Skip to main content


Showing posts from January, 2021

My Month in Books: January 2021

Here are two of the books I've enjoyed reading this month. They're both fantasies, but are very different from one another. Kingdoms of Elfin , Sylvia Townsend Warner (HandheldPress) This collection of short stories describes the Elfin kingdoms which exist side by side with our own world in the forests of Brittany, the Welsh mountains, the Netherlands and elsewhere. Warner’s fairy creatures are wonderful creations. They are untroubled by many of the things that humans obsess over: the fleetingness of life (they are long-lived though not immortal); morals (they have none); conscience (they don’t have any); the state of their souls (they don’t have souls and so have no concept of an after life). They are carelessly cruel, though they aren’t without feelings; mercurial and changeable though they cling to tradition; and though we see them through the prism of human concerns (love, vanity, ambition, hatred etc etc), they are simply, deliciously un-human. The structure of the s

Tea and Suffrage

In 2006 the BBC Antiques Road Show was filmed at the University of Sydney. One of the items their experts valued was a suffragette tea set manufactured in Staffordshire by Williamsons of Longton. It comprised six art deco cups, saucers and plates, a cake plate, tea pot, milk jug and sugar bowl decorated in the colours of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU). The set was decorated with the iconic design of the angel of freedom blowing a trumpet and carrying a banner with the word “Freedom” on it.      The tea service was designed by Sylvia Pankhurst for the WSPU’s 1909 exhibition at the Prince’s Skating Rink in London. A Scottish version for use at a WSPU exhibition in Glasgow was produced in 1910. The angel design was also used on the cover of bound copies of the WSPU newspaper, Votes for Women . As soon as I saw the Sydney tea set I wanted one! Alas, these are very rare items and consequently very expensive. Complete sets are rarer still, and it’s more usual to see piece