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Behind the Iron Curtain in Leningrad & Moscow

April 1986

Witnessing a world
Behind an Iron Curtain
Shutters shut. Blinds down

Entrance permitted
But with movements restricted
Suspicion abounds

Cold, grey, colourless
Monochrome. Sepiatone
Spectrum hand-me-down

*

A first impression of Russia – Welcome to Leningrad

Late night arrival
Black sky, glist’ning snow – floodlights
A chill in the air

Airport reception
Machine guns cocked and ready
Soldiers unsmiling

Stationary line
Of frustrated travellers
At Passport Control

Eyes penetrating
Passport details scrutinised
Microscopically

Stationary line
Of frustrated travellers
At Customs Control

Eyes penetrating
Jew’ll’ry, books, pers’nal effects
Assessed, judged, counted

Bemused collection
Of frustrated travellers
At Baggage Control

Facing ‘Bag Mountain’
An ‘Everest’ of luggage
– No conveyor belt

Reprieved from Death Row
A rustbucket miracle
Is disguised as a bus

Smoking and rattling
A journey-worn veteran
Days numbered for years

First journey. First sights
Of Communist East foreground
From my West background

Comparisons galore
No neon ads, no traffic!
A city asleep

A tongue that’s unknown
A Cyrillic alphabet
What will daylight bring?

Destination reached
Hotel Mokba, Nevsky Prospekt
Our home for 3 days

Huge classic landmark
5 star decaying elegance
– That will do nicely

*

Pockmarked and wartorn
Damp and cold, black, white and grey
Still shows its scars

It’s ‘lived in’ and ‘worn’
History everywhere
Embedded in stone

*

Don Quixote

Energy. Poise. Grace
Stunning new experience
Ballet at Kirov

*

While waiting in queues
On escalators, buses
People reading books

*

Travelling underground
Deep within the permafrost
L O N G escalator!!!

*

Leningrad contrasts
City of Revolution
And of culture too

Peter, Catherine
Decembrists and Bolsheviks
Revolt, Purge and Siege

Kirov’s Nijinsky
Nureyev and Pavlova
Hermitage treasures
    
Neva’s Aurora
Island Fortress, Palace, Square
Smolny, Finland Station

Lenin, Shostakovich
Intellectual achievement
Politics/Art entwined

Creativity
Surviving Revolution,
Turmoil, War and Fear

-but no sink plugs anywhere!

*

Join one queue for food
Then another one to pay
One more to collect

*

An overnight train
From Leningrad to Moscow
Now that should be fun!

A landscape passing
Seen through open train window
I’ll only see once

A shared compartment
With two snoring baritones
– They both slept soundly

*

Palatial platforms
With crystal chandeliers
A décor unique

Underground surprise
Sheer charm, splendour and beauty
Of Moscow Metro

*

Giselle

Big disappointment
Restricted view. Heard not seen
At Bolshoi Ballet

*

Turning back the clock
Time frozen in the twenties
Or earlier still

And this is Moscow!
A shopping experience
At GUM by Red Square

*

Not exactly Red
Nor is it exactly Square
But Red Square it is

A very long line
Of quiet shuffling people
Queueing for Lenin

*

A symbol of hope
Bravery and achievement
– Cosmos monument

*

Romeo & Juliet

Musical mastery
Expressive choreography
Sheer brilliance

*

Moscow’s beating heart
Walled city in walled city
This is the Kremlin

*

Hammer and sickle
A statue of unity
Worker and farmer

A true life doctrine?
All for one, and one for all?
Or propaganda?

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Roman Holiday

27.12.02 – 3.1.03

Like Hepburn and Peck
It’s our ‘Roman Holiday’
Second honeymoon trek!

*

Speaking with gestures
And an operatic tongue
– Italiano!

*

Time to do nothing
It’s ‘dolce far niente’
– Delicious idleness!

*
Rome Kerb Drill

Firstly, find a Nun
Wait close by her right hand side
Don’t cross till she’s begun!

*

Fast cars, horns blaring
Look left, right and left again
Then walk, not caring!

*

Eternal city
Filled with ghosts of Old Masters
Living history

Raphael, Bernini
MichelAngelo, Caravaggio
– Waiting in shadows

*  

Colosseum

Theatre of Blood
Sinister killing machine
A dark Colossus

Jawdropping structure
Architectural marvel
Wonder of the world!

*

In crumpled blankets
Wretched shop doorway creatures
Sleeping motionless

 *

A dreadful demise
Pitiful rag bag on crutches
Soulful, begging cries

*

Normal holiday refrain
Stair rods bouncing off our brain
We’re three drowned rats again

 *

Brellymen calling
Street seller entrepreneurs
Touting for business

Brellies? Dark glasses?
Stocked for fine and wet weather
And hedging their bets

*

Bocca della Verita

Honesty and Truth
Open mouth or Drain cover?
One reply required

*

A sidestreet café
Strong Espresso or Latté
Revival assured

*

Trevi Fountain

Eyes bright, bulbs flashing
Excited screams, throatlashing
Smiles beam, 3 coins splashing!

*

Greeting the New Year on the Ponte Sisto

Dark canvas with pearls
Fleeting moments of beauty
Fireworks at midnight

*

With a shaking voice
Frail figure at a window
Speaking to the world     1.1.04

*

A Face at the Window

A figure in white
Trembling voice, a shaking head
A New Year message     1.1.04

*

Taste explosion!
Such a different texture!
Not ice cream – Gelati!

*

Visiting the Vatican Museums

Waiting with patience
Shuffling snake of umbrellas
Queueing in silence

*

The Sistine Chapel
Head back. Eyes wide. Mouth open.
No words needed!

*

Living museum
An unrivalled collection
Where treasures abound

Paintings and Sculpture
Architectural glories
History on tap!

Danger! I’m drowning
A cultural overload
So much to swallow!

*

Penetrating eyes
A calm, confident posture
Pope Innocent X

*

Pantheon pigeons
Hungry low flying sky rats
Tormenting tourists

*

By 26 Piazza di Spagna – John Keats’ last home

Strangers at sunset
Sauntering spectators
Chill on Spanish Steps

*

Rome still casts its spell
A group of teenage students
Enter their hotel

Adored and admired
Another generation
Impressed and inspired

Catching Breath in Venice

8 – 10.1.06

Learning from a Master

A daunting prospect
Following giant footsteps
And reputation

Walking in a dream
And looking through Turner’s eyes
With captivation

*

Drowning in adjectives!

Incomparable
Majestic, ethereal
Unbelievable

Irreplaceable
Mystical, sensational
Unforgettable!

*

Looking back at Canaletto

They’re inaccurate
But entirely convincing.
Paintings come alive!

Walking in oil paint!
Canaletto’s vedute!
Can’t believe my eyes!

*

Spellbound, overwhelmed
Eyes filled and spilling over
A life’s wish come true

*

Travel Notebook

Scribbled distortions
Inaccurate proportions
Mental absorptions

*

Time frozen
In a Blue Lagoon
– It’s Venice!

*

Ink black pond skaters
Floating matchstick silhouettes
Crossing a mirror

*

Déjà vu? Perhaps
A second coming? Maybe
I’ve been here before

With Canaletto
In magnificent Turners
Many others too

It’s not a stranger
No introduction needed
A friend already

*

My notebook practice
‘Edit the inessential’
Not easy at all

Not drawing
Just ‘scaraboti’
Dash. Dot. Scrawl

*

Bridge of Sighs

How to bridge the gap
Between site and studio.
Turner did. Can I?

Epping Forest

Corporation of London Christmas Card Commission  2001 & 02

Centuries of leaves
In a cathedral of trees
Carpeted with breeze

*

Alone in a crowd
Light dim. A face peers out
From a crumpled skin

*

Ticker tape welcome
Confetti fluttering like
Pennies from Heaven

*

Rockin’ and Rollin’
Arms raised, Hallelujah’in
Tall, time-worn trees talkin’

*

Time-worn veteran
A portrait of life etched deep
In wooden wrinkles

*

Family clusters
Small processions of figures
Regal, triumphant

*

A shower of sunlight
Tall canopy filtering
Sun streaked whisp’ring winds

*

Faces emerging
A woodland Nativity
In pollarded trees

*

Leaf fall glittering
Autumn sunlight flickering
Black crows bickering

*

Cascading deadfall
A jackpot of leaf pennies
A blanket of gold

3 Parts Dirt! 10cc Abba AC/DC Achille-Etna Michallon Ajaz Akhtar Alberto Giacometti Albrecht Durer Alice in Wonderland Amsterdam Andrew Wyeth Andy Warhol Arctic Monkeys Athletics Atomic Rooster Banksy Beatles Benjamin Marshall Bernard Cribbins Black Black Sunday Blondie Bob & Marcia Bob Marley Boxing Brian Brinkley Brushes app. Bucks Fizz Caesar Cambridge Camille Corot Cancer Canned Heat Castle Caverstede Early Years Centre 'Bigger Picture' Chalk Pastel Charcoal Charles R. Knight Charlie Small Children's Books Christo Claude Monet Coldplay Corinne Bailey Rae Coventry Creative Partnerships Crete Cricket Daniel Lambert Darren Fraser David Bomberg Deacon's School Dennis Creffield Diego Velάzquez Discovery Primary School Django Reinhardt Dogsthorpe Academy Drawing Edgar Degas Edvard Munch Egypt Elizabeth Vigée Le Brun Elton John Elvis Costello en plein air Epping Forest Europe Eurythmics Evolve magazine Exhibition Fitzwilliam Museum Floella Benjamin Foo Fighters Football Forest Schools Francesco Guardi Frank Auerbach Fred Astaire Frida Kahlo Fulbridge School Garage Door Gary Moore Gene Wilder Gentle Giant George Bellows Georges Braque Georgio de Chirico Gerry Rafferty Gian Lorenzo Bernini Gingerbread Man Giovanni Bellini Gladiator Glasgow Boys Glenn Frey Gnarls Barkley Greece Gruffalo Haiku Hands Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec Hercules Brabazon Brabazon Iain Erskine Ian Anderson Ice Hockey Impressionism iPad Iron Curtain Jacob van Ruisdael Jacques Brel James Abbott McNeill Whistler James Ferrara Jamiroquai Jazz Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres Jean-Francois Millet Jethro Tull JMW Turner Joe Cocker Johannes Vermeer John Constable John Lennon Johnny Kidd & the Pirates Juan Sánchez Cotán Jurassic Way Killer Shrimp King's Cliffe Endowed Primary School King's Cliffe Primary Kit Downes Quintet KT Tunstall Lanchester Polytechnic Landscape Landscape painting Lascaux Laurel Barbieri Leningrad Lenny Kravitz Len Tabner Leonardo da Vinci Lewis Carroll Little Red Riding Hood Loch Craignish Lonnie Donegan Luke Steele Lynyrd Skynyrd Mad Hatter Madness Manfred Mann's Earth Band March Hare Marvin Gaye Media Media Archive for Central England Michael Jackson MichelAngelo Modest Mussorgsky Mosaic Moscow Mural Muse Music National Gallery Newark Hill Primary Nickel Creek Nick Ward Nina Simone Oasis Obsidian Art Gallery Owl Painting Panda Panorama Paul Cezanne Paul Gauguin Peterborough Peter Paul Rubens Picasso Pirates Pleurisy Pneumonia Portrait Procul Harem Queen Radio 3 Essential Classics Rafael Alberti Rainforest Ray Charles Red Hot Chili Peppers Rembrandt van Rijn Rene Magritte Right Angle Gallery River Nene Roald Dahl Rock Music Rod Campbell Rodrigo y Gabriela Rod Stewart Rogier van der Weyden Rolling Stones Romans Rome Rowlatts Hill Primary School Royal Academy Roy Clark Russia Salvator Rosa Sarah Walker Scotland Seascape Self Portrait Sistine Chapel Small Faces Sport Steppenwolf Stereophonics Swimming Talking Heads Terry Jacks The Automatic The BFG The Crooked House Himley The Editors The Jam The Killers The Moody Blues The Red Deltas The Sensational Alex Harvey Band Thin Lizzy Thomas Faed Tina Turner Titchmarsh School Titian Tom Jones Totem Pole Trompe l'oeil Tuscany USSR Venice Vienna Vincent Van Gogh Volcanic Voyager Academy Warmington School We Are Scientists William Hogarth William Law Primary School Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club YouTube

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