Sunday, 25 June 2017

Charlotte Mew

I've often tried to find the grave of Charlotte Mew, who is buried in Hampstead cemetery, where I walk my dog every day.  I have finally found her. She was lying down (her tombstone has collapsed).  Her life was a sad one.  Many of her poems are about death..  She wrote often from a masculine point of view, but her style is entirely her own.   Go here for full gen.

So, anyway, I've written a poem to mark the occasion.  Thought I might post it.  I write very few poems at the moment, so...


So with a smile he overstepped the grave

I’ve been looking for you, Charlotte Mew,
For quite a while, and now I’ve found you
I’ll return with a book one bright day
And, being dead, you’ll not turn away.

I’ve stepped over you a dozen times
Map marked for an outstanding stone.
Wasn’t ready for collapse, the lone
Prone unmarker among upright lines.

I shall stand above you in the rain
And I’ll watch your dull limestone sheening
I shall stand above you in the sun
While the damned parakeets are keening,
Now I’ve found you, Charlotte Mew.

Wynn Wheldon

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Dickens and Thackeray

'It is usual to compare Dickens with Thackeray, which is like comparing the grape with the gooseberry; there are obvious points of resemblance, and the gooseberry has some superior qualities of its own; but you cannOt make red wine of it.' 

Friday, 2 June 2017


Is it silly of me to wonder whether, given the people who surround him - Milne (East Germany the workers' paradise), Murray (no! North Korea the workers' paradise) - and his own skewed idea of what is right, Corbyn is likely to share state secrets with his pals' pals in Moscow, Pyongyang, Gaza, Caracas, etc..? Be interesting to know quite how NATO would feel about his PM-ship, and I daresay the EU would be delighted that the UK was on its way out. 

So yes, I admit, I would rather have May, who has proved herself an utter flop, than Corbyn, if only because she is not him. I don't think she is actually dangerous. I know he is.  I don't think domestic politics will be that much different, one way or another: we're heading for a fall. In the (incredibly) still unlikely event of the Dear Leader becoming PM, those who fear the worst will find it not so bad, and those poor dear souls who think JC is the Messiah will be sadly disappointed. At least there'd be a proper opposition. Truth is, Corbyn's just another politician. I'll vote Liberal Democrat because it is the only party to have an agenda at least partly based on reason. I voted to Remain. I still vote to Remain, and curses on those who don't (most of you, it would seem, especially the young, who were so ready to blame the old for Brexit - eat yourselves children).

Saturday, 27 May 2017


I'll be supporting Sue Whitmore reading from her new collection, along with Chrys Salt,  at the Torriano Meeting House on Sunday (28th May)

Address: 99 Torriano Avenue, Kentish Town, London NW5 2RX
Directions: From Kentish Town tube station walk up Leighton Road
and turn left onto Torriano Avenue. 
Phone for enquiries: 0207 267 2751 / 0207 482 0044 (Susan).

Thursday, 25 May 2017

CULTURE, INNIT: Hockney, Giacometti, Tillmans and Egan

An indulgent day yesterday.  Started at Tate Britain, with a second look at Hockney.  Helped lift the despond that had fallen on us all the previous day.  Is there a painter more full of life than Hockney, of curiosity, of genuine thrill in the observed world?  Then a stroll through one or two of the regular galleries.  Old friends - 'Hope' by Watts (not how Hockney would paint the subject) - and new (didn't take names).

Then, by boat, to Tate Modern.  How much more fun this would have been had it not been an enclosed catamaran.  If the authorities want people to use the river more, then health and safety have to be relaxed and people given some responsibility for themselves.  Oh well.  It was novel at least.

Tate Modern: Giacometti.  Obviously lots of very thin, very knobbly people (impossible to avoid the idea that he was rather compulsive in this) but also humour.  They were teeny-weeny-winy and VERY VERY TALL, with plenty in-between.  Put me in mind of Samuel Beckett.  Mt favourite room was actually the second, which was full of rather delicate surrealist sculptures in various mediums, and also contained a piece entitled 'Disagreeable Object' (very Beckett). The drawings and paintings must have been known by Francis Bacon.

Went to the members Bar for a lemonade.  For some insane reason their outside tables are made of metal and perfect for convecting heat (or, I imagine, cold).  I bravely sat with the Shard before me and read my book, Jennifer Egan's 'The Invisible Circus'. and wrote a postcard to my granddaughter (Giacometti's rather wonderful dog).

Then I tried the Wolfgang Tillmans. Underwhelming - though perhaps it wasn't fair on the chap asking him to follow Hockney and Giacometti. The difference between the exceptional and the quotidian.

Back home then, and out to a friend's for the football and a home-cooked Indian.  Perfect day.  I'm a lucky sod.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017


Apparently, the great canvas that I, er, devised, for the forthcoming KNOW ONE exhibition, has been vandalised and lost to posterity.  Well, it has been painted over at any rate.  Because I was foolishly rather proud of it, I here present the only known photograph of said piece, in all its glory.  The canvas is about 6 ft x 6 ft.

Sunday, 7 May 2017


Reposting, because 'The Devil's Tattoo' is exceptional.  The link takes you to my review -

Details as to how to order are here:

Wynn Rees, I think you'd especially enjoy this.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017


Proudly parenting Mr Caleb Wheldon...

Captain of Tusken City Raiders, Mr C G P Wheldon, in full flight
photo by Briony-Molly Photography

Monday, 1 May 2017


Proudly parenting Dr Thomas Arnold...


In Germany, these machines are called 'baggers'.  The figure in the yellow is my grand-daughter, Johanna.  Photo by my son Thomas (I assume).  One of my favourite pictures ever in the history of the world etc.  Nothing beats a JCB if you're two and a half years old.


Self, probably around 1967.  Obviously couldn't find my boots.
Come On You Spurs

North of London

In a garden, a little way north of London, self and son Jacob, laughing. Craig and Gemma's engagement party (didn't know such things still existed, but very cheerful do, with superior food).  Photo by Ms Paulina Keamy.  Later, Spurs beat Arsenal 2-0, thereby becoming North London's Top Team.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

GE 2017

For the first time in my political life, I don't feel like a dissident approaching a General Election.  While my friends have almost always leaned left, I have tended to lean right, in a libertarian way so far as social policy is concerned and in an anti-badguys way with regard to foreign policy.  I've tended, I believe, to vote with my head rather than my heart.  Pragmatism has always appealed to me more than idealism.  I can't believe in a perfect world; indeed I believe the attempt to promote one is getting on for diabolical. Perhaps that makes me fundamentally conservative - I think that people make mistakes, act badly, pave the road to hell with good intentions, and so on.  I don't think you can force them to do otherwise. So, anyway, this time round the nasty party is  Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party, not least for its sneering dismissal of the anti-semitism in its ranks. It is also obvious that Corbyn and his team are incompetent, so that policies hardly matter (not that the party appears to have any that its members can all agree upon). Corbyn is used to operating, manoeuvring, politicking, at local level. He is a small-minded man.  He was much involved in London Labour Briefing, an arm of Militant Tendency, the inflitrating far left organisation with which Neil Kinnock so almost-thoroughly dealt (Momentum is its child). Corbyn was pro-IRA, pro-USSR, pro-PLO. is anti-Israel, is pro-Iran and pro-Putin, supports Hamas, and thinks that the socialist dictators of Venezuela and Cuba are dandy fellows.  He is a Bennite Brexiteer.  If you want to vote for him, fine, but there is no moral high ground to be gained or even had: it is a vote for a destroyer.  I have no love for Theresa May, and I don't at all like the tone of much of the Brexit rhetoric - it seems to me fundamentally indecent.  Most of all I fear a complete absence of Opposition, which a Corbynite Labour Party promises.  Were Nick Clegg leader of the Liberal Democrats, I would have no hesitation in voting for his party.  He has faults, but certainly not those of Corbyn (whose faults are both moral and managerial), and not those of Theresa May, who seems nervous and control-freaky and overemphatic.  As it is, I shall have to vote for it hesitantly.  Though I can just about understand a Green vote, there is little choice otherwise.

Friday, 21 April 2017


Silk Street Theatre, Barbican
Declan Donnellan / Nick Ormerod
Orlando James (Leontes) Natalie Radmall Quirke (Hermione)

RM, NM, RW, CC, WW, Matilda W, Roland W

This was riveting.  Neither pious on the one hand nor indulgent of a director's fetish on the other.  It took liberties with the text, but in service to the play.  Proper theatre.  And such an extraordinary play, containing a bit of everything, switching from tragedy to comedy without a hiccough, maintaining a current of high emotional power throughout. There were moments when i found myself not breathing, and 'Oh, she's warm' nearly undid me   Orlando James's Leontes was exceptionally persuasive in all his extreme passions - for his friend, in his jealousy, in his pain, and in redemption.  A tincture of camp added a theatricality which did not upset. NRQ's Hermione, sometimes very quiet, had exactly the right degree of dignity and indignation. The club throughly enjoyed itself.  NM and RM were a little snooty - perhaps rightly so - about the high jinks of the sheep-shearing festival (done as a kind of game show, and enjoyable), which denied us some of Perdita and Florizel's sweetest a-courtin', and none of us could really hear Joy Richardson as Paulina.  Sam Woolf as Florizel was very well spoken (in both senses), but the real star was the company itself, which gave this production verve and punch, and left one feeling invigorated on leaving the theatre. 

Monday, 17 April 2017


Crouch End Open Studios 13 -14 May 2017
Garden Flat, 33 Clifton Road, London N8 8JA
Chrissie Hynde, in a recent documentary, said she likes to walk through cemeteries calling out the names on the tombstones. “When,” she asked, “was the last time their names were heard out loud?”

KNOW ONE is an exhibition of images and words, an exercise in imaginary reconstruction. Three artists – two painters and a poet – have picked one name from a memorial or gravestone from each of London’s ‘magnificent seven’ Victorian cemeteries: Kensal Green, West Norwood, Highgate, Abney Park, Nunhead, Brompton and Tower Hamlets. With a little research each character has been reimagined and in some sense reinvented. This is not an attempt at resurrection, but rather a way of bending memory to the present. To walk through a cemetery is to walk through a community of unknown, but completed, and now largely forgotten lives. Know One asks us to do a little remembering, even if that requires fictional accounts of lost lives. Memories, even our own, perhaps especially our own, are often false. We create narratives of our lives that seen from an objective viewpoint might be unrecognizable. Our subjects, our no-ones, stand for all those forgotten lives, our own (as they will be in due course) included.

Wynn Wheldon is a critic and poet. He has published two collections of poetry, Tiny Disturbances (Acumen, 2012) and Private Places (IDP, 2016). His most recent book is a biography of his father, Huw Wheldon, Kicking the Bar (Unbound, 2016). He is married with three sons and lives in North London. He walks his dog everyday in Hampstead cemetery.

Sue Spaull’s paintings owe a lot to the Old Masters, adopting some time-honoured techniques which she uses to her own ends. Her paintings create a narrative, through her use of composition, paint application and setting. Her play with classical techniques, where images emerge and disappear as the underlying grisaille is at times exposed, at times overlayed with glazes and paint, contributes to the sense that she is capturing forgotten memories through her series of Know One paintings as she re-imagines aspects of lives once lived.
Sue has had her work shown at the Mall Galleries as part of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition and in the Federation of British Artists Exhibition. Other exhibitions include What are you looking at? (solo), The Strand Gallery, Progression, the Menier Gallery and The Breakfast Club, Underdog Gallery. She was recently commissioned by the Old Vic to paint a portrait of Glenda Jackson for the publicity for her performance of King Lear. Sue is Deputy Head of Painting at The Art Academy, London.

Sue Spaull
Lydia Emma Booth (Sue), 2017 Oil on linen
20 x 30 cm

Sirpa Pajunen-Moghissi uses a variety of materials to rebuild the stories of these chosen names. She tries to untangle the lost memories and create images that are loosly based on facts; she borrows both from her own family history and some from the research that is done of each subject. Her art works are created through multiple layers and by a process of deconstruction and rearrangement.
Selected Exhibitions include Royal Academy Summer Exhibition; Hide and Seek, Highgate Contemporary Art (solo); Camou age, Koleksiyon, London; Scandinavia; A Celebration of the Nordic Province, London and Kaapelitehdas, Helsinki, Finland. She is also co-founder and
director of ArtKapsule.

Sirpa Pajunen-Moghissi
Lydia Emma Booth (Sirpa), 2017 Collage, watercolour and spray paint on giclee print 

(Hahnemühle Photo Rag Pearl , 320gsm)
61 x61cm

For further information or hi-res images please contact: Sirpa Pajunen-Moghissi tel. 077 11 00 88 98, email: 


from The Moonstone, by Wilkie Collins, Mrs Clack's Narrative

Oh, be morally tidy. Let your faith be as your stockings, and your stockings as your faith.Both ever spotless, and both ready to put on at a moment's notice!