For a while in the mid-60's I was the manager of a small Art Gallery in Devonshire Street W1.
My boss, Miklos, had been to view a nearby sale, and I'd been given the job of going to bid for several lots he'd earmarked; one of which was a large portfolio of early (or old) etchings.
I bought the portfolio well under his maximum price, and returned to the gallery, complete with another couple of lots.
Miklos immediately started to search through the portfolio, becoming angrier and angrier as he realised that the one etching he'd wanted was missing. It had been placed amongst a load of more ordinary prints to attract bidders; then carefully removed. Such practices, sadly, were commonplace in those days.
However, in amongst the less interesting prints he discovered a very small black and white print that attracted his attention. It was about 4 by 5 inches in size (the image even smaller), and quite amateurishly etched. It illustrated a battle, with two 'cherubs' holding a swag depicting the location and date. It was not particularly inspiring.
I'm afraid I've forgotten the exact details, but it illustrated a skirmish from the American civil war, and looked to be very rare. It might even have been a sole surviving example.
I was instructed to take it to The Parker Gallery in Albemarle Street, and to ask for £500 (a lot of money in those days). The Parker Gallery was (and probably still is) one of those lovely old-fashioned Oak-panelled galleries that only dealt in the finest and rarest.
They looked at it under a magnifying glass, held it to the light, passed it around, then asked how much I wanted for it. I was almost embarrassed to ask for the £500, but I did so. They didn't flinch!
To my amazement they wrote me a cheque and the deal was done. I came out feeling that, had I asked for £1,000 they would probably have paid it. It must have been an extremely rare print.
Its sale made the missing etching from the portfolio seem unimportant; and we still had about another 100 etchings to sell.
p.s. I'm afraid the illustration above is nothing like the etching, but I couldn't find anything more suitable.
Charles and I have grown up together. Ever since my mother first bought me National Savings stamps featuring his portrait, I have lived in parallel to him; without us ever meeting.
To me he has simply been the 'heir to the throne'; a role adopted by accident of birth, that cannot have been his natural choice.
He, along with his sister, are possibly the hardest working members of the royal family. He has several appointments every day, several changes of dress, and often works well into the night on official matters.
He has managed to avoid repeating the unfortunate gaffs of his father, yet has inherited the regal bearing of his mother. He has learnt the job without complaining; at least, not in public.
His legendary love of nature, and tireless campaigning against all things polluting, brought him much criticism and ridicule from his urban detractors, but most now understand the importance of his life-long concern, and even campaign alongside.
I like Charles. A friend of mine who was at school with him always described him as 'charming', as do those I know, who have met him briefly on official duties. I don't think there is any question that he will make an excellent head of state.
So, I wish you a very Happy Birthday Your Royal Highness, and may you enjoy many more. Cro x
At this time of year one expects to be cold, so sunny days are even more welcome than waking up to the hot and sunny days of high Summer. Eating outdoors at mid-day in November is a real bonus.
I was putting away my 'evening' shorts recently, and, when emptying the back pocket, came across €170 in banknotes that I'd totally forgotten about. The pleasure I received was very similar to experiencing our warm sunshine at the moment. It is the unexpected which gives far more pleasure than the expected.
On so many occasions I've been invited out specially to meet someone who I would 'love and find totally fascinating', only to be bored to bloody death. On other evenings, that I've dreaded, I've discovered someone genuinely fascinating, who was the saviour of the day.
I've been to numerous hyped-up restaurants, and eaten badly, and to greasy-spoon dives where I've eaten like a king.
I've also been to fancy expensive concerts of all sorts, and been disappointed; yet listened to street buskers who were magnificent.
So, I'm enjoying our Indian Summer, and am taking full advantage. My Vitamin D tank is slowly filling for 'slow-release' over Winter.
Today is Remembrance Sunday. Exactly 100 years since the end of WW1, and at 11 am we shall remember the dead by holding a two minute silence. Of course there now remain no more ex-combatants.
Now we tend to remember the 'old soldiers' from World War 11, where there were so many outrages committed, that it is difficult to highlight just one.
However, one that is very little known is that of Budapest, where Jewish women were taken by the Germans to the edge of the Danube, told to remove their shoes, and were callously shot. Their bodies falling into the river below. Around 20,000 women were murdered this way.
Artists Can Togay and Gyula Pauer have created this memorial (above), consisting of 60 pairs of cast-iron shoes, so that those poor tragic Hungarian women are never forgotten.
On 'Remembrance Day' we tend to think mostly of the British and Commonwealth soldiers who died during the two world wars, but there were countless more victims from other nations who also deserve to be in our thoughts.
Those poor innocent women are just one such group; victims of appalling, and senseless, German barbarity.
Let those victims (and their perpetrators) never be forgotten. RIP.
*Have any of you seen the film HUGO ? It was made in 2011 so it's not new,
won Academy Awards and Baftas and I'm obviously late to the party but I
3 days ago
The difference between an optimist and a pessimist, is that the optimist enjoys himself whilst waiting for the inevitable! I AM that optimist!
This is a daily, optimistic, 'photos and comments' blog. I make no judgements (only occasionally), just notes. If you wish to comment in any way at all, please feel free. Everything and everyone is very welcome.
I was born just south of London, but for the past 46 years I've lived in S W France. I am a painter by profession, and writer by desire. Lady Magnon and I live in an ancient cottage, in a tiny village, in perfectly tranquil countryside. We have a vegetable garden called 'Haddock's' (this may crop up from time to time), a Border Collie/Black Lab' cross called Bok, a cat called Freddie, plenty of fruit trees, and a view that takes the breath away. I try to treat our planet with respect, and encourage others to do likewise (without preaching).
Contentment is a glass of red, a plate of charcuterie, and a slice of good country bread. Perfect!