From late November, it's impossible to go anywhere in London without coming across a grotto. Some are for the whole family, some are made of cardboard and wrapping paper, some are Victorian-themed, but they all house a man in red with a long, white beard. Is he the 21st century oracle?
It seems that the once popular and refined pastime of inhaling finally ground tobacco through the nostril is now an alternative, fringe activity. I found a couple of biker websites where the chat turned to where in London good snuff could be bought.
There’s a Gillray caricature of Sir William Hamilton as an ancient Roman vase, published in May 1801 and entitled “From Sir Wllm Hamilton’s Collection”. We see only the back of his green coat tapering down. His shoulders are enormously broad with gold epaulettes at each tip and his body then bulges round in the classical … Continue reading William Hamilton as a Roman Vase
I’m going through a phase of reading thrillers and only thrillers. I love the craft of them. I love the page-turning anxiety. I love a flawed but ridiculously competent protagonist; moral but occasionally indecent; a rough diamond. I love it when the story speeds along, twisting and turning, swerving left and right but never … Continue reading Investigating 1930s Berlin
I popped into the Wallace Collection yesterday, after having lunch with my brother near Oxford Street, and found myself entranced by the erotic miniatures in the Boudoir Cabinet. Nestled between the Study and the Boudoir on the first floor of Hertford House is a windowless, murky room where paintings small enough to hold in your … Continue reading Naked Nymphs and Horny Satyrs
I went into a hiking and outdoors shop a couple of weeks ago to buy a head torch for my daughter. And as I was paying, a rectangular, flat packet in blue and white plastic next to the till caught my eye. “Romney’s Kendal Mint Cake” was emblazoned in white on dark blue across the … Continue reading George Romney and the Kendal Mint Cake
London in the 18th century was a city of spectacle and display. Any interest or inclination, albeit scientific, prurient or thrill seeking, could be satisfied for money. And perhaps one of the most grotesque of these popular distractions was the exhibition of unnatural humans: "monsters" or "freaks".