The Barber’s Pole

By this morning I had passed another eight of Charles Keeping’s illustrations on my journey through ‘Martin Chuzzlewit’ by Charles Dickens. I therefore scanned them.

In ‘The Honourable Elijah Pogram fled with such precipitation that he forgot his umbrella was up’, the artist manages to convey the lurch backwards that such a sudden stoppage would generate.

‘The old churches, roofs, and darkened chimney stacks of home’

‘This is kind indeed!’ said Tom, bending down to shake hands with her’, displays Keeping’s mastery of perspective, partly by means of stepping out of the frame.

‘On he went, looking up all the streets he came near’, shows a typical Keeping street scene.

‘He went every morning to a barber’s shop to get shaved’ features a barber’s pole of the design contemporary with Charles Dickens. The history and a modern illustration of such a red and white U.K. motif is featured in my post ‘Reprising Ice Cream Selection’. I understand that these colours are red, white, and blue in America.

‘It was a perfect treat to Tom to see her with her brows knit, and her rosy lips pursed up, kneading away at the crust’

‘Down among the steam-boats on a bright morning’ displays a rich range of human features.

‘ ‘Could you cut a man’s throat with such a thing as this?’ ‘ has us wondering what Jonas has in mind.

This afternoon, as part of my progress in weeding the Gazebo Path, the Head Gardener agreed that we should

leave the forget-me-nots where they are,

yet thin out ivy choking one owl, threatening another, and keeping the ornamental tortoise in hibernation.

I am making some sort of progress.

This evening we dined on oven battered cod and chips; garden peas; pickled onions and gherkins, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Calvet Prestige Merlot-Cabernet Sauvignon Bordeaux 2018.


  1. You two have a beautiful home! The barber poles are so attractive, a barber nearby here has one with red and blue stripes. ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ˜Ž

  2. I adore the illustrations – one can almost feel the paper.

    The very first thing that struck me with your barbershop photo was, ‘I wonder how tempting it was to call the shop Shears rather than Sears’ (clearly a surname). I rather like that the word ‘ears’ is there with the capital S tucked, like a lock of hair, behind it – or, rather in front of! My shop is called Van Gogh. It was already a barbershop and though I wasn’t so keen on the name, I decided to keep it. It has rather grown on me. One day I said to the previous owner that it is an amusing name. “Amusing?” he said. “How so?”

    It barely seemed to need explaining, but I said, “Because Van Gogh cut his ear off and, you know, this is a barbershop. I like it.”

    He looked at me as if I were mad and said, “I haven’t got a clue what you’re talking about!” ??

    Your garden supper sounds divine.

    1. Thanks very much, Nick. Shears would have been good, and what a pity the Van Gogh joke fell flat – especially as your name is so appropriate for cutting it.

  3. More expressive illustrations.
    I really like your final photo. It makes me want to stroll up the path in your lovely garden. I also like the wheels and forget-me-nots.

  4. So interesting to hear about the history of the barbers pole!
    I totally agree with The Head Gardener – ‘weeding’ and ‘Forget me nots’ do not fit in the same sentence ๐Ÿ™‚
    The path leading to your house is so inviting. My favourite gardens are, like yours, those with intrigue wherever one looks!

  5. You are making GREAT progress! Way to go! ๐Ÿ™‚
    Owls!!! YAY!!! ๐Ÿ™‚ I always love seeing the owls in your garden! And hope Mr. Tortoise is enjoying his hibernation.
    Yes, I agree on leaving the Forget-Me-Nots there to do their thing. They have an important job. ๐Ÿ™‚
    I’ve always thought barber poles were cheery.
    That umbrella illustration…I’ve seen people do that before. Ha and Yikes. ๐Ÿ™‚
    (((HUGS))) and YAY on Jackie’s Fish’n’Chips! Any leftovers?! If so, pass ’em my way, please! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. I continue to enjoy Charles Keeping’s illustrations, Derrick! The gardens look beautiful, and I am sure spring, with all that growth, is providing a lot of work out there for you and Jackie.

    How is the new drain pipe over the extension working?

    Battered cod and chips and peas sounds wonderful!

  7. I’m glad the forget-me-nots are staying where they are – just a little outside the boundary and adding to the natural flow of your lovely garden.

  8. Charles Dickensโ€™ times have burst forth aided by the illustrations of Charles Keeping. Iโ€™d never before known the history and significance of a barberโ€™s pole, nor was I aware of the ongoing struggle for the right to use it as a totem. I was of course entirely ignorant of the medico-cosmetic abilities of doctor-barbers of the yore. Needless to say, I am feeling as wide-eyed as Jackieโ€™s owls who of course must be cleared of the over-ambitious ivies. Meanwhile, you have rendered a fine job to the Gazebo path not unlike a barberโ€™s.

  9. Charles Keeping seems to have the knack of making most of the population look a pretty shabby and slightly desperate lot. Perhaps they were!

  10. What a fairy tale home! Just beautiful. And Charles Keeping was talented at “settings” as well as “characters.”

  11. I have enjoyed this set of Keeping’s fabulous illustrations, especially the one with umbrella and the faces of the crowd ‘down among the steamboats.’ There are two theories about American barber poles; the first is a patriotic one, and the second is as even more bloodthirsty than the British. Which one do you prefer, Derrick?

  12. Whoa…if you had asked me I would have said our barber polls are red and white. You made me do a quick search. Huh. I was wrong.

    I love a little Dickens.

  13. You struck several chords with me today, Derrick! I am increasingly enchanted by Keeping’s illustrations; they are truly magnificent! And your garden is also a masterpiece; puts ours to shame, but then we have only lived in this house for a couple of years – we are working diligently on the gardens. And… I am a collector of business cards, and one of my favored ‘categories’ is ‘barber poles.’ So the title and header photo caused me to linger delightedly.

    Thank you!!

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