“The society which has abolished every kind of adventure makes its own abolition the only possible adventure.” Paris, May 1968

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

In search of Norman Rockwell we discover the Crown And Greyhound.

As far as I can remember it, career advice at my school consisted of assuming in the first place that the majority of school leavers would go into a factory with the clean and polite lads from the "A" stream perhaps getting an office job. The rest would be hoovered up by what I now know to be the retail sector but used to call "shops". Good at sports? Right, got just the job for you down the local sports shop. Forget all those dreams of turning out for the Orient, you're going to spend the rest of your life flogging jock straps and tennis racquets. Although relegated to the "D" stream I was an avid reader so it was only natural that the appropriate career path for me was behind the counter of the W H Smiths stall on Liverpool Street Station. As it happens the year that I spent there was not an unhappy one. A mainline station was a pretty exciting place for a fifteen year old and there was a huge selection of papers and magazines that I could browse during my breaks. There was a publication for every interest ranging from Fur And Feather (official organ of the fancy mouse breeding fraternity as you ask) to my favourite, Health And Efficiency. Apart from all the British mags we also stocked a wide range of foreign publications and it must have been here that I first came across Saturday Evening Post and the wonderful Norman Rockwell covers. Looking back on it now I'm sure that my impressions of America were largely formed as a result of those paintings and this was the America that I was searching for years later when I visited the country. I know that art critics and the effete arts establishment tend to look down their noses at Rockwell but who cares. To my mind those Saturday Evening Post covers are humorous and warm hearted depictions of ordinary folk for ordinary folk.
The Dulwich Picture Gallery are running an exhibition of Rockwell's work and we treated ourselves to a visit today. Was the man a great artist or a mere popularist illustrator? Search me mate. One thing I do know is that in the middle of posh Dulwich Village is a gem of a pub. The Crown And Greyhound is a Victorian classic with many original features as they say, a good selection of beer and the best value pub lunch that I've had for some time. Check it out if you are over that way.

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