Monday, 11 September 2017


Poundland is a rich man's idea of the way that ordinary people want to live. Not just any rich man but someone who has only ever lived in a palace.  Like William Morris he has an idea that things were better once upon a time.  You know Once Upon A Time.  Like in the fairy stories.

Imagine being that rich man.  You own the land.  You have the money. You know what's wrong with the way things are now.  If you could rebuild the world so it matched the one in your head, starting with one house, one shop, one butcher's, one market square, one church, one pub.  You've had a lifetime of waiting, you have all the time in the world.

It doesn't matter that this doesn't match the locality, that is is a carbuncle on the countryside, this is your vision and your vision is all that counts.

The house becomes a street, the streets become a village, the village becomes a town.  You call the pub after your second wife, you erect a statue of your granny in the market square.  But your community is more like Stepford than Ambridge, closer to Lego Village than Happy Valley, more like the Village of the Damned than Tickleford.

But like Randle Patrick McMurphy at least you can say:
Well, I tried didn't I? Goddamnit. At least I did that.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

The most beautiful nation on earth

I am a citizen of the most beautiful nation on earth, a nation whose laws are harsh yet simple, a nation that never cheats, which is immense and without borders, where life is lived in the present. In this limitless nation, this nation of wind, light, and peace, there is no other ruler besides the sea.
Bernard Moitessier

The sea is dangerous and its storms terrible, but these obstacles have never been sufficient reason to remain ashore...unlike the mediocre, intrepid spirits seek victory over those things that seem is with an iron will that they embark on the most daring of all meet the shadowy future without fear and conquer the unknown.

But where, after all, would be the poetry of the sea were there no wild waves?
Joshua Slocum

Sunday, 3 September 2017


Rare image of tardigrade magnified 1,000,000 times.

Here's the thing: we're all gonna die one day.  Except the tardigrades.

They could literally live forever, doesn't matter how hot, or how cold, how much oxygen or how little, how much pressure, even a vacuum.  They can sleep for a thousand years; they can crawl, walk, dance, swim, fly, teleport, use wormholes and tears in the space-time continuum.  They communicate through telepathy and sign language meaning they can send messages across great distances and get in your head.

There's over a thousand species of tardigrade - look it up!  Some are smaller than you can imagine - leading to the expression "how many tardigrades can dance on the head of a pin" - some are as big as elephants.  They are painfully shy, until they get to know you.  They exist outside of history and geography.

I'm surprised more people don't know about them.

There's no top or bottom in the world of the tardigrade

Monday, 28 August 2017

Tickleford Village Fete - August Bank Holiday Weekend

Never before have the stakes been so high.  This is Tickleford's Millennium New Year's Eve party, Olympics Opening Display and Royal Wedding all rolled into one. Even though the Unconditionally Guaranteed music festival has been cancelled there's still lots to do.

The eyes of the world will be on Tickleford at 10:00 when former Hill's Angel Mary Whitehouse will cut the ribbon and declare the Tickleford Village Fete open.

Following last year's disastrous event, described as a fete worse than death by just about everyone, the Organising Committee have been working their darned socks off to make this one a success.  A host of top entertainers have been booked and vendors from all over the country, from the Duchy of Cornwall to the fields of London, will be descending on the sleepy Wessex village.

All day Friday preparations have been going on.  Marquees and gazebos erected, bunting hung, balloons inflated, parking signs painted up, banners displayed, fancy dress costumes designed and sewn, face paints gathered, jam made, bins put out, portaloos sited, change sorted, shoes polished.

Pick out the Jams, Mother. Focus!

Meanwhile back at the Fete ground stalls are being prepared. There's an excitement in the air.  An air of anticip

ation.  We'll let them get on with it.  Make sure you're there at 10:00 sharp to watch the ribbon cutting!


Mother Ruin's Pop Up Shebeen

Saturday dawned bright and early while most good folk were still tucked up in bed.  Except in Tickleford, where it seemed the whole village was out getting ready for the big day, the day of Tickleford's Village Fete.  First to set up was Mother Ruin's Al Fresco Pop Up Shebeen. With years of experience she was dispensing her wares to other stall holders hours before the Fete opened.

At ten o'clock sharp a Unigate milk float hove into view and out hopped none other than Mary Whitehouse, the Queen of Hill's Angels - last seen on screen in 1979 chasing/being chased by Benny Hill round a civic park, wearing a "sexy WPC" outfit.

Now retired and living at The Waiting Room, Tickleford's old folk's home for old folks who ain't dead yet, Mary was here to cut the ribbon and declare the Fete wide open.  Funds raised today will be going towards the Waiting Room's new extension for older female relatives, the elegantly named Auntie Chamber.  Marry cut the ribbon with all the style and grace you would expect from one of our finest thespians.

The longest queues were for renowned animal portrait artist Harold Critchley (Great grandson of Harold Critchley, featured at Tickleford Gully some time ago) who, for only £20, would paint your pet.  The queue snaked round the block.  On closer inspection it is apparent that the reason for the queue is that Harold is such a painstaking perfectionist portraitist that he only painted three pets all day.  As the Organising Committee paid £500 per diem for his attendance this may require some investigation.   Eric von Biddulph, owner of Barron (pictured) says "It's worth every penny and all the waiting.  Do you notice how the eyes kinda follow you round?"

Although considered something of a coup when he was booked, Prince Charles' stall didn't do a lot of business.  Allowing HRH to set the prices himself was probably a mistake.  50 guineas for a box of crackers?  Most people preferred to pass the Duchy 'pon the left hand side.

A far more successful retail outlet was Marley's Veg Stall.  With just one product and an honesty box there was a steady trade.  The stall did attract the attention of the Boys in Blue, who went away very happy having each put twenty quid in the honesty box.

Tickleford Village Fete marches on, the Floyd Merryweather of village fetes with Sunday seeing a day of competition and displays.  Kicking things off on the main stage was a virtuoso display of technical skill and artistic imagination.

Direct from their sell out Sunday night residency at the Bell and Brisket!
Ladies! marvel at their dexterity!
Gentlemen! savour the finely turned ankle!
Children! DO NOT try this at home!
I ask you to give a rousing Tickleford welcome to BABS! . . . IVY! . . . DOT! . . . Yes gooooooooooooo crazyyyyyyyyyyyy as I present THE ONE, THE ONLY 

The Yo-Yo Mas

Sunday's Donkey Derby was a big hit although rider Josh Cartwright was disqualified for failing a test.  We tried to find out what test to no avail.  It may have been to do with psi of his mount.

"Health and safety gone mad" said one fete visitor when he heard that the Kitty Katching Kompetition was cancelled. The event, known as Pussy Grabbing in previous years, was taken off the programme as several of the children had received scratches from the cats.

"Bloody do-gooders! Bring on Brexit!" said the same visitor when he heard that the Whack A Mole contest had been cancelled following representations from the League Against Cruel Sports.  Stallholder Robert Wyatt organised a Matching Mole competition instead.  The moles were then raffled off, the lucky winner being Mimsy Tinstar of the Barbeque Committee, resulting in the addition of some exotic hot dogs later on in the day.

Great excitement in the arena this afternoon as Sister Wendy passed Mother Mary's record Keepy-Uppy by a Nun of 4532.  Wendy kept on going until she reached 5,000!  And carried on until she hit 5,217 a new record by a nun, anywhere in the world!  "It's easy - when you've got God on the team" said Sister Wendy.
There was great excitement when a surprise guest turned up.  Ed Sheeran was there but people mostly mistook him for a young Mick Hucknall and assumed he was in the Frantic Elevators tribute band playing in the afternoon.  No, the real excitement was reserved for the arrival of party animal and all round top bloke 'Big' Nobby Longshanks!

Nobby, runner up in Big Brother's Biggest Brother Christmas Special 2013, was proud to announce that since the tragic loss of his uncle, "Lucky Legs" Jedediah Croup, in a freak watercress harvesting accident, he is now officially recognised as Follymead's second tallest part-time farmhand.

Children loved the Wild West Show and the opportunity to ride a steed of their own.  Bernard the St Bernard was especially popular.  The corgis, on the other hand, didn't even leave their stables.

The Pets who Look Like their Owners Contest was won, as it is every bleeding year, by Mrs MacDonald and her pooch Trewzers.  Once other folk knew that she had entered no-one else bothered. 

As you would expect with the Tickleford Dada Society on the bill the day finished with a bang. And a wallop. And some trout, a bonfire and a reading of some nonsense verse. Balloon sexing, snow balling, wait lifting, sloe dancing mirrrrrrrrrror bell, Vladimiracle. Bar the shouting.

All in all a great success. See you next year.

All credit to Mick Reid for the illustrations

Also available over at Tickleford Gully

Sunday, 27 August 2017

The quiet art of Grace Quiethart

The first major retrospective of the work of Tickleford artist Grace Quiethart takes place this weekend in the Old Tractor Shed Gallery before transferring to the prestigious Kunsthalle Nurnberg at the beginning of September.  Here's a preview with four of Quiethart's most significant canvasses showing the development of her style from her early days as a Bryte Jung Thing to her current position as a National Treasure.

  Cryptogram (1983), Grace Quiethart

Central to her iconography is a single theme: landscape and its representation.  Within the framework of the artistic conception Quiethart reflects on and draws attention to the properties of painting as a medium that are part of the discourse of this genre.  By means of varied self references and references to other things, her contemporary painting locates itself within our visual culture, absorbing influences from photography and film just as much as computer addled design, advertising, comics, cartoons and corrosion.

 Endophyte (1986)

Popular symbols and depictions of plants in old English botanical books are transported into the canon of a kind of painting that remains fundamentally abstract.  In formal terms her natural landscapes and plant paintings recall traditional landscape from the herstory of art, scenarios from children's books and dreams.  Her paintings clearly take as their theme the way various levels of classical pictorial design combined with the contemporary motifs of popular culture.

 Horizon (2003)

The irreverent standardising nature of Quiethart's work, drawing on modernist art history and a faulty colour photocopier, playing with well known genres, vacillating between formalism and representation in the service of a graphical optical experience, recombining elements in witty recontextualisations with a reductive linear sensibility allow the viewer to renew enjoyment by way of pictorial recognition.

Interzone (2014), Grace Quiethart

This exhibition reveals the variety of Quiethart's work, in spite of the reduction of means. Although Grace Quiethart quotes and transforms stereotypes the artist ic structures themselves never ossify.  The artist succeeds again and again in surprising us with their highly varied artistic forms that can be understood inherently from the logic of the works themselves.  The varied forms of representation reveal themselves to be the result of a considered conceptual artistic strategy.
Godfrey Seifermann
director of The Old Tractor Shed Gallery

Gallery owner Game Page told our reporter:
"It's the first time we've used the Old Tractor Shed as a Gallery but it has a wonderful ambience and is a great space for appreciating Art.  The light is that of the garret so you are seeing the paintings as the artist did, in half light.  The smell of straw and the scurrying of rats bring the landscape art of Grace Quiethart to life.  Careful, it's best not to touch any surfaces".

 Welcome to the Old Tractor Shed Gallery.  You are being watched.

the speedboat won by Game Page on Bullseye in 1977 hasn't seen water yet.

There's even Overflow Parking.  
Overflow parking! 
In case there's a rush on

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

British Navel History

The day that HMS Queen Elizabeth sails into Portsmouth is as good a day as any to review British Navel History

British Navel History, consider yourself reviewed

Art by Mick Reid