Sunday, March 3, 2013


I’m in the middle of reading Nostromo by Joseph Conrad, (he of the novella ‘Heart of darkness’ which I own but have yet to read.) I’m about a third of the way through and I haven’t enjoyed any of it. There appears to be no plot, the descriptions are laboured, and I’m not even sure of the context of the story, but I think it is somewhere in South America in the distant past.

Its one of those 'red sauce, brown sauce' questions. If you get a few chapters into a book and you realise its not for you, do you a) Give up, and start something else, or, b) Soldier on, you will not be defeated!
I am firmly in the second camp, although a biography on Maria Callas and her Greek shipping magnate lover nearly beat me once.

A week ago I visited clients in Warwick, & in preparation for my trip had researched the town for second hand bookshops. To my delight, in close proximity to each other, there were two, and so after bidding my leave of the clients, I went with an air of expectancy, armed with a few pounds and intent on purchasing a handful of paperbacks. I was surprised but unperturbed when I was informed by the proprietor of the first shop that ‘there was no call for paperbacks!!’ but to my disappointment, the second fared no better. Nothing could be found on my ‘to buy list’ and so, simply on the basis that my Heart of darkness is a silver leafed Penguin, picked up Nostromo as a match.

I have spent the weekend decorating my study and I now have my bookcases back and there are boxes opened everywhere as I try to put them into different piles: Classics, sport, religious, travel, bio etc. I have an unsightly fusebox to hide and I need to cover it up with a poster. Even I believe the young female tennis player scratching her backside is a tad dated (depending on your age, that will either be a nostalgic moment or a..nathema!)

Or perhaps the course adaptation of DaVinci’s Vitruvian Man?

I couldn't find the 70's poster version? Do you remember it??
I think I have found the perfect print which I intend to purchase. What do you think?

Its called 'The Huguenot on St Bartholemews Day' by John Everett Millais. I’ve always had a soft spot for the Pre Raphaelite Brotherhood for no other reason than their paintings are either pure illusion, fantasy, fancy but first and foremost unashamedly quixotic!

When I worked in London, if I was having a tough time I would walk to St Pauls Cathedral in my lunchtime & just sit and stare at Holman Hunts 'Light of the World' Its sixteen quid to get in to St Pauls now. It's a church (for God's sake!)

The Huguenots were sixteenth century Protestants living in predominantly Catholic France. Their differences had risen to a staggering level of violence which culminated with thousands of Huguenots being massacred on St Bartholemews day. The lovers could be star crossed Romeo & Juliet characters of different houses, or they could be both protestants, but the mans love of his God is greater than his love of his fiancée and so he gently refuses to wear the white arm band which would signify his allegiance to Rome. His passion is the reverse of hers whereby her love of her man carries greater weight than her love of her god. Or perhaps, understandably, knowing what brutal consequences await, she is driven by fear.

I love the way his left hand gently cups her face, there’s a finality in their parting, but its noble and that’s a character trait we all aspire to. To place our faith, our principles, our passions over a relationship is one short of the ultimate sacrifice and perhaps later that very day, he will pay the ultimate price to?

But at a very base level it simply screams romance. Its not a girl thing. I think we all crave relationships which involve valour, idealism, intimacy, desire, a dragon to slay, a knight to the rescue.

I hate motivational posters, but when I look at this painting I am inspired to make a stand. To grasp a passion to which I can say ‘this is what I’m here for, this is what I have been put on this earth to achieve.’ It certainly beats a girl scratching her bum!

1 comment:

  1. There are too many good books out there to waste my time on something that is driving me nuts. I used to feel compelled to finish a book, but no longer can be bothered. So, I was a 'b' but am no win the 'a' camp. I would go with the print too, love Pre Raphaelites and Impressionism.