Tuesday, 26 August 2014
We are perhaps all familiar with the Batsford book jackets designed by Brian Cook in the 1930s. Brightly coloured and so evocative of an era blessed with some of the best in commercial art, they have become highly collectable. But post war, Batsford needed to rationalise, and all that bother with rubber plates and transparent inks was simply too expensive, and a whole lot of trouble for those down on the printroom floor. What was needed, particularly for the British Heritage Series, was a generic cover that would do for all the titles, so that all that had to happen was the dropping in of the title onto standard cartouches.
But just look at that illustration. Everything's here that the range of titles demanded: a town, village, church, cathedral, country house, coastline, quayside, a river and a castle. Somewhere I imagine is an 'old inn of England'. It's a cappricio of everything Batsford stood for, and doubtless some of these delightful juxtapositions rubbed off on me when I did my own town prints. The artist is Philip Gough, born in 1908 and trained in Liverpool as a theatre designer, and after producing designs for the original Toad of Toad Hall in 1929 he went on to work on some twenty five theatrical productions in London. Gough had a great love for the late eighteenth century and the Regency period, and his work is perhaps very redolent of that other great artist, sadly lost in the Second World War, Rex Whistler. So now I'm looking out for more of his work. I know he did at least five covers for individual Saturday Books, and in addition to illustrating authors such as Jane Austen he worked on several books for children. Oh dear, yet another collection appears about to start. I think there's still room in the still room.
Wednesday, 20 August 2014
I've written about all this on and off for years, but for the record the roof in my top picture is attached to an old Southern railway carriage, the whole appearing to be covered in bubbling black tar; the Britannia Inn is still thankfully run by Shepherd Neame (but I can't vouch for Doctor Feelgood still being on the jukebox), Mascot cottage is looking more homely but the boat at its side is still motionless but picturesque; and the Dungeness Lifeboat station looks even more like a still from a Wes Anderson film. I did think of setting the camera onto the self-timer in order to run in front of it in a grossly exaggerated manner about half way down the concrete roadway. Knowing my luck I would have tripped on the edge. Still wish I'd done it though.
Thursday, 14 August 2014
And so up off the marsh at Appledore, but not before crossing the Ashford to Hastings railway line where trains still stop at the station. And here another gratifying note was struck. Wanderers in Unmitigated England will know of my distaste for most of today's bus and train liveries, but the Southern seems to have got it just about right here for trains traversing the marsh, and indeed through the greenery of Kent and Sussex generally. My certificate of approval too for their adaptation of the original Southern Railway lettering for the train sides.
The other side of the marsh is of course Dungeness, which never fails me for one reason another. More of this shortly.
Monday, 4 August 2014
In the current Spectator, Ross Clark expounds on the loss of individualism, and the need for people (well, not us in Unmitigated England obviously) to not want to do things alone. Clark thinks that it's because since the 1980's children grew up not being allowed to run about outside on their own, climb trees or disappear into the woods unsupervised. He cites the desire now for them to stand with 200,000 others at Glastonbury, or sit two feet from half a million others on Brighton beach when you can in fact be virtually on your own just along the coast.
It's obviously also affected the sign world, or at least the highways department of Leicestershire County Council. My top picture shows the Rutland boundary sign in 1995, just over the willow-fringed Eye Brook at Stockerston. (Incidentally the front cover shot on my first little book Rutland: Much In Little.) The simple effectiveness of it has now been completely ruined by the crassness of whoever thought it was a good idea to attach the Leicestershire border sign on the back of Rutland's, even using the same posts to attach it too. Why? Particularly as Leicestershire has put another appallingly designed sign on the other side of the road. So of course the next fluorescently-clad highwaymen turn up with their signs for a pending road closure (equally badly designed) and think "Ooh, this is where signs are erected". Ignoring the fact that the closure will in fact take place a hundred yards previously at the convenient road junction, but there must have been great comfort in grouping everything together to make even more of a visual mess. Oh it's so good to have a rant. Haven't had one for ages. Not since Western Power dug up the lawn in front of Ashley Towers.