19 September 2008

Pretty Baa-Lambs [,The]

To Sutton Coldfield yesterday, to present what CLT call a "Webinar" on domain names. Talking to a camera while the presentation is recorded - which I have done several times - is unnerving enough, but when the performance goes out live to an audience (even a rather small one) it is in a different league. But I sounded convincing, and dealt competently with the technology, though I pressed the button to end the session without asking if anyone had any questions. If they had, they could have posted them in the course of the presentation, so I assume they hadn't.

The train journey to Sutton Coldfield takes a couple of hours and a couple of changes, but I anticipated using the hour-long stint from Oxford to Birmingham New Street to get some work done. Not only could I not connect to the Internet for more than a moment or two, but my smartphone finally decided to stop responding to any commands less compelling than the removal of the battery. Many people, including me, rue the fact that technology makes us constantly available to clients and to the stream of information that the Internet delivers to us: however little I like it, the fact is that my life is now organised on the basis that I will have telecommunications (including voice, SMS and email) wherever I go. A flat battery is bad enough, but a dead phone with a good battery is even worse.

On the way home, I took advantage of being in Birmingham to have coffee with Llion, or £outstanding as he and the rest of the recruitment world is known, thanks to Shane. Then I spent an hour or so in the municipal art gallery, following up on Grace's suggestion that I acquaint myself with [The] Pretty Baa-Lambs by Ford Madox Brown. (There appears to be some inconsistency in the use of the definite article.) It sounds appallingly twee, and the subject matter is just that, but the execution and the technical results are fantastic. I could pick fault with the strange expression on the baby's face (not very different from that on the face of the prophet in the same artist's Elijah and the Widow's Son, I noticed) and other elements, but that would be too picky. I might also observe that the sky was just too blue, and note that a few rooms further on the description of a Canalletto of Warwick Castle under a similarly deep blue sky noted that he had only recently arrived from Venice when he painted it, and ight not have adjusted to the English light.

Speaking of the English light, which has almost deserted us these last few months, Ford Madox Brown's English Autumn Afternoon depicted weather that would have been the high point of this summer. Not that yesterday was, as it happens, a bad day weather-wise, but it looks as if late October in FMB's day was a very pleasant time of year.

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