Posted in March 2013

A Symbol from Syria

Another anecdote from Charles Glass’s ‘Tribes with Flags’. This is from his visit to one of the Dead Cities near aleppo, to the church of St Simon Stylites: “We walked on a floor of marble that Abu Abdo [local guide] said had come from Italy. He said the church formed a cross, the long sides … Continue reading


Undevilish Devil Worship

I am currently reading the wonderful book ‘Tribes with Flags’ by Charles Glass, about his travels in the region of Syria several decades ago. In view of present events, it has a particular resonance, and I wonder how much of what he wrote about still exists. This is his account to one of the Dead … Continue reading

Riddle Songs

I have just discovered two songs that are linked by a riddle. This is Josh white with ‘I Gave My Love a Cherry’, or ‘The Riddle’, a version of a very old English folk song: This inspired the better known, ‘Until the Twelfth of Never’: This is Elvis’s version, but it wsa also covered by … Continue reading

Dampier’s Face

Dampier’s Face

William Dampier is one of my all time heroes. He was from a small country town – East Coker in Somerset, possibly an orphan who became one of the greatest explorers and mapmakers of all time. His charts were used by Captain Cook on his voyages of discovery that led to so much of Britain’s … Continue reading

Not A Town Name, More a Grammar Lesson

I used to visit the Netherlands a lot, and one of my favourite towns is ‘sHertogdenbosch, which is one of the strangest names. ‘s is the possessive case, ie showing ownership Hertog is the equivalent of German Herzog, which is I think an artistocrat, perhaps akin to the old English ‘grave’ which appears in some … Continue reading

Ice Age Art

This is one of my great passions, so I had to see the exhibition at the British Museum, but have to admit I was a bit disappointed. It was mostly about portable pieces of art, many of which were incredibly small so hard to seee through the crowds, and even then, I ofte struggled to … Continue reading

A Frenchman in a Dress

I stumbled upon this gem of a story in the National Portrait Gallery – the strange case of the Chevalier d’Eon, described as a diplomat, spy and ……transvestite. The oil painting shows someone in male attire, and looking like a man who has just woken up from a week long bender, so his claims in … Continue reading