Last day of October and spooky hallowe'en is here again. I've never much bothered with the festival as I'm not much of a horror fan but this year I've been paying a bit more attention and have been finding it quite funny, especially the non-gendered gingerbread person biscuits which one of the fashion students had iced to look like skeletons:

Skeleton Non-Gendered Ginger Biscuit Figure

These were on sale as a charity fund-raiser.

I've been really busy since I got back from Texas, what with visits from my stone-dealer, Marcia, from whom I bought a host of unusual (and usual) gems for use in future works:

"Cupcake" Amethysts - 2

Quite apart from the marvellous colour of these amethysts - a stone I rarely use - the cut is amazing. They remind me of those "iced gems" biscuits:

Colorful Ice Gems

I know that a lot of the people complain that they buy stones which they don't then use, I am always using stones in my work, so know that they will be used very quickly. The stone boxes are even catalogued in a database so that I can keep track of them!

Cataloguing Gemstones - 1


Some good labradorite in free-form semi-faceted cabochons.

In the workshop, I finished off the "Ancient Mariner" choker, which I am very pleased with. It is amazingly comfortable to wear, despite the bulk:

The Ancient Mariner - 10

I'm really enjoying these heavy-duty, corroded industrial chains with "charms" hanging from them and then improvising around the chain, rather than working things out in advance.

The Ancient Mariner - 11

The Ancient Mariner - 12

I've also been completing a couple of commercial commissions this week, including a batch of "Werewolf Protection" pendants, which are made from brass cartridge cases found by the father of one of my students and given to me by him, sterling silver (alas! not from a crucifix!) and some black spinels:

Werewolf Protection - Repeat - 2

And a production run of cufflinks for Dundee-based "The Dapper Gent":

Dapper Gent Cufflinks - 1

Also on the bench this week, "Jewelled Antler", another piece of corroded industrial chain, this time dug up on my friend and colleague's allotment!

Jewelled Antler - WIP - 8

This will be finished next week.

I keep finding bits of paper with doodles and notes on them and no idea of what I was thinking about when I made them. This is one of the stranger ones which I found in a shoulder-bag last weekend:

Unknown Sketch

I am not always pleased to see surprises in my sketchbooks and this one was also found this week:

Winehouse Horror

Poor Amy, looking especially demented!

Cruise clothing is a Glasgow institution and I was very pleased to be invited by Mary McGowne to attend their AW14 fashion show. It is so funny to see how things have changed: twenty years ago, I would never have even considered going to such an event.

Cruise AW 14 Fashion Show - 2

It was a particularly good evening, meeting with Sheri and Claire of "Betty and Bee" and I even bought a Paul Smith embroidered shirt.

I also, finally, got to see one of my heroes, the wonderful John Cooper Clarke. I will spare you the details of how this punk poet was the final straw between me and my father - almost anyone who knows me has heard the story - and simply say that he was better than I could ever have imagined.

(Unfortunately, I was not allowed my camera, so this is from my phone.)
What was most surprising was that he had two poetic supports, both of whom were superb - Mike Garry and Luke Wright - and it reminded me how much I enjoy live poetry. Much more so than reading it myself.

John Cooper Clarke, for all he poses as a curmudgeon, is charming, charismatic, intelligent, socially-critical and very, very funny, a truly working-class English eccentric and, best of all, knows that people like him but somehow seems bemused that they do.

Here is a video of the man himself performing my own favourite piece of vitriolic social criticism, "Beasely Street" - it gives nothing of his charm but is a masterful piece of poetry:

There are various versions of this, including one with music by "The Invisible Girls" and the lyrics vary depending on the version. For my overseas readers who are perhaps not familiar with the Manchester (Salford) accent, here they are:

Far from crazy pavements -
the taste of silver spoons
A clinical arrangement
on a dirty afternoon
Where the faecal germs of Mr Freud
are rendered obsolete
The legal term is null and void
In the case of Beasley Street 
In the cheap seats where murder breeds
Somebody is out of breath
Sleep is a luxury they don't need
- a sneak preview of death
Belladonna is your flower
Manslaughter your meat
Spend a year in a couple of hours
On the edge of Beasley Street

Where the action isn't
That's where it is
State your position
Vacancies exist
In an X-certificate exercise
Ex-servicemen excrete
Keith Joseph smiles and a baby dies
In a box on Beasley Street 
From the boarding houses and the bedsits
Full of accidents and fleas
Somebody gets it
Where the missing persons freeze
Wearing dead men's overcoats
You can't see their feet
A riff joint shuts - opens up
Right down on Beasley Street 
Cars collide, colours clash
disaster movie stuff
For a man with a Fu Manchu moustache
Revenge is not enough
There's a dead canary on a swivel seat
There's a rainbow in the road
Meanwhile on Beasley Street 
Silence is the code
Hot beneath the collar
an inspector calls
Where the perishing stink of squalor
impregnates the walls
the rats have all got rickets
they spit through broken teeth
The name of the game is not cricket
Caught out on Beasley Street 
The hipster and his hired hat
Drive a borrowed car
Yellow socks and a pink cravat
Nothing La-di-dah
OAP, mother to be
Watch the three-piece suite
When s***-stoppered drains
and crocodile skis
are seen on Beasley Street 
The kingdom of the blind
a one-eyed man is king
Beauty problems are redefined
the doorbells do not ring
A lightbulb bursts like a blister
the only form of heat
here a fellow sells his sister
down the river on Beasley Street 
The boys are on the wagon
The girls are on the shelf
Their common problem is
that they're not someone else
The dirt blows out
The dust blows in
You can't keep it neat
It's a fully furnished dustbin,
Sixteen Beasley Street 
Vince the ageing savage
Betrays no kind of life
but the smell of yesterday's cabbage
and the ghost of last year's wife
through a constant haze
of deodorant sprays
he says retreat
Alsations dog the dirty days
down the middle of Beasley Street 
People turn to poison
Quick as lager turns to piss
Sweethearts are physically sick
every time they kiss.
It's a sociologist's paradise
each day repeats
On easy, cheesy, greasy, queasy
beastly Beasley Street 
Eyes dead as vicious fish
Look around for laughs
If I could have just one wish
I would be a photograph
on a permanent Monday morning
Get lost or fall asleep
When the yellow cats are yawning
Around the back of Beasley Street.

I've been reading a fascinating book which I bought in the Oxfam bookshop in Brighton last time I was there, Matthew Sweet's "Shepperton Babylon", a wonderful collection of interviews and anecdotes about the British Film industry from the very beginning, through near-collapse to reinvention.

Highly recommended, especially for the critical look at the much-disparaged "Ealing Comedies".

I also bought myself a copy of the new Vivienne Westwood autobiography to learn all about the cantankerous Dame's own view of things!

Fashion Treat

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Comment by The Justified Sinner on November 4, 2014 at 1:05am


I am about 70 pages into the Westwood book and it is already excellent. She has made the very wise decision to employ a writer to write it, which seems strange for an autobiography, but the writer, Ian Kelly, is very clear about her voice and the distinction between hers and his. The fact that he uses his own voice occasionally is not distracting but grounding and this is most certainly an autobiography. The book itself is a very fine production, on thick paper with a stitched binding which lies flat despite the thickness, and just enough photographs to satisfy without becoming a photo-book. 

Despite my comment, this is not the cantankerous Vivienne who is in evidence here, but the kind, charming, intelligent Vivienne who is happy - perhaps as she reaches her 3/4 century! - to discuss her inconsistencies. 

Too many autobiographies have been ruined by the fact that the subject is no good at writing: this is an excellent compromise.

As to the John Cooper Clarke poem, my favourite line is definitely

"The rats have all got rickets,

"They spit through broken teeth..."!

If you like it, he wrote "Beasley Boulevard" after the whole street was bought up by an "urban regeneration" company and converted to ludicrously-priced upwardly-mobile residences in the early part of this century. It has the same metre but very different sentiments, scathing for quite other reasons.

Comment by Brigitte Martin on November 3, 2014 at 7:58am

Those labradorites sure look amazing! Also, THANKS: I was unaware of the new Vivienne Westwood book, will see that I can get it shipped to the US. Might be a good xmas present pour moi.

Will need to perform a thorough read on the poem later today. Looks like it will be worth sifting through line by line.

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