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What it is to be rich

Oof! I’ve had a beast of a day. I know – I haven’t done a real estate post for a while.

Behold, Plumpton Place, a charming Elizabethan estate on 60 acrres. It’s on the market for the first time in thirty years.

Edward Hudson, founder of Country Life magazine, bought it in 1927 and spent his remaining years working with architect Edwin Lutyens and garden designer Gertrude Jekyll to do it up (those names might not be familiar, but I guarantee you Uncle B read those words and started to drool).

It went through several hands before it was briefly owned by Michael Caine, who sold it to Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page. Several more hands later and George Harrison tried to buy it but, according to his ex, the owner said “she didn’t want rock’n’roll musicians buying her lovely house and sold it to the local doctor instead.”

Here’s how it works: Hudson bought it for £3,300. Ten years later, 1937, it sold for £9,000. Paige bought it in 1972 for £200,000. Ten years later, it went for £650,000 to a property developer who quickly flipped it for £800,000.

They will now entertain offers in the region of £8,000,000.

October 6, 2022 — 7:12 pm
Comments: 5

AI? More like Aiiiiiii!

Behold, the face of Loab! She was accidentally created by an artist called @Supercomposite using an AI art application. He doesn’t say which one. Or why he named her Loab.

According to his story, she popped out when the AI was instructed to create two ‘negative prompt weight’ images – that’s when you ask the AI to create an image that’s the opposite of a prompt.

He asked it to come up with the opposite of “Brando” – which, for some reason, rendered the image of a logo. Then he wondered if the opposite of that image would actually be an image of Marlon Brando.

Nope. Loab.

According to the urban legend-y version of the story, the recognizable face of Loab started turning up in this guy’s negative prompt weight searches of all sorts of unrelated things, like some kind of creepy demon..

That’s not what he’s saying. If you read his thread (and this Forbes article), he says he ‘seeded’ her origin story into all the subsequent images, so it’s no surprise she keeps popping up.

What is creepy as hell, though, is the more he worked with her, the more horrible and disturbing the images became. There are many in the link above. Some, he said, were so gross he wouldn’t publish them – dismembered child snuff pictures, pretty much.

If you start with a disturbing image and ask an AI to elaborate, it will pull increasingly disturbing content out of the ether to go with, I guess. Makes sense. But how did the AI come up with her in the first place, and how is she recognizably herself again and again?

September 12, 2022 — 5:43 pm
Comments: 7

That you, bro?

If you want a walking stick with a portrait of Dante Alighieri on it, I got you. May be useful for hiking out of the Inferno.

It’s the second time this summer I’ve seen this stick – I assume it’s the same one. Dude sells horse brasses and leather riding tack and such. First time I saw it, I yelped, “Dante!”

…and everyone moved away from me on the Group W bench.

Dante’s death mask, from which this portrait derives, is apparently not a death mask at all:

…recent studies suggest that the mask was probably carved in 1483 by Pietro and Tullio Lombardo 162 years after Dante’s death. A reason why people did not believe that the mask was the true mask was because of the nose of the mask. A hooked nose is a sign of intelligence and mischief, and throughout the year Dante’s nose has become more and more hooked in representations such as Botticelli’s portrait of Dante.

Another weekend, another country show. The season is almost past now.

September 6, 2022 — 6:37 pm
Comments: 7


The pretty little church from yesterday has an unusual feature – a Mithraic altar! Ahem. See, there’s a bull carved on all four faces. There were probably some kind of unpleasant meat rituals performed upon it.

It’s not certain if there was a temple to Mithras on the spot before the church was built. The first documentation of the church was 1265 and the alter stone is, like, 1st C. The temple could have been anywhere in the neighborhood.

The stone first turns up in the yard of the nearby Ferry Inn, where it was used for many years to tie up horses. Hence the weathering. I wonder if the ring was already embedded in it. Then it was moved to the vicar’s garden. And finally – presumably when someone noticed it was an important object- into the church itself.

It’s in the back of the church itself, in the Narthex (yes, looked it up), opposite end to the Christian altar. Which says something about the CofE. I’m not entirely sure what. That the church is unperturbed to bring a sacred pagan object into a holy place. Confident? Phlegmatic?

The worship of Mithras was very popular among Roman army officers. I have read that it competed closely with Christianity as the official Roman religion. Now, wouldn’t that have been a thing?

July 26, 2022 — 7:31 pm
Comments: 6


Another pair from the reclamation yard. These are examples that I don’t think are very old.

Or, to be more exact, I think someone has gotten hold of some good antique molds and have made casts, unfortunately with crude embellishments. I see two different hands at work here.

The overall modelling is good and looks antique, but – you may not be able to see this very well in the small image – some mook has made rough clay worms and stuck them on the arms to mimic veins. Also, he’s scratched shallow lines in the abdomen to indicate a six pack.

Shoulda left it be.

Sorry to fob you off with a picture from last week, but I’ve had an exceptionally silly day. It is now officially gin o’clock.

July 12, 2022 — 8:11 pm
Comments: 8

This guy

Real name: Phil Heckels. Local Sussex artist. Describes himself as “rubbish” and has made quite a penny from it. You give him a photo of your pet, he gives you a guaranteed shit portrait in return.

Eh. You gotta have a gimmick. Most of his work seems to be for charity.

I didn’t think he was all that funny – until I saw his pictures next to the photos he drew them from.

Whenever you sit down to draw, you are confronted with a series of what we call “picture problems”. How do I position multiple figures so they look natural? How am I going to deal with this weird angle? How do I move the viewer’s eye where it needs to go? Ach, perspective!

It’s even worse when you work from photos. There are always “what the heck am I looking at?” picture problems working from photos.

But von Wolfwinkle says, “I can do this!” and lets rip with the boneheadedest solution to all his picture problems. Click a few to see what I mean.

May 10, 2022 — 7:29 pm
Comments: 6


Here, this Israeli commercial photographer, Lior Patel, combines two things I love dearly: drone footage and time lapse.

Unfortunately, I can’t work out how to link to individual videos directly. I even peeked at the page’s source to see if I could find direct links, but it’s all scripts. Thwarted!

Sigh. Okay. Go to the Agriculture page and scroll down. The fifth video after the header is the one from the picture above: sheep being herded in fast motion. I could watch all day (no, really…I’m just that indolent. Give me a G&T and I literally could).

Fields harvesting, container ships offloading, sea birds settling. He also does panoramic stills. I’d link to some of my favorites if I were allowed to.

April 7, 2022 — 6:44 pm
Comments: 3


This is the 14th Century Church of St George in Luková, Czechia. Known as the Ghost Church.

It had an unfeasible number of fires over the years and gained a reputation with the village as haunted. Finally, part of the ceiling fell on a Sunday service in 1968, and everybody decided they’d rather say mass out in the fields, thank you very much.

Naturally, it only deteriorated further after that. When it was completely falling to bits, the locals decided they wouldn’t mind saving it after all, but there was no money.

Then a sculpture student from the University of West Bohemia filled the church with these weird sculptures. Thirty of them. They look like cast plaster to me. It became a tourist attraction, which generated enough money to shore up the fabric of the building. Now the parishioners have come back inside and hold services sitting next to these creepy things.

There. A feelgood story for a Friday afternoon. Or is it?


We woke up under a half inch of snow. Then it was sunny. Then it snew. Repeat every hour until the hailstorm. I think that nonsense is over, but it’s going to be damned cold for a couple more days.

We will burn through £15 worth of solid fuel today.

Good weekend, y’all!

April 1, 2022 — 6:47 pm
Comments: 13

And STILL Margaret Calvert is alive

I have just done my periodic Wikipedia check. Margaret Calvert is still alive.


I have treated you to my Margaret Calvert rant before. She’s the South African graphic designer who came to England in the Fifties and fucked up all the road signs.

I don’t know if she invented the ugly, glommy ‘International Symbol Man’ style, but she was an early adopter, at least. Hit the link for my least favorite ever Margaret Calvert design, the physics-busting Slippery Road sign.

I remembered to do my periodic check as this image turned up in a story I was reading. Just look at this shit! It’s the Men Working sign. Also known as “Man with Recalcitrant Umbrella.”

No, that’s not original. I’m not the only one who thinks she sucks.

March 3, 2022 — 7:41 pm
Comments: 7



My urn. It’s brass or bronze. It’s had a couple of repairs and is possibly frankensteined together.

I’m of the opinion it was more than one piece. The rings around the top and bottom are decidedly cruder than the work around the middle. Also, the floral motif at the bottom looks European to me.

Uncle B disagrees. He thinks it looks Persian or Indian and all of a piece.

I haven’t dared see if it holds water. Probably not; it’s got some welds around the bottom. Dried flowers, then.

It has an overall chocolate brown patina. I’m not enough of a bumpkin to make it shiny. But I wouldn’t mind rubbing it up until it has a *hint* of metallic sheen.

Is that wrong? Am I a philistine?

I watch too much Drew Pritchard.



February 24, 2022 — 8:19 pm
Comments: 8