Written by Erskin Quint
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Saturday, 8 January 2011

image for Even More Letters To The Editor Are A Statue Yesterday: Are The Days Of Figurative And Honorary Portrayal Over?

Dear Sir,

I always enjoy your magazine, it is so full of good advice and information. So I am sure some of your readers may help me perhaps.

What it is, is, I am looking for any advice, experiences, and so on, of your readers, who might know anything about "what to do with string".

Seemingly I have acquired, over the years, a good many pieces of string of all types. My friend, Dilys, who came to stay at Christmas, opened my "oddments" drawer by mistake and cried "look at all the odd pieces of string in here!"

Well, those were not the exact words, but I am loth to subject you to a raucous dialogue.

Suffice to say, it turns out that the drawer, in which I am not brave enough to take a lingering exploration (preferring to open it, throw things in and shut it as fast as fast can), is in a right old state, and in desperate need of a clear-out.

As soon as I had seen Dilys off on the B35453 for Little Nutterford, where she was to stay with another of our circle, namely, Jonquil, who is keen on fruit-bottling and mongeese and Rudyard Kipling, I was off to the library for books.

My problem is, I have got a book entitled A Tangled Yarn: All The Types Of String, and, far from helping, it has dejected me.

For in it I find such articles as:

STRING (Search Tool for the Retrieval of Interacting Genes/Proteins);
Black String - a more than 4-dimensional generalisation of a black hole;
Dirac string - a fictional one-dimensional curve between two magnetic monopoles;
String - a genre of pop music from Thailand;
Cosmic string - a topological defect in various fields;

I would venture that you now appreciate the dilemma of one who has never mastered the art of emptying mousetraps or looking back at the contents of the WC, much less having the bravery to put her hands into such a Pandora's Box as may be her very "oddments drawer".

It seems something out of Dr Who, or Hammer Horror. I lie awake in my bedjacket (a present from Dilys, in green mock moleskin, that I am unable completely to relish, reminding me as it does of the dreaded drawer and its lurking contents). I lie in the offending bedjacket and I envisage the things in my drawer, viz.:

What if all those genes and proteins are interacting in there? What creatures might be spawning? Dare I put my hand in there, and give daylight to something that might cause defects in the fields that surround our village? What might happen to the potato crops? Is there a black hole at the farther reaches of my oddments drawer?

I toss and turn, hearing Thai pop music and feeling that I am being hurled along a fictional curve between the two monopoles (which I imagine to be huge towers inhabited by alien guardians of hyperspace, though I could not tell you what any of this means).

Can anyone cast light on my dark forebodings?

Mrs Limbo,
Parabola Gardens,
Festering,
Berks.


Diar Ser,

E am wreteng to you on bihalf of Thi I-E Transposeteon Desordir Soceity.

Wi ari, to bi honist, dispirati for funds, and ivir-vegelant en our siarch for sourcis of moniy. Wi provedi an issinteal sourci of assestanci to our many mimbirs, who suffir from a mesundirstood and sivirily dibeletateng condeteon.

So E ask you, and your riadirshep, - pliasi try to hilp us en our unindeng feght on bihalf of the Unknown Hirois who iviry day of the yiar must battli agaenst thes tirrebli afflecteon.

Yours faethfully,

Irnist Ivirard-Lettlifaer,
Chechistir.


Dear Sirs,

Your magazine has such varied articles in it that I feel you might be of use. Can you or anyone help settle an argument?

I have a friend. Well, not really a friend, we are always arguing, he is more of an acquaintance. Well, a colleague, seeing as how we both work at the World of Windmills theme attraction in Sussex.

We sometimes get a moment to enjoy a sandwich and last week we were sat, leaning up against one of the windmills. It is the off-season for us. We did have a special "Christmas Grinding" where we milled various grains that the punters might buy and take away for their Yuletide cakes and sweetmeats, but now it is very much back to clearing away and making good in preparation for the Spring Season.

We were sat, as I say. Our mattocks (I had had quite a morning of it, grubbing with my adze) were leaning against the comforting flanks of the mill by our sides. The weak January sun peered timidly out from behind a tattered curtain of creamy cumulus. I had a ham sandwich in my left hand, a bottle of Grampound's Victorian Lemonade in my right, and my friend, or should I say colleague, Paddy, for that is his name, or more strictly his nickname, said:

"Yes, but he didn't specifically say 'plinth', did he?"

You see, we had been debating about the art of statuary, and about its decline in modern times, from the former nobility of figurative and honorary portrayal, to the latter abstraction and post-modern forms.

My argument was that the modern art forms amounted to little more than a scurrilous parody or iconoclasm all too typical of our philistine age. Paddy was sceptical. He always is, when it comes to defending the traditional and the classical.

We had moved in our discussion from the statue, to its base, or plinth. I had said that Gottfried Semper's 'Four Elements of Architecture' had first posited that the plinth, hearth, roof, and wall made up all architectural theory.

Paddy had other ideas. He would not be moved in his insistence that Semper used the word mound rather than plinth and that therefore, I was on thin ice trying to invoke architectural theory when we were in fact talking about artistic erections rather than utilitarian structures.

I was loth to concede the point, as I had intended to argue in general, to cover all forms of sculptural structure, but it was time to take up our mattocks and get back to the clearing away and the making good.

Can anyone help to settle this point? It promises to cause something of a rift. Our conversations are increasingly strained as we heave our mattocks beneath the the brooding windmills, whose stately sails seem to glide through the giant powder blue skies.

Colin Sewell,
Hassocks,
Sussex

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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