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A Potter's Moll: Physio-terrorists And Penguins

Gargoyles and penguins, misprints and massage, praise for parks and Paxton...

What a treat to travel with lively Liz Robison through her varied week.

For more of Liz's columns please click on A Potter's Moll in the menu on this page. And do visit he Web site of her potter husband, Jim http://www.jimrobison.co.uk/

I passed a cold, wet, windy morning recently enjoying Saga and the National Trust magazines. In an article on things he enjoys in old age, Clement Freud mentioned in passing a visit to his ‘physio-terrorist’! This struck a chord with me when I recently had a back and neck massage. I commented that the masseuse had nothing wrong with her thumbs, to which she replied: ‘I always like to give my clients their money’s worth, even if they don’t want it!’

There was an article in the National Trust magazine about gargoyles and I was interested to learn that the word comes from an Old French word, ‘gargoille’ meaning throat, and that our verb ‘to gargle’ derives from the same word.

In the Corrections and Clarifications column in The Guardian recently it said that in the listings for Radio Three, the aria to be sung was ‘He was despised’, and not ‘He was depressed’, as printed. It makes me smile each time I think about it. No wonder ‘Private Eye’ calls it The Gruniad’.

It reminded me of another misprint, this time in a local newspaper. An article on a well-known musician ended thus:

And how does he relax?
Listening to Haydn’s ‘Cremation’ in the bath.

I have urged readers of this column before to visit The Yorkshire Sculpture Park and it is with great pleasure that we have accepted an invitation to attend a reception to celebrate the park’s thirtieth anniversary. It really is a world class showcase and much of the credit must go to the Director, Peter Murray, who as a tutor of painting in the Art department at neighbouring Bretton Hall College, had the idea and the vision for the Sculpture Park all those years ago.

I’m looking forward also to a visit to Chatsworth tomorrow to see an exhibition of contemporary sculpture in the grounds there. Every visit there provides interest, especially since I read a wonderful biography of Joseph Paxton who was head gardener there in the early part of the nineteenth century. It’s called ‘A Thing in Disguise’ by Kate Colquhoun.

What a man Paxton was – a genius who went on to design The Crystal Palace in London. He also designed the first public park in the country, in Birkenhead, my home town. I must admit that as a child I probably assumed that the lakes and hills and trees were all natural phenomena, not knowing that a swamp had to be drained before work could begin.

I loved learning that Paxton took a day off to travel by train to watch the first footings of his friend Thomas Telford’s magnificent suspension bridge being floated into position on the Menai Strait.

Two more things that made me smile this week – I heard about a couple who went on a cruise where they were told they could expect to see eight different kinds of penguin. On their return the wife declared that there were only two kinds: white ones coming towards you, and black ones going away.

And a little boy informed his grandmother that there were two Ethans in his playgroup, ‘but they’ve got different faces so you know which one is which.’ More from me in a fortnight.

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