Archive for March, 2011

Poem: Kissing the air

Posted in My Poetry with tags , , , , , , on March 22, 2011 by echostains

How to air kiss

 This poem was written about this habit we have aquired of air kissing when greeting people.  It may well be healthier and less germ ridden than hand shaking (here’s the social etiquette for those who aren’t sure)

Liz Brewer, a social etiquette expert on ITV’s Ladette to Lady, says a single air kiss next to a friend’s cheek was the most acceptable for the British: “It is important to go for the right cheek, as that way you are greeting each other heart to heart… If you go for the other cheek it is less friendly.”

She says the air kiss is best for people you don’t know well as there’s no contact – but for the very confident there is the two-cheek option.

It’s the false sentiment behind this air kissing that I have a problem with – and it’s that’s which inspired this poem.

Kissing the Air

Complacency props up this world

As effortlessly it sighs.

Disguised concern yawns unfurled

Underneath the lies.

Life’s an overstuffed easy chair,

An affectation beyond compare,

A big pretend of love and care –

Kissing the air.


Sophistication puffs us up

And fills our sails with wind.

Our stiff yet honest awkwardness

Flies loosened and unpinned.

Mouthing platitudes we don’t share,

Twisting our smiles whilst feeling despair,

 Blinded by duplicitous glare –

Kissing the air.


One cheek or two? we start to fret

As we approach our prey.

Caught in this mindless etiquette

In which we have to play.

Meaningless words which go nowhere,

Playing our game of solitaire,

United by the guilt we share –

Kissing the air!


©L M Roberts 2011

Quote from here image from here

Did the Real Charlotte Bronte Just Stand Up? The Debate

Posted in BRONTE with tags , , , on March 16, 2011 by echostains

Quite a while ago I wrote a post about the portraits of Charlotte Bronte, speculating on how she may have looked.  The discussion was furthered by Mr James Grozny, owner of a mysterious painting he aquired at auction.  He speculated that his painting (which can be seen below) was by the artist Edwin Landseer and features the sisters Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte.  The research has been a slow, painstaking –  yet fascinating process and Mr Grozny believes he has nearly solved the mystery.  All can be explained in the comments and corrospondence over at Echostains (sister site).  Anticipating that a debate is ahead, I have decided to dedicate a page to this interesting subject and wish for all further comments to be posted here.  It’s a shame I can’t repost the comments here, but here are the last two to whet your appetite!  To keep up with the story from the beginning – please read the comments over on Echostains  from the original post;-

 Did the Real Charlotte Bronte Just Stand up?

The Bronte sisters by Branwell  
The Bronte sisters by Branwell Bronte

This is a follow up to my post called ‘Will the Real Charlotte Bronte Please Stand up? ‘ This was written a while ago.  I tried to establish what Charlotte Bronte really looked like (and didn’t get anywhere lol!)  This subject still fascinates me though, so I was intrigued to read recently that James Gorin Von Grosny from Devon had bought a painting whom he believes are the Bronte sisters, painted by Edwin Lanseer.  The connection with Lanseer and the Bronte’s comes about through Ellen Nussey’s brother being a friend of his.

could this be a fresh portrait of the Bronte sisters? could this be a fresh portrait of the Bronte sisters?
Now, before you dismiss this claim as outlandish and unlikely, Mr Von Grosny puts up a formidable arguement  defending his claim and a lively debate is going  on the Bronte blog HERE.  It makes fascinating reading and  Mr Von Grosny addresses many issues regarding the work.  It is obvious that he has done a lot of research into the Bronte’s and has a genuine interest in them.
closer up
closer up

 Even the way that the owner aquired this portrait is unusual in itself (read it HERE).  The whole story is intriguing and I am keeping a very open mind.  After all, we have so many portraits, each differing of Charlotte: so many conflicting descriptions of her appearence.  For example, even the samples of her hair differ.  I was at the Bronte Parsonage yesterday and saw three different examples, purported to be Charlottes hair.  There was a necklace made of fair hair, a mourning card with red blonde hair and a very dark lock of hair which is confusing. So why SHOULDN’T this portrait be of the Bronte’s? We don’t know for a fact it isn’t so far.

the knee sketch
the knee sketch 

The reverse of the painting contains a sketch of a knee.  Mr Von Grosny asserts that this ties in with a painting that Charlotte did of a shepherdess with the same scar below the knee.  It is thought to be a self portrait.  There is so much to the story of this painting – the suspense is killing me lol!  But just because I WANT it to be the Bronte’s, won’t make it so, but evidence will.  I can assure you that Mr Von Grosny is busy collecting it!  This portrait has a tale to tell I feel, and I want to hear it!

Constructive comments are invited

Poll ‘Which Bronte are you?’

Posted in BRONTE, Poll with tags , , , , on March 12, 2011 by echostains

Cast yourself back into the 1830’s.  Out on the winding windy moors…sorry coming over all Kate Bush here.  You live in an old draughty parsonage overlooking a muddy overcrowded graveyard which frequently floods.  You live on a diet of mainly potatoes, your drinking water isn’t all it should be and your under 5 ft tall. You share the draughty house with your clergyman Father, who’s getting on in years, your equally old Aunt Branwell, monied but quite tight fisted with it.   You have one servant, Martha Brown who is more like one of the family and she frightens the living daylights out of you with her  ghost stories as you and the other children sit around the fire in the evening  with the wind wuthering around the house. We’ve all been there.  But – which Bronte are you?  which Bronte do you think you are most like – and why?

I’ll go first.  I can’t claim to be the Full Bronte so I suppose I would be most like a hybrid of Branwell (I won’t be told, highly strung and always getting into hot water and the pub :-))  The other half would be Charlotte (small, stroppy, bossy and likes writing 🙂

Video by  thanks!

Dear Reader I read it ‘The Gorse trilogy’ by Patrick Hamilton

Posted in Dear Reader I read it! Book reviews with tags , , , on March 6, 2011 by echostains
patrick hamilton
patrick hamilton

I have just finished reading The Gorse Trilogy by Patrick Hamilton. Though I enjoyed most of it, I felt the end  (the third part) was lacking in conclusion, though the promise was there. Yes, I was disappointed in the end. Hamilton seemed to be just filling the last couple of pages with words just for the sake of it: meaningless to me. I could almost hear the music of Coronation Street being played at high speed and the credits rolling up and myself booted out onto the street… that’s how rushed it was.

the slaves of solitude by patrick hamilton
the slaves of solitude by patrick hamilton

The rest of the book was good though. The character of Gorse is a strange one. Under a (thin) veneer of charm lurks a nasty snake with cold eyes and a cold calculating heart. I am now mystified though. I really enjoyed the TV version of these books. The series was called ‘The Charmer made in 1987 and starred Nigel Havers as Gorse. Needless to say, the series bore only a vague resemblance of the book. I’m sure he kills Plumleigh – Bruce (a fabulously descriptive name), and I’m pretty sure Mr Stimpson does some detective work on Gorse.

Nigel Havers in The Charmer
Nigel Havers in The Charmer

 And where is the rich socialite Clarice Mannors in all this? Thrown in, to give the series a ‘love’ interest, a ‘reason’ for Gorse to do what he does, probably. Of course there’s no excuse for Gorse’s behaviour, in the book. He’s just naturally bad.

I did find it a bit incongruous that barmaid Ivy Barton would have such savings, and also her father (a dismissed Gamekeeper £200). Also, Mrs Plumleigh -Bruce wasn’t exactly loaded, perhaps her weakness was greed and elitism. Gorse plays on weaknesses. I think that if I hadn’t previously seen ‘The Charmer’ years ago, I wouldn’t have had pre conceived ideas about Gorse or the plot. Parts of this book are very funny  (though Gorse himself isn’t) and some of the characters ridiculously human. I especially enjoyed the writing in Plumleigh – Bruce’s diary – absolutely hilarious!

My posts about other Hamilton books;

‘The Slaves of Solitude’

‘Hangover Square’

Note: This review appeared originally on my art blog Echostains