Thursday, 3 May 2018

A Little Red

A little red goes a long way. Turner, famously, added a small red buoy to a seascape he was showing at the 1832 Royal Academy Open on "Varnishing Day", upstaging Constable's nearby work, The Opening of Waterloo Bridge. Constable seethed, "He has been here, and fired a gun". Well, he painted a red dot, John, to be fair.

On one of my recent lengthy perambulations about town, I happened to encounter these three examples of "red in a picture". Like most long-established towns, Southampton's highways can get a bit sclerotic where early 21st century traffic meets early 20th century suburban road layouts. Especially around the Common and up in Shirley, where the traffic to and from the General Hospital and the Hollybrook Cemetery has to squeeze through various traffic lights, pinch-points, and blind bends, with ambulances and hearses imposing their very different senses of urgency on the flow. I'd never seen a horse-drawn hearse before, though, and managed to grab a couple of shots of the spectacle as it passed by. The, um, occupant, was in one of those new wicker coffins, so it was clearly someone with a sense of style.

A victim of the recent wave of retail closures, the Toys'R'Us outlet in the town centre has now reverted to what, I suppose, it always was: a characterless barn with a car park. Strange to think that, 20 or so years ago, it was often the site of one of my regular weekend tasks, piloting small children through its stacked, warehouse-style shelves in pursuit of something suitable to spend their pocket-money on (what, in family parlance, became known as the "weekend present"). I find it hard to imagine how this intensive (and occasionally interminable) hands-on quest could have been replaced by online shopping, but then our pocket-money hunts were in the days before children were equipped with smartphones. I used to think Toys'R'Us was a bit soulless, compared to the "proper" toyshops it was driving out of business, but ordering toys online and having them delivered to the door? That seems pretty cold to me, even if the choice is wider and the prices are cheaper, and it is more convenient for parents who are, apparently, too busy to make time to go shopping with their kids. In the photo, I like the way the touches of red in the Toy'R'Us logo have been semi-obliterated by the pink blossoming trees, ditto the red digger obscured by trees, parked in the adjacent municipal yard.

Of course, you can also have too much in-yer-face red... The decrepit Bargate shopping mall in the town centre – right next to Southampton's main, yet most baffling tourist attraction, the "iconic" Norman Bargate – has now been closed for demolition and redevelopment, and someone has decided that a nice bright red would be an enlivening touch on the site hoardings. Ouch. Not so much firing a gun, à la Turner, as letting off a broadside salvo of red.


Kent Wiley said...

Titanic Piercings? I hate to imagine such.

Mike C. said...


I'm glad someone spotted that! It reminds me that people would once do home-made piercings with ice-cubes as an anaesthetic (maybe they still do?). The business has sunk without trace, now...