A WINTER'S TALE – an article by Eric Knowles

A WINTER'S TALE – an article by Eric Knowles

I fully acknowledge that art appreciation is a personal issue and accept that beauty is forever in the eye of the beholder.

However, when it comes to snow scenes – be it the work of an Old Master or that by an aspiring modern-day artist – for your writer it has for many years become a resounding ‘No Thank You’. Even snow laden Christmas cards make me wince!

Needless-to-say that, when I was a youngster, snow was nothing less than a truly magical substance and forever welcome as its appearance meant ‘sledging’.

Having been raised in a Northern town, which like most had no shortage of dark satanic mills, plummeting at speed down a cobbled street was never for the faint-hearted and on the odd occasion resulted in an unwelcome return of your breakfast.

So, what happened? Well, despite all my best attempts, I grew up and learned to embrace with trepidation ‘grown-up’ financial commitments with strange sounding names like ‘mortgage’ and ‘overdraft’ and not forgetting abbreviations such as PAYE and VAT and the dreaded word ‘tax’.

As my ‘Jobs’ – yes I am a multi-tasker – necessitate me travelling the highways and byeways of this green and pleasant land the very mention of the word snow sends me into a shiver. The simple reason being that, as a long-time member of the great self-employed, getting from A to B can often prove problematic and when impossible, it’s goodbye cash flow.

I can only assume this sounds familiar to some of you gladiators out there who do battle with the M1, M4, M6 and the M25 plus all the other M’s not forgetting the good old A303 et al.

In truth, it’s not just the snow, but the advent of dark nights, what appear to be ever-increasing wet days, accompanied by further grey days, that morph into the ensuing darkness – to sum up I think it fair to say that I am a SAD case!

Despite this admission, I am trying hard to embrace the season which asks us all to be ‘jolly’ and I am up at first light, yet I find it hard to fit in long walks in the countryside with a dog.

Not actually being a dog owner is one obvious problem, whilst the other is the somewhat chaotic state of my time management, so one of the two will figure strongly in any New Year’s resolution – sorry dog!

Thank goodness the Christian Church saw fit to hijack a pagan festival all those years ago in an attempt to offer a focus and accompanying merriment albeit in later years. It’s worth remembering that Christmas Day, although a public holiday in England since 1834, did not actually become a bank holiday across the UK until Parliament passed the 1971 Act.

One character I came across on the scottishantiques.com website with a cheerful disposition, believe it or not, was created to be emblematic of – and wait for this – ‘Winter

Made at the Bow porcelain factory in about 1765 and modelled seated on a scroll form plinth before a flaming brazier.

What I find both pleasing and uplifting is simply his colourful attire with long puce coat lined in yellow – not forgetting his white stockings and knee breeches enamelled in that distinctive blue used at Bow.

Needless to say that originally he formed part of a sculptural quartet alongside Spring, Summer and Autumn, but somehow he bucks the trend as far as this writer is concerned by managing to be both symbolic and heart-warming.

Mrs K is suggesting I try a ‘daylight’ lamp to combat the SAD but given the choice the bearded dandy from Bow just might prove to be a more effective tonic to my present day ‘malaise’!

Season’s greetings

Eric Knowles FRSA


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