Terminus is the most recent in my Didcot Railway Centre series of images. It is possibly, or possibly not, the final manifestation in the sequence. It so happens on my latest visit there, on a glorious autumn afternoon, the adventure did not go well. For a start it cost me fifteen - one-five - Great British Pounds sterling to get in, including the concession. I was steaming! So, as it happened, was Didcot. The stupendous entrance fee was because it was a ‘steam’ day, and worse, it was Thomas the Tank Engine Day. I was stampeded over and trampled upon by innumerable perambulators and buggies, many containing small persons who peered at me with beady eyes. Such was the mayhem I fled to the top of the coaling shed rise where I came upon the buffers you see before you. I skulked around there till sundown. For the gardeners among you, the larger plants depicted are spikus railwayembankus, a perennial herbaceous plant in the willow herb family, onagraceae. This is the genus that gives us rosebay willow herb, chamerion angustifolium, an all time favourite of mine, being a lifelong companion on the bombed sites and forbidden railway sidings of my homeland days.
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To Madrid for a few days to see The Wyeths and the Spanish Realists exhibition at the Thyssen Bornemisza Museum. It was, for me, perhaps the best double-bill ever. It confirmed my belief ‘Snow Flurries’ by Andrew Wyeth is my favourite landscape of all the landscape paintings in all the world, in all of space, in the entire universe. His dry-brush watercolour, ‘Flock of Crows’ - a study for the same - I found simply heart-breaking. Happily, I'm not afflicted by Stendahll syndrome, but if I were I'm sure these two would set me off. Of the Spanish Realists, Antonio López García has long been my main man. We also took time to pop into the Prado. We ignored the other 200,000 exhibits and sought out, ‘Judith at the Banquet of Holofernes’ by Rembrandt. I ‘collect’ Rembrandts, in a manner of speaking. This is one of the lad’s finest. It’s up there with the ‘Danaë’ in the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg. It’s inexplicable to me how the human hand can do such work.
Author, author, I hear you cry. Well, here goes. I come from haunts of coot and hern, I make a sudden sally… Hang on that’s not me, that’s Tennyson. Oops! Wrong copy, sorree. I’m James Kelso – Jim to you – and actually, do you know what, I feel a tad awkward writing this sort of puff. So, if it’s okay with you, can we leave it there? Thank you. I knew you’d understand.