I went for my first swim of 2022, and managed to get a puncture on the way there. True, my fault for not having a puncture repair kit, tyre levers, pump etc. to hand. But I did feel annoyed that there was nowhere to even pump the tyres at 8pm on a Monday so I could at least limp home, or to the station—all the cycle shops were shut, and while Hackney Council’s website made reference to there being a pump near the library in Hackney Central, but this seems to have disappeared. One does wonder if there’s enough demand for out-of-hours cycle repair shops, or maybe more vending machines selling inner tubes, tyre levers, patch kits, lights etc.
I remain a tragically slow swimmer, but managed 600m on Monday and 1km on Friday, so I’ll call that a win.
With some friends we visited the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow, and were very impressed by the Young Poland exhibition (closing next week.) Stanisław Wyspiański’s Morning at the Foot of the Wawel Hill makes quite the impression as you enter. I found Bronisława Rychter-Janowska’s A Night in the Tatra Mountains the unexpected star of the show: at first glance it seems stark and unassuming, although with a distinctive style that might have inspired things such as Tolkien’s cover for The Hobbit. The ‘painting’ is in fact made of fabric stitched together. The highlights are actually painstakingly-cut shards of white fabric that join almost invisibly to the edges of the mountains. It needs to be seen in person—do so while you still can!
One does wonder what the famously socialist William Morris would’ve thought of wallpaper carrying his name being priced at £50-ish per roll. That said—Morris’s printing house, Kelmscott Press, produced an edition of Chaucer’s works that was sold in a temporary binding. They could sell it to you in a more permanent binding: this started at half a pigskin and oak boards, for the low low price of 5 guineas (the Bank of England’s inflation calculator reckons this to be about £698 in 2020 money) up to a binding made of full white tooled pigskin for £13 (£1727.95 in 2020.) Morris was always said to lament that his work was beyond the means of ordinary workers, but was also staunchly against mass production. The one comfort I can draw from this is that he probably wouldn’t have been into NFTs… probably. (We bought a £10.95 set of coasters from the gift shop, and might be back for one of the £30 planters.)