#1 AMAZON BESTSELLLER, Alan Camrose
Two new releases on AMAZON
DIVAN INSPIRATION: Travels on the Road to Dreamland. Part One: The Good, the Bed and the Snuggly - Bedtime at the movies
A non-fiction bedtime story
BUILDING MEMORIES: Bricks and Murder
A darkly humorous coming-of-age magical realism PI love story thriller
Also: HEMINGWAY'S PUZZLE:Short But Perfectly Formed, an anthology of six-word stories
LOST IN PLAIN SIGHT, a magical adventure for grown-ups and cat-lovers
MAKING OUR CHRISTMAS PRESENT: A Merry Journey - a festive, funny journey back to the origins of our Christmas traditions
Alan Camrose lives in the South-East of England with his family and writes fiction and non-fiction while trying not to mix them up too much...
He loves noodles, Blues music, Terry Pratchett's books, curry, football, a negroni or two, Miles Davis, gnocchi, craft beers, Adam West as Batman, a firepit on a cold night, board games, hammocks, and General Wolfe.BUY ONE OF ALAN'S BOOKS NOW
I am going somewhere steeped in mystery for our Summer hols this year, exotic, broooding and epic.
After the Lockdowns, that could of course mean a trip to the local cinema, but no: this is the real deal, and it’s not the Old Rectory in Aylesbury, fun as that was for a couple of years as our main holiday. We have to spread our wings (without flying for a while longer).
I have had limited exposure to Scotland, including having gone to Glasgow in the late ’90s as part of a delegation from Hong Kong impressing the participants about the promised 50-years-unchanged-until-at-least-2047 Rule for Hong Kong and the stability that it would have after the Handover. How young I must have been to believe any of that, but that’s another story, right? My other visit to Scottishland was to Edinburgh with the Aged Ps, again a long time ago. All I can remember of that visit was me taking them to see Riverdance. I think the trauma for me has wiped my memory, all that line dancing, cavorting and chirpiness, and from the wrong country.
On with the proper Scottishness.
Fog settling in the glen, tartan, and Mel Gibson in heavy make-up. And of course whisky distilleries.
We are planning to take the sleeper up to Glasgow from London – giddy excitement and probably no sleep. But at least a safer bet than the Trans-Siberian, where a few years ago I was warned that, if I traveled on that journey, I should wedge damp towels in the cracks in the sleeper cabin door to head off any tear gas that might be used in an effort to flush us out and rob us. I’m not expecting the same treatment heading for Scotland, despite my being resolutely English.
A day excursion out of Glasgow, from Fort William – Lower Left of Scotland – to Mallaig. Further left.
On another train. A steam train! How exciting is that?!
Over the viaduct that leads to Hogwarts, doubling as the Hogwarts Express, past where they shot Highlander and Local Hero. Sadly, not past Balamory, so we won’t find out the story even though we would like to know; nor past where one of my favourite Wombles – Tobermory – lives, he’s on a different line. To arrive in the shadow of Ben Nevis. Epic.
Then a scoot back to Glasgow. After a proper mooch around, Edinburgh beckons.
In particular, the Scottish National Gallery. I want to see The Skating Minister, a bizarre creation attributed to Henry Raeburn in 1784 that is as mad as anything Dali would have produced using a clergyman on an iced-up lake as subject matter. The Reverend Robert Walker was the man captured skating on Duddingston Loch.
What was the Reverend thinking at the time and more puzzlingly how did he hold that pose for Raeburn long enough to paint him? A remarkable balancing feat. Dancing on Ice? Pah! The Rev is all 10s…
We have also booked The Witchery restaurant in Edinburgh, in the shadow of the Castle. “Opulent eccentricity”, according to The Observer. All red leather seats and oak panelling, like Game of Thrones, with better food, I hope. We must see if the Macbeths are available to join us for a cauldron roast.
Very much looking forward to our Summer hols.
We’ve had the joy of planning the trip, whatever happens…
MAKING OUR CHRISTMAS PRESENT: A Merry Journey is now completely LIVE and LAUNCHED on AMAZON Books in paperback and hardback!
There is a FREE DOWNLOAD OFFER of my eBook – FROM MIDNIGHT TONIGHT. Don’t miss out!
Kindle Edition – FREE FROM MIDNIGHT TONIGHT – for a limited period
Hardcover – £ 24.99
Paperback – £9.95
Why do mince pies no longer look like coffins? How do you navigate yesteryear’s family games without a fire extinguisher? Why did Father Christmas trade in his wagon for a sleigh when he first came to town? Why should you complain if you don’t receive at least one gold ball from the Big Man? And how do the best Christmas songs jingle our bells?
A perfect festive stocking filler or present, this delightful book is illustrated with glorious pictures, and can be shared with your family and friends for years to come.
Gustave Moreau (1826-98) (he was not a doctor and did not live on an island) was a French painter who created in watercolour a suite of 64 exquisite paintings to illustrate the 17th-century Fables of Jean de la Fontaine. Those Fables were in many cases re-workings of Aesop’s Fables, telling tales of Gods and dragons, lions and golden chariots, rendered in rich detail that seems to generate its own light.
The Lion and the Gnat is probably my favourite of the paintings.
The Gnat uses his brave sting to best the mighty Lion. Then he, without thinking, trumpets his unlikely victory to the world, flies up in the air and is trapped in a spider’s web and eaten.
All opponents deserve respect, no matter how weak and feeble they may look, but arrogance from victory can lead to disaster.
The Lion and the Gnat
Jean De La Fontaine
‘Go, paltry insect, nature’s meanest brat!’ Thus said the royal lion to the gnat. The gnat declared immediate war. ‘Think you,’ said he, ‘your royal name To me worth caring for? Think you I tremble at your power or fame? The ox is bigger far than you; Yet him I drive, and all his crew.’ This said, as one that did no fear owe, Himself he blew the battle charge, Himself both trumpeter and hero. At first he play’d about at large, Then on the lion’s neck, at leisure, settled, And there the royal beast full sorely nettled. With foaming mouth, and flashing eye, He roars. All creatures hide or fly, – Such mortal terror at The work of one poor gnat! With constant change of his attack, The snout now stinging, now the back, And now the chambers of the nose; The pigmy fly no mercy shows. The lion’s rage was at its height; His viewless foe now laugh’d outright, When on his battle-ground he saw, That every savage tooth and claw Had got its proper beauty By doing bloody duty; Himself, the hapless lion, tore his hide, And lash’d with sounding tail from side to side. Ah! bootless blow, and bite, and curse! He beat the harmless air, and worse; For, though so fierce and stout, By effort wearied out, He fainted, fell, gave up the quarrel. The gnat retires with verdant laurel. Now rings his trumpet clang, As at the charge it rang. But while his triumph note he blows, Straight on our valiant conqueror goes A spider’s ambuscade to meet, And make its web his winding-sheet.
We often have the most to fear From those we most despise; Again, great risks a man may clear, Who by the smallest dies.
Jean De La Fontaine
The frenzy of the lion is right there on the canvas, and the buzzing, stinging gnat, painted in a different medium – shiny gouache – to make it stand out more – is like a deadly ghost looming over the now beaten beast. But the gnat’s glowing triumph is moments away from despair and defeat in the looming darkness above.
This is flash fiction, nineteenth century-style.
I felt the need to bang the drum for this Moreau, the great Symbolist.
Featured image at top of post: Jupiter and the Thunderbolts. Not a heavy metal band.
The exhibition is still open at Waddesdon until 17 October 2021.
You are very welcome to my Random Place, and thanks for stopping by.
This time, I take a trip around my Art Gallery to share with you…
Last time, I wrote about painting. Painting the fence in my back garden. I thought I would share with you a few items from when I used to play with thinner paint brushes. And pencils. They were done a while ago, but I guarantee that I had more fun with them than with the fence.
I enjoy the discipline of drawing and painting, and the danger of making the next mark on the canvas or drawing pad where it hangs in the balance whether that will spoil or enhance the offering.
I write books and this blog with a view to exercising my creative muscles, but I have over the years dallied with an easel rather than a keyboard.
I hope you enjoy my sojourn through my sketchbooks and folders.
First up is a self-portrait of me at the Hong Kong Sevens in the 1990s, concentrating on supping my beer with the pitch in the background. That would have been after the Bloody Marys for breakfast to wash down legions of sausage sandwiches, staving off the pain of watching Fiji and the All-Blacks yet again contesting the Final. That pain is reflected in the glowing colours of my pint.
More Asian influence comes from the Balinese puppet that I have included, a still life of the jointed figure bought in a street market. The crumpled form not only reflects the marionette’s posed form, but also chimes with how the day ended after those beers above…
Finally for now, I have included a picture of my junk in Hong Kong Harbour (Hong Kong means ‘Fragrant Harbour’ in Chinese – a tragic example of wishful thinking), on which I would have slept on the top deck as it meandered home: