Thursday, 20 June 2019

No Head for Figures

Dtective Mysteries
I'm very happy to report that my story 'No Head for Figures' has been accepted for the forthcoming Flame Tree Publishing anthology 'Detective Mysteries', due out in November.

Readers with long memories may recall a previous outing for my two Victorian detectives, MacAndrew and Smithers, in the inaugural edition of The Sockdolager way back in Spring 2015.

'The Man on the Church Street Omnibus' saw our two intrepid sleuths on the trail of strange goings-on in a Kensington churchyard.

This time they encounter a nasty case of decapitation in Whitechapel. What do you do when a head turns up with no body?  Well, you'll have to read the story to find out.

This will be the fourth of my stories to be published by Flame Tree. They do produce lovely hardbacks, which make first-class Christmas presents. So, please remember when you're stuck for a gift for the person who has everything- this year they haven't got a copy of 'Detective Mysteries'  and they obviously need one.

Sunday, 9 June 2019

Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum

Established by the bequest of artist Thomas Stuart Smith (1815-69) the Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum is an eclectic treasure trove. I have selected just a few things that I found of particular interest, but other people may find other items of fascination among the cornucopia.

long case clock by Bayne of Stirling 1780
Bayne Long Case

As it happens, I love long-case clocks. I have an unpretentious eighteenth-century country piece at home. You can tell the earlier examples by their plain metal faces – usually brass – whilst nineteenth-century clocks often had elaborately painted designs. Here (left) however is a real beauty. Made in Stirling by John Bayne in 1780, the engraving on the silvered face features an escapee ox being pursued by a butcher with an axe.

Thomas Stuart Smith painting 1869
The Pipe of Freedom

T S Smith’s painting ‘The Pipe of Freedom’ showing a freed slave in front of the proclamation of emancipation, was declined by the Royal Academy exhibition of 1869 for being too political.

Neish Collection of British Pewter
Romano-British pewter

The Neish Collection of historic pewter is of staggering quality. I was unaware of the existence of Romano-British pewter, for example, but not only have important items been excavated, some of the most significant are housed in the Smith Museum.

Joseph Denovan Adam  painting of cattle
Highland Cattle

Highland Cattle by Joseph Denovan Adam (1841-1896) is quite simply one of the best livestock paintings I’ve ever seen. The beasts stare out of the painting at the visitor as though they were looking in through a window, wanting in out of the rain that’s coming up fast behind them.