HOME: Blue Room, Panos, #1

This is bit of an experiment! And so far a bit of a confusing one.

I’m trying to put up 360° photos, taken on my groovy Ricoh Theta camera. I’m sure I’ve done so before. Although exactly how I don’t recall.

This time I’ve added two WP features; are they both plug-ins!? I really don’t know! One, called Gutenberg may or may not be. The other, Algori 360, moist serpently is.

Anyhoo, downloading, installing and activating them wasn’t straightforward, leastways not for a non-tech-nerd like me.

And it seems that although I’ve installed both, I can only access their combined functionality – and thereby embed 360° photos – by use if the web-based version of WP, and via the iPhone app version.

Having said that, I’m writing this in the latter. But where the 360° image ought to be, instead I see this:

The other issue is that I wanted to ace a single post with multiple 360° pictures. But I think Algori 360 only supports (or, I’d say, allows/facilitates) one such image per post (or is that page!?).

I hope I can find an easier and more amenable to my own designs way!


I’m wondering whether I ought to move my military history and mini-military hobbies stuff over to my main sebpalmer.com area?

I’m finding that I can do WordPress ok on my iPhone, but Google Blogspot stuff is harder to do. And so my activity on AQOS (aquestionofscale.blogspot) has fallen into desuetude.

This is partly ‘cause I do very little on my iMac any more. And that’s for two main reasons: a general antipathy to computer based travails; and my iMac being old, and running shite.

The author, c. late 1960s.*

* As pictured on the inner dust-jacket of an edition of his work entitled, 1812, which narrates the Russian campaign…

Anyway, I was looking at AQOS, to see what books by Antony Brett-James I’d read and reviewed. And I was mighty surprised to see that, whilst I’ve read two, and I’m now reading a third, I appear not to have reviewed any of them!?

I’m startled. I usually always review any Napoleonic literature I read. It may be that I did reviews but they only went up on Amazon.co.uk. If so, they may be lost forever, as Amazon deleted all my (thousands of) reviews, when they booted me off Vine. No explanation ever given!

Considering the many hours unpaid work that went in to so many of my reviews – esp’ the stuff on non-Vine things, like music and literature/military history – I think this was/is pretty shoddy.

I did back up some of my reviews. But not all of them, alas. There’s a lesson to be learned there, methinks; always keep my own copy of any such writings!

So, last night, I thought reading some Napoleonic history might help me sleep. I chose this book. It didn’t help me sleep! But I did enjoy what little reading I managed to do.

A younger Antony, as he was in WWII.*

* He knew the cost of war first. Not just fighting in it. But losing his brother, Ivor, two years his junior, who died in the Sicily campaign (I think?), 1943.

I’ve certainly both got and have read Brett-James’ 1812, subtitled Eyewitness Accounts of Napoleon’s Defeat in Russia.

I think I have both this edition…
and this one. I best check!

I can’t believe I haven’t written a review of it!? I’ll have to have a root around in my digital archives, and see if I can find anything. Of else read and review it again?

I had started Europe Against Napoleon, some time back. But – very unusually for me – I’d not finished it. I think this belongs to my fairly recent reading burn-out phase.

GARDEN: Pond, Phase 2

The iPhone’s ‘pano’ function helps!

It’s now later the same day, and after a shift delivering for Amazon Flex, I got back into the pond. Literally.

It’s also less blindingly bright. That, and using the ‘pano’ function on the iPhone, have allowed me to get pics that, I think, convey what’s happening more clearly.

Teresa did a bit of this, whilst I was out.

When I was out, delivering, my darling wife – who has opposed this pond project petty vehemently at times – cut some weed-suppressing fabric to rough size. I finagled it a bit, and… ‘wallah’, as TV chefs like to say…

Non-pano: the used pond liner is pretty tatty!

I’m torn – as indeed is the pond liner itself, alas – ‘twixt trying to glue the pond liner, as is, together, and hopefully achieve a hermetically sealed whole, or thinking of this as layer #2 (layer #1 being the green fabric), and getting some new undamaged stuff as a final layer? Trouble is, I am/we are trying to do this on a budget of £0!

Thar she blows!

Sitting in the green-room, a fire crackling in the potbelly stove, Chester slurping water from an outside bowl, and squirrels noisily munching chestnuts in a neighbouring garden, life feels pretty good.

It’s forecast – or ‘fivecast’ as my dad liked to say, thrice upon a time – to rain tomorrow. I hope it chucks down, and fills our new ponds! It’ll be interesting to see if it rapidly drains away, or slowly fills.

I also hope that once filled with water, it’ll pull the layers of lining down. And only then will I go round the edges, trimming it off.

I’ve left two areas, at opposite ends of the two main pools, with a shelving egress, for any critters that might fall in and need to get out. They should also double as ledges for a few aquatic plants.

It’ll be nice to finally have a pond! All that remains, apart from the water, the plants, and the wildlife, is for Teresa to undergo some Frog n’ Toad Therapy!

GARDEN: Pond ‘Complex’, Phase 1

Starting to dig out the larger pond.

I’ve always wanted to have a pond. Sadly Teresa has a terror of frogs n’ toads. So she’s less keen. But I think she’ll learn to love it (and them), in time. I call it a pond complex on account of it being two ponds and a connecting channel.

The old pond lining, where the smaller pond will be.

We’re going to line it with recycled pond-liner, from Simon and Claire’s old (they got rid of it!) pond. They now have extensive decking instead.

So thanks Pops n’ Claire. Let’s hope the old and somewhat knackered lining will ‘live again’! Talking of old n’ knackered…

The effect digging has on me!

Neither pond will be very large – our garden, whilst long-ish, is pencil thin! – nor very deep. And the connecting channel will prob’ only be 8-10” deep, and about as wide.

The main pond, about 18” deep.

It was so bright it was very hard to get a decent pic of the whole, on my iPhone, esp’ what with the cramped space, etc. So the above image, the main pond and the beginnings of the connecting channel (at top left), isn’t great.

But hopefully with phase two – weed suppression lining and then the pond liner proper – it’ll start looking clearer. And once there’s water in there – it’s supposed to rain tomorrow – even better!

A temporary ‘bridge’!

In the pic’ above things are a tad clearer, I hope? Near to the camera is pond # one, the ‘master’ pond (slightly larger, a fair bit deeper), then there’s the connecting channel, ‘bridge’, and at the back, the secondary, or ‘slave’ pond.

I plan to have some kind of bridge across the wee channel. Poss’ two or three meaty timbers, such as this temporary one, above. I’d rather they were either flush with the soil, or at least sunken a few inches. Just plopped atop the lawn* is ok for now tho’!

* All our ‘lawn’ areas are more like brownfield meadows, right now!

WORD O’ THE DAY: Plopular

In replying to friends post I coined this new word. If I were a proper Capitalist (Cunt)*, I’d have copyrighted this. But just as the words Capitalist and Cunt seem to go together so well, so also does my aversion to the monetisation of absolutely everything.

DiY & HOME: Buckingham Green (& Elvin Jones b’day!)

What a beautiful house!

Today, my work to me through Potton. The glorious sunshine really made some of the beautiful old houses look dazzlingly gorgeous. I’m a particular fan of this oh so English combo of red-brick with ‘classic’ old-school green.

This old shed/workshop annexe is lovely.

I loved this house so much I stopped to take photographs. I even knocked on the front door and asked the owner, who luckily was in, what colour it was, if he knew? And he did: Dulux Weather-shield Buckingham Green!

Homing in on the splendid old door.
Number one, in so many ways!

I’ve been on a bit of a quest for this particular classic ‘Brit C. 1940s-‘50s’ green for some time. Now I feel, unlike Bono/U2, I’ve finally found exactly what I’ve been looking for.

Great photo of a great drummer.

The day was Septober 9th, which happens to be the birthdate of the illustrious Mr Elvin Ray Jones.

Beautiful pond on a farm outside Potton.

Some days later (Sept’ 12th), I drove past the garage below. In The Fens somewhere this time, and on a wet, grey and overcast day. The bricks aren’t the glorious reds, exactly. But the metalwork, in this instance, is the right kind of green.

Not quite as magical. But near enough.

It’s amazing the change wrought on appearances by the weather conditions! Although it’s also possible that the green in this last pic is also a shade or two darker anyway.

I like taking the time, during my various activities, to stop and take note of everyday beauty, such as I perceive it. It feeds the soul, so to speak.

BOOK REViEW/ART & MUSiC: Tokyo Jazz Joints

A slipcase cover!
Sans slipcase. Bold typography. And texture.

I’ve been rewarding myself for abstemious and healthy living recently. Each week I’m good, I’ve got a new CD. The first three of which were all, J-Jazz, or Japanese jazz.

I decided to round off this month’s good behaviour incentives scheme with this relatively new book, Tokyo Jazz Joints. A celebration of Jazz Kissa, in both words, and, most especially, in photographs.

Meticulously organised chaos is a theme.

As a hoarder and collector of stuff – books, music (mostly CDs now, and a remnant of a never huge vinyl collection), instruments, tools, models, etc. – the cluttered and cosily lit spaces that abound in this book are really something to chew over.

Descend into a jazz underground.

One of many bands I was in many moons ago, which started out as duo, became a trio, died, and was re-animated as a quintet, was focussed on and around jazz. And one of our originals was tentatively titled ‘At The Boho Cavern’, or some such silliness.

Velly gloovy!

But the serious thing underlying the goofiness was a sense of cool foreign places just such as are lovingly documented and celebrated in this very handsome book.

We were probably thinking of America, back then. That these places to turn out to be a more real proposition in Japan, is a bit of a surprise, even to me with my growing awareness of the Japanese jazz scene.

The interiors vary a lot.

The interiors range from shabby to chic. One thing I found quite notable, was that most of them are nigh on empty. There are a few folk; the owner/bartender, the occasional punter. Only one or two pictures hint at a busy moment.

Was this an aesthetic choice? I often prefer to take pictures of buildings or places free of humans. It helps make these kissa more evocative, and open to one’s own subjective readings. Whatever, it’s still a little odd, given the human dimension of these places.

Perhaps it’s partly a reflection of the decline of this really rather lovely culture? If that’s the case – and the text says it is – that’s very sad.

As, indeed, do the exteriors.

The exteriors are as varied as the interiors, as I hope some of these pics of mine convey. Both the insides and the outsides also reflect the passing of time: patinated metals, fading flaking paints, wood textures, old pictures (postcards, posters, artwork, etc), and all kinds of ephemera; from tickets, magazines, programmes, to the vinyl (and CDs, evenVHS videos!), and the hand-written catalogues of artists/albums/tracks, etc.

There’s graffiti – from stuff scrawled by fans, and musos – to little philosophical nuggets, such as ‘Jazz and freedom go hand in hand, Monk’. And the names of the kissa, and their signage, are an aspect of the whole culture that could be a subject in itself.

Wow! That’s some fab gear, right there.

Much is made of the passion for hi-fi gear, in these joints. It’s also suggested (poss online rather than in this book; the related website is well worth checking out), that a good deal of this tech is custom built.

Looks like custom built hi-fi gear?

My dad built amps and speakers at one point, many years ago. Seeing some of these images, such as the one above (a close up detail of a much larger picture), makes me want to try my hand at building some high end listening tech. I love that blue amp! And there are lots of little valve units dotted throughout.

There’s something a bit Blade Runner here.

I can only imagine the joy of finding places like these in the flesh. How come Japan has so many? Even now when Jazz Kissa culture is in decline? Whilst here in the UK we have – as far as I know? – nothing at all equivalent.

Such evocative imagery!

The choice to photograph everything in the ‘natural light’ of the settings, as experienced, i.e. without flash, etc, is fundamentally important. It’s what gives all these terrific images their incredibly powerful cosiness. Powerful cosiness, eh? Sounds perfect to me!

The reverie, essence of the jazz* life.

And this final image, also the final pic in this sublime book, captures that essence of connoisseurship, the reverie! I need to build a little space into our home inspired by these fabulous jazz kissa.

What a terrific book! Thanks to Philip Arneill, James Catchpole, Kehrer, et al – and the jazz kissa dudes themselves – for a feast of inspirational words and images. A real treasure of a book.

There is still much work to be done. There are many joints to visit, photos to make, stories to uncover and memories to create, before those photos and stories are all that is left of this magical, fading world.’ Philip Arneill

* Or indeed any aesthete type life.

ART & iLLUSTRATiON/LiTERATURE: Barbara Remington’s LOTR Works

Is this a montage, or was the original a composite?

The above image, of which there are many versions online, is suggestive of Babs Remington’s original artwork for the 1970s LOTR trilogy, as published by Ballantine Books, being a composite, from which covers for the three sub-sections of the trilogy (Tolkien always wanted it to be one big book; but his publishers insisted it would be better as three) were extracted.

A detail from the right end of the ‘master’ artwork.
I’m not sure what this is?

The image above is a map, obviously, but with a terrific border by Babs. Was this produced as a poster? I must know! And I must have it.

Zooming in on the bottom right corner (again!).

The detail above is rather similar to the detail I picked from the cover. Which is nice, as it gives this little post some visual and thematic consistency.

I think, however, that me first exposure to Remington’s very enchanting style was this:

Sadly Orville Prescott is mistaken. Great cover tho’!

My dad had this book, in this very edition. I bought a cheap copy off Amazon, for myself, some years back. Not for the writing, which, frankly, I think is dreadful. But solely for the terrific cover.

DAYS OUT: Paycocke’s House, Coggeshall

The pub, next door.
Paycocke’s House, as in Thomas Paycocke.
Having lunch.
Teresa tucks in.
Beautiful plane tree bark.
Gorgeous flowerbed.
Reach for the skies!
No idea what these are, but they’re lovely!
Love the parquet brickwork! And herbs.
The exterior is amazing!

The house was lovingly restored, in the early twentieth century. All the woodwork and brickwork had been covered over with plasterwork in the 19th Century.

FiLM: Berenshtein, 2021

Just watched this rather interesting docudrama. It tells the story, including interview footage with the man himself, of Leonid Berenshtein.

Rather ironically- given that his identity as a Jew, and hiding or revealing that identity, is a crucial elee we met of the film – the version I saw, on Amazon Prime, had the title changed to 1944: Hitler’s Secret Weapon.

I found a thing online under the name of the film’s director, here, and that’s how I came to realise the original and proper title is simply Berenshtein. The painful ironies of history multiply.

Looking around the interweb, it seems that this movie may also go by another name, The Last Partisan. That’s on account of the fact that Leonid himself passed away during the making of this project. Aged 98!

It’s a bit weird, when the movie jumps back and forth between the dramatisations and ‘the present’, as it was a couple of years ago. But overall it’s actually both effective and powerful. And it certainly doesn’t get in the way of this being a cracking good watch.

Another slightly odd thing, especially given the bastardised title of the version I watched, is that both Berenshtein and The Last Partisan are not only better titles, but more accurately reflect the core content.

The actual finding of the V-2 rocket research and development location, which the Prime title implies is the core of the film, ends up hardly featuring at all. And, indeed, they don’t actually find or liberate or destroy it; rather they deduce it’s location, triangulating it via its nigh on impenetrable Dede de cordon. And at the cost of numerous lives.

The bulk of the story is located in the Ukraine, which adds another level of historical irony, given how Berenshtein and his partisans were both Ukrainians and Russians. Whereas now we are seeing those two identities at war, in the same beleaguered lands.

It’s also interesting seeing how the film – an Israeli production – handles both Nazi atrocities, and the dehumanising aspects of war on people, including Berenshtein himself, on both sides.