one day at a time…
Tuesday 23 September 2003

Pix Of The Day: Save Grandma From White Slavery
CREDITS: © Garth Newton/IlkCAM.com MAP: Alton Towers (and detail).
When clicked, thumbnails popup enlarged versions of the images.

Alton Towers © Garth NewtonI have a very jaundiced view of the British landowning aristocracy. In former times they devoted considerable energy to keeping trash like me from their hallowed grounds, but in harder times with death duty to be paid and generations of profligacy bringing them to their financial knees, they invite me to tour their former glories… ahem, a small fee is payable at the gate. That said, I visit away with almost no attitude while on the job, and have even chatted amiably with some of these very clubable fellows.

Alton Towers is probably the most successful of all these enterprises that keep the wolf from the drawbridge, and save Grandma from being sold into white slavery. It was the first major theme park in the UK, and has kept its reputation for having the latest rides and amusements. I have always avoided the place as though the plague was rampant across its endless green swards, though I often passed close by on the A50 road while heading for other destinations.

Garth Newton at IlkCAM.com set me right on my usual inexcusable, unjust, and indefensible ignorance, intolerance, bigotry, and prejudice. Alton Towers has a whole other side, the antithesis of white knuckle rides, hot dogs, flashing lights, and booming sound systems. Whatever their other shortcomings, the aristos certainly knew the best sites for houses, and how to beautify them with parklands and gardens. If you visit Garth's current photo gallery (content may change before you visit) you will see a blaze of plant color, and landscape gardening at its most abandoned. Just like Alton Towers, there are lots of other treats in store on the site!

On This Day In 2002: Geomarginalism is Dead - Mon 23 Sep 2002

Ground Hornbill © Margie McClellandALTasting the Waters © Chris McClellandSeveral myths became unsustainable in the post-Internet world: one of these was that some places were central and other places were marginal. Now everywhere is at the center of somewhere, and we may hope that geomarginalism is buried along with all the other bad isms.

Map makers beginning with Mercator, whose projection puts London firmly at the center of the known world by increasingly distorting the margins, only give credence to such absurd notions. We are able to correspond daily with people who are right at the center of both their own world, and the wider world.

Australian journalist Eric Shackle, (WHOOPS! there goes another myth, because at the age of 79 years Eric defied the ageists by launching a new career as an Internet web publisher), drew our attention to the works of Margie and Chris McClelland. The photograph is taken from Margie's gallery, and the drawing is taken from one of Chris's galleries. The couple live and work among the 40,000 sheep on the vast 185,000 acre Tupra Station, near Hay, New South Wales, Australia. Chris has also done a small number of Australian drawings: you may marvel, as we did, at the drawing of the Eastern Bearded Dragon, done only with ink dots. The web site offers prints from Chris's award winning work at very affordable prices.

Those of you who are paying attention will have realized that hornbills and elephants are not creatures that one readily associates with the Australian outback. The McClellands have an abiding passion for Africa and its wildlife, which provide the inspiration for their work. They obviously look beyond their immediate location to a continent that is part of their family history, so they are certainly not in any sense guilty of some form of geomarginalism. The family name taken in conjunction with naming their son Lochiel might be another clue to their history: to this day when Cameron of Lochiel enters the City of Glasgow, Scotland, the bells are rung in thanksgiving for the Lochiel who prevented the sacking of the city in the 1745 uprising.

The McClelland web site does not neglect local interests either, but provides some great links to other local artists, businesses, and organizations. The nearby town of Hay (50 miles is nearby in this big country) has an interesting history, and lots of activities currently in progress. I found a definitely non-geomarginalist map that clearly puts Hay at the midway point of the Sturt Highway between Sydney and Adelaide. The area is part of the Riverina district, which includes names that may be more familiar to you than you might imagine: Wagga Wagga and the Barossa wine growing area fall within its purlieus. A famous location nearby is One Tree Plain, with the eponymous One Tree Hotel. Regrettably the tree blew down in a gale on New Years Eve 1987: a terrible loss when there is only one!

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Jules Laforgue (1860-1887)
"Ah! que la vie est quotidienne."
Oh, what a day-to-day business life is.
'Complainte sur certains ennuis' (1885)