Saturday, 31 March 2012

Arty, edgy and in demand...

Does anyone else have a soft spot for old gasometers? These photographs were taken in Hackney. You can read more about Empress Coaches, shown here (and featured in the film Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy), at Spitalfields Life.

I didn’t see any coaches, but I did spot this curiously arty ice cream van parked in a street nearby.

Oh, and apparently, there’s a planning application to build an 18 storey block on this site… eek!

Another potential victim of developers is a little known shrine called Cross Bones, located in the shadow of The Shard. Read more about this in ShopCurious's post at The Dabbler.

And just across the road from the memorial this lovely, though rather neglected, old building (below) sits next to Borough Market. The sign says ‘goods inwards’ – which in a few years time will no doubt have been replaced by ‘luxury goods outwards’.

London is a constantly evolving curiosity. I hope it's changing for the better.

Do you?

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

In praise of poetry...

Still on the subject of eggs, here’s a little vintage verse from Spike Milligan for World Poetry Day:

There once lived a virile cockerel
With a thousand hens in Spain,
Now he's old and slow
So he'll never go
To work on an egg again.

Chorus: In Spain the rain falls, etc., etc.

I love the childlike charm of Milligan’s poetry.

Do you?

PS ShopCurious has its own collection of curiously psychogeographical poems – click here to visit Matt Bryden’s poetry map.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Hunting for curious eggs?

Have you been searching for eggs on London’s Faberge Big Egg Hunt? I wasn’t especially looking out for them, but on stumbling upon my first egg, I excitedly entered the keyword into my mobile phone, as requested. I promptly received a congratulatory message - which kindly informed me “This text cost £3”. Anyway, I’m sure it’s all for a good cause…

What with the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics this year, many of the eggs seem to be London or British inspired – though I was wondering if the butterfly themed number outside Scott's (restaurant) might be a Scotch egg?

The highest concentration of eggs seems to be in Mayfair, where those wishing to disport their wealth generosity must have had the battery hens on overtime. I think I read somewhere that the eggs are being sold off at a charity auction today. According to the website, Marc Quinn’s miminalist-looking contoured egg (see below left) has the highest bid so far.

Oh, and in Selfridges, there’s an interactive egg, which you can help decorate with your picture, by visiting Facebook.

Meantime, at ShopCurious, we’ve our own curiosity egg in the form of a vintage porcelain hatching turtle. This quirky little fellow is curiously collectable - so perfect for an egg collector, or someone hunting for unusual Easter gifts...

Are you?

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Springing to life

Flowers are coming into bloom, birds are singing, and spring is in the air. It’s the time of year when nature's new additions are in the offing - so appropriate that it should be Mother’s Day in the UK.

We often take our mothers for granted, yet they offer us unconditional love whatever the circumstances. No one said motherhood was easy. And sometimes it just wasn’t meant to be…

On that note, here’s a poignant poem by ShopCurious poet in residence Matt Bryden:


Still warm, she says. The sheep lies on its side.
The crows have claimed one eye – pools, ebbs,
darken the snow. Three more weeks
to lamb. She pokes her hand beneath the wool.
I lift a leg, manipulate the hoof joint.
The muck cakes her wrist. The flock are keeping distant.

A probe and waters burst. Full hands of gut,
intestine slop on snow. I roll her sleeves
beyond her elbows. Come, I say, and push
the sheep against her arm. Come on. She feels
the hoof of one of them but can’t secure
her grip, the cervix open. I want them born.

You’re doing well, I say. Propitious year –
of snowfall, blue moon. I grip the fleece.
Come on. She holds the head now, pulls it
by the skull and worms it from the mother,
floppy lamb puppet, tips it so its paws
tread snow, then rubs its face, its closed eyes.
No. The umbilicus spills its red all over.

Back in. This time easier. She pulls it out.
A girl. Too young. She holds it up.
We lay them by the mother’s side –
for buzzards to dispatch, the farmer to descry.

On a lighter note, one of my favourite books from childhood is PD Eastman’s Dr Seuss book, Are You My Mother? (see pic left).

Are you?

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Crustacean curiosity for mother?

Sorry Mum, I realise that the title of this post could be misinterpreted, but I wanted to mention the time not so long ago, when we spent a few days in the sun celebrating your big birthday...

We were mainly eating and drinking - and my mother took to dining on lobster… I guess she was celebrating. And I was paying!

Anyway, I just wanted to warn you in case you're about to treat your mother, that a better investment might be this curiously collectable vintage Lucite lobster brooch from ShopCurious. It would make an unusual gift for Mother’s Day, or perhaps you fancy it for your own collection - as part of your lobster legacy?

Do you?

PS Order by 12 pm tomorrow for next day UK delivery.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Collecting memories: music for posterity

The outside of the building was bathed in icy blue light, perhaps in deference to the subject of the evening’s entertainment? I found myself thinking of the film, The Artist, as I sat silently in the auditorium at the Cadogan Hall last night. But this was a very different experience - in fact, it was almost the total opposite of watching a silent movie.

Whilst it is possible to get totally lost in music, classical concerts remain rather two dimensional – there’s just the sound we hear (though I suppose this could be described as a multidimensional realm in itself), and the musicians sitting on the stage, playing their instruments. But this concert, performed by the City of London Sinfonia, in association with the Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI), also incorporated photography and the spoken word - along with a small display of artefacts from the SPRI Museum, which were hidden away in one corner of the concert hall foyer.

Hugh Bonneville, of Downton Abbey fame, was the narrator in the first piece - Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Scott of the Antarctic. The readings were from Captain Scott’s Last Expedition, Volume One (of which I just happen to own a copy - and from which these images are taken).

Vaughan Williams’ Symphony No 7, Symphonia Antarctica, was accompanied by photographs of the expedition by Herbert Ponting - historical treasures in their own right.

And the concert also included the first airing of a new work by Cecilia McDowell: Seventy Degrees Below Zero was specially commissioned as part of the Scott 100 series of events.

Oh, and did you know that Scott and his companions found the first breeding emperor penguin colony? A proud mother with her offspring can be seen left.

Did you also know that it’s Mother’s Day on 18th March? So if you’re looking for something curiously collectable like these books, do check out the selection of unusual gifts at ShopCurious...

Will you?

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Curious poetry: mapping the word

Pinch, punch, it’s the first of the month.

I’m a poet and I don’t know it.

We're celebrating World Book Day by introducing our curious poet in residence, Matt Bryden. Thankfully, Matt’s poetry skills are somewhat more refined than mine.

You can read more about Matt, and his publications to date, in ShopCurious’s latest StyleCurious interview. We've also included his unique World Poetry Map, where you can read poems based on his experiences and the places he’s visited around the globe – a curiously lyrical form of psychogeography…

After all, every single soul is a poem:

Are you?