Chalk Box

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


I was released on to the main throughways and thoroughfares of England today for the first time in over fifteen years.

I haven't ridden a bike on the road since I was about ten years old. I had a rubbish bike then - probably a hand me down from both my sister and brother, so as soon as I got to an age where looks mattered, the poor red and blue bastard got left in the shed to go rusty. I say shed, it was actually an abandoned yellow rail carriage that my dad acquired and hid in the corner of the garden behind the gooseberry bushes. A shed substitute. Which we affectionately termed the 'yellowhut'. One word.

My parents sold my childhood home (ever a sore subject) when I was twenty. It was on the market for two or three years before it eventually sold, and over that time we gradually tarted it up and cleared out all my memories.

Big house, big garden. A garden with lots of secret corners and overgrown enclaves, which only a long loved garden can cultivate. We emptied out boxes of photographs and old clocks, and burned the yellowhut down.

My uncle came down especially, and he, my dad and I pulled decades worth of climbing roses and green creepers down from the roof and walls. We uncovered the insignia on the sides and for the first time in my lifetime the yellowhut looked like a train carriage again. The green moss and the red rust on the yellow peeling paint was beautiful and I photographed it for posterity. Then my uncle proceeded to rip down its wooden walls and burn them on an enormous sweet smelling bonfire, while my dad chopped up the metal structure inside. I took more pictures.

I don't know where my rubbish bike went. I'm fairly sure we didn't burn it. Although the ten year old me would not have objected.

Either way, I've waited a long time for a nice, shiny new bike. And on my sunny, chilly ride today, avoiding puddles, and more importantly the cars behind me, while dodging said puddles, I felt ten years old again.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Fridge Space

A lovely boy named Mark sent me an email yesterday. It consisted of a questionnaire he'd written, designed to find out more about me. We've known each other for eight years, so to achieve that, the questions had to be a little, shall we say, eccentric.

Question number 7 was: "If I opened your fridge right now, what is the first thing I'd see, dead-centre on the top shelf?"

Or a little, shall we say, specific.

The answer, care ye at all, is: brie.


What will he learn about me, when I send back his completed questionnaire? He will learn, if nothing else, that I like semi posh cheese. Or, conversely, if he reads this he will learn that I am in fact so common, that I think brie qualifies as posh. When of course it's not nearly smelly enough.

Question 13 was: "On the shelf where you keep your dvds, count 4 in... now, what are the next four titles?"

This is what I have learned about him: He is a very shelf oriented person.

The answer by the way, fact fans is: Brokeback Mountain, Death in Venice, Queer as Folk and Top Gun.

Apparently it's my gay shelf.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

In Hell

Dante and Virgil in Hell (1850) William Bouguereau

Rather idiotically, I keep thinking that I've found all the artists whose work I will like. Basquiat, Beardsley, Kandinsky, Shrigley, Warhol, Caravaggio, and dozens of others. But of course, if I looked hard enough, I could probably find artists whose work I find strikingly beautiful or funny at a rate of one per week for the rest of my life.

William-Adolphe Bouguereau is this week's discovery. Dante and Virgil are the dark figures on the left, observing the suffering sinners in the fifth circle of hell, and the slothful are lying in the background, watching the two figures, the wrathful, in an eternal scrap.

A bit Caravaggio, a bit dark and sulphury, a lot homoerotic. It combines, let's face it, all of my favourite things!

I look forward to next week's discovery.

Saturday, February 02, 2008


sunday scribblings challenge

Trying to sign up for googlemail today, that was foul. Tried fifteen times, wasted half an hour of my life, then discovered it had worked the first time. The new bike I ordered finally came yesterday - found I had to make it myself. MAKE a bike! If I could do that I wouldn't have ordered one, I'd have crafted my own from bits of old garden furniture and sticky back plastic. The week old coleslaw I rescued from the back of the fridge for my lunch today - that was pretty foul. I tried to disguise it with some fresh ham and potato salad, but if you don't hear from me again you'll know why. The zombie film I'm watching is superb, but the blood, blue tinged skin and brain tissue splattering the screen isn't the only foulness featured. Acting doesn't seem to have been the main concern in George A Romero films from the late 1970s. But foulest of all - and I've checked the definition in Webster's dictionary and this definitely counts, despite the lack of physical stinkiness and gore - is that my best friend in all the world is sad. She keeps updating her status on facebook. I've just visited, and her current update reads 'Mary just wants the nightmare to end now please', making my own update 'Laura has a papercut' look ever so slightly... well, foul.

Friday, March 03, 2006

The Perfect Ideal

The Georgian era is famed for its elegance but, beneath the surface, life was somewhat less luxurious. The poor and destitute could often be found strung up naked as artists' models, helping to produce some of British arts finest works.

Georgian artists trained at the Royal Academy often used artists models. It was a chilly life of unusual positions. The models were strung up for hours by ropes, with no food or drink. Night after uncomfortable night they were tied up tight to keep poses without wobbling.

Anonymous A Life Class 1890s

The models were usually poor or homeless. Unlucky ex soldiers or boxers were also in high demand, as they often had good physiques. Male models with muscles were always favoured.

'Old' George White was a famous and popular model. Muscular and bearded, he often played patriarchs and saints. He was painted by, among others, artist Joshua Reynolds, who also made use of him for eight-hour-long anatomical demonstrations.

Modelling wasn't a shameful job for men. Female models, on the other hand, were looked upon as even worse than prostitutes.

William Powell Frith The Sleepy Model 1853

Men got paid one shilling for an evening's work, whereas women got 1/2 a guinea. They needed to be paid "shame money".

The great irony being that these desperate women, looked down on even by prostitutes as the lowest of the low, ended up hanging on many a rich and respectable living room wall, representing Goddesses and "The Perfect Ideal".

Monday, February 27, 2006


I wasted two hours of my life this weekend, making a page on

I've always avoided it before as it seemed full of people displaying their below average art (like mine!) but I discovered people can also display their below average prose there too. So I thought I'd join in.

Here's my deviantart page LauraGomez

I've also linked to it in my About Me section on the right hand side of this page.

There are only three of my short stories there at the moment, all three of which I wrote quite a long time ago. I may add more later. Then again I may realise the futility of the act, and not.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Stuffing Beavers

I've come across a lot of strange things while researching for writing projects – cannibals, sleepwalkers, people who fall in love with trees, prostitutes, and macabre Victorian circus freaks.

But I think the world of taxidermy has been the most wonderful and disturbing.

Most of us instinctively find taxidermy quite weird – Wanting your beloved pet skinned and stuffed in order to fool yourself they're still with you is a discomfiting concept.

But the professional world of the taxidermist goes much further and into much more fantastical worlds than that.

In competition taxidermy especially, the practice of creating an imaginary creature from the parts of two or more animals has become popular, combining the parts of many to create something new.

Some create an existent animal which is endangered, and thus not available to kill and stuff - for example they might use a white (or polar) bear and a black bear to produce their approximation of a panda. Or they might utilise the method to revive an extinct animal, like the quagga, a mixture of horse and zebra. Or they might even create an imaginary creature - perhaps using a white horse and a horned animal to create a unicorn.

Some taxidermists use only roadkill, animals that have died of natural causes, donations from veterinarians, or unused animal remains from museums. And fairly or unfairly, it is much easier to find the beauty or humour in these artists' work.

Jason Thomas combined chick and crocodile to make a baby dragon

Sarina Brewer created a flying squirrel

Custom Creature

Taking an animal and putting it in a ridiculous pose, or even into clothes, could be taken as the ultimate in disrespect. Like circuses dressing up monkeys and dogs and making them dance.

A white pigeon dyed pale pink in a taffeta gown

A Case of Curiosities

But if the craft is done with some style and mischief it can be fantastic. Executed without style however, and with no sense of camp or humour, it really can leave me cold.

This for example may be taking it a little too far.

The Prize Fight' by Edward Hart b. 1847 – d. 1928

However, as this quotation eloquently expresses ~

"Strive to put your mounted animals in easy natural poses unless you are making a grotesque, in which case go the length."

- A.B. Farnum 1944