Monty Python shining a light in North East Essex

The death today of Terry Jones, founder of Monty Python, has produced the most loving of remembrances. Eloquence was his trademark and was sadly the thing that his dementia robbed him of.

Monty Python is credited with being an icon of 1970’s pop culture and the beginning of new wave comedy.

In a quiet corner of rural North East Essex the effect of Python, on me, was profound.

My parents had no fears of its influence on their only child. Friends with less enlightened parents gathered in our house to watch it, teaching me to be more sociable.

Python accompanied me through the awkward early teenage years from 1969- 1974. 45 episodes of surreal comedy not only made me laugh but exposed me to the establishment that they were disrupting with their anti-establishment humour.

Not particularly one of their funniest sketches, this one sticks in my mind because I knew a Michael Ellis.

Python learning continues long after those 5 years and 45 episodes.

Michael Palin takes me around the world

Terry Jones The Life of Brian and Mr Creosote, guaranteed laughter. Mediaeval history was also his thing, I dabbled.

Eric Idle, Spamalot a musical for people who don’t like musicals.

Graham Chapman, a medical student at Bart’s before he was a Python.

St Bartholomews Square from KGV building

Reason enough to choose a place to study.

John Cleese so much more than Fawlty Towers but Fawlty Towers changes the way anyone thinks of British seaside holidays.

Terry Gilliam, Time Bandits nothing more to be said.

RIP Terry Jones.

Dead? No excuse for laying off work.

Time Bandits

Surrealism and a small person Quickie #12

Explaining surrealism was not required on this occasion. This is a fine example of surrealism from Salvador Dali. The added surrealism of a landline phone, surely soon to be obsolete, intrigues me alongside a need for conformity which is illogical.

I’m bothered that it bothers me that the lobster has been put into the receiver by a left handed person. It troubles me more than the fact that it’s a Lobster which doesn’t trouble me at all.

Your last time in a darkroom.

I was driving over Dartmoor on Wednesday. This programme was on the radio. A fine example of serendipity. The artist featured in this broadcast is based on Dartmoor. I had never heard of Garry Fabian-Miller. Something I need to remedy, but for now his subject matter was what interested me.

Garry Fabian- Miller creates images with a dark room but not cameras.

His days in the darkroom are numbered as the production of photographic developing chemistry is coming to an end.

He speaks movingly about leaving his darkroom.

Darkrooms are one of the casualties of the digital photography/imaging revolution.

I don’t remember the moment when I left a darkroom for the last time.

It’s madness that such a significant part of my professional life slipped away unnoticed and without a fitting farewell.

Medical darkrooms could be massive spaces serving many x-ray rooms with automatic processors or tiny cupboards with smelly tanks of developer and fixer for hand processing. Darkrooms have a strange life of 24 hours of darkness illuminated only with red lights. The similarity to nightclubs doesn’t stop there. Darkrooms are not unused to illicit liasons, or it has to be said, cockroaches. Either way it was always wise to clatter about a bit before entering a dark room, particularly at night or weekends. I rather wish I had taken the time to say goodbye.
Half an hours listening to the programme in the link is worthwhile even if darkroom nostalgia or art are not your thing. This is a gentle conversation about more than those two subjects.


Diagnostic imaging was my trade for many years. The majority of modalities in imaging produce pictures in black and white or more correctly in Grey scale. As an artist grey scale has always been my guide when judging my coloured work. A black and white photograph always lets me know if a painting has the balance I am hoping to achieve.

Cookworthy Knapp © theoldmortuary

In photography I often search out a monotone image in the real world.

Petersham Nurseries

Hugo and Lola have been known to pose in locations that lend themselves to Black and White.

In this case at Dungeness, Britain’s only desert on the Kent coast.

The unusual environment lends itself to greyscale.

All round the coast of Britain, black and white somehow brings peace and silence to an image that could, with colour be garish or over ripe.


Gigs at Saltash, Cornwall

Another monotone shot in real life colour.

Retaining walls at Samphire Hoe Country Park. An artificial land mass built from the extracted materials created by the tunneling for the Chanel Tunnel. A Nature Preserve.

And finally back to Radiography.

A cardiac angiogram of the left coronary artery, the basis of the pattern that heads this blog.

Left coronary artery

January Mornings Battersea and Saltash.

The return to work after the festive season is still a dismal dark business despite the days slowly getting a little brighter. Sunrise is around 8 am in January.

I took this photo a few years ago in the quiet period before commuting really gets going in London. I love it now because it is a lost image, redevelopment at Battersea Power Station has robbed rail commuters of this iconic silhouette.

Gilbert Scott’s Battersea Power Station

Giant structures lend themselves to cold misty mornings, another commuting photograph popped up in my January timeline. Unlike the Battersea photograph for the next one I am a voyeur rather than a participating commuter.

Tamar Bridges at Saltash

Trains and sunrise play a part in both photographs. Obvious in the Battersea picture , it is more difficult on the Albert Bridge Saltash. Just a bright straight line of reflected light on the Penzance to Paddington train as it leaves Cornwall.

Both photographs are taken facing East.

Both structures are also favourites for paintings.

And sometimes a photograph.

4th January, no Advent, blogging wilderness?

There is a slight hesitancy in emerging from the last blog of an entirely self created Advent of 34 days . I’ve had to remind myself that this is, in my own words, a blog of no consequence.

It feels a little like my personal New Year’s Day, without the pressure of resolutions or plans. Whilst writing Advent blogs, other stories, photos and paintings occured that didn’t fit my writing brief for those 34 days. They will have their moments in the sun soon enough.

Today feels like a day to explain. I have always loved random information. Before Google or Wikipedia I was often the go to person for random knowledge. I’ve become socially redundant and if I’m honest a little resentful of Messrs Google and Wiki.

Naturally an introvert, random facts or useful knowledge were my carapaces of Extravertedness.

Attending a blog writing course with The Gentle Author gave me the clarity and freedom to examine my motivation for blogging.

Not for me a blog of worthiness or of great usefulness. This is a blog of no consequence, some random thoughts and facts and an occasional English word gleaned from my trusty 1971 Thesaurus.

It is also an occasional platform for the thoughts of Hugo and Lola who are present on most of theoldmortuary adventures


Counting down to the end of Yuletide 2020 on the 3rd of January. I’ve enjoyed writing daily on something vaguely festive.

Christmas, New Year and Yuletide has introduced or deepened our knowledge of new- to- us family members. Every one of them is a fabulous addition to our lives.

The sleeping black Labrador is Mr Murphy, who we met for the first time in the Cotswolds. Black pets are notoriously difficult to photograph, so I’m pleased with this shot. His serenity was short lived but he was also really keen to help with the domestica of festivus.

Mr Murphy was our canine companion, one of four, for New Years Eve. New Year 2020 was improvised at the last minute caused by a change of plans. We had supper and then took the four, four legged people for a late evening walk. The Swan Inn Lechlade was our hoped for destination as one of our friends had lived in a tiny barn conversion just behind it and knew it was a welcoming place.

Finding space for four adults and four dogs is a big enough ask on a normal evening so we were not hopeful. Serendipity was with us, a table and live music pulled us in. Curiously the Swan felt like a time warp, the price of a round was very reasonable , the music was eclectic and the public bar was comfy and authentic. We could have been awaiting any change of decade from the last fifty years. We’ve all been through more bereavements than any group of friends wants to . Being in the Swan would have really suited all of our deceased and beloved . I did some artyfarty shots of Shadows for absent friends.

Four dogs at midnight in a confined space on New Year’s Eve might have been hazardously daft so we headed home about 11:30 and did what millions do and watched the BBC for Jools Holland with London Fireworks for midnight.


Happy New Year and a delightful new decade.


December 31st 2019, the last day of a decade. The blog has grown into itself. Pondering has become the driving word for narrative and visual creations. All thanks to a writing course with The Gentle Author of Spitalfields life.

Pondering the past year, I grabbed one picture for each month from my smartphone. There was no theme. No images of dogs or family or friends. In reality I ponder my friends, family and dogs often in the moments of these images. Taking you all into the next decade is the best gift imaginable.

Time to gently close the door on 2019 and lift the latch on the one marked 2020.

@theoldmortuary , pondering 2019 one month at a time.

Portwrinkle, Cornwall. January 2019

Portwrinkle again. Shells on a rusty GPO box. February 2019

Cheese straws. Gail’s Bakery, Dulwich Village. March 2019

Wild Garlic, Port Eliot, St Germans, Cornwall. April 2019

Spring Flowers, Trematon Castle, Saltash. May 2019.

Hong Kong. June 2019

Shadows at the Dior Exhibition. V and A, Kensington July 2019

Rusty watering can rose and geranium. @theoldmortuary.August2019

Quick sketch of a 90 year old theatrical crown. Kelly House, Kelly. September 2019

Spider web, Waterside, Saltash October 2019

Corrugated cardboard rolled. St Ives, Cornwall. November 2019

Scavenged Festive wreath @theoldmortuary December 31st 2019.

See you there …



Is Tinsel ‘ camper’ than Christmas. Is it set to return to Christmas in the next decade?

Tinsel was invented in 1610 in Nuremberg. It is a twinkly metal garland invented to reflect the flicker of candle light on Christmas trees, it is intended to mimic icicles. When the shiny strips are not tethered to a central thread it is known as lametta. Tinsel has been adopted around the world as a festival decoration. It is Tinsels role as a garment or prop in the theatre that has raised its ‘camp’ credentials and given it year round legitimacy. In particular, Drag acts and Pantomime are never knowingly underdressed. Tinsel and lametta are a staple accessory to bring a pop of sparkle to an outfit or even provide a stage name.

9E9639F4-4A74-4513-BA94-656C6D8DD750 New Hope

Tinsel was hugely popular in the fifties, sixties and seventies. I remember the skinny cheap stuff that came from Woolworths, however by the seventies trips to London exposed us, as a family, to lush, dense, luxurious garlands, from Liberty or Harrods. Tinsel in our house was used year after year , being stored between each Christmas in the loft . It developed a musty dusty smell that became a familiar fragrance of December. As tinsel fell out of favour it stayed in the loft, gathering more dust instead of draping the tree.The skinny Woolworths stuff became stiff and brittle but the luxury version , supple and glossy rested in the roof waiting for it’s retro return.

My parents died in the nineties, the dreadful job of clearing their house was an absolute nadir of life. In the context of Tinsel it was also tinsels lowest point of popularity, without a second thought it went on the discard pile.

Rumour of Tinsels resurgence started on-line in about 2010. 400 years after it was first invented. I realise some people never abandoned it. However it seems to have taken another 10 years to see Tinsel stepping back into the limelight on domestic Christmas trees rather than magazine illustrations or commercially decorated corporate trees. Shops have started offering wide selections of tinsel and I bitterly regret binning my inherited luxury swags.

Coincident with my Saturday ponderings on Tinsel a post appeared on Instagram from an Editor I used to write for. . #nakedforchristmas on Instagram shows Tinsel at its resurgent best.

#nakedatchristmas Instagram