Hello my Lime Regis Lovers! The Emporium has a little something for you in the guise of the talented and misguided Louise Robbins (former Bond Girl and Dominic Littlewood impersonator). A little less known fact about Ms Robbins is that she has also dabbled in the odd spot of impromptu kick boxing and wrestling. Read on, dear reader, to, erm, read some more …
There is one thing I can put it all down to – pernicketiness. Great word, not sure it actually exists, but great all the same. Or perhaps two things – mixing in a tad of contrariness. And a dwindling supply of patience… Make that THREE things, alright, but this is not turning into the Spanish Inquisition!
These three make a potent combination, I hear you say. Yet, by day I am a mild-mannered janitor – nurse with more than the requisite amount of care, consideration and compassion available for all.
So how does this manifest itself? When I lived in Londinium for many years, my favourite game was Annoy The Commuter, making even the most dull of journeys enlivened for all involved. Well, for me anyway… Please note this game may involve scheming my revenge for any wrongdoings. These may include such heinous crimes as Rucksackitis – inflammation caused by rucksacks wielded inappropriately on the tube – to I’m No Pushover – chasing an evil wench who pushed me over to poke her and call her only mildly rude names (well, we all have our limits). Ha!
Moving away from Londinium I thought I may calm down a bit. And I did, to some extent. Now I’m in the merry land of Wiltshire where many folk look and think like this:
the opportunity is not often there and perhaps I have mellowed with age. Or not. Recent encounters started mildly – on sharing lifts with those who complained about my musical taste resulted in the next journey involving me picking this little delight for their delectation.
Ha! A cacophony of noise for their little eardrums!!
And then there was the annoying incident of the scooter in the road in the early evening. Coming home to my little cul-de-sac after a hard day at work, I realised that some little devil spawn of Satan had left their scooter in the middle of the road.
So, being the safety-conscious, community-minded person that I am, I got out of my car and with a dash of melodrama, I flung it (yes, flung, ha ha!) on the pavement and drove past an open-mouthed mum and kids, giving them my best Paddington Bear glare. The fact that it was probably nothing to do with them was rather by-the-by…
Now I know why everyone likes to play baddies… All that adrenaline… Imagine, in another world I could have evil lightning fingers like the Emperor!
Perhaps the worst (and best) thing is my rejoicing in, and being unapologetic for, my little moments. The fellow Londoner I met in a pub in Bath, who, like me, automatically creates elbow room by, erm, sticking his elbows out so he can’t be bashed into by drunken staggerers or tube commuters. Diamond geezer, I may follow his advice and get my elbows steel plated for extra impact! Ha!
But perhaps there is a little bit of this in all of us. We all, at times, as Missy Elliot may have said, get our grump on! Even our beloved Mrs H, who kindly understood me saying that I never take time off in half-term because of “all the bloody kids”.
Oh and of course pernicketiness exists, I looked it up afterwards. Pernickety ol’ me!
The Emporium wishes to thank the above Ms Robbins for her honest wordings and apologise to all born and bred Wiltshire folk everywhere (but mainly in the location of Wiltshire).
Thrifty Shades of Green
Welcome one and all to the dubious titled Lady Garden. Let your green fingers take a wander through our overgrown bushes to enjoy the fruitful delights that are found within. Perhaps we shall just leave you with that thought and introduce you to the Emporium’s very own Percy Thrower, Lady Emma David …
Hi folks, and welcome! I’m delighted to tell you it’s almost That Time again – you know, that special time we all yearn for from the very depths of our existential core… No, not “Cake Time” – who are you, yes you on the red sofa there – Marie Antoinette? Hrrumph! No, c’mon, work with me here – think green… (although I suppose that could apply the Dauphine’s suggestion if one were to overindulge – but no, you’re distracting me, stoppit!!) Yes, you there, blue chair – I like you – that’s it – SPRING!! All hail the approach of Spring, longer days, a soupçon of returning warmth, and green shoots bursting forth everywhere, like chickenpox, but not red or unpleasant, or… ok, scratch that – no, NOT the chickenpox, it’ll scar – I meant the simile… it was a bit off, wasn’t it… see, that’s the type of shoddy writing you get from me when SOMEONE (mentioning no names but glaring quite pointedly at the crumb-faced and distinctly bilious Marie-A over there… I hope your sofa is reinforced, young lady!) keeps distracting me with CAKE…
Ok, where was I? Yes, the imminent arrival of Spring. Because a large rodent 4000 miles away can’t be wrong, right? (If he is, I’m calling that punk’s attorney)To Phil you in, the Pennsylvania tradition has its roots in Europe, though a bear or badger was the usual prognosticator. The canny immigrants substituted groundhogs once in the US: easier to come by in the new Motherland than badgers, and more manageable than bears… Personally though, I prefer the “olde” traditional tale of the crone living in the woods… by early Feb she would have exhausted her store of winter firewood, and if an early spring was due, then, hey – nothing to worry your warts about – BUT, if further cold wintriness lay ahead, then the crone would simply magic up some sunny weather (see – she’s that kind of crone; didn’t you guess at the point where she knew what the weather would be for the next six weeks, hmm? DO keep up!), the better to gather further supplies of firewood by… Chez moi this year, where we have no badgers, bears or groundhogs, and a plump rat proved too nippy and swift, I used the “old crone” yardstick. We had some bright-enough-to-cast-a-shadow periods inbetween heavy cloud, so enough to gather a smidgen of firewood by, I reckon, but not sufficient to last a full six weeks… So, I declaim with the kind of cast-iron authority you can only get when backed up by dodgy folk superstition, Spring is Almost Here!! Yay!
Which brings me to the main thrust of my article today: I’m hoping I can infect you… not with chickenpox this time, but with… the Joy of Growing. The symbol of Easter – aside from thorns, crosses, betrayal and torturey deaths – is the egg: did you ever wonder why? It’s because this seemingly cold, hard, dead object cradles, within its inert exterior, the promise of new life. Crack! – and a fluffy chick beaks its way into the world! (But hopefully not into your omelette pan: that would be alarming… for both parties…) Now you have that image in mind – not the frying chick silly, the life within the shell – gosh, you’re a tough audience – ok, go on and HAVE some goshdarned cake if that’ll make you more cooperative, dammit!! – yes, along with that image, consider also the humble seed… for it too is a secret guardian of powerful everyday magic… and you, yes YOU, can make that magic happen. (Though you, err… might find it… a tad easier… if you just put down that gateau for a second?)
You don’t need a garden to be able to grow fantabulous stuff. At Castle David, every windowledge is chock-full of sprouty things, saplings, and sundry green growth. In addition to that, we have planters and troughs along the outside walls edging the carpark space – plus while trying to help save a runover cat late one December Sunday, I fell to talking with a nice old lady co-rescuer who lives across the road, and who has offered us the edge-strip of her garden for us to plant out – yippee! – and we’re negotiating some space in a chum’s greenhouse… It’s addictive you see, and practical, and fun. Far from our postie minding his journey to our letterbox necessitating having to limbo, duck, swerve and sidestep in a sequence bettered hitherto only by John Travolta, he eventually confessed to a shared passion for growing, culminating in the swapping of one of our Paulownia tree saplings for some of his raspberry canes. First Class bartering, no stamp required! (actually more of a gentle treading, just to firm the soil down…)
We can talk technical tips in future dispatches if you like, but for now let’s ponder your choice of seeds. Consider the amount of space available to you, how much sunlight it receives, and the type of soil if you’ll be planting directly outside. Many gorgeous flowers are a cinch to grow – nasturtiums for instance – or if you want returns-on-investment to shame the whizziest stockbroker, why not plump for planting some of your favourite herbs and veggies? For a first-timer, I heartily recommend the cherry tomato: they germinate quickly, and all the exciting growing stuff goes on above ground right where you can see it! Plus you’ll be able to feast on sweet fresh tomatoes, or slow roast to keep under herby oil, or make yummy sauces and chutneys – great for bartering or gifting too, if you have spare! The sharing – of advice, progress, AND produce – adds a social aspect to what is already a wonderful and practical hobby, not to mention a highly effective depression alleviator.
Do be warned though that growing trees from seeds /pips – though a real passion of mine – does involve cracking that particular tree’s arcane entry-and-activation code… stands to reason I suppose; to unlock something as spectacular and ultimately mighty as a tree from such a tiny package, you need to prove your worth by performing the right spell! There may be soaking, freezing, prising, bagging, pricking or sanding involved – or some combination of the above, or more: the internet is a rich source of tutorials if you want to see what’s involved for a particular plant. Some are easy-treesy – though be aware of “Apple Pip Lotto”: you may get a treelet of the variety the pip came from, or it MAY be the variety the blossom was pollinated with – often crab apple – so two pips from the same core may well give you two very different results!
Must sign off now and repot the avocados. Even if you’ve not ventured beyond rudimentary childhood cress experiments, or not dug a hole since the last ex “helped strengthen” the patio foundations, I hope I’ve persuaded you to get growing – let’s meet up again soon and compare shoots!
Adios. You may return to your muffins now.
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Hilary Bennett, a prominent writer at the Emporium has given her permission for the Emporium to share some of her well chosen words from her Facebook notings, of which she has a rather impressive fan base. Ever thought why intelligent people shack up with the psychotic? Perhaps you know someone or are someone who can very much relate to the following. This is slightly new territory for the Emporium, but we feel that Hilary’s story is well worth a read …
They say that hindsight is 20/20 but it is also a bit of a harpy as well. It berates me for staying so long with a nasty sort and one wonders why, with my now rational brain, what possessed me to move in with him. I know full well that I am to have a night terror about him tonight but this tale has to be put down on paper and sent. Else it was years for nothing.
I met Andrew at a friend’s wedding when I was 20. Life was at a crossroads and I think I was subconsciously looking for a bit of stability. I had just left school and found a permanent job. My Dad was moving to Dorset, about 200 miles from me and I really wanted to stay in Hertfordshire. Andrew was 10 years older than I and had a car and a job. He lived in a flat share about 150 miles away from where he was born and where his elderly Polish parents still lived. At the time he seemed stable, wise, mobile and I liked him. I don’t think I loved him even at the start, it just made sense to shack up with him in rental accommodation. I also felt all grown up and free from living with my crazy stepmother and overbearing Dad.
At the end of the first year of living with him, I could possibly say I was unhappy. He hadn’t technically done anything bad but I didn’t see many of my friends any more. In fact I only really saw him, his family and my closest friend Rebecca. I also started to be distanced from my Dad as his faults were all laid out bare by Andrew time and again plus reasons we could not go visit. Work schedules and money issues that did not seem relevant when seeing ‘his’ parents. I was also still waiting to love him but the guilt of not loving him made me stay. After three years of renting in Letchworth, quite close to my best friend and where I’d grown up, we moved to an isolated estate in Hitchin….the next town along. As I do not drive and buses were once an hour, I was stuck at home if he did not wish to go out. Asking if I could go into town for stuff…anything would almost need a written request of why and how long. Things were bad at that point and one should have walked away while I still had some self esteem left. Alas, at that point, money because a huge issue. I was still working in my office job which I hated but all my earnings seemed to be paid out on all the rent and the car. Later on I would also have to pay his credit card bills as he blamed me for them all, even though it was plain now that they were from before we met. It was at this stage the actual bullying started. Now that he had isolated me and left me unable to afford to get out, even to the extent of him driving me to and from work. As I had estranged myself from my Dad, I didn’t understand that Dad would always be there for me and help.
All of the above problems and the lack of any mental or artistic stimulation had resulted in my developing severe OCD tendencies and anxiety issues. Plus I was slowly going deaf and reliant on lip reading by this point. Andrew used my anxiety for his own benefit and also my guilt, to get his own way. Andrew was very good at lecturing. I could be trapped in the corner literally, listening to him go on for hours….about anything, usually getting bruised wrists from being held in the corner. Sometimes it was my behaviour or an opinion I held. Sometimes it was that he had no money for a bill or to mend the car and it was my responsibility. Andrew would make sure I had my work travel money and then take all my free cash away. If I should buy anything for myself, a lecture would follow about how selfish I was etc. The lectures would go on so long and the threat of menace would be so great that I would either cry a lot or lash out…which was not the person I am really. Andrew would then say it was natural for a person like me, with learning difficulties and unable to cope to act this way. His point about me was proved.
To make my anxiety all the better, Andrew would sometimes throw a tantrum…with fists and feet thumping on the floor. Or….for a treat, he could use an aerosol and a lighter to make a flame thrower in the middle of the flat and make me beg him to stop. Usually by getting his own way about something. Then he would ignore my presence. As I could not hear the TV and definitely not hear him AND the TV….he would turn the TV up and then shout over the top of it….then turn it up some more, leaving me a wreak of a person. Any problems at work were my fault, any falling out with my best friend were my fault. The fact I did not like or want to see his sister in law…was my fault. Yet….I stayed for another two years…making it ten years in total. I had talked to him of me leaving him before but he always said that a person like me would not be able to cope on their own. So I stayed. Even after he had turned me into someone who would lash out at him…whether he deserved it or not…I still hate the fact that I slapped him twice.
In the end and after ten years, Facebook was invented. I suddenly got back in touch with a lot of friends and also my Dad. I could talk without him being there or alienating my mates. One weekend soon before I left, I arranged to meet my brother (arranged over FB no less!!) and we met in a pub in Camden town. When I told my brother how desperate I was, he burst into tears in front of me for the first time since our mother had died 20 years before. The very next day, the pub we were drinking in burnt to the ground. Which was an omen…
A few weeks later, I had a flash point moment and did not want to go home. I rang my dad and said that I did not wish to return…ever. I had a friend with a spare room and I had it in mind to stay there till I got my bearings and then see what to do. The most important thing was to leave. Just leave.
And I did.
(Written by Hilary Bennett 2012)
National Domestic Violence Freephone Helpline
To talk to someone in confidence for support, information or an emergency referral to temporary accommodation, contact the free 24 hour National Domestic Violence Helpline.
Helpline: 0808 2000 247
Confidential support 24 hours a day for people who are experiencing distress or despair, and feelings that could lead to suicide.
UK and Northern Ireland helpline: 08457 90 90 90
Republic of Ireland helpline: 1850 60 90 90
Rights of Women
Offers an advice line with free legal advice for women by women and a sexual violence helpline. Rights of Women is a voluntary organisation committed to informing, educating and empowering women about their legal rights.
Legal helpline: 020 7251 6577
Sexual violence helpline: 020 7251 8887
Men’s Advice Line
A confidential freephone helpline for all men experiencing domestic violence by a current or ex-partner. This includes men in heterosexual or same-sex relationships.
Helpline: 0808 801 0327
In case of emergency, call 999 for police or an ambulance.
The one and only Miss Chesney Louise Robbins is back again, this time her thoughts turn to the matter of the universe, death and, erm, hair …
Many years ago my fate was set on seeing a little known arty farty film called Star Wars. From then on I was either going to be a Wookie or an amateur geek. Past childhood, I shed my excessively hirsute outer shell with a mixture of Sellotape and Immac, therefore sealing my geekdom destiny.
It took several years to hone my talents with a mixture of obscure indie music, bad haircuts and copious amounts of Doctor Who. For those wishing to explore the delightful world of geekdom, without resorting to these extreme measures, astronomy is a good way to start!
1. Start with your eyes – no expensive gadgets required (unless you are a shopaholic at Specsavers), learn the basic constellations using a Planisphere and/or Star Map book. Unfortunately it doesn’t show you the location of Tatooine so I can’t hook up with Han Solo in that jumpin’ bar in Mos Eisley, but a girl can dream!
2. Join an Astronomical Group – there are hundreds across the country and some are better than others. My first one had great talks, but was full of pompous and officious morons. The second one is disorganised, small, and the talks are not often so fascinating, but they do beginners talks, the people are welcoming and, well let’s be honest, basically they’re not a load of nobbers!
3. Get a couple of useful and free apps on your phone – a red torch light (Roxanne!) as normal light ruins your night vision for at least 20-30 mins, so get in the dark and stay there! Also Google Sky Map is pretty good and Astronomy Picture of the Day is always inspirational, even if it just makes you lie in bed all day crying at the beauty and teeny-tinyness of this ol’ planet in the big scheme of things.
4. Even though, quite obviously, Sir Lord and all conquering Professor Brian Cox is every thinking woman’s bit of jam on a crumpet, do not (repeat DO NOT!) admit that he is a hottie. Just watch his Wonders of the Solar System / Wonders of the Universe and for the hardcores amongst you, Stargazing Live every January/February must be observed (geddit!?) without drooling. And that goes double for you men.
5. Don’t get into something for the sake of geekness, I tried this with Lord of the Rings and nearly got lynched in the cinema when I laughed heartily at the dreadful ‘dying’ scene of Sean Bean as a beardy arrow dodger. Me thought it was a comedy turn!! Turns out t’was not. Oops!
And as for the nursery rhyme we started with – pants! Stars don’t actually twinkle, they only look like they do when looking through our atmosphere. So put that in your pipe nebula and smoke it!
(Words by Louise Robbins)
She’s back again! We tried to get rid of her bread crumb trail so that she would not return, but gadzooks – she had a sat nav that led her right (now turn left) back to the Emporium. The following shows the young Miss Bennett doing her very best Jimmy Saville impression (minus the jangle, clunk click of his jewellery and allegations of teen sex – Well, who didn’t suspect something was slightly amiss? I mean, honestly), as she takes her scalpel to some rather familiar lyrics sung by some rather-er familiar crooners …
Hello pop pickers, to this jingle jangle storm up the hit parade of days of old. I did originally mean to tell you of why Perry Como was the best philosopher of the 20th Century but once my brain had hit the decks, my thread meandered clean away with me. We shall get to Mr Como at the end of this piece, all being well and I promise there will be no mention of ‘Magic Moments’ as they are between The Big PC and his quiet nightly time. Firstly, I wish to speak to you of the deviant undertones in a couple of seemingly ‘Easy Listening’ popular tunes.
The first defendant I call to the disco court is a Mr Tom Jones. Oh how I usually love the glorious warble and enthusiasm of this Welsh Wizard but on playing some old tunes to myself I noted a murderous intention. I speak of the confession in song that is ‘Delilah’. Alas with a name like that and being immortalised in tune, things were not going to work out well for this young lady. The first four lines tell much of the background to the incident…
‘I saw the light on the night that I passed by her window
I saw the flickering shadows of love on her blind
She was my woman
As she deceived me, I watched and went out of my mind’
Mr Jones is clearly smitten by his lady-friend but the Facebook Relationship Status could possibly be ‘Complicated’ or at worst ‘I’m stalking her’. May I also add, Mr Jones…while I’m here, that if you go looking for something then you are more than likely to find it. And you may not like it. So there.
We continue with Delilah’s Death Ditty, after each verse with a rousing ‘Whoah whoah whoah Delilah!’. This accompanied by the later mentioned knife (sorry for the spoilers) gives me deep cause for concern. Sing a long a police statement courtesy of a Celt warbling Tom I’ll wager. Anyway, we continue to:
‘At break of day when that man drove away, I was waiting
I cross the street to her house and she opened the door
She stood there laughing
I felt the knife in my hand and she laughed no more’
He’s been there all night at least. Probably since the Wednesday previous. Just watching the object of his affections having it away with someone knifeless and less warbly. The horror of this song is really not that unusual Mr Jones….as I must haste to our second defendant of this sordid article..
Ladies and Gentlemen…I give you the one and only Cliff Richard with his lovestruck ballad ‘Living Doll’. May I make it clear that this is the version without The Young Ones and there is to be no shouting of ‘Get Down’ at any point. To the first verse:
‘Got myself a crying, talking, sleeping, walking, living doll
Got to do my best to please her, just ’cause she’s a living doll
Got a roving eye and that is why she satisfies my soul
Got the one and only walking talking, living doll’
I am quite sure that one could purchase such a thing on this internet Sir Richard. A website catering for the more discerning gentleman perhaps? Plus…..after reading of your own non-exploits, I am pretty certain that her soul (Dolls with souls!! One of Us!!) is not satisfied. To be honest, if I could take you to meet my late beloved mother, I have visions of her dropping major hints about lavender but bless you anyway. To the second verse!
‘Well, take a look at her hair, it’s real
And if you don’t believe what I say, just feel
Gonna lock her up in a trunk
So no big hunk can steal her away from me’
Let us take this bit by bit Sir…..her hair? Real you say? This is sounding even more freaky deaky as time passes. Why her hair? I do not wish to touch it. I am going to leave it though as I am most worried about upsetting you….because you then start talking of locking her up in a trunk. Why not just put her back in the box she came in? Take the batteries out. Aim for the head if it’s all too much. I know that it’s too much for me to handle. Luckily Mr Richard does not divulge any more information regarding his precious doll and the jury of readers can pass their own judgement.
I have now meandered myself meekly back to Perry Como and his life philosophy. May I give you the line from ‘Raindrops keep falling on my head”…:
‘I ain’t ever gonna stop the rain by complaining.’
H Bennett 2012
Square piece of fabric – enough to cover a notebook with a 2cm seam allowance
Button or other embellishment
1) Iron your piece of fabric.
2) Place fabric right side down. Open up the notebook, place on your fabric and draw around the edge, leaving a 2cm seam.
3) Cut out each corner, remembering not to cut over the outline of your notebook.
4) Cut two notches at the spine of your notebook. To do this place your notebook on the fabric to line up correctly.
5) Place your notebook on the fabric with the front facing the back of the material. Glue the top and bottom edges of one side and fold the fabric over, wiping up any excess glue.
6) Glue the long edge and fold over the fabric, again wiping up any excess glue.
7) Leave open to dry. Put your feet up whilst your waiting for it to dry.
8) Repeat steps 5-6 for the back of the notebook…put the kettle on….
9) When it’s dry, add any embellishments you like. I glued two buttons on top of each other to the front, leaving to dry until firmly attached. You could anything – ribbon, beads, etc. You could even embroider a cute motif after you’ve finished step 4. Lots of fun possibilities!
This is such a fun, easy, quick project that you’ll be covering everything with fabric that you can lay your hands on! Enjoy!
Jo 🙂 x
This weeks What is not Art posting is bought to you by the delectable Ms Robbins, a land lover who resides in sunny Trowbridge, with a fondness for the starry Brian Cox and all things that purr(?) …
Ever since I was a wee nipper (well since I lived in London in my 20s) I have been rather intrigued by the Italian painter, poet and philosopher (can I have a ‘P’ please Bob?) Salvator Rosa. I first met him – well, his oeuvre, since he’s been dead over 300 years – in the National Gallery with the brooding, enigmatic self-portrait Philosophy…
Always having been a big fan of the dark, passionate type, I find his enigmatically grumpy face quite alluring – especially teemed with the inscription which loosely translates as “be silent unless what you have to say is better than silence”. How true, I tell myself!
So, having again visited him recently, why do I like Rosa?
- He was mega talented.
- In his time he was incredibly popular and famous, yet no-one knows who he is – don’t we all enjoy having something secret that we don’t share with anyone – oh bugger you all know now…
- His life (and paintings) are dark, brooding, mysterious – I like!
- He eschewed dull biblical paintings – on the whole – in favour of bandits, creatures of the dark, mythology and witches.
- Rosa was a rebel and refused to conform to popularity, causing arguments and localised stomping off and slamming of doors etc.
- Amazingly he was also an accomplished poet, philosopher, actor and musician.
- He scares schoolchildren (see below!)
In my latest visit I vox-popped (oo-er) the public and the guard on duty told me that schoolchildren are either terrified of, or intrigued by probably his most famous painting – Witches at their Incantations…
This painting does really need to be seen in the flesh, as a rather lovely beardy Frenchman told me “tres creepy” – well actually that’s not what he said – rather “dark, interesting and creepy”. Just like me, I wanted to add whilst gently stroking his beard (but I didn’t). He then proceeded to gesticulate (in a Marcel Marceau-style mime) what I could only describe back to him as “droopy witches boobs”. How disappointing…
Some other hippy-dippy folk thought it was “a conversation piece” and “nice to see something dark and disturbing for a change” – other than The Levellers perhaps?
The Dutch chap I spoke to was tremendously knowledgeable about the use of light as a positive juxtaposition of the dark subject matter. I just stared and nodded as if I understood him. I didn’t feel able to share with him my favourite part of the painting, the hideous frog-like apparition in the bottom right hand corner, who bears more than a scary likeness to Steven Tyler from Aerosmith.
So if you are in Londinium pop into Room 32 of the National Gallery and have a look at these two paintings (not Steven Tyler though, but if he’s there see if he can spot the family resemblance). At this time there are two other Rosa paintings there, so you will be spoilt for choice!
For more information regarding The National Gallery, please click on the following link:-