One aspect of Matthew Lewis’s ‘The Monk’ that I did not mention yesterday is that this youthful writer loses no opportunity to insert one of his poems or ballads into the text. Mostly using rhyming iambic pentameter these are all rather good. The only one that isn’t is presented as written by a young boy in need of advice about his work. ‘Alonzo the Brave and Fair Imogine’, for example, can be found on Google.
This had me reflecting overnight on my own teenage versifications, in which I was encouraged by the gentle Jesuit, Fr. John Harriott S.J., who was the teacher for my A level year of 1960. I still possess the exercise book into which I transferred all these works in my best handwriting. The ink is a little faded now, but I see I hadn’t then lost my copperplate r. Here is one of the shortest with which I also experimented with some kind of rather doubtful free verse. I must have spent some exam time daydreaming. Hopefully I had finished the paper.
It was Father Harriott who wanted to enter me for S(cholarship) level G(eneral) C(ertificate) (of) E(education). Because I was not applying to any University the headmaster would not allow it. In those days you were not told your marks – just pass or fail. My mentor took the trouble of applying to the examination board for my marks and telling me that I had achieved S level standard. Which was rather nice.
For today’s black and white photo challenge I posted on Facebook a bejewelled pansy. It seemed to me that the markings on these playful plants lent themselves perfectly to representation in monochrome.
This morning Jackie drove us to Wroughton to visit Frances who fed us on sausage and bacon butties (cobs or baps if you prefer) and then drove us to the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery to visit an exhibition based on the work of the teenaged J.M.W. Turner.
In a cabinet in one of the museum rooms sat a typewriter from 1914 which was very like the one on which I, after a fashion, taught myself to type at my Aunt Stella’s home. The font on the letter in the museum is similar to that in the typed versions of my poem mentioned above, that I have tucked into the notebook. Using this ancient device was a laborious process in which pressure on the keys stamped ink from a ribbon onto the page, and the shift key was a lever you pulled across at the end of each line.
In a case in the corridor leading to the art gallery stood an easel containing what for me was actually the highlight of the trip, L.S. Lowry’s ‘Winter in Pendlebury’, labelled their Pick of the Month.
Seven of the eight Turner paintings were executed in 1791-92, when he was 16-17. His teenage skill was incredible, yet it perhaps needs a certain amount of imagination to recognise the style he was to develop that was so far ahead of his time.
On our return home Jackie and I dined at The Plough Inn at Tiptoe. We both had the enormous rack of pork ribs and could eat no sweet. Jackie drank Beck’s and I drank Doom Bar.