Wednesday 31 December 2008

Should auld acquaintance be forgot

London Town, new year's eve and a few surprises.

An afternoon at the Tate modern smelling oddly of cold Christmas pudding and perfume.

A Picasso or two, a Miro and even Monet's Lillies, though more people seemed to be looking out the window at the Millennium Bridge that scuttles across to St Paul's - moored ship like on the north bank of the Thames.

Sand sculptors building a piano down on the beach where mud larks used to work, the restored and whitewashed Globe and a replica Golden Hynde moored next to a coffee shop.

When the sky is blue central London is a gem, today the sky is grey and the last day of the year is bitterly cold and damp so it is a place more to hurray through.

Monday 29 December 2008


Sights and smells of England after a two year absence.

1. A milk float.

2. Smell of coal fire burning.

3. Waft of vinegar from the fish and chip store.

4. The Indian running the corner news agent.

Sunday 28 December 2008

New pad of paper

Post christmas thoughts;

1. Do all Aquarians hate having their heads massaged by pieces of bent metal sold as scalp massagers?

2. Is it bad form to pick up something in Woolworths, two days before they close for EVER, and ignore the 50 per cent reduction and offer a quid?

3. If you just grabbed something and ran would the security chase you?

Wednesday 24 December 2008

Christmas Eve

And so this is Christmas, and what have we done, another year over, a new one just begun (almost)…………

well, I’ve lost my favourite pillow, left it in a hotel in Paris and I’ve finished this BLOG ADVENT CALENDAR which I have tried to fill with things interesting, surprising, door related and Christmassy.

You should be able to find, among other surprises: a lot of doors, a journey with the call of a seagull, time travel (and a sweet shop from my childhood), somewhere bigger inside than outside, something forgotten, something cold, laughs, Jesus, almost perfection, a promise, the moon, something strange, a classic film, friendship, the unexpected, the illogical, a puzzle, some moments of discovery and solidarity, inspiration, an invitation, memories, a joke, and St Marc’s Square in Venice. 23.

……and Happy Christmas from me and mine.


Tuesday 23 December 2008

Open Sesame

There are probably thousands of literary instances of doors taking a central role in plot development and it therefore wouldn't be right to ignore such an opportunity in my blog advent calendar considering the central role they play here.

My favourite, which is also the opening of the Novel it leads into (as all doors in this calendar attempt to do) is this; it starts Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep.

"It was about eleven o'clock in the morning, mid October, with the sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain in the clearness of the foothills. I was wearing my powder-blue suit, with dark blue shirt, tie and display handkerchief, black brogues, black wool socks with dark blue clocks on them. I was neat, clean, shaved, and sober, and I didn't care who knew it. I was everything the well-dressed private detective ought to be. I was calling on four million dollars.

The main hallway of the Sternwood Place was two stories high. Over the entrance doors, which would have let in a troop of Indian elephants, there was a broad stained-glass panel showing a knight in dark armor rescuing a lady who was tied to a tree and didn't have any clothes on but some very long and convenient hair. The knight had pushed the vizor of his helmet back to be sociable, and he was fiddling on the ropes that tied the lady to the tree and not getting anywhere. I stood there and thought that if I lived in the house, I would sooner or later have to climb up there and help him."

I left this post until today as i had to get used to I-movie editing. Wouldn't it be perfect if he went through 23?

doors/23rd December 2008

A seagull

I think that all good Christmasses, and hence advent calendars, should have a journey in them. The three wise men apparently thought so and it seems that most people i know make some sort of trek either to be there, or to receive those who travel here.
The BBC correspondent Aleem Maqbool is charting his journey to Bethlehem on a donkey in recreation of Mary and Joseph's seasonal trip, and the videos and text are well worth visiting.

Today i found myself in Dover harbour as part of my own, non star following journey, waiting for the cross channel ferry to dock; dusk was settling and the White Cliffs were beginning to fade. It has been two years since i was last in England, even longer since i last arrived by boat.

As the evening moved in close around us, the cry of many seagulls filled the air and i realized how much i associate them with this land, island that it is, and how much i have missed their call.

A chance find, which has dictated the content of this calendar as much as designed intent, has allowed me to place one, behind a door for the 22nd day of December.

If i was more designer than chancer i would still want to include it.

Sunday 21 December 2008

Time Travel (Something Cherished)

Good doors, bad doors, three memories, good doors next.

1. I’m in my forties in one of the stations in Paris. I’m travelling with your daughter, she needs a pee and the toilets are strictly women only. I send her through the automatic sliding doors then poke my head through to make sure she is ok. They close around my neck. No damage done.

2. I’m in my thirties, our first date, New York City, a trip to the cinema to see Back to the Future. We buy our tickets and walk downstairs to the screening room. As we enter the dark through the open door I look up and written large above it: The Future. No hesitation

3. I’m in my teens, in the church for Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. I went on my own, sang and took communion. It must have snowed heavily during the sermon because as I stepped out the door to go home everything had changed white. No footprints.

No sound.

Silent Night.

Friday 19 December 2008

Something Forgotten

Good doors, bad doors, three memories, bad doors first.

1. I was about early twenties old and I had gone for an audition, my first for a community theatre group. I arrived a little early and was sitting in the kitchen waiting and looking along the corridor to the front door and escape. On the left, half way along the corridor, behind another door I could see the movement and more or less hear the action of the preceding audition. Minutes passed like days, tension and anxiety increased and when the door opened and, humbled and embarrased I was invited in - I made an excuse, “I’ve changed my mind “ and left.

2. Mid twenties, driving alone to Spain for the first time in my newly purchased living-in van. The previous night I had crossed the border and I woke, parked along side a mountain torrent, southern slopes of the Pyrenees. I put the kettle onto the gas stove for a future cup of tea and then stepped out for an early morning explore. Locked myself out, keys inside, everything at the mercy of the kettle that would shortly catch fire. Thank you for windows.

3. Late twenties, after midnight returning to my room in an abandoned nurse's home East London, where i rented workshop space in the ajacent converted hospital. A dark corridor and surprised by someone-surprised-to-see-me hiding in an unlit doorway. He left, i returned to alert the sleeping night watchman and was surprised again by he-who-was-surprised-by-me-but-was-no-longer and as i unlocked the entrance door he decided to attack.

My twenties weren't the best of times until the very end

Thursday 18 December 2008

Something Cold (this way comes)

If no one said it already they should have; “First you get married, then you get a fridge then you get fridge magnets”.

Once you get fridge magnets you probably eventually get magnetic poetry too but it seems that it's always more fun to play with on someone-else's fridge. Ours has "my shadow could obscure delight", and no one who lives here claims authorship.

I've been trying to collect the magnetic map of France that is free, in pieces, with a chocolate biscuit on sale in most of the supermarkets round here but unfortunately i can't stand to eat anymore of them and i am still missing the piece where i live.

I wonder if there is any significance in that, will my destiny change if the puzzle is completed?

Or is that taking fridge- magnets too far?

Wednesday 17 December 2008


Dave, who shares a dual uniqueness in that he not only is an ex-Mendezie but is also the only person I know that reads this blog voluntarily, suggested I used Avon Ladies as inspiration for one of the posts on this advent calendar.

I have neither met such a creature, nor knowingly used one of their products but I had already considered door-to –door salesmen, a subspecies to which the Avon Girls would belong if it was not for their Gender.

My youth could testify, if it was still here, to Prudential Insurance Agents, Littlewood Football Coupon Collectors, Brush Salesman and a Baker- all who called at our door, along with more seasonal Carol Singers, Penny-for-the-Guy-ers and Bob-a-Job Scouts.

In fact hardly a week went past without a call; the Milkman came EVERY week.

Of course the past is pretty past and these folk don’t ring or knock anymore and I suspect the Avon folk have also been re-packed into digital irrelevance.

Dave surprises when he betrays his fondness for skincare and I would have thought he would have preferred these two, who like Jesus yesterday waited outside for the door to open.

(Incidentally you can twitter Dave’s feeds by including obscure references to Mendezies to all your online publishing, e.g. what do you call three guys on a roundabout? Men dizzy!)

joke wall, with doors

Tuesday 16 December 2008


Ok, call me a traditionalist if you like but i still think Disney's Mary Poppins has an essentail place at Christmas (and therefore in this advent calendar), that the newer stage show should never have been produced and that religion should be in the mix somewhere, somehow.

Not in Mary Poppins though.

I had a pretty standard Church of England upbringing, went to Bible Class, Sunday School, the Church Youth Club and even became a born again adolescent after a particularly fervent evangelical meeting i attended.

Very quickly though i found i was only praying just before exams and realising this constituted a fairly inapropriate use of religion, i decided to strike out on my own and see how i got on. the decision coincided with a holiday hitch-hiking around Ireland and for some reason i kept getting lifts from Nuns who would drive miles out of their way to put me back on the straight and narrow.

Christmas should have snow, and dark, and little white lights on green trees and for me a trip to midnight mass is as essential as it is disapointing. And thus my blog advent calendar has a bit of Christ in it.

There are two photos already from the Cathedral in Toulouse and today a story that the hoplessly sentimental side of my character finds unable to resist, especially as a door features as heavily as the lord.

I quote from the (probably) Reverend Ron Hutchcraft.

"When I was little, my dad used to drop me off at a nearby church so I could go to the Sunday school they had there. We weren't a church-type family, so what I saw and heard there was all new to me. And I remember this painting they had of Jesus. Now I know it's one of the most famous ones painted in modern times. You may have seen it. Jesus is in a garden, and He's knocking on what looks like a big oak door. The man who painted it was named Holman Hunt. And when he was ready to unveil it for the first time, he called his friends and family together to be the first ones to see it. Well, it was pretty quiet as each person stood there and drank in the deep feeling that that painting conveys. Then people began to comment on what impressed them about it. But one friend said hesitantly, "Uh, Holman - it's a beautiful painting. But didn't you forget something?" "What did I forget?" The friend said, "The handle. There's no handle on the door." To which the artist simply replied, "Oh! No, I didn't forget the handle. When Jesus knocks on the door of your heart, the handle is on the inside."

Ok, Ok, I'll balance things out tomorrow.

Monday 15 December 2008

Perfect in every way

Still working on the technological aspect of this blogged advent calendar, and still trying to present the image of a door that you open to discover something.....

......Perfection would be nice.

Sunday 14 December 2008

Saturday 13 December 2008

The Moon (be carefull when they offer you....)

Ok, the photo is not brilliant and no way does it capture the shocking magnificence of the event, but it does have a door and the subject.

On Thursday night, leaving work late i tried to photograph the moon through the car door. Actually i was thinking about doors, this advent calendar and an appropriate post as i left the building - an aircraft air conditioning systems manufacturer - and looked up into the chilly night sky. The moon was softly covered by high cloud and a complete moonbow encircled the pearl coloured globe. It was obvious that something special was about to happen.

The entrance door to the building, a suitably photogenic jacques-tatish sixtiness, provided a great frame and link - though i would have to lie down in the reception area to get the right angle. Unfortunately the doors have a security lock, you can leave but not return without a pass, which i don't necessitate.

So it had to be the car door.

On Friday night, driving home at dusk from chasing the school bus driver down country lanes to tell the driver that his five horses were once more around the house trying to eat my flowering shrubs, i looked up and came to an emotional halt seeing the rising full moon devouring the forest that it silhouetted.

If you saw it then you stopped to; it was frighteningly majestic, terrifyingly beautiful - a beholden wonder.

I learnt today that it was the biggest and clearest view that the earth has had of her since 1993, a fortunate celestrial conjunction of full moon-ness and perigee closeness (i also learnt the lunar terms perigee and apogee)at 221,560 miles.

The ancients would have fallen down in praise and adoration.

Strangely strange but....(oddly normal)

It's funny the way things sometimes turn out.

I chose this image because of the door in the Doll's House and then enjoyed a moment of coincidence. Three or four years ago when i took the picture Minnie was wearing odd socks and today we were returning through the forest from a piano lesson, when she pointed out that she was wearing a Betty Boop on one foot and a Tasmanian Devil on the other.

Up to now the "doors" of this blog advent calendar have opened onto Friendship, The Unexpected, The illogical, A puzzle, Moments of Discovery and Solidarity, Inspiration, An Invitation, Merories, A joke and St Marc's Square in Venice. I didn't plan their being there, they sort of happened but i'm quite happy with the way things are taking shape.

Today, behind the door in what was once Krissie's Doll House i thought we should - for once - have some chocolate. And since i started with Minnie i think it's neat to finish on an M.

Wednesday 10 December 2008

Deck the Halls

The horses were no where to be seen this morning, just piles and scrapes that marked their passing, so this evening i descended into the valley to look for them.

The wind was from the North and the sky was thick and heavy and waiting. Snow is up there, we may wake to it down here tomorrow.

There was no sign of hair or hide, tail or mane but as i climbed up through the forest a flock of migrating wings buzzed overhead which made the clouds seem even more dour.

And since the village have decided it is time for a public display and since Krissie's birthday has been duly celebrated i picked up - well dragged up as it has tried to root itself - the Christmas Tree that has been living outside and brought it in, through the door to decorate.

Last year a good friend,Yogi,shared his with us.

Tuesday 9 December 2008


Somewhere in my set of conscious and subconscious associations with doors/christmas/advent calendar i find-stables,; not so surprising since the Jesus story often has the stable as centrepiece.

Associated with stables has to be horses and this morning whilst looking for an important but ultimately unfound piece of paper i turned to look at the door next to the desk that has already featured in this calendar.

He is one of five that chose to visit. the five wise horse from the east?


Monday 8 December 2008

Happy Birthday

The population of the nearest village is a startling 263. It's a quiet place and some would describe it as the middle of nowhere, even some among the 263. Recently the road that runs through the place has been resurfaced and although the main traffic problem occurs when BOTH tractors meet the school bus we now have TWO pedestrian crossings!

This alone is maybe not so, so surprising but i wonder how they decided where to place them and how they were able to limit themselves to two. The discussion had to be something like,"well Fabrice always crosses the road there so lets put one here, and Isabelle always crosses there so we need one there. Do you think Pascale will move down and use that one?"

What does this have to do with doors and advent calendars? Not a lot, but Jim Morrison was a Door, today was his birthday, today is Krissie's birthday and so i decided to try to find on youtube a video that had a door and "Happy Birthday".

It seems that youtube is about as logical as the pedestrian crossings in the local village.

Sunday 7 December 2008

Oh oysters come and walk with us.....

The other day i left a clue to link to a number of puzzles printed in the Guardian newspaper. I saw another one this weekend that i liked, alongside the question "Why don't oysters share?" The puzzle is to find a seven digit number when the first digit gives the number of zeros in the finished number etc etc.

This may just be a coincidence but in the market today as well as the first Lychees of the winter there was a wstall selling Oysters, a much oprized, by others, item for the festive season.

Personally i wouldn't want to find oysters behind my door but i have always liked the three door' puzzle, which basically asks if a prize was hidden behind one of three doors, and you choose a door, and then someone opened one of the remaining two doors and revealed it as empty - would it be better to saty with your original choice or to change?

Obviously depends if the prize was oysters.

Saturday 6 December 2008

Come on in

There is a song that suddenly popped into my head this week, it had been something i played to my young children and time has made me realise that they are both older and neither remember it, and i was only able to half sing it.

Being a parent is full of things i didn't expect and one of them is listening to angry rap artists shouting at me, rather than things like this.

Halfway down the stairs
Is a stair where I sit:
There isn't any other stair quite like it.
I'm not at the bottom,
I'm not at the top:
So this is the stair where I always stop.

Halfway up the stairs
Isn't up, and isn't down.
It isn't in the nursery, it isn't in the town:
And all sorts of funny thoughts
Run round my head:
"It isn't really anywhere! It's somewhere else instead!"

(A A Milne)

The link with today’s door is of course "where i sit". This is the view from my desk, well... if i turn my head sideways (east) and look down rather than up. The heart in the foreground is on the back of a small paper flag that Minnie made at nursery school to greet the arrival, on cycles, of students from other schools in the area that linked together to share resources and then visited on a cycle tour.

Cynically you might say that this is just juvenile indoctrination to ensure a future generation of enthusiastic roadside spectators for the Tour de France event, but as Krissie discovered a few years later when she joined them (the kids not the professionals) it is a beautiful moment of discovery and solidarity.

Friday 5th December 2008

When you decide to compose 24 posts for your Blog, each one directly linked to the idea of Doors, it is difficult not to use the internet as a research tool to aid inspiration. And it is difficult to search the internet for inspiration and Doors and not come up with these guys.

Even though my sister had a copy of this album (meaning that it was an image i grew up with) it is difficult to find a non-tennuous link between these guys and Christmas, either the spirit of or reality. The link with my theme, doors, is strong the band having taken their name (apparently) from the Huxley novel "The doors of perception", a title in turn inspired by a line in a William Blake poem. ("If the doors of perception were cleansed, every thing would appear to man as it is infinite".)

Like most things i rely on Wikipedia for this information, which i then trawlled for some connection between the Band and Christmas. The best thing that i came up with was that on December 24, the Doors taped "Light My Fire" and "Moonlight Drive" live for the Jonathan Winters Show. Subsequently in their Winterland Ballroom shows they stopped the live performance to watch with their audience themselves on the television.

It's also very difficult to sit down at the end of a very long day of brain numbing work and be lyrical enough to link the writers of "Riders on the Storm" to my blog -advent calendar, so i delayed until this morning and gave it yesterday's date as a heading. Ok?

Thursday 4 December 2008

Let us pray

The Cathedral in Toulouse is not where you expect to find it and a visit to the centre could well mean that you would miss it, which would be a shame as its shambolic unity is unique and matched only by the peace that surounds it.

Inside, deep in the hushed interior and somewhere behind the Nave, there is an ancient door beneath a Latin inscription that seems to invite you to enter only when you are ready to die.

My grasp of Latin is rudimentary so i may well have mistranslated there, something that five years study in my adolesence failed to remedy, or perhaps set in concrete. I remember guessing most of what i wrote in the final exam, something which goes a long way to explain the grade i was given.

I visited the Cathedral today in order to photograph the door but was unable to capture the essence of fear and praise that it envokes. I am tempted to use the one of the men who had opened the side door in the organ to carry out pipe repairs but have settled for this one that shows the view as you exit from the front.

And i suddenly realised that my memory of doors is associated more with exiting than entering. Wierd that.

Wednesday 3 December 2008

Who's there?


It's wierd, i think, that i have no strong memories of what the doors in my life looked like; the house where i grew up,the house where i grew up a bit more, best friend's, worst enemy's, the witch who lived down the street, first girlfriend's house, student digs, first grown up home, (second, third, fourth), holiday home, workplace - i must have waited outside some of them for a long time (except the Witch - speed was essential) and i think i should be able to recall them.

Even this picture doesn't help though i know it's the back door at Willersley Avenue. I rember the wall more, you can just see it in the photo. It was pebbledash and i spent a fair amount of time picking bits off.

I don't remember why i was so upset either - and for that i'm happy.

Tuesday 2 December 2008

Knock Knock

I had a quick look at wikipedia to get up to date on Advent Calendars and it seems that the origin is Germanic, which explains that the best one i ever had came from there, least it does to me.

Apparently there are some examples of life size advent calendars in Germany, one town hall fortunately has 24 doors and working with local artists the town brings them to life.

So the question is, or at least the one i am asking myself, is can i do the next 24 posts, yesterday included, and include a door in each?

Judging by this one so far, no is the answer but i'm going to try anyway and have sent a link from youtube that should appear here.

missing video

The Brilliant Corners - Brian Rix

One of the associations i make with doors (December/advent calendar/door being the starting point) are the Brian Rix Farces i used to watch on television as a child.

It seemed that there would often be a comic scene where people would quickly enter and exit doors which has stuck somewhere in my consciousness.

A quick look at youtube failed to find any examples but i came across this piece and it seems fitting, and there's a door.

Monday 1 December 2008


First day of December, traditionally the beginning of Advent and somewhere along the line Advent Calendars; a nice idea which seems to have disintegrated into an excuse for chocolate - and who needs an excuse?

The Guardian web page have started a musical advent calendar that i will have a look at, i enjoyed Jostein Gaarder's "A Christmas Mystery" which was laid out like one and we used to have a German dolls-house version with drawers that was inspirational. Other than that i think the medium is underexploited, though it might just be that i didn't see as much as i should have.

Doors/what's behind/surprise/build up.

Today i heard that Marcs Square in Venice is seriously under water.