Sunday, 2 February 2014


The mention of bad or rather bizarre taxidermy in the comments of my previous blog posting seems to have triggered a flood of memories, not just from me.
Zhoen kindly directed me to the right source.

Walter Potter was the man who had the skill and imagination to make tiny frilly knickers for tiny dead and stuffed kittens to wear under their wedding clothes as he created his complex, highly detailed scenes of Victorian life.

I remember seeing some of these ( to me) magical creations when I was about eight years old. The images stayed with me, and I yearned to possess a miniature school-room full of tiny rabbits, all with their even tinier slates and chalks.
I wonder now if I realised they were dead, preserved creatures, or if I saw them as wonderful little toys. After all, there were very few toys in Post-War Britain, so these detailed dioramas must have seemed as enchanting then as when they were created in Victorian times.

Looking at them again now I am filled with a different type of wonder. What a leap of imagination to go from stuffing your own pet canary to creating a drinking scene of stuffed rats, a complex kittens' wedding, and a guinea-pigs' cricket match. What an awful awful lot of little deaths it took to create each scene. And how each scene has been appreciated and remembered - in so many different ways.
Once seen, never forgotten, for whatever reasons.
No wonder Damien Hurst wanted to buy the entire collection when it was dispersed.

There's more about Walter Potter's taxidermy here, but note that the exhibition is over.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

A Bit Shaken, not Stirred.

An example of very bad taxidermy, but something of how I'm feeling . The wildlife at the bottom of my garden looks a great deal happier than this sad example, but I feel that he represents me, about to eat humble pie.
In my previous post about waiting rooms I was somewhat scathing about the National Health Service.
I apologise, as humbly as the appearance of this unfortunate fox!

Several family members have needed a lot of support and medical care in the last year, and now it's my turn.
I've been in a few more waiting rooms and, although the magazines may not always have been up to scratch, the care and the speed of its delivery have been wonderful.

Within three weeks of finally admitting that I was feeling unwell I have been scanned and X-rayed and blood-tested and booked in with a Consultant Surgeon at a privately-run hospital - all on the National Health Service. I can't believe the speed, efficiency and kindness of all concerned.

I am also very grateful to my neighbour's cat, Agatha, who triggered a quite impressive asthma attack for me. I  have a degree of allergy to cats but I don't have asthma, or at least I didn't before that happened. So I thought I should go to my G.P.and ask for some Ventolin before I made my next visit to son and daughter-in-law who have two cats. For once I stopped myself from saying I was fine when he asked how I was feeling. After all, I usually only go for flu jabs, and when you're seventy-four you're likely to feel somewhat frayed around the edges.
Aren't you?
But for Agatha I would not have gone to the doctor, and I would have continued to feel awful, thinking it was only to be expected after my last birthday.

Incidentally, I'm a cat-magnet. Cats love me, want to sit on me, rub round me, tell me I'm wonderful. I like them too, but if  I touch them I get swollen eyes and a streaming nose. Are they doing it out of a sort of perversity? Is it because I don't make much eye-contact and leave them to do their own thing? Or am I just genuinely irresistible? To cats, I mean.

Anyway, thank you, Agatha,
And thank you NHS for all that has happened so far, and in anticipation for all that is to come.

Agatha, in Guardian mode.