Today the air was cold and the light dull.
This morning Jackie and I each reached a corner of the bench while weeding the Shady Path. There is just the middle stretch to be completed. A yellow tree peony and a plethora of Welsh poppies can be seen in the surrounding beds.
The clematis Montana weaves about the lilac on the Back Drive.
When literary blogger josbees recommended that I reread chapter 2 of Nicholas Nickleby I had imagined that I would not read the whole book again, but would work my way through scanning Charles Keeping’s illustrations for my readers. In fact I was wrong. As the characters came flooding back to me after more than half a century, this Dickens novel is now one of the few I am happy to read again.
The frontispiece illustration is to ‘A tall lean boy, with a lantern in his hand, issued forth.’
‘Motioning them all out of the room, Mr Nickleby sunk exhausted on his pillow’ demonstrates Mr Keeping’s penchant for sandwiching a section of text into his drawing.
‘The clerk presented himself in Mr Nickleby’s room’ contains the artist’s skill at portraiture. The proximity of the houses seen through the window demonstrates the congested nature of the environment.
‘ ‘Mrs Nickleby,’ said the girl, throwing open the door, ‘here’s Mr Nickleby’ ‘ demonstrates Keeping’s adherence to the text. The young lady has hastily attempted to clean her dirty face with an even dirtier apron.
‘ ‘I have been thinking, Mr Squeers, of placing my two boys at your school’ ‘
‘A minute’s bustle, a banging of the coach doors, a swaying of the vehicle to one side’ exemplifies the artist’s mastery of receding perspective by bursting the foreground range of portraits out of the frame.
Early this evening a friend of Jake, who I photographed Sunset Dancing last December, called to collect a print I had made for him. Jake now lives in The Netherlands, and earns a living skydiving.
Later, we dined on roast chicken thighs and roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, sage and onion stuffing, carrots, cauliflower, and green beans, with meaty gravy. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Recital.