Wednesday, 1 October 2014

I get got by coffee then James Patterson’s Cross trial, Pinch and a punch and some blogging and a bookselling rant.

Sorry about the lack of blog posts for the last couple of days, the aftermath of too much coffee on Sunday that lead to a bad nights sleep and pretty much wiped out any chance of writing something even vaguely coherent, was followed by one of those star books yesterday.

This was Alex Cross’s Trial, I don’t know what it is about the story within the story, particularly when it happens in the middle of what is a very good story anyway, perhaps it is the radical change of subject, perhaps the unexpected. 
 Frankly the stories have to both be very good and so does the storyteller, I think the first time I was really aware that this particular trick had been played on me, to my own benefit was in John Irving’s Garp, so that takes things back to the late 70s.

Anyway I was lifted out of modern American serial killers, something that I have had to ration anyway as I wouldn’t get anything much done if I didn’t, to the Klu Klux Clan and the American deep south of the early nineteen hundreds. That is where yesterday went, so no blog post
 Being in the middle of trying to work out what I think is one of the most serious problems of our time now, the demise of the physical book and the bookshop, I do wonder whether any of our great story tellers would be able to put this problem into a story.         

Very powerful things, good stories and very hard to tell just what affect they have had on the social problems through history.
 The printed books first got going around five hundred years ago, but it wasn’t until around 50 or 60 years ago that the quality books really got into the hands of ordinary people in a big way. I am thinking here of the paperback with a bit more to it than ripping off the bodice or shooting the injuns.

A big mover in this was Allen Lane the bloke who started Penguin Books, but just when or how ordinary people got first hand helds into their pockets is a bit of a mixed thing. Here in the UK it was very class related, my family has had bookshops all my life and I guess I really became aware of the bookshop in around 1960 and it wasn’t until quite a long time after this that I realised that the whole thing was very class related. To be honest there weren’t many good contemporary storytellers whose books you could buy back in the 60s. Home, school libraries, public libraries came up with Christie, McLean, Shute, Wheatley and a few more and I guess the only one of these authors I go back and back to is Neville Shute. Of course it is very different with what are loosely referred to as the classics, I don’t mean the greek and roman stuff here, but mostly English and American literature, we all have this, but there is surprisingly little of it that will keep you turning, good story tellers that is. 
 My own take is that most of this, the story telling book business didn’t really get going until well into the eighteen hundreds, only shaped itself into something really great well into the nineteen hundreds. 

Of course now the choice is massive, the pictures in the post are of the general fiction where the authors surnames start with A and B in my bookshop, so not the crime fiction, children’s fiction, science fiction, horror fiction… well I guess you get the picture.
 Anyway my take is and has been for a long time is that all towns need something like my bookshop, where you get a big range of books that you can actually buy for cheaper than you can buy them on the internet or download them to your kindle.

I think this is particularly to do with getting our children reading and keeping them reading, a great part of this is children living in households where there are books, where the adults read and where families go out an buy books together. 

Sorry a bit of a rant there. 
 The old pinch and a punch blog statistics aren’t really worth bothering about recently, there is very little in terms of consistent regular blogging about Thanet issues at the moment. The big local issues are all there, but mostly it’s all been said.

Save Manston Airport seem to have lost any touch with reality now that the TDC cpo looks like a dead duck. The bottom line being that with two fairly similar proposals, one from River Oak involving Aviation related industry and one from the owners involving non aviation related industry so there really are no grounds for a cpo which would have needed something radically different to tip the public interest business. Perhaps they will wake up and look for a viable route, but at the moment they seem far too busy looking for people to blame. My take is that only something involving historic aviation, grant funding and KCC had any chance of succeeding and now I think this approach, which should have started with a petition to KCC for a public consultation is too late.
 Pleasurama, I have mixed felling about as Cardy Construction are one of the best local firms, so on the one hand I would prefer their involvement than most others, on the other hand I don’t think the approved plans that they apparently wish to build to are viable. This wasn’t I hasten add down to some plot, just a very inexperienced developer drawing up plans for a very demanding site without even being aware that it is a very demanding site. At the moment it is on par with The Turner Gallery, the thing where the prototype got washed away, and in that case experienced engineers and architects were involved.

Dreamland seems to be going to happen although where the council are going to find the money from to buy the site is a bit of an unknown.
 It looks like Ramsgate Pavillion is going to turn into the biggest pub in Europe, once this is certain to happen then I will of course change track and support it as we could have a lot worse. But in the meantime I would like to get a large publicly funded leisure venue like the ones in Margate for Ramsgate.               
The council are steam cleaning the pavements in the town centre Whether this will get as far as King Street and the bookshop seems unlikely although one can but hope.
Oh and Conservative Chris Wells has defected to UKIP which does rather take a lot of the stuffing out of both what he has said here in the past and the position of the so called new Conservatives at TDC.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Pen and Watercolour sketch of Canterbury Cathedral from Café Mauresque

This painting of Canterbury Cathedral took about an hour. Size S Pitt Pen, and the washes are mainly Napels yellow, Paynes grey, Chrome orange and brown madder, W&N arist's quality. My thanks to the charming and friendly staff at and of course for the fantastic view of the cathedral from their outside seating. 
If you click on the photo below to expand it you will see how the cathedral dominates this view

 a very quickie of Café Mauresque
ok you wouldn't recognise it unless you knew it
and another crack at drawing the gate
 'fraid the parking ran out so i didn't get time to colour it in, oh and thanks to the students who made space for me to sit down so I could sketch it.

I have to admit that since I have been doing these sketches the positioning of public seats that actually face good views has become a real issue, a prime example being the cathedral, here in Ramsgate I would say the most iconic view would be of the red brick arches synonymous with Ramsgate, and yet I don’t think there is a public seat facing them.   
This painting of Canterbury Cathedral Gate took about half an hour. Size S Pitt Pen, and the washes are mainly Napels yellow, Paynes grey, brown madder and yellow ochre. W&N arist's quality. just cheated and put a wash on the one of the cathedral gate

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Another sketch of T. S. Royalist in Ramsgate Harbour, Feast of the Sea Fest in Ramsgate today and Labour PPC Will Scobie in video about Manston Airport and Pleasurama if I can get it to work. Mebbe a ramble

I may get a chance to get back there and put some watercolour on this one, all a matter of time.

I still seem to be having trouble with the hull proportions but did a bit better with the Ramsgate in the background this time to my mind. Of course with this type of rather tenuous sketch a lot of it is about what the mind viewing it does to what isn't there.

The Feasts of the Sea Fest was was on down the seafront when I went pars and ought to be worth a visit if you are wondering what to do today.

Next a go at embedding this video of the interview with Will

The Manston issue does seem to be moving forward, with the cpo by TDC I am reminded of the person with the hammer and the screw, where having banged in the screw with a hammer they are now looking at the slot in the screw where the screwdriver goes and the hammer and trying to make some sort of connection.  

I guess slowly the people trying to make political mileage out of the situation, the people who were just lonely and wanted to be part of some sort of positive group, the people who just seem to get their kicks out of saying what’s wrong with this that and the other and of course the people who just want to protest will stand back and decide. What? Well I guess first of all what their objectives are, which if they ever were to save Manston Airport probably weren’t to support an air transport hub they couldn’t fly from that UK and EU environmental regulations would probably never have allowed to even get started.    

What about our Labour PPC then? Well frankly he still seems pretty convincing to me and I guess UKIP must be only too aware of how he beat them in the county council elections. In with a chance do you think? Personally having voted for both Labour and Conservative PPCs in previous elections, the deciding factor for me is will they make a good constituency MP? I don’t consider my own solitary vote makes any difference to the national political result but do what I can to help select an MP who is at least going to answer my emails personally and perhaps have some sort of input on local issues.   

On to the latest Manston auction, how much did the stuff fetch? Well as you can see from the link the fire engine made £7,450 and if you click on the green arrow buttons you can see what the rest of it made one way to spend your evening I suppose.

On the bookshop front we are still fairly busy at the moment and have seen a definite improvement in book sales so far this year.

I was sitting sketching the ceiling and drinking a coffee in Waterstones the big chain bookshop at Westwood Cross yesterday trying to ponder where UK bookselling is going.

The physical book as opposed to the download, E-book and so in has definitely not had its day, but a lot of what the big chain booksellers and publishers are doing at the moment suggests a bit of a misunderstanding about what is actually going on.

On the one hand in my bookshop, the non-fiction books that are selling are the ones least like websites, where either the information contained in them just isn’t on the internet or the formatting of the book is not like the formatting of websites. On the other hand a great many on the new non-fiction books coming out, when you open them up and look inside seem to look more and more like websites.

The whole issue of UK bookselling need a lot more thought at the moment, perhaps more later, here are some pictures of the children’s section in my bookshop, which I have recently expanded.    

I guess the key issue here is the manufacturers, publishers in this instance, but I guess it would apply to a lot of products, need a way of getting their products on to the high street so people can handle them and compare them with similar products made by different manufacturers.

The rub here is that it has become cheaper for the retailer to have products on a warehouse and sell them via a website.

One of the up and coming shop businesses at the moment are art galleries and what they do is to charge artists a fee to display their work for a period of time and take a percentage of the selling price of what actually sells.

There may be lessons here to be learnt by the retail world, as far as I know the only general independent bookshop that is much larger than mine, Baggins in Rochester, does this.

Though honestly when it comes to new books selling at what in the rather crazy modern retail world I can only describe as the full price, I would say with the very large W. H. Smith and Waterstones at Westwood Cross Thanet has more retail space devoted to sales than is warranted.  

Looking at the two relatively small Albion Bookshops and Geerings that closed when they opened and considering that my own sales, where the average book price is probably around an eight of theirs, I haven’t seen a very noticeable change in the demand for books in Thanet since they opened.

I short it just doesn’t make sense.      

Friday, 26 September 2014

Margate Art Group (Thanet SAA) at The York Street Gallery in Ramsgate

The current Exhibition is by Margate Art Group (Thanet SAA). A group show with over 75 paintings on display. The exhibition runs -  24th September - 29th September.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Manston Airport and why the cpo is dead in the water, T.S. Royalist in Ramsgate Harbour and a few sketches.

The issue here is the criteria of cpos, which boils down to taking land away from a private company or individual having to be in the public interest, and this having to be decided not at district council level but at UK national government level.

Always in the case of cpos if the public interest is in the balance then the judgment is made on the side of the existing owners. So at best from the point of view of reopening the airport you can only really have a proposal that may or may not work, and may or may not provide significant economic benefit, I don’t think anyone – particularly given Manston’s history of economic failure as an airport – would or could say that any airport project on the site would be guaranteed to succeed. On the other hand you have the site’s new owner with a track record of succeeding with discovery parks, see so there is a no case to say thta thier project would definately fail. 

For a cpo to succeed you would have to go well past the balance of buying the site by cpo for another project by a different owner being more likely to succeed.

The problem here is that sma, quite a few of the TDC councillors and even an MP have managed to deluded themselves into the position where they feel that TDC have some sort of ultimate power to decide whether a cpo can take place, and seem to think that if they manage to put together some reasonable project in a similar risk band to the one the new owner is proposing then a cpo is likely to happen.

All that is happening at the moment is firstly, public money and officer time is being wasted pursuing this and secondly the politicians who haven’t worked out the situation are harming their political futures.

Essentially you have the UK government, KCC on the side of discovery parks with virtually every part of the country trying to get them in their area and then of course Thanet.

Anyway I bunged the above up as a comment yesterday and have now headed this post with it because of some of the conversations I have had with people today, this isn’t anything to do with being for or against the airport but to do with facing reality.
 Two sketches of T. S. Royalist done from the western harbour arm, in both cases the hull came out too short
 I gather she is here until the weekend so I will try to get a morning sketch (when the sun is behind me) from the eastern harbour arm where i should get a clear view of the whole hull and hopefully manage something a bit better.
 A quickie in Turner contemporary as I am working on trying to improve people's faces in sketches and on the whole there is no hassle sketching in art galleries
 A couple of sketches from Cafe G in margate
 I was particularly pleased with the sketch of the person reading a paper which was on the sofa beside her, a difficult angle to capture. Of course there is the Emanuel Kant factor here which is that the artist, me, is trying to do. what? I suppose get the viewer, you, to take the pictures that are already in your head and draw something that is a catalyst to memori, imagio feminas in this instance, sorry about the odd mixture of Latin and obscure english, but I don't think English alone has a tense for expressing the the priori concept of a non existent woman as a direct object.
 here the opposite of the width problem the thing on the top of the custom house came out too tall

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

A few more goes at sketching a likeness.

This lot didn’t go particularly well as it was rather an interrupted day, even a visit to the dentist, although at my age this mostly involves taking them out and the dentist sending them off to the tooth fairies for repair.

Anyway more from the fantastic fiction site, as I am no where near the end of authors beginning with Abb I think I am going to switch over to authors that I have actually read pretty soon.

Perhaps I should have a go at the photos of councillors on the TDC website, my guess is that it is going to be several hundred sketches before I am anywhere near being able to reliably nail a likeness.

Much of the problem is related to doing what are described as field sketches although in actuality these are nearly always town sketches and as they tend to include the people who are in the frame it would be nice to be able to get a reasonable likeness.