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A Potter's Moll: Ugh! Very Disturbing

...We had a weekend recently at ClayArt in Denbigh, North Wales. A well organised event of two hundred potters and their wares, plus demonstrations and kiln firings. It always amuses me to eavesdrop on what visitors say – you become used to: ‘What’s this in aid of?’ But I was a bit nonplussed by a posh lady who stood in front of one of Jim’s big garden pots and said: ‘Are those holes eyes or mouths? Ugh! Very disturbing.’...

Columnist Liz Robison sees the good, the bad and the very funny in another crowded fortnight.

To read more of Liz’s sparkling words please click on A Potter’s Moll in the menu on this page.

And do visit the Web site of internationally-famed potter Jim Robison http://www.jimrobison.co.uk/

I’ve seen it all now – a young woman riding a horse along a country lane talking on her mobile phone! It looked rather dangerous to me.

A young friend of mine, Harriet Steele, is having success and recognition in her chosen field of millinery. Our local newspaper featured a full page about her with photos of her creations. She won the City and Guilds gold medal for excellence and the Haberdashers’ Guild gold medal and has been invited to their annual lunch to display her hats.

I can bask in some reflected glory because she made me a pretty fascinator (head decoration, usually with feathers) a couple of years ago for a wedding and I love it so much that I am going to wear it again for my son’s wedding in October. Perhaps I’ll have a little sign: ‘As seen at the Haberdashers guild’.

We had a weekend recently at ClayArt in Denbigh, North Wales. A well organised event of two hundred potters and their wares, plus demonstrations and kiln firings. It always amuses me to eavesdrop on what visitors say – you become used to: ‘What’s this in aid of?’ But I was a bit nonplussed by a posh lady who stood in front of one of Jim’s big garden pots and said: ‘Are those holes eyes or mouths? Ugh! Very disturbing.’

Another well-heeled lady replaced a post card in the display rack on being told it was 30p. And I loved the man who looked all Jim’s pieces up and down and then said to his wife: ‘No, it’s too artistic for me.’

Regular readers know that I am a garden fanatic and the recent wet weather has been frustrating but things seem to be holding their own apart from the peonies which had to be rescued and tied up. A friend took me to Scampston Hall near Malton in North Yorkshire to see the walled garden there. It had fallen into decay until ten years ago the owners employed Dutchman Piet Oudolf to redesign it. He is a pioneer of the concept of gardening with grasses and there are some very bold plantings. There is much else to see with simple but bold use of colour which adds up to a modern garden but one which complements the period house.

The house is open for twenty-one days a year and there were interesting paintings by Gainsborough among the treasures, who was apparently a neighbour of the family in their house in Bath. Well worth a visit.

We visited a NGS (National Gardens Scheme) garden in Glossop, Derbyshire, last Sunday. It is a small rockery based garden which utilises the face of an old stone quarry with water features adding height and audio-pleasure. The owner displayed a couple of my husband, Jim’s garden pots which she had planted up attractively. As we arrived home she rang to say that one had been sold and was on its way to Nottingham.

We have a friend who is a landscape architect and a couple of years ago Jim made some ceramic seats and large sculptures for his display garden at the RHS Tatton Park garden show. Now he wants to borrow more for his NGS weekend. It is always good to see the pots planted up and in a garden setting.

There has been so much in the press and media about the violence that followed the Glasgow Rangers defeat in the UEFA cup final in Manchester, that I feel I am still being relevant by adding my two penn’orth. By chance I travelled by train from Huddersfield to Manchester that day knowing nothing about the fixture or its venue.

At a small local station I was asked to take a photo of about twelve people dressed in blue football tops, which I did. Then on the train there were loads more blue-topped characters and by asking around we found that Rangers were playing a Russian team at the Manchester City ground.

We arrived in Manchester at 12.30 and there were hundreds of fans milling around, swilling beer, swearing, chanting, drumming, hooting. It was chaos.

Then a policeman told me these people were not even going to the match! By the time we left the Royal Exchange Theatre at 5pm the scene was really terrifying: thousands of fans marching several abreast, the worst litter I have ever seen, people lying drunk in the street, urinating in doorways and vomiting in gutters. Scared looking shoppers, shop workers and office workers scurried along dodging the nastiness.

When we got to Victoria station, we had to step over a comatose figure at the bottom of the stairs. Very scary. Surely this behaviour has nothing to do with football? Most people seemed to be bald, beer-bellied men who did not look as if they could run a tap never mind on a pitch. And why were 125,000 people not at work? Tribalism accounts for some of what was going on, but in the interview with the policeman who was later kicked by a mob, he gave his one word opinion of what caused the problems that day: alcohol. It was a disgrace. I later heard on the news that technicians who arrived to repair the giant screen in Picadilly Square were pelted with bottles and cans. Not a lot to do with sport as far as I can see.

Talking of bad language, I watched Julie Walters and Alun Armstong in the Channel 4 Play about Mrs Mary Whitehouse and her campaign to clean up TV. Perhaps we could do with a latter-day Mrs Whitehouse if the language on a programme last night was anything to go by. It was called Gridlock and Roadrage. The subjects chosen for interview seemed to have been chosen for their gratuitous use of foul language – this always used to be beeped out. Anyway, in case you are wondering – yes, I do have an off button, and on this occasion, I used it.

More from me in a fortnight.

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