Ian Whybrow

…coming soon…

Portraits and tulips

July 31, 2007 - Filed under: Blog - Comments (5)

Enjoyed the Dutch Portraits exhibition at the National Gallery today. A wonderfully inspirational mixture of characters – admirals, merchants, couples, babies, old people,families with ten children, burghers, regents, military men. Must find out what what Syndics and Jurists are, exactly. Amazing how many of the people represented are painted with affection. There are one or two posers wearing sugarloaf hats, expensive lace and ridiculously frilly tunics, pantaloons and boots who deserve a good kick up the backside, but only a handful.

Reworked an idea into something I’m pleased with. Be interesting to see whether I can sustain it. Two days of sunshine in a row; that’s certainly cheering.

Bergman dead yesterday and now Antonioni. Alan Jackson comes to mind:

A tulip fell deid ba ma doorstep the day,
Dark red, the colour o blud.
Twas the only wan come up this year.
I imagine it fell wi a thud.

Two thuds.


July 24, 2007 - Filed under: Blog - Comments (1)

As the floodwaters of Gloucestershire and Worcestershire recede and there is at least temporary cause for general rejoicing, it seems trifling to mention that my creative juice is not exactly in spate today. Hence my fiddling about doing this when I should be doing something to earn a crust. Which reminds me that I should be thankful for making a living at all at this game. And at least Ive managed to put Hampstead Theatre in touch with Harper Collins about a Christmas production of a dramatised version of Little Wolf’s Book of Badness.

The layouts for the Harry after next are ready for Adrian Reynolds to contemplate. That’s something. And Macmillan sent US and Italian editions of Bella Gets her Skates On this morning (to add to the Finnish and Welsh translations) so that cheered me up. That little story was kick-started by a visit to the National Gallery in Edinbugh where I admired in the flesh that often-Christmas-carded and exhilarating painting of the skating vicar by Raeburn. Can’t think of the title – hang on – ah… it’s called The Skating Minister… according to the National Gallery site that I have this moment checked out. Rosie Reeve, the illustrator of Bella, has included a small rabitty homage to this in the charming spread where our heroine plucks up the courage to take to the ice. You are one of a minute number of people to know that.

But does anybody care? Sob.


July 21, 2007 - Filed under: Blog - Leave a comment

Yesterday I stood up to my knees in cold water, leaves swirling round my gaping Crocs, feeling for the drain-cover in the courtyard behind our flats. My neighbour Sneha stood bravely beside me with a broom. The water cascading from the gutters above came down with a punch that made us gasp and swear. I scraped skin from my knuckles, felt my nails splintering and my rep as a calm, gentlemanly sort of cove being ripped to shreds. Finally I clawed the thing off and the lake tipped and curled its maelstrom way down a satisfyingly gaping square plughole. I screamed for joy. Sneha raised her broom like Boudicca and snarled. We ran. I haven’t spoken to her since but I feel we have peeped over the edge together and seen something new and primal in ourselves. Marlowe and The Heart of Darkness or what?

This morning we wake to the news that librarians in Birmingham organised a sleep-over party so that kids could read Harry Potter togther. I should feel happy about that. Another deluge dealt with. How come I feel its waters lapping around my neck?


July 1, 2007 - Filed under: Blog - Leave a comment

It’s been a good day. My diary turned up. It was on the glass table in the living room. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t there the other three million times I looked – but I don’t want to make a big thing about that. The main thing is – it found its way back to me. I simply applied my usual approach to losing things; I waited. Actually, that’s not quite true; I worried about it a lot, involved a great many people in the hunt for it and had a recurring dream about it slipping down the back of something forever. There’s something else at the dark backward and abysm of my mind. It occurs to me that my wife might be doing a Gaslight on me. I have annoyed her twice recently by allowing my dirty socks to remain in the area of but not exactly in the laundry basket. Hmmm.

The other good things today have been:
1. “Arcadia” on the Radio to celebrate Tom Stoppard’s 70th birthday and his 15-minute Hamlet. Makes yer proud to be British. (Or Czechoslovakian)
2. The loan by Chris (my neighbour-across-the-road) of a masonry bit of just the right callibre to prepare a place for the hook I found that was just the right size to hang up a decorative object that my darling one has wanted hanging from the kitchen wall for several years. He found it for me in spite of the fact that he had just been stuck for hours on the M4 on the journey back from Exeter with a carload of gear from his his son’s room at university. This was neighbourly.
3. I managed the hole with a skill that brings to mind the words “Flynn” and “in” and plugged it with two lovely taps of my hammer. Yesss.
4. On my way across the road to return the bit, I encountered two women I know reasonably well. One of them was trying to apply jump leads from her car to her friend’s. They thanked me for my encouragement and did not sneer at my shameful inability even to locate either battery. I went away. When I came back, both cars were running. “Brilliant!” I said. “How do you know these things?” “Bill, I suppose,” said Maggie. Bill died last year but there he was.

5. There have been three attempts to kill lots people for enjoying themselves or for living in Britain … that didn’t work. We’re waiting for worse news, but meanwhile, the bravery of the people who dealt directly with the danger of those three incidents is something to celebrate.

That’s neighbours for you.