Thanks to those of you who supported my call for another gem from my brother, Ron. It had the desired effect and, as you’ll see when you read it, it brings a much-needed breath of culture to this fetid spot. (As a bonus, and quite unsolicited, it also does a bit of PR for The Figurehead.) Ladies and Gentlemen, give it up for (I believe that’s the current terminology) the inimitable Ron Kirton.
I’m taking a break from reading “The Figurehead” for two reasons:
Firstly, I am flattered by my brother’s thought that another blog entry from me will raise his profile but, chiefly, it was Scary’s directness in her posting of July 25th which led me to take the bait. The last time my name was uttered more than once by a woman was in 1963, when The Crystals sang it in their hit, “Da doo Ron Ron” (although, bizarrely, the object of their Crystalline desire was called Bill.)
“I met him on a Monday and my heart stood still,
Da doo Ron Ron Ron, da doo Ron Ron.
Somebody told me that his name was Bill,
Da doo Ron Ron Ron, da doo Ron Ron.”
But that’s as cute as this piece is going to get because I’m going to break an unwritten rule of this blog and have a moan.
Earlier this year I read an article in The Sunday Times about “a team of art sleuths” who had set out “…to crack a string of historical conundrums posed by the works of Shakespeare, Chaucer and Van Gogh.” The sleuths were about to present their findings to the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Diego. (I believe the findings were also published in an issue of “Sky and Telescope” magazine). I’ll give you a flavour.
“A mysterious flood cited by the Franklin in The Canterbury Tales has been linked to a freak tide in Brittany on December 19th, 1340.”
These words from Hamlet – the “same star that’s westward of the pole”- refer to the Tycho star, or supernova, of 1572.
So far, so what, you ask. Well, instead of being enlightened, I’m angry when I learn that these detectives have pinpointed the exact time and day on which Van Gogh painted his “Moonrise.” (July 13th 1889, at 9.08pm local time, since you ask). The number of experts involved and the materials and methods they used: lunar cycles, Van Gogh’s letters, computer calculations, aerial photographs, weather charts, etc, are bewildering, though not as bewildering (to me) as the question hanging over their researches, namely, WHY?
I guess one simple answer is, “Because they can”, and I’m willing to accept that, in the name of science, not everything is going to be plain for ordinary mortals like me. But how does it benefit me to know that the blood-red sky in Munch’s “Scream” has nothing to do with the artist’s state of mind or the mania he was seeking to convey, but more to do with the volcanic dust thrown up after the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883? My frustration comes to a head, but then is gradually eased, when I read of one sleuth’s current project, “…to calculate the times at which Monet painted Waterloo Bridge and Charing Cross bridge from the Savoy Hotel in 1900-01.” And there it is, veiled by my naivety: my own little clue. You can just see their funding application; “…we envisage our researches will necessitate detailed observations from the Savoy, possibly taking a number of weeks.” And I bet it was nice down in the south of France, searching for that Moonrise, in July. Advancement of Science? This is no less than the American Association for the Advancement of Scientists.
(I mentioned the article to my friend Sunderland George, something of a scientist himself, who thought that he might approach the same funding agency to support his own vital research into why the tassles sometimes fall off the nipples of exotic dancers.)
I, meanwhile, shall return to “The Figurehead” and wonder at my brother’s research which helps him place a “middle adze” in the hands of a craftsman and a “fichu” around the neck of a lady, helping me to live in the book; far more honest.