Unexpected surprises

We’ve been prattling around in our living room of late, preening here, paining there and you’ve been kept very much up to date on our progress. But, I thought I’d spare a moment for a rather ingenious and totally accidental addition to our living room.

Way back when we were hosting a 1970s inspired Christmas soiree, we had a bare patch of wall destined to host some artwork. But, no frames. We’d not managed to find any that we liked and so it was looking like we were going to have to showcase the newly decorated living room sans artwork!

Frames, Poundland
Lamp, TK Maxx

But, I was in a Poundland picking up something stupid like table confetti or tea lights and I stumbled across some frames (for £1 each, funnily enough) which were rather brilliant. 

They’re white with a grey mount inside, and a string with two wooden pegs on, for hanging photographs from. There’s no glass, so it’s easy to swap and change the contents of the frame – which inspired us to get creative.

Table, IKEA

We quickly popped them up and hung our previously purchased book of 12 ink bolts. Y’know, the kind psychoanalysts and psychiatrists use. They’re gorgeously abstract designs that spark conversation, and you can remove the cards from the frame to read the subliminal meanings behind each one too! It was supposed to just be an interim solution, but we quite like them.

Postcards, Faber

Kathleen Lines’ Stories For Girls, Muriel Goaman’s Anyone Can Cook, Paul Birckhill’s The Great Escape, Abetti’s The Sun, Jean Conil’s Haute Cuisine, Anthony Buckeridge’s Stories For Boys, James Blish’s Welcome To Mars, Seamus Heaney’s Door Into The Dark, Alfred Duggan’s Devil’s Brood, T.S. Eliot’s Collected Poems, Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar and Rudolf Arnheim’s Film As Art.

Then, this season we switched it up, with some postcard versions of famous covers from the faber publishing house archives. They’re typography heavy and blooming gorgeous. Some are obscure books I’ve never heard of and others are household names, like Seamus Heaney’s Door Into The Dark and Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. There’s also 100 in the box, so loads more to swap in and out too! Not bad for a last minute £1 find!


Other Bracefaces: Tom Cruise

In 2002 crazy Tom Cruise gave his teeth some TLC with a near-invisible brace, at the age of 40!

The sofa-jumping, Oprah scaring, Scientologist – best known for being a short arse and general loony toon – is also a former braceface too. Cruise has always been a bit of a heart throb, since back in his cocktail making days (love the sock ‘n shirt dance moment), so it was a bit of a shock for the masses to witness their mega star avec metal-mouth. 

Still, beauty costs.


What Shakespeare means to me

One of the greatest ever writers of the English language died sometime this month, 400 years ago – leaving behind a canon of work that would be read, enjoyed, studied and performed for centuries more. Long may he continue to inspire.

As an English Literature graduate, I have a particular fondness for Shakespeare. His playful ability to weave vast and complex tapestries with his words, intricate webs with layer upon layer of meaning, was one of the discoveries I made in my early school days that lead me to want to study English Literature at University.

 William Shakespeare effigy, Historical Reading Room, 
John Rylands Library Deansgate Manchester

I am a man more sinn’d against than sinning.”

I struggled to read as a child, I lagged behind peers in our reading classes, I found it hard to keep up in general and it was predicted that I would not necessarily reach the reading and writing comprehension required to pass my SATs. But, I always enjoyed stories and wasn’t put off by my inability to articulate myself in prose or digest the written word quickly, I kept on reading.

My parents pushed me to read outside of school too, I took special lessons and had a reading coach, eventually conquering my demons, being able to read and write at the rate of my peers by the time I was to go to “big school”. 

“nothing will come of nothing”
It was at said big school that I was formally introduced to Shakespeare’s plays and poetry and for the first time was struck by the power of language and how – aside from delivering instruction or conjuring two dimensional images – words, syntax, grammar and even punctuation could also have a profound and immersive effect on the reader. 

 Depiction of Julius Caesar Act IV Scene III, the ghost of Caesar in Brutus’ tent. 
John Rylands Library Special Collections

I had never comprehended that we could discuss language for the sake of discussing language rather than merely discussing the outcome of language. Discussing the fabric and stitching, not just the dress. It’s a small revelation, but it was the catalyst to a new way of thinking for me and it had a lot to do with William Shakespeare.

I’ll be celebrating his genius with a visit to John Rylands Library on Deansgate to soak up the literary history and see his effigy in the Historic Reading Room. There’s also a co-production of King Lear (my favourite tragedy, and the source of the above quotes) on from today until 7th May at The Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester, details here.

Not in Manchester? You could give these articles from the New College Group a gander instead. They uncover some of the words and phrases Shakespeare introduced to the English language, words you thought you knew the meaning of until you read Shakespeare and words you may never know the meaning of. Enjoy!