#513 theoldmortuary ponders

I’ve been painting stormy sunrise for a couple of days. It has been a stormy everything for the last few hours. I don’t think the subject matter influenced the weather, but if I have in any way got some supernatural powers today should be a good day as I am painting Tinside Lido in high summer.

Actually not this view, but I might try this one later. It is almost identical to an old poster that lives in our bathroom.

In this poster and the imagined life beyond it there are always handsome servicemen in uniform decoratively placed at every corner. Real life is not like this. In real life the swimming rafts are a good way further out and in real life the water in the lido really is a gorgeous turquoise colour. I am not sure I would feel any sense of achievement if the rafts were this close, neither would I wish to swim in a murky green sea water pool. Since taking up sea swimming, pools are not my thing. I do however allow myself a couple of dips in the Lido, just for the love of the art deco beauty and the unique experience. It can be the most delightful suntrap and conversely it is also well positioned to make the most of cold south westerly winds even at the height of summer. Plymouth was a centre for the most delightful of holidays with my parents. They were not, however, swimmers so the Lido was definitely viewed but not experienced until I was in my 40’s with children who would enjoy it as much as I did. My delightful holidays in Plymouth took in bomb sites and remarkable modern Brutalist rebuilding. Not something that has made it onto promotional holiday posters. My arrival in this city was as marital baggage to my ex- husbands career, a two year project we thought. Many years later here I am doing that classic thing living my dream in a holiday destination, completely unplanned.

Hoping for better weather tomorrow.

#512 theoldmortuary ponders

Yesterday colour and procrastination collided. The museum and gallery where I work has an exhibition of sketches and drawings, some 500 years old and some very recent. In between the two galleries is a break- out space where members of the public can sketch and draw with pencils and paper provided. The exhibition has been open a month and there were boxes full of blunt pencils. Pencil sharpening is one of my great pleasures and a bit of a favourite procrastination. It is the perfect dopamine hit, a few quick turns in a pencil sharpener and a blunt grubby thing becomes sharp and clean. With the added bonus of a swirl of wood shaving with a bright edge.

Pencil sharpening has become a solitary pleasure since childhood but yesterday I was reminded of the pleasures of social sharpening.

When I was at primary school queuing for the pencil sharpener was a social activity. Friends were often separated during lessons, to cut down on idle chatter, but if mid-lesson we had a conversation that just had to be had in lesson time we could signal to one another and join the queue for the table mounted pencil sharpener. In one class set up it was also a break from my malodorous desk partner, a boy called Nigel, who lacked any social skills, but thought that at age 9 feeling my legs with his plump sweaty hand was an acceptable use of shared leg space. Imbecile! The sharp point of a metal compass became invaluable. Far more useful than reporting such things, which were caused by my overactive imagination, apparently.

Yesterday 3 of us set about sharpening pencils. As we created a glorious collection of shavings we kept an eye on the galleries and the sketchers but also managed wide ranging conversations covering bell ringing, dentistry and the cultural lives of ninety year olds.

Before I left the pencil shavings I took a moment to run my hand through them. They didn’t have the wonderful oily smell of wood that you would get in a carpenters workshop full of bigger shavings, something drier and a bit musty. I realised yesterday that I have no idea how a pencil is made. If you are similarly in the dark I have shared a link. Thank goodness for YouTube and How Pencils are Made.

And then there is Instagram. https://theoldmortuary.design/2023/03/16/512-theoldmortuary-ponders/