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A Potter's Moll: Making The Queen Sound Common

... One student, an older lady, had an accent that was so ‘posh’ it would have made the Queen sound common. You don’t often hear voices like that these days, which makes you realise how language, like all things, changes over time...

Liz Robison tells of a potters' course, a visit to beautiful Fountains Abbey, the paintings of L S Lowry.....and other happy days.

To read more of Liz’s wonderfully entertaining columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/cgi-bin/mt-search.cgi?IncludeBlogs=1&search=Liz+Robison

And do please visit the Web site of Liz’s potter husband Jim Robison http://www.jimrobison.co.uk/

What a mixed bag of a summer we’ve had so far. We had a course in our studio last week for nine people (five of them over seventy). They enjoyed weather that was mostly good enough to sit outside for coffee breaks and take short strolls, but it was never really warm enough to sit out in the evening.

One student, an older lady, had an accent that was so ‘posh’ it would have made the Queen sound common. You don’t often hear voices like that these days, which makes you realise how language, like all things, changes over time. Train announcers, I notice, contribute to this. Travelling to Wakefield by train recently, we were told that the train was arriving into Westgate station.

Historically changes are noted too. My son mentioned Bradley Bar in Huddersfield and added ‘Whatever ‘Bar’ means.’ In fact, in Medieval tomes it meant ‘gate’, whereas ‘gate’ meant ‘street’.(Micklegate Bar, Briggate.)

My visit to Wakefield cost me 70p all told. Hurrah for Grey Power and Metrocard. Another trip recently was to Manchester by train. Then we hoped to get the tram to the Lowry Centre in Salford. We were thwarted somewhat because the rail for the tram was being replaced. But there was a free bus which seemed to take every left turn there was. A fellow passenger said: ‘I’ve lived in Manchester for fifty years and I’ve no idea where we are.’

The (LS) Lowry Centre was reached eventually and a splendid place it is among rejuvenated post-industrial landscape and quays – so much water: so little movement on it, except for swans.

I found the L S Lowry work to be absolutely fascinating: his skills on a much greater scale than I thought: composition, movement, colour were all much more evident than in reproductions. His attention to detail also catches the eye, especially in the boats he was so partial to painting.

A video outlined his life, ( his mother told him he might as well go to Art school as he wasn’t much good at anything else.) When he died the (Manchester) Guardian photographer was cycling past the house next day and saw paintings being carried out. He had the foresight to ask if he might take photographs in the house before it was all disturbed.

Among the most amazing things he discovered was that Lowry’s bed was surrounded by pictures of all the pre-Raphaelite women.

There’s always a snake in Paradise and we had our first glimpse of this: Among the Lowry tea towels and mouse mats we saw ‘L S Lowry Chocolate Chip Cookies’. And across the road from the Gallery there’s the Lowry Retail Outlet. Why not just Harbour City Outlet? I hate shopping malls.

There was a beautiful evening recently after a wet, nasty day. The sailing club Jim belongs to held a barbecue and the sun came out: the sky was sunny and cloudy and dramatic and the clubhouse gave you a panoramic view of the sunset and you could not want to be in a more idyllic spot than Bowshaw Whams Reservoir high above Holmfirth, here in West Yorkshire.

Last week we found a day to make an open-topped M G trip to Fountains Abbey near Ripon with a lunch stop and canal-side walk in Skipton. We were convinced that we had visited there before when Jim first arrived in England in the 1970s from the USA and we spent the summer visiting anything ‘old’.

It turns out that we had not been there, for who could forget the beautiful setting in the Skell Valley and the grandeur and vastness of the surviving buildings. We had a marvellous guide who must have been in her eighties – very erudite, witty and knowledgeable. I had not realised that thirteen monks founded the abbey, representing Christ and his twelve disciples. Over the centuries the simplicity morphed into huge wealth, treasures and a dissolute lifestyles. It will certainly be on the list for a longer visit in future and has made us keen to visit The other Yorkshire abbeys at Rievaulx and Jervaulx this week.

This weekend we are having a three-car M G mini-rally to Chatsworth. My brother and Jim both have M G Fs and our son has Jim’s old MG B, GT V8 with the licence number 1974 M G, the year it was made. We gave him the restored car as a wedding present last year because as he was growing up he and Jim used to work on it and drive around in it and they went to many a vintage car rally together. Happy Days.

More from me in a fortnight.

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