Thursday, 14 August 2014

Pen and watercolour painting of Canterbury today and of course some books for my bookshop.

The first pen and watercolour painting is from outside McDonalds in Canterbury, I managed to get a seat under a large umbrella and was able to continue painting during a heavy rain shower.

The second pen and watercolour painting was from the café of the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury, a couple of very mild optical illusions in this one, bringing part of the cathedral into the street and the business with the bridge

I have decided that I need a red or an orange, that is easy to make the colour of bricks with in a hurry, in my pocket paint box so Davy’s Grey, is going to make space for it. There are often distractions related to painting on the spot in busy places that means it is preferable to be able to mix paint in a hurry.

Build a new building with a café that has a stunning view of Canterbury cathedral from the café and then etch opaque lines on the windows that obscure part of the cathedral from eye height when seated at the tables. Yes I know, it’s just me no one else minds this type of thing and I probably shouldn’t mention it, but as I said the other day I am on virtual holiday at the moment.

There is an artistic dilemma here, obviously today with the intermittent showers, if you are going to paint you have to find somewhere dry with reasonable view, so do you do what I did and use the rather irritating perforations at the top of the pad to represent the bottom of the opaque lines of the glass and paint what you can see – obviously demolishing a few houses to fit the gable end of the cathedral into the street – or do you centre the painting on the cathedral, part of which is obscured by the glass.

So then do you take a photo of the cathedral and then paint the image from the photo, photograph the painting and publish it here? Or perhaps you try ducking your head up and down to see the missing bits, so you can see them to paint them?  

On to the books bought in Canterbury today, obviously the star buy here is The Poo Story Book with "new illustrations in full color by E H Shepard", I think this may be an American first edition, but as I have never seen one before and can’t find a picture of it on the internet, it will have to wait until work tomorrow when I look the book up in a book.  

The good news is that I have found a tube of the watercolour paint that seems to do the whole range of orange colours in the bricks I find much more in Canterbury than I do in Ramsgate.

The bad news is time has elapsed since its purchase evidenced by the 2/6 pencilled on the tube, half a crown in about 1969, this equates to around a 24th of a days pay for a shop assistant around £2.10 now although in reality artist’s quality watercolour paint is around £6 now for a 6ml tube. Oh yes the bad news, they don’t make it now for health and safety reasons. 

If you apply this to books, this is how it works out now, we were paying bookshop staff about £3 per day in 1969 the minimum wage now is £6.31 per hour, which equates to £50.48 for an 8 hour day.

So take a paperback book: The Anti-Death League by Kingsley Amis  published in penguin in 1968 and sold in 1969 for 5/- or 25p.

So a shop assistant in 1969 could buy 12 of them with a days pay.

It is in print now for £8.99 12 being £107.88

The Amazon price is £7.19 12 being £86.28

The Kindle download is £5.49 12 being £65.88

We would have sold it for 2/6 secondhand in 1969 12 being £1.50 well 30/- then, so a shop assistant could have bought 24 with a days pay.

We have one on the self secondhand for £1.50 at the moment 12 being £18 although this isn't entirely fair as if it had only come out last year we would probably be selling it for £2.50 so someone  on the minimum wage could buy 20, I think if there was a minimum wage in 1969 we would have been paying a bit over it, so it comes out about the same. 

The cheapest you could expect to get it online including postage is £1.51 in adaptable condition which means not good from an Amazon seller with 96% positive feedback.    


  1. Do national express coaches still have the giant window sticker right in your eyeline, inviting you to text them, but not letting you see out except round it?

    1. I didn’t notice it anon, but then the person who puts up a poster or a sticker doesn’t fall into the bracket of architect, artist, composer or creative writer, so I don’t think they really count in what I am getting at here.

      The lines on the glass are a permanent feature of the building and partially obscure the view of the cathedral from people sitting at the tables in the café, so this is. What?

      Arrogance and the lines were placed there intentionally.

      Incompetence and the architect put them there by mistake, having designed the building he or she never went back and tried doing the things that the ordinary people do with buildings. So he or she never went to the building, ordered a cuppa, sat down, said expletive, got the windows changed, apologised, paid.

      Vanity and the architect put them there by mistake, having designed the building he or went back and tried doing the things that the ordinary people do with buildings. So he or she went to the building, ordered a cuppa, sat down, said expletive, and didn’t do anything about it.

    2. I'm sure the same applies to street signage. Routes signposted by those who area knowledge rather than by those who can look at things with a visitor's eye.

      This is a new age of education, and the young know best don't they. The architect/designer probably never gave it a thought, designing the whole thing on a computer in a far flung office.

      On a separate note, be careful what you say on a blog, it might end up in the local paper, Mike Pearce, IOTG, refers to a comment I read on this blog some weeks ago. "If you threw yourself on the ground you would probably miss". He has of course failed to place the remark in the context in which it was written, and the provocation which caused that remark to be made in the first place. But I'm not a journalist, or an architect, so what do I know?

    3. Mike Pearce writes poorly, gets his facts and in this case his quotes wrong. He tries to be provocative but lacks the skill or the wit. I would be interested to know what he said, but not to the extent of actually buying the paper.

      He has had at go me in the past, not by name but by inference. I phoned the editor asking to speak to Pearce but it seems that this was not possible. He is trying again. Let's see.

    4. Ah John, I will follow you inferences here and deliberately not go out and buy a paper and then I will avoid reading his article.

    5. Too late, Michael, I've read it. Someone showed me their copy. The article was nothing more than a nit-picking ramble.

    6. John, did you look at the response to last week's Gloag interview? More important than a storm in a teacup.

  2. Michael,

    I'm with you on the subject of those view obscuring window etchings. I find them irritating.

  3. Surprised you guys are not buying the IOTG. A fine response to Ann Gloag's reasons for closing Manston. Last week Michael you provided a link to the item, can you provide a link to this week's response. In the interests of fairness you understand.

    1. Just got back from Folk Week I will have a look in the morning, sometimes articles appear on their website and sometimes they don't, same with the paper it will be in the shopping I expect unless it has become a victim of origami in which case I will berate my children and tell them to reassemble it.

    2. SEMBOB,

      If it was in the IOG I would not have seen it. But there was talk about on the SMA FB page. If you got the web link handy then I would like to take a look.

  4. Sorry John, can't find a web link, and I have no desire to subscribe to the digital version of the paper. Let's hope that Michael can come up with something.

    1. SEMBOB,

      Thanks, I've no desire to subscribe either.

  5. Replies
    1. Welcome back to Thanet Life. Simon Moores' blog is always germane, with common sense and wit.


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