Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Asps and Needles...

Yesterday we saw how the Victorian's loved the delights of Ancient Egypt, and its many, many semi-naked water-carrying ladies.  All very entertaining and lovely, but today we turn to the more serious matter of the last of the Pharaohs, the great ruler of the Ptolemaic Dynasty, Cleopatra.  No sniggering in the back now...

Berenice, Queen of Egypt (1867) Frederick Sandys
Berenice was the first queen of the Ptolemaic Dynasty, pictured here by Frederick Sandys, but it is definitely the last queen that got all the attention.  Neither was Cleopatra the only Cleopatra, because by the time we get to the asp-hugging Queen we know so well, she is actually Cleopatra VII.  That's a lot of eyeliner to follow...

Another reason for the enthusiasm for all things Ancient Egyptian was the enormous erection that graced London in 1878.  Presented to Britain in 1819 by the erstwhile Mohammad Ali (remember him from yesterday?) and finally making its way to London in 1878, the huge red granite obelisk, or 'needle' dated from around 1450BC.  It was flanked by two huge mock-Egyptian sphinx and a bevy of other stylistic details, such as winged sphinxes on the benches.

Back end of a Sphinx...
In the flurry of all the interest it is hardly surprising that the artistic imagination fixated on one figure.  And what a figure...

Cleopatra John William Waterhouse
In some ways, we shouldn't be surprised that the poster-girl for the Ancient Egyptian world was Cleopatra.  In some ways she reflected Queen Victoria, strong female ruler of a powerful nation, but she also reinforced certain attitudes towards women.  She was fallible, she was a seductress, she died with her boob out.  Okay, ignore the last one, but she was a woman who lived, loved and died while still gorgeous, by her own hand.  Who could ask for more?

Lillie Langtry as Cleopatra

Possibly the most famous play to involve Cleopatra would be the play by Shakespeare, but there are a host of plays and operas that included depictions of the Queen of Egypt.  A 'character' began to emerge, a beautiful and tempting Queen, foreign yet familiar, ancient and modern.

Cleopatra (1875) Lawrence Alma Tadema
I'm not sure how historically accurate the proclivity to leopard print is, but many artists did straight 'portraits' of Cleopatra, looking pouty among fur.  You wonder how she managed to rule a country with such a sulky demeanor...

Cleopatra (1885-1920) Margaret Cookesley
When she is shown dressed, her costumes are extremely luxorious, golden prints spreading for miles.  The Cookesley image is typical of the dramatic portrayals, like a still from a play. You can imagine the glorious Miss Bernhardt striking a pose like this.  Mind you, she is known for more stunning moments than just standing or lying around looking a bit mardy...

Cleopatra Testing Poisons on Condemned Prisoners Alexandre Cabanel
Well, how are you meant to test your poisons if not on condemned prisoners?  Perfectly sensible.  I'm surprised this picture survived intact as it would be tempting to trim it down to just the righthand side with the glammy ladies and their leopard.  On the left you have a rather grim gathering of poorly gentlemen. Deary me.  I'm not sure what she is trying to do, other than find a really good poison.  I wasn't aware that Cleopatra was an arch poisoner, I thought she just had you done in if she didn't like you in a rather more traditional way.  You know, with burly man and a big knife.

Cleopatra in Flight Charles Ricketts
Yes, yes, very nice, but we all know this isn't the iconic image of Cleopatra we all know and love.  She doesn't look very 'flighty', more 'stroppy' or 'floppy' and excuse me, but surely if one is fleeing, one would tuck ones thrups away in case they slowed you down.  In my experience.  Moving on, this is what most artists seemed to think of...

The Death of Cleopatra Achille Glisenti
Did you know that before Shakespeare it was generally accepted that the Queen of Egypt topped herself by pressing an asp to her arm, but that sort of thing doesn't sell seats or canvases, so poor old Cleopatra suddenly seized the snake to her bosom, apparently while her handmaidens (equally nudey) swooned around (also possibly dead).

Cleopatra and the Asp Edward Poynter
In more classy moments, the odd artist showed Cleo with her top on, looking broody (obviously), but more often than not the boobs were as intrinsic a part of the story as the asp.  Poynter shows the Queen looking conflicted, tense, her face darkened with her dark thoughts.  The narrative of the end of her life is usually Mark Anthony's suicide following the defeat of his army by Octavian, then Cleopatra's suicide.  You would think if her lover had killed himself and her palace was about to be over-run by an invading army then she would look a bit more dramatic, but Poynter shows her crumbling slowly, her defeat coming unwillingly, thoughtfully as befits a woman who had ruled such a strong country.

The Death of Cleopatra Gaetano Previati
Then again, she could have just rolled around naked with a snake.

The Death of Cleopatra (1890) John Collier
Somewhere in between you have Collier's image.  The Queen lies in state, looking beautiful and marble-skinned, with her two ladies in various stages of collapse.  It reminds me of pictures of the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, she had a couple of collapsing ladies in waiting.  Maybe it's the law.

Death of Cleopatra Reginald Arthur
Not sure why she had to top herself in bed, but I suppose there is no reason why not.  I love the glowing red hair of the maid and the colours are marvellously warm and rich.

Death of, oh well, you know by now (1874) Jean-Andre Rixens
It's interesting to see that the black kohl eyeliner is a silent movie star or Elizabeth Taylor touch to our idea of Cleopatra.  None of these lovely ladies have the big sweepy wings around their eyes (as modelled now by the teenage waitresses in Pizza Hut, in my experience) although the flat black hair and gold accessories are very much in evidence.  I think the appeal of Cleopatra is in her glorious life and dramatic death.  Yes, she would do very naughty things to you, some of which you might not survive, but she gets hers in the end.  You wonder if there was a little bit of snide giggling at the expense of Victoria, maybe a real concern about the fitness and safety of female rulers.  After all, women can be a bit hysterical you know.  Given half the chance I'd be seducing you one moment then clasping a poisonous reptile to my naked breast in the next.  Not that I have a snake.  It would have to be a slow-worm, which kind of lacks the drama.  And the poison.  Personally, I think it's less about politics and more about nakedness.

But it's history, so it's fine.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Walk like a Victorian...

Ah, Egypt.  When I was a child my favourite Astrix book was Astrix and Cleopatra and I watched Death on the Nile a couple of hours before my wedding and while I was in labour (separate days, may I just add).  Funny then I never paused to consider the relationship between Victorian art and the wonders of Egypt...

Africa group from the Albert Memorial (1864-1876)
I'm sure I'm not alone, but I always thought the fascination with Egypt was a Art Deco phenomenon.  The opening of Tutankhamun's tomb and subsequent craze for Egyptian design in the 1920s was as far as I thought, but obviously, once you start studying the Victorians, it's hard not to see the influence.  On my trip to Highgate, the Egyptian area is utterly stunning and completely mad, bursting out of the ground in the middle of such a classical and stately graveyard...

Egyptian pillars in Highgate Cemetery
Artists of the mid-Nineteenth century visited Egypt to marvel at the landscape and scenery.  Thomas Seddon died out there in 1856, Richard  Dadd went mad there in 1843 and in the mid 1850s, the best-traveled Pre-Raphaelite went there to take in the sights...

Afterglow in Egypt (1864) William Holman Hunt
In the early stages of his tour of the Middle East, in search of truth for his ancient scenes, Holman Hunt went through Egypt in 1854.  Afterglow in Egypt or the preparatory sketch The Abundance of Egypt (same image) was drawn in Giza and shows a fellah girl carrying the goods of her country.  Thinking on the subject, Hunt used Egypt regularly in his art of this period and continued to be inspired by the North Africa/Middle Eastern aesthetic, filled with colour and pattern.

The Lantern maker's Courtship William Holman Hunt
I have begun with Hunt because I think he showed the most respect to the subject and people while embroiling them in his vision.  Look at the lantern in the above image, then think on Jesus' lovely lantern in The Light of the World.  The decorative art of Egypt obviously stayed with Hunt far beyond his visit, as shown in the use of the beautiful chair in Dolce Far Niente...

Ancient Eyptian stool
Familiar design on the chair...

The above Ancient Egyptian stool was copied by Liberty & Co in their late 19th century 'Thebes' stool...

One of the main reasons for the influx of Egyptian influence and style on the Victorians was the ruler of Egypt between 1805 and 1848, Muhammad Ali.  He wished to modernise the country, and win favour and build relations with European powers, who were no doubt more than happy to take advantage.  He seemed not to hold the ancient artifacts of his country in any great esteem (or at least that is what we tell ourselves) and gave them away as gifts.  It is true that Muhammad Ali proposed demolishing the Giza pyramids to provide stone for the Nile dams.  The ruler that followed him seemed to hold the same views, as Florence Nightingale wrote of the destruction of a tomb in Upper Egypt in 1850 to make a sugar factory for the ruler's son.  Such rather cavalier attitude to history gave those that needed it a reason to go in to 'save' artifacts and bring them back to Britain, flooding the country with images, stories and objects that spoke of a foreign culture, ancient, glamorous and unknown.  The Victorians fell in love with their very own Egypt, and she was beautiful...

An Egyptian Beauty Thomas Kent Pelham
Hunt is a bit unusual in that he occasionally shows an Egyptian man, otherwise you may be forgiven for thinking that only beautiful dusky maidens lived in Egypt, who all owned their own pots. And very little else.

An Egyptian Water Carrier (1881) Arthur Hill
It's one of those awkward moments when you really should say to her 'You do know you can see straight through that frock, don't you?' but she's already out of her house and you'd only embarrass her.  Mind you, who knows, may be that's the way ladies of Egypt dress.  Who am I to judge?

Feeding the Sacred Ibis in the Halls at Karnac Edward John Poynter
See, it's obviously very warm in Egypt and so there is no reason why you shouldn't trolley about in something  diaphanous, if not actually with your lovely Egyptian bosoms out.  I know that feeding the chickens can be hard work and I only have the two so feeding a bevy of sacred ibis must be an extremely sweaty business.  It's a good job no-one was watching her.

Egyptian Musician Charles Knighton Warren
Come on now, which of us hasn't strummed on a banjo and had a boob pop out.  See, it's a problem of antiquity and nothing to do with six glasses of Dubonnet and lemonade.  This is possibly the first instance of wardrobe malfunction recorded in antiquity.  Serious business, this Egyptology.  Actually, the term 'Egyptology' only came into use in 1859 and was not in common usage until the 1870s.  Before then, if you wished to look closer into the matters of Egyptian lovelies with their bristols out, you would have to call yourself an Orientalist or Egyptologue.  I like 'Egyptologue'.  Say it out loud, isn't it lovely? If you raise an eyebrow on the 'logue' part, I think it strikes the right tone.

The Pharaoh's Handmaidens John Collier
Now them, my Egyptologues, how educational is the above image?  Don't be concerned by the amount of nude lady-flesh on display, it's fine because it's ancient.  Really, it's a proper study of life in historic Egypt.  I think it must be looked at for a long time so you learn a great deal.  Possibly in a room on your own so you're not disturbed.  Moving on.

The False God William Wontner
It must have been difficult not to pause and sneer at the Ancient Egyptians, in the way that we in the 'most civilised' times and countries always look down on previous civilisations with amused affection, as if looking at a child doing something quite clever but nonsensical.  Look at all those funny Gods!  Look at the way they believed they needed things to be taken with them into the afterlife!  Ancient Egyptians are funny!  Much of the gawping at nude Egyptian lovelies comes from the belief that for all their architectural advancements and style, secretly the Egyptians were nothing more than savages, so it was fine to picture the women in their 'natural state'.  

If only they had had a Queen, a glorious, beautiful Queen, who also wasn't averse to a bit of nudity...

See you tomorrow.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Kiss Me! I'm Two!

If this blog were a baby, I would now be reaching that unruly age because today The Kissed Mouth is two years old!  Another excuse for cake (even though I am still working my way through my birthday cake.  For anyone who missed it, I made Sidonia Von Cake...)

Nom nom nom....
Anyway, like a sitcom, I would like to take the opportunity to give you a clip show of the last twelve months to see what we've got up to...

May last year was filled with May Queens, the Mural at Carrow Abbey (which was the first of our art mysteries from 2012) and hints of summer.  I'm guessing that the weather was far better than it's been of late, although we seem to have fallen over and found Spring all of a sudden which is most disconcerting.  We explored the two versions of Dante's Dream by Rossetti and the pointless yet magical portrayal of music in paintings.  I think my two favourite posts from the month were the images of scary looking dogs in 'The Pugs of Doom' (who can forget John Franks and his soulless poodle?) and images of Temptation.  My image of the month was a toss up between the hilarious and beautiful The Temptation of  Sir Percival by Arthur Hacker and this, lesser known wonder by Thomas Kennington...

Temptation Thomas Kennington
One of the pleasures of writing for you is the chance to explore less well known artists like Kennington who produced the most amazing, deep pictures with ambiguous meaning and plenty to be read into them.  I still love her red fan.

June brought the Diamond Jubilee, a visit to the Harry Potter Experience and two art mysteries.  I wrote a piece on images of ladies combing their hair and I launched Stunner, finally.  Obviously my image of the month has to be the fabulous celebrity endorsement I received....

Thank you Raine....
Another brilliant aspect of writing The Kissed Mouth and Stunner has been becoming friends with all you talented and marvellous people who I would never get to meet in real life.  I mean really, fancy receiving this for your birthday...

Raine, you are amazing.

Trotting on to July, I shamelessly floated around in the municipal paddling pool for my Stunner competition.  I talked about the rain which was obviously falling in large amounts and Rossetti's favourite colours.  I also began to worry about the contents of the Tate exhibition and had a look at what was in the 1951 Pre-Raphaelite exhibition held at the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery.  My seasonal, rather lovely image for the month must be this one...

A Summer Afternoon (1948) Geoffrey Scowcroft Fletcher
Possibly this marked the beginning of our discussions on the mid-twentieth century response to the Victorians  and the Pre-Raphaelites in particular.  I hope to continue looking into this in the future as I find it interesting who kept the faith through the years when our beloved Brotherhood were particular unfashionable.

August brought us Stunners and Artists in the shape of Marie Spartali Stillman and Emma Watkins (stunners) and James Collinson and Walter Denby Sadler (artists).  It was also a Burne-Jones kind of month with two posts about him, one on mermaids and one about how dangerous it is to like dear Ned.  To balance all this scandalous, morals-wrecking malarky, I did a nice post about drinking tea...

Five O'Clock Tea David Comba Adamson

Big sleeves ahoy!

Into the autumn, and September brought a few posts of a controversial nature.  In light of the imminent publication of Jane Morris' letters, I began to reassess my feelings towards my least favourite stunner.  It was also the first International Pre-Raphaelite Day, for which I wrote an A, B, C and also held a long weekend of love, which covered romance, dalliance and picking a wrong 'un.  Possibly the biggest thing to happen that month was the opening of the Tate's exhibition (which was wonderful, but then a giant shed of those pictures was always going to be brilliant) (the shop was still rubbish though).  Again, I came over all controversial and we discussed the notion of 'fat' in Pre-Raphaelite art history linking Fanny Cornforth to Lady Gaga for the first and probably last time.  The image of the month has to be one of the most romantic pictures in existence...

Meeting on the Turret Stair Frederick William Burton
Oh, lovely.  Splendid stuff.  I do love a good wallow in medieval romantic stuff, I'll pretend I don't know the rest of the story and how everyone dies.  Moving on.

October saw me give a talk on Fanny Cornforth and thank you to everyone for coming!  It was a real pleasure meeting people who read this or else I would suspect I was faffing about on my own.  I got to talk about illegitimate children and Love & Death this month, not to mention Gypsies and my wish to run away in a caravan which garnered almost as much revealing mail as my post on Milk Maids.  Again, I wish to state for the record I do not own a three legged stool or a peasant blouse.  Settle down.  I'd like to add that sadly I don't own a be-ribboned tambourine or a big swirly skirt but I'm working on that.  I also met Jan Marsh this month and she's lovely.  The image of the month has to be of Hoylandswaine Church and I hope to go up this year to see how they are getting on with their restoration work...

How it looked before the emulsion and how it shall look once more.   Only in colour.
November saw me swan off over to Paris and buy the most lovely necklace based on the brooch from The Blue Bower from the Musee D'Orsay.  I also looked at presents for the Pre-Raphaelite fan in your life, including a very nice image of Alexa Wilding that was for sale at The Maas Gallery.  I looked at the Victorians and War and asked everyone to join the marvellous Pre-Raphaelite Society.  I also launched my page on Facebook, 'The Stunner's Boudoir'.  Please come and find me in the Boudoir, I share bits of Pre-Raphaelite gossip there on a daily basis.  Possibly the most serious subject I got to write about last year has to be beards.  It's a matter of great import...

Never trust a man, or woman, without a beard...
December saw me perpetrate the madness that is Blogvent for the second year running.  I don't know what I was thinking, but it is a bit of a giggle.  I think I may well have used up all the Victorian images of Christmas that aren't just cute children in the snow, so I'll have to think of something else to do this year... My image for December has to be my Christmas Eve picture...

The Poor Actress's Christmas Dinner (1860) Robert Braithwaite Martineau
Looking at the image again, I wonder if Ruth Herbert posed for this?

2013 started in a less than jolly manner with the Massacre of the Innocents, but got better with a visit to Mells on the path of the tragic Souls.  I also expressed my love of Thomas Hardy and my continuing obsession with Edward Burne-Jones' The Golden Stairs.  We looked at Rossetti's love of 'The Raven' and we looked at the only stunner to have written a cook book, Ruth Herbert.  Possibly Martineau's picture is of her and this is a forerunner to a celebrity cookery programme.  She's like the Nigella of the 1860s.  Or something.  Anyway, the most fun I had in the frosty month of January was with the subject of the Prodigal Son, or in this case Daughter...

The Prodigal Daughter (1903) John Collier
'I'm off to despoil some young gentlemen, I've got my key so don't wait up.'

February saw us having a look at Circe the naughty temptress, and the dangers of letting the media misquote you.  We had a swoony time with Chatterton, and had a lovely romp through the romantic art of the other Leighton.  I went to see Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale at the Watts (it's still on, but not for much longer so see it while you can!) and I looked into the life of Grace Knewstub.  I wrote my first, but no doubt not my last, defense of Ruskin.  Poor old Ruskin, he's in for a right old time of it this year, what with the new film coming out.  I still hope that he will be presented as a rounded character, not just some weird old bloke who wouldn't sleep with his wife.  I think my slogan for 2013 should be

Do it for Ruskin, 
He'd do it for you! 
(But not to you, obviously)

My image for February is definitely one of romance, having fallen in love with the art of Henry John Stock, especially this picture...

The Kiss (1894) Henry John Stock
March saw the arrival of Fanny the Wombat with whom I celebrate Wombat Friday every Friday on Facebook and Twitter (#WombatFriday).  All you need to join in is a cuddly wombat, some cake and an art book, then post a picture of all three together.  It's a delightful way to connect with equally mad people all over the world and is no doubt contributing towards world peace.  Or something.  Anyway, I also indulged in a little eavesdropping, found a gorgeous obituary of Burne-Jones, went to Standen and celebrated the weirdness of Victorian Easter cards.  March also saw the publication of  Robert Parry's latest novel Wildish which I reviewed here.  My image of the month has to be a lovely Victorian image of Jacobean royalty...

Bonnie Prince Charlie John Pettie
I have to thank Robert for sending me the copy of Wildish to review and also for being one of the first people to follow my blog two years ago.  I am lucky enough to have him and my other blog-writing Pre-Raphaelite chums to encourage me and embroil me in all kinds of Victorian artistic shenanigans, for which I am truly grateful.  On that note I would like to wish a speedy recover to Philip Brown who runs the Pre-Raphaelite Art blog and posts such lovely images on a daily basis.  We miss you Philip, get well soon!

So this month I have enjoyed the company of The Framp, knitted William Morris, pre-ordered Deborah Rose's album and rediscovered my love for the Edwardian Lady. And eaten far too much cake, but it was worth it.

If I had to pick one image that summed up my year, it would have to be this...

A huge thank you to everyone who made the second edition of Stunner  possible, and for those who have been kind enough to leave reviews on Amazon and the suchlike.  You are the wind beneath my wings and other such cliche-ridden phrases, but I mean it.  Without you lot reading this I'd just be a crazy woman, chuntering on about Victorian art to herself, and that sort of thing gets you locked up, or at least backed away from in the supermarket.  Trust me, I've been there.

Anyhow, here's to another year of posts.  No doubt Miss Holman (resting director, closet assassin, editor-for-hire) and I will go grave hunting once more, I will search out more places of a Pre-Raphaelite nature and Mr Walker will bring more brilliant stuff to my attention.  I also will work my little fingers to the bone to bring you my novel which involves Pre-Raphaelites and all manner of backstage goings-on, so my image for the next year has to be the star of my new venture...

Regina Cordium (1866) D G Rossetti
Thank you, dear readers for your company and shall we get on with the third year?

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Saint George and the Crocodile

Happy Saint George's Day, my friends!  Happy Shakespeare's birthday too, obviously.  How very English we all must feel today, even those of you who aren't English (it's fine, have some crumpets for tea and listen to The Archers, it's pretty much the same thing.  If you want to get the full effect, try doing both of those in a queue.  In the rain.) and so I think it's a nice excuse to look at some pictures of a muscly bloke in armour.  Huzzah!

Fair Saint George (1881) John Gilbert
Most of us will know the story of Saint George, or at least the iconic bit:  A village was having some trouble with a dragon (or crocodile, which seems a little more realistic if less impressive) and so to appease the dragon they fed it sheep.  When the sheep ran out they moved on to maidens of the village.  In some versions of the story the girls drew straws and whoever got the short straw got eaten.  Even the Princess drew a straw and of course hers was the shortest so she was marched out to provide lunch for the fearsome beast...

'No, it's fine, I'll draw a lot.  What's the worst that can happen?'
The above two pictures are by Edward Burne-Jones, always good for a nice series of swoony maidens and shiny-thighed men.  Actually, as I was thinking about Saint George I couldn't believe how I hadn't just said 'But that's just the story of Perseus, isn't it?' because there are so many likenesses.  Burne-Jones's series from the early 1860s lack the polish of his Perseus series of much later, but have the same charm of 'peace amid astonishing events' that he demonstrates in all his work.  The curve of his Princess, like a willow stem, awaiting her fate, is just beautiful.

Saint George and the Dragon Edward Burne-Jones
How lucky for Princess Sabra that along came Saint George and slayed that pesky dragon/crocodile and got himself a Princess into the bargain.

Saint George (1906) Solomon J Solomon
It's unsurprising that most painters concentrate on the crucial moment of princess-saving/dragon-slaying.  I like Solomon's multi-tasking George both scooping and stabbing, and striking a fairly handsome pose while doing it.  That's some shiny armour.  Whoo-hoo for our patron saint!

Saint George George Watts
Nothing says 'hero' like staring off at some unknown object.  I like to think he's looking at 'victory' or 'tomorrow' or something equally as fluffy and metaphoric.  Talking of metaphors, it's roundly agreed that he only slayed a metaphoric crocodile, representing Satan or Sin or somesuch thing that seemed like fun but was terribly bad for you.  Slay that metaphoric crocodile!

The Quest of Saint George Frank Salisbury
Having slayed that dragon-o-dile and scooped up his princess, George galloped back to the village and everybody danced.  Most artists tend to leave the story as soon as the spear goes into the dragon, but oddly the Pre-Raphaelites embraced the more romantic aspects of the story.  Rossetti did two versions of the marriage of George to Princess Sabra...

The Wedding of St George and Princess Sabra (1857)
Saint George and Princess Sabra (1862)
I especially love the 1862 picture and I'm guessing the couple are based on William and Jane Morris.  I love the fact that Princess Sabra is having a little snuggle up because nothing impresses women like slaying the dreaded dragon-o-dile.

Saint George and the Dragon: The Return Edward Burne-Jones
Burne-Jones also shows the big party after the dragon-slaying, which looks like jolly fun.  There is a definite emphasis on the aftermath of his actions, the romance, the marriage.  This neatly sits within the notion of 'saving the maiden', the Pre-Raphaelite sense of medieval courtly love. The fact that both Rossetti and Burne-Jones used the subject of Saint George at a fairly romantic time of their life is no coincidence even if Rossetti's other rendition of it was during the sad final year of his marriage.  In that work I feel a hint of transference onto the Morrises, living vicariously in their 'happiness', foreshadowing his moving in on their marriage a few years later.

Finding of the Infant Saint George (1892) Charles March Gere
I have had a look, but I can't find any mention of St George being found (much like Moses), although his name is 'Georgios' or 'worker of the land (farmer)' in Greek.  I think this is a beautiful, if random image, possibly linking George with Moses, or even Jesus - holy babies found in very (literally) 'earthy' situations.  If you saw the above image without its title I don't think I'd be able to recognise the subject at all as it is not part of the story we're used to.  It's very sweet though.

Well, off you go, enjoy the day, eat a crumpet, complain about the weather and other things that make you think about England.  I think I am watching Gnomeo and Juliet later because Shakespeare wrote it.  Apparently.  Maybe I'll be saved by a shiny-thighed man...