4th July 2002

Enter Richard Whittington in his house in a carved oak chair, very old and shrunken, in a furred robe with a puss upon his lap which he strokes constantly. Enter to him Robert and Hugh apprentices. They go upon their knees.
WHITTINGTON.    Stand up lads, stand up.
BOTH.    Thank you, sir.
WHIT.    Now what can I do for you? Speak up and don't be afraid.
HUGH.    We have come to ask your advice, sir.
WHIT.    My advice. What about?
ROBERT.    We want to know how to become rich, sir.
WHIT.    And you couldn't ask a better man.
BOTH.    No, sir.
WHIT.    Well now. First you must choose your parents carefully.
BOTH.    Yes, sir.
WHIT.    The country gentry are best. That will give you a coat of arms and some breeding. Then you must get a rich uncle, preferably a merchant adventurer with interests in foreign trade and a marriageable daughter. She needn't be pretty but best if she's not positively foul. You'll need to entertain kings, ambassadors and people who'll be useful to you and nothing turns the stomach like a sour face at high table. Then you must run for office in your guild and begin to lend money at a reasonable rate. These two courses will make you powerful and bring you more money. Now you must begin to give money away.
HUGH.    Give it away, sir?
WHIT.    Certainly; where it will be noticed and enhance your name. You must build and endow for charity, both lay and clerical foundations so that no-one feels left out and you're assured of treasure in heaven and a good name when you're gone. All this will show confidence and that breeds more money. Look round for something permanent to leave like a library or a college. Meanwhile of course you mustn't neglect your trading and wheeling and dealing over the wine cups with your fellows. That should do it I think.
ROB.    But what about the poor boy who's bullied by the cook and runs away to London with nothing to his name but a cat and hears the bells telling him he'll be thrice mayor of London and marries his master's daughter and sends his cat on a trading voyage and makes a fortune . . .
WHIT.     . . . and ends in Bedlam or Newgate as a madman or a rogue or both. Mark you I've always had a soft spot for cats, especially pretty young shes.

from Capital by Maureen Duffy

8th July 2002

looking as if she were alive

Romano-egyptian funerary portraits, 2nd cent. AD. They were painted onto the lids of sarcophagi or onto wooden panels, usually using the encaustic method, where pigment is mixed with melted beeswax. This level of portraiture seems subsequently to have died out until the time of the Italian renaissance.

9th July 2002

Dreamt that there was a ghost in my house, a figure at about 75% transparency in jeans and a white hooded sweatshirt, who walked purposefully out of the room through a wall and returned moments later. I thought to try the trick of passing my hands through him, but instead touched a living body and saw the man's face turn in surprise at this intrusion into his world; he jerked away and escaped through the wall.

I'm often wryly impressed at what our sleeping brains come up with on the fly like this, quirky snippets or stories which bear re-running the next day.

I wish I'd thought of that. Oh, I did.

10th July 2002

Oh, Henry

It's Thoreau's birthday - he was born in 1817, so had he lived he would be 185 today.
Here's his journal entry for July 12th 1859, a nice evocation of a humid summer night tempered as so often with crushing misanthropy:

In the evening, the moon being about full, I paddle up the river to see the moonlight and hear the bullfrogs. The toads and their pebbly dont dont are most common. There are fireworks in the village, rockets, blue lights, etc. I am so far off that I do not hear the rush of the rocket till it has reached its highest point, so that it seems to be produced there. So the villagers entertain themselves this warm evening. Such are their aspirations.

17th July 2002

29th July 2002

A scene from bhikku's annual company picnic.
Herr Doktor Professor Freidegg, Head of bhikku's Department of Philosophy, restricted himself to a dry wafer and maintained his formality of attire, while the rest of us more or less dressed down and tucked into the fairy cakes.
The all-in-one mobile picnic device turned out to be a disaster - too large to fit in the boot of the company car, it had to be transported to the site by freight carrier, and in the end was abandoned in the woods.
'Thoreau had it nice' snarled the Professor on the way home, picking burrs out of his turnups and aiming them out of the window at passing motorcycle couriers as we sat stationary in town-bound traffic.

30th July 2002

Stood behind Tricky in the queue for masala tea at the Womad festival on Sunday and thought, 'Ah, his slave-ship face.' Then I remembered the Richard Avedon 1967 portrait entitled 'William Casby, born a slave.' Interesting to compare them.

31st July 2002

* * * announcement * * *

bhikku is off on its summer holidays, for the sea-bathing, and hence will be in a suspended state until towards the end of August.
Those of you who feel that bhikku has already been in a suspended state for the last couple of months must accept an apology and a reassurance of better things to come.


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