Art Deco in Shrewsbury

Shrewsbury tends to the quainte and olde worlde. Well, it’s an old market town.

I did find some Art Deco though.

I spotted this garage on the approach to the town centre. Typical 1930s Deco styling:-

Art Deco Garage, Shrewsbury

This shop is nearer the centre. Rule of three in the windows (which unfortunately have been “modernised”). Pediment on roofline:-

Art Deco Shop, Shrewsbury

Art Deco Shop Terrace. Again modernised windows but the roofline fits the deco bill:-

Art Deco Shop Terrace, Shrewsbury 1

Art Deco Shop Terrace, Shrewsbury 2

Another shop. Stepped roofline, white rendering, window proportions:-

Another Art Deco Shop, Shrewsbury

Marks & Spencer. Art Deco style here. Mainly in the window proportions:-

Marks & Spencer,Shrewsbury

Market Hall Clock Tower. Clock face is deco-ish:-

Shrewsbury Market Hall Clock Tower

Raith Rovers 4-1 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 3, Stark’s Park, 23/3/19.

We just weren’t at it for this game.

Mind you, the line up was odd with Carsy playing at centre back and Michael Paton in midfield. Neither Ross Perry nor Brian McLean could have been available at centre half despite no mention on the club website of them having problems.

We had a fair bit of possession in the first few minutes without making anything of it. Then the doors fell off. A quick movement up our right led to a good first time strike hitting the back of our net. But we had been carved open far too easily.

They began to look faster and sharper than us, getting to second balls quicker.

Their second followed a misjudgement by Craig Barr who failed to cut out a through ball. David Ferguson’s last ditch challenge only fed the ball to the scorer.

Grant Adam had no chance with either shot. His kicking had started off OK but soon started to become atrocious. It’s a liability.

Hope blossomed when a great ball inside the full back allowed Bobby Barr to the bye-line and his cut-back was netted by Calum Gallagher.

If we’d held out to half-time we might perhaps have made a game of it but Grant Adam came out for a ball he’d no hope of ever getting, letting ex-Son Kevin Nisbet head into an empty net. Last effort of the half. That was game over.

I wondered at the restart if our goal would survive more than the ten minutes it had in the first. It didn’t. Nine minutes in they got past the defence too easily again. Grant Adam parried the shot – but only to Nisbet’s head. Game really over.

We looked utterly disjointed, loads of hoofed balls to nowhere, misplaced passes galore, Dom Thomas reverting to ‘hit it at the earliest opportunity’ even when playing a pass was the much better option. Even so I was surprised when he was hooked off in favour of Iain Russell but Beany almost scored with his first touch, the ball crashing off the bar. It looked easier to score. That’s the sort of day we had.

Four of the teams around or below us picked up points as well. We could be back in eighth place on Tuesday when Stranraer play Brechin.

This looks like going down to the wire.

M106

Another great picture of a galaxy courtesy of NASA – via Astronomy Picture of the Day for 17/3/19.

It’s thought that huge amounts of glowing gas are falling into the galaxy’s central black hole.

This is M106:-

Galaxy M106

Tunes of Glory by James Kennaway

Canongate Classics, 1989, 180 p, plus v p Introduction by Allan Massie. One of the 100 best Scottish Books.

 Tunes of Glory cover

Lt Colonel Jock Sinclair, ex-Barlinnie, has come up from the ranks and the Pipe Band via a good war to become acting commander of a battalion of an unnamed Scottish regiment. While the battalion is engaged in boisterous dancing practice the new Colonel, Basil Barrow, graduate of Eton, Oxford and Sandhurst (and a Japanese POW camp,) arrives the evening before he was expected. His displeasure at the raucous activity is clear and the seeds of conflict are sown. The new Colonel is soon dubbed Barrow boy, and his demand that all officers gather in the early morning three days a week to practice dancing in a more refined style incurs resentment.

Sinclair has a penchant for drink and a daughter, Morag, of whom he is overly protective. He also maintains an interest in Mary Titterton, an actress in the local Repertory company, with whom he can relax. These two women are the only two in the book and are little more than placeholders. Kennaway’s interests lie elsewhere, in the exigencies of army life, the necessity of sticking to military etiquette and the drawbacks these entail.

Sinclair’s behaviour on a night out in the town eventually puts Barrow in an impossible position. Neither can deal with the consequences.

I watched the film made from this on television a few years ago. As far as I recall it, it stayed remarkably true to the book. In his introduction Allan Massie says the ending works better cinematically than in the novel, mainly due to Alec Guiness’s presence as an actor. There is something to this analysis but Kennaway’s examination of army life and the pressures it puts on emotional life is nevertheless illuminating.

Pedant’s corner:- in the author’s background information page; Aucherarder (Auchterarder.) The publishing information says first published in 1933 in Canada; the text mentions television sets and is clearly set post-Second World War , so 1953? In Allan Massie’s Introduction; “a corporal, unknown to him, is his daughter’s boyfriend” (a corporal who, unknown to him, is….) locak (local,) Reportory (Repertory,) “He didn not.” (He did not,) respsonsibility (responsibility.) Otherwise: hooched (this can be read to be an allusion to illicit alcohol. The sound referred to is more usually written as ‘heughed’,) Jesus’ (Jesus’s,) a missing comma before a piece of direct speech, clack-handed (usually it’s cack-handed.) “There were a score of details” (there was a score.)

Not Friday on my Mind 55: These Boots Were Made for Walkin’

This is another record on which Hal Blaine (see last week’s post) played drums, the song one of the fruits of Sinatra’s working relationship with Lee Hazlewood.

This video is something else. OK, I get the fact that the performers’ boots were being emphasised, but the skirts didn’t need to be so short for that did they?

Nancy Sinatra: These Boots Were Made for Walkin’

A Democrat?

What can you say about a Prime Minister of the United Kingdom who derides Parliament? Who blames MPs for her failure to secure her desired legislation?

It is as if she thinks she is a dictator and that what she says must go. The tenor of her speeches – and her facial gestures – is exactly that of someone who does not tolerate dissent. Trying to suggest Parliament is against the “people” is a dangerous course. I have already suggested that May would be a dangerous PM but even I did not expect such an outrageous comment to come from the mouth of a British PM.

She has already shown many times she is unfit for high office – too rigid, too blinkered, among other things – but if anything proves it, that assertion does.

For that is not the system in which she works. Parliament is not there to do the Prime Minister’s bidding. MPs are not delegates bound to do what they are told. They are representatives, there to exercise their own judgement on the legislation put in front of them. Certainly, they are elected on a broad basis to support the policies of the party under which they presented themselves to their electors but not slavishly to troop through the voting lobbies like sheep.

They have a duty to assess whether any projected law is in the country’s interest and to vote accordingly. It follows that only those laws to which Parliament consents can be enacted. If Parliament does not give its consent the proposed law does not pass – no matter the Prime Minister’s wishes.

Theresa May’s statement that, “It’s a matter of personal regret to me,” that Brexit hasn’t been delivered yet irresistibly reminded me of Neville Chamberlain in his speech on the radio in September 1939 announcing that war with Germany had begun. “You can imagine what a bitter blow it is to me that all my long struggle to win peace has failed.”

Theresa May is not a martyr to MPs. She is the victinm of her own folly. Her flagship policy has been defeated in Parliament – twice, by historic margins each time – and yet she still ploughs on banging her head against the brick wall of that same hung Parliament which only came into being because of her hubris in assuming all she had to do was call an election and then bask in the adulation of an adoring public and a landslide victory. Not the first, nor last, of her mistakes. And it left her held hostage to the extreme right wing of her party and to the provisional wing of the Old Testament in the shape of the Democratic Unionist Party.

What has to happen in order for this woman to recognise reality? That
her time as PM has been a disaster, that she has brought about chaos, and harmed the country in the process. And for what? To keep the Tory Party together? It looks like that’s working well.

People in Britain used to make jokes about banana republics. That’s a bit out of date these days.

Except for the fact we don’t grow any we’re now the butt of any such joke. A banana monarchy.

Paris Adrift by E J Swift

Solaris, 2018, 379 p. Reviewed for Interzone 274, Mar-Apr 2018.

Paris Adrift cover

Time travel is one of Science Fiction’s most venerable tropes but in more recent times has taken something of a back seat to other aspects of the genre. In Paris Adrift, E J Swift has adopted an oblique approach to the topic, gaily skipping over any problems with the ethics of non-intervention and avoidance of the grandfather paradox. She does not make anything of, still less explain, the mechanics of the process (which arguably puts us in fantasy territory,) it is simply an integral part of the story she has to tell.

Hallie, an English geology student estranged from her family, is on a gap year in Paris trying to sort her life out. She takes a waiting job at Millie’s, a bar near the Moulin Rouge. Millie’s is a nexus for the strange. Fellow employee Gabriela finds she is always somehow prevented from leaving Paris while Hallie has odd encounters with birds that talk to her, an apparent doppelganger, and customers, while also experiencing odd sensations both in the keg room and in Paris’s catacombs. She still finds space for a relationship with fellow waiter Léon, and Swift charts superbly the overwhelming intensity of a burgeoning love affair.

The narration is almost exclusively from Hallie’s viewpoint, in that pressing present tense which can seem like a default in so much modern SF. Occasional mentions of geological terms underline Hallie’s background.

The incursions of the weird might perhaps have been more unexpected had we not already read a prologue chapter introducing us to the chronometrist, a person seemingly able to take control of other’s bodies at will but whose essence is fading, and to the concept of anomalies and their incumbents. Hallie soon finds out the keg room is a time portal and her future has been mapped out by the Way of Janus.

Her first experience of timefaring takes her to 1875 where she seems to adapt to her new situation remarkably quickly and is befriended by the Millie who will one day found the bar. She also meets the architect designing the Sacré-Coeur. Partly due to Hallie’s interference that building will no longer be erected. In its stead will arise the Moulin Vert which becomes a significant location in the rest of the book (plus inspiration for a political movement) and technically makes the novel an alternative history. However, other aspects of our modern world and its history are unaffected, there are mentions of Whatsapp, plus the Bataclan, Stade de France and Nice attacks.

The anomaly’s next flare sends Hallie to 1942 and a suitably claustrophobic encounter with would-be cellist Rachel Clouarte. Hallie dodges German soldiers and the curfew to reunite Cluarte with her cello and aid her escape in order to ensure her career in music will prevail, so that she will not marry and produce (eventually) the descendant who will contribute to a catastrophic war in the future. This 1942 Paris is lightly affected by the occupation, street life continuing gaily as normal, though of course the deportations from which Clouarte is to be saved proceed apace. I did wonder why Hallie’s intervention in the Clouarte family tree had to be quite so early but of course it does give Swift the opportunity to depict Paris in wartime and up the danger quotient.

Another flare takes Hallie to 2042 and a terribly plausible fascist Paris (complete with Metro station called LePen) and the seeds of the situation which the Way of Janus seeks to avert. Other timefaring trips are mentioned but not gone into in detail.

The 1942 and 2042 excursions lend the novel aspects of a thriller yet there are other scenes which bring to mind Angela Carter’s Nights at the Circus and the work of Tim Powers. Throughout, Swift’s portrayal of her characters is assured. These are people we can believe in even if one of them is prey to the logical fallacy that because the Earth is remarkably suited to humans it is a sign of something miraculous rather than the unfolding of impersonal forces which merely allowed us to arise.

Paris Adrift deals with the heavy theme of totalitarianism and the threat of the far right but never loses sight of the smaller people who live through interesting times. While Léon and Hallie are pivotal to the resolution of the plot (and History itself) its emotional focus, though sometimes sidelined, is on their relationship.

Like a lot of SF this suggests life is hard and pain impossible to avoid but unlike most recent SF it proffers hope along with the sacrifice. Never mind it being good SF/Fantasy, this is a good novel.

The following did not appear in the published review.
Pedant’s corner:- “the night team begin to trickle in” (the night team begins to trickle in,) “the group want shots” (wants,) “a stream of people flow inside,” (a stream flows,) “the confines of the locker room lends an air” (the confines lend an air,) “a travelling company were performing” (a company was performing,) “the shape of the walls change, become smooth and rounded” (the shape changes, becomes smooth,) “Her age and appearance has altered once again” (have altered,) “the floor team are doing the rounds” (the team is doing the rounds.) “None of these people have an anomaly. None are bound to this place” (none has, none is.) “Only a small proportion of the catacombs are maintained for visitors.” (Only a small proportion is maintained,) “as the assault team go through their final checks” (as the team goes through its final checks.) Yet despite all these examples of such failures of agreement of subject and verb Swift obviously knows what’s what as we had the correct “a rickety set of steps leads up to”,) “till I am stood right next to him” (it wasn’t a passive activity, so standing”,) “sat on the gravestones” (sitting,) gotten (in a narrative otherwise so British in tone this USianism jars,) “since she bid me farewell” (bade me farewell,) “preempting the touch that will follow” (the context implied savouring rather than pre-empting,) Dušanka calls Hallie “‘my petit chou.’” She responds, “‘And I’m not a pastry.’” (That response would be to “my petit choux” – chou is a cabbage and “petit chou” a term of endearment. Hallie’s French isn’t supposed to be good but surely she would not confuse the two?) “is sat” (is sitting,) “another woman is stood at the window” (is standing,) dove (USian; the British past tense of dive is dived,) “sat sipping” (sitting sipping,) “glasses pile up on either side” (context implies both sides,) inside of (USian, it’s just inside, no “of”,) descendent (descendant,) focusses (focuses,) syllabi (I prefer syllabuses, though I concede syllabi is a correct Latin plural,) “you’ll be never be happy” (that first “be” is redundant, “‘How can I do that.’” (That is a question so requires a question mark, not a full stop.)

Shrewsbury Abbey Interior

I showed the Abbey’s exterior in my post about the Great War poet Wilfred Owen‘s memorial in its grounds.

The interior is more impressive.

Altar and vaulted ceiling:-

Shrewsbury Abbey

Stained glass window above Abbey entrance:-

Shrewsbury Abbey

Modern stained glass windows:-

Shrewsbury Abbey

Shrewsbury Abbey

The Abbey is right by the River Severn – which came to visit in the 1950s as this photograph in one of the Abbey’s aisles shows:-

Shrewsbury Abbey

Shrewsbury

The game at Oswestry not being till the evening we took ourselves off to Shrewsbury on the Saturday afternoon. (I’ve already mentioned Shrewsbury Abbey in a 4/11/2018 post about Wilfred Owen’s Memorial in the Abbey Grounds.)

Since we didn’t know the town we stopped at the first Park and Ride and availed ourselves of the service. That was just as well because the traffic was very busy and the streets quite narrow.

We also asked someone if the pronunciation was “Shrew”- or “Shrow”- sbury and were told it didn’t matter, either would do.

The town’s history is clearly evident in its buildings, with several in the timber-framed Tudor style:-

Shrewsbury Buildings

Shrewsbury buildings

Shrewsbury buildings

Shrewsbury Tudor building

Shrewsbury Building

Infantry Junior Leaders Memorial, Oswestry

After the Second World War the military camp at Oswestry became a centre for Canadian troops, then the Royal Artillery and finally a training centre for Infantry Junior Leaders.

Also in the Oswestry War Memorial garden area is a Memorial to these Junior Leaders. Deus Vult translates as God wills.

Infantry Junior Leaders Memorial, Oswestry

Dedication plaque:-

Dedication Infantry Junior Leaders Memorial , Oswestry

Plaque to Junior Leaders who died on active service:-

Memorial to Fallen Infantry Junior Leaders, Oswestry

Junior Leaders Association appreciation for Oswestry:-

Infantry Junior Leaders Thanks to Oswestry

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