I kept a Bit Book of my own.
It has an odd mixture of things I read or heard.
I thought I would share one or two with you.
On lamp-post outside National Portrait Gallery
[ White label, approx.4ins. by 6ins: black printing, mostly lower-case, orange dot]
Lamp Post 1987
Steel pole (hollow), glass, dog urine.
Totemistic work representing man's beacon on the existential world
art you can buy brit atr.com
A Royal Dismissal of Democracy
from 'In Memory of England', Peter Vansittart
"These are trying moments, & it seems to me a defect in our much-famed constitution to part with an admirable govt. like Lord Salisbury's for no question of any importance, or any particular reason, merely on account of the number of votes."
Queen Victoria, in her diary.
Mother: You mustnt play with rough boys.
Child: If I find a smooth boy, can I play with him?
Paddy, to her son:
"Do you know what will happen if you go on wiping your dirty skateboard on your lovely white T-shirt?"
Paddy: "Your eye will go black."
In a Book of Metaphors, describing Barbara Cartland's mascara:
'It was as if two crows had crashed into a chalk cliff.'
Why did Sherlock Holmes paint his front door yellow?
Lemon entry, my dear Watson!
Evil isn't an army that besieges a city from outside the walls.
It is a native of the city.
It is the mutiny of the garrison, the poison in the water, the ashes in the bread.
A British Admiralty Regulation
It is necessary for technical reasons that these warheads be stored upside-down; that is, with the top at the bottom & the bottom at the top.
In order that there may be no doubt as to which is the bottom and which is the top, it will be seen to that the bottom of each warhead immediately be labelled with the word TOP.
Robert Peel's smile: like the silver plate on a coffin.
Pidgin English for PIANO
( from QI,18-1-2008)
'Old man in my house:
You hit him white teeth, he laugh
You hit him black teeth, he cry...'
It is a great nuisance getting old and never knowing whether you said 'Jerusalem' when you meant 'Paddington.'
From 'Mock the Week'
"My father was an Anglican Bishop.
He had 14 shirts, & they were all purple.
If your father is a Bishop, at some point in your childhood all your pants are going to be PINK!