one-off at the wrist


Perhaps it has been listening to A Canticle For Leibowitz on the radio the last two days, with its highly theological content, but I remembered [duh!] that yesterday was the start of Advent [or at least the 24 day secular version; as the Christian Advent can start anywhere between Nov 27th and Dec 3rd].

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things

My Favourite Things, Rodgers & Hammerstein, The Sound of Music, 1965

Whilst not set during Christmas [though having snow and ‘jolly’ songs] I always associate The Sound of Music with that festive season after being forced to endure it as a child, for what felt like years, around the three main days of Xmas when it was continually aired on TV [it’s only as an adult that you appreciate the skill of the songwriters]. Albeit somewhat late I thought I would share some of my favourite things over the next three weeks [some things will be already evident] in an ‘alternative’ Advent Calendar.


Carel Willink, Townscape, 1934

Behind Window ONE: Abandoned Places.

Whether Ghost Towns like Bodie, California: old mining town. Ordos, China: new city never moved into. Gunkanjima, Japan: Ghost Island.  Cincinnati subway system: never used.  309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group, Arizona: aircraft graveyard. Cane Hill Hospital, England: derelict asylum.

Abandoned Forts, Bunkers, Amusement Parks, Funfairs, Space Centres, Factory Complexes, Roads – the list is endless.

I suppose my fascination comes from a similar place as the love of ruins?  The memento mori of  ‘arrested decay’  throws up innumerable possibilities for dreaming. Like the surrealist cityscape paintings of Paul Delvaux or Carel Willink.

Paul Delvaux, The Echo, 1943

Paul Delvaux, The Echo, 1943

Extremely fertile ground for a writer of post-apocalyptic dystopian fiction.

And in the death
As the last few corpses lay rotting on the slimy
The shutters lifted in inches in Temperance Building
High on Poacher’s Hill
And red, mutant eyes gaze down on Hunger City
No more big wheels

Fleas the size of rats sucked on rats the size of cats
And ten thousand peoploids split into small tribes
Coverting the highest of the sterile skyscrapers
Like packs of dogs assaulting the glass fronts of Love-Me Avenue
Ripping and rewrapping mink and shiny silver fox, now legwarmers
Family badge of sapphire and cracked emerald
Any day now
The Year of the Diamond Dogs

“This ain’t Rock’n’Roll
This is Genocide”

Future Legend, David Bowie, Diamond Dogs, 1974


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