Thursday, 23 April 2009

Off to The Land Of Gutenberg

Over the next few days I'll be visiting this man's homeland. Johannes Gutenberg was the remarkable inventor of printing from moveable type in Germany c1439. Hope some of that typographic magic dust rubs off during my visit.

Reading matter(s)

This book is next on my list. No doubt it will be the first of many as I embark on an interesting typographic journey over the next couple of years.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

I know your Type #7 FF Meta

FF Meta is a humanist sans-serif typeface family designed by Erik Spiekermann. It was originally developed in 1984 as a commission for a corporate typeface for the Deutsche Bundespost (German Federal Post), but was never adopted for use. Meta was designed to be a readable, sturdy, basic sans serif typeface, working on the postage stamp scale, but also as livery for post boxes and Deutsche Bundespost vehicles. Attention was paid to creating a face that was easily readable from an angle, and in smaller point sizes. In 1989 it was digitised again using Fontographer in the Macintosh, and three styles were made by Just van Rossum. In the period 1991 to 1998 a larger typeface family was developed, adding small capitals. A serif companion, entitled FF Meta Serif, was completed in 2007. (Hat Tip: Wikepedia [sorry!])

Here's a little movie of the designer of FF Meta speaking about his relationship to the Mac, and the way it changed his trade. You will need to have some knowledge of the German language to fully appreciate it however. Speaking of which... I'm off to Germany on Saturday!

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Weekend Bulletin

Great weekend! Starting on Friday when we took Leon over for a visit to Longstone lighthouse. Unfortunately this is an experience which he must wait for, as I had omitted to read that the place is closed on Fridays! We settled for fish & chips in a lovely little cafe in Whitburn, and ended up at South Shields market.

Saturday was the day of another reunion of friends from way back. A get together at The Rendezvous cafe was our starter for ten, followed by a meal at Picasso's. Great to be together with old friends and to welcome Sue and Bengt from Sweden. Lots of trips down memory lane and plenty of laughs into the bargain.

Today the sun finally appeared and we took Gracie out to Plessey Woods for a long and exhausting walk. A plunge into a mud pool resulted in a shower for her when we got home. Then it was sleeves rolled up and a spot of gardening to finish the weekend of nicely.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

The Daylight Bakery

Driving back from Stockton last week I stopped to take a good look at the beautiful 'Daylight Bakery' building. The former home of the baker Ralph Spark Ltd is a gorgeous example of the Art Deco style. The signage font had me slightly baffled though. I was initially thinking Gill Sans, but then I spotted that strange 'G' and have come to the conclusion that this is a custom font, albeit based on Gill, that must have been designed especially for the building, which is on on Bishopton Lane in Stockton.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Whitleybunions #6 Bank Holiday Bike Trip

Bren was working yesterday, so it was a solo bike trip for me. The gardening was enticing, but hey.... priorities eh? I've done this trip a few times and it is also a bit of a trip down memory lane as you will see.Down through the fields from our house to Seghill then on past Proctor & Gamble at Seaton Delaval, emerging at Holywell village and entering Holywell Dene. This was a magical, unspoilt playground when I was a boy; a place to explore, find bird's nests and generally get up to all kinds of mischief.
Me and my pals could walk all the way along the railway line from Monkseaton to Blyth. The 'Blyther' as the train was known, would come rattling and puffing its steamy way along this track, where we would be lying in wait having placed pennies on the line. If the driver or fireman saw you there was a shower of boiling water coming your way, but we were far too clever to be caught out like that! Nowadays this line is a lovely green walkway for the posh people of Whitley Lodge and Red House Farm Estates.
The track comes out almost opposite my old school.... Valley Gardens. From here you can see the art rooms where I spent most of my last year, trying to fill my portfolio with enough decent stuff to get into Newcastle College of Art. Between Valley Gardens and the High School there's a track and two solitary trees. This track used to lead to Red House Farm, where Bren kept her pony, Rapide, when I first knew her.
Then on down Monkseaton Drive, which was waste ground known as 'The Common' when I was a kid. Out onto the Promenade, find a nice place to sit with a lovely view of Whitley Bay while I have my lunch.
Then back on the bike and on towards the lighthouse - another place of great adventures from my childhood. Then the long haul up towards the Delaval Arms and back into the bottom end of Holywell Dene, (it was nice to bump into the Riley family going the other way!) Finally completing the circuit before returning back home. What a fabulous trip!

Saturday, 11 April 2009

A man behaving like a forty year old, yesterday.

This is Jason, who celebrated his fortieth birthday on Saturday night in Newbiggin by the Sea. Resplendent in top hat, red silk shirt, frock coat and cane, he expertly ring-mastered all his guests into having a whale of a time at his expense. Music, and lots of it, were the order of the day, with contributions from Jason's friends and.... er... of course... Jason. He was playing the drums, playing the guitar, playing the ukelele and playing the fool for most of the evening. What a great party Jason... thanks for letting us share in your celebrations!

Friday, 10 April 2009

It's Friday, but Sunday's Coming...

The title of a well known sermon, given by Tony Campolo some years ago. Tall Skinny Kiwi mentions it today, and there's a link to a good article by Dr Bob Beltz. Tony tells the story of attending a Good Friday service at his mostly African-American church in Pennsylvania. The pastor would make a few observations about what happened on that first Good Friday and then make the remark, “Its Friday…but Sunday’s coming.” As the pastor went on, every time he made the remark, the intensity of his emotion and the volume of his voice increased. Here is an excerpt from the message:

"It’s Friday, but Sunday’s a comin’. It was Friday, and my Jesus is dead on a tree. But that’s Friday, and Sunday’s a comin’. Friday, Mary’s crying her eyes out, the disciples are running in every direction like sheep without a shepherd. But that’s Friday, and Sunday’s a comin’. Friday, some are looking at the world and saying, “As things have been, so they shall be. You can’t change nothing in this world! You can’t change nothing in this world!” But they didn’t know that it was only Friday, and Sunday’s a comin’. Friday, them forces that oppress the poor and keep people down, them forces that destroy people, the forces in control now, them forces that are gonna rule, they don’t know it’s only Friday, but Sunday’s a comin’. Friday, people are saying, “Darkness is gonna rule the world, sadness is gonna be everywhere,” but they don’t know it’s only Friday, but Sunday’s a comin’. Even though this world is rotten, as it is right now, we know it’s only Friday. But Sunday’s a comin’. "

Bob finishes with... "I can’t imagine what the original was like, but when Tony gets spitting and sweating, you feel the Spirit move! “It’s Friday…but Sunday’s coming.” When Jesus Christ blew the doors off the tomb (OK – stone) and marched out alive, everything he did and said was proven to be true. Friday suddenly made sense. That is why Easter is the greatest event in human history. And Easter means that all that Jesus endured and accomplished on the cross really makes Good Friday – good!" (Hat Tip: TSK)

My own thoughts on this event (Easter) are always tempered by the desire to make the reality of the death and resurrection of Christ, and the KINGDOM that he sought to bring, relevant and accessible to those who don't necessarily see themselves as 'religious'. The emotional and religious machinations and rituals of the (mainly) evangelical church see to it that various mental gymnastics are performed by the faith-ful to produce sobriety on Good Friday, and then reversed on Easter Day to turn them into Happy Smiley People. Of course, we can be very grateful to God for the work of his son, and its good to remember this redemptive event at a specific time, but oh that we could embrace and express it all the rest of the time too. Also worth mentioning is that, in my experience, God is not very far away at any given time, and that those who don't particularly express any faith, are probably nearer to God than they, or us, realise.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Monday, 6 April 2009

Whitleybunions #5 Out and About

Lovely warm April sunshine brought the crowds, and us, out at Whitley Bay on Sunday. We sat and ate our sandwiches on the beach, met the cycling Kate and Terry as we took a stroll along the promenade, and then watched the Morris dancers near Watts Slope.

Their button accordian player turned out to be none other than Frank Lee, a friend from years back and former resident of WB. The last time we met him was about ten years ago during a similar performance in Keswick market place!

Crowds thronged around The Amusements and ice cream parlours in greater number than I've seen down there for many a year. We treated ourselves to a Delaval Ice Cream and popped into the premises of Culture Quarter, who are taking their best shot at rejuvenating creative activity at The Dome amongst other things.

Sunday, 5 April 2009


Our house has now been on the market for five months, and no interest whatsoever during that time. This week our estate agent put some editorial in the local 'Househunter' magazine, so we're hopeful that there will be some interest and viewings as a result. It would be good to see things start to progress positively over Easter, then perhaps a move before summer?

Saturday, 4 April 2009

I know your Type #6 Letterpress Printing

A smashing little movie from 1947 about letterpress printing. I remember composing by hand at Newcastle Printing School in 1964, and the great satisfaction of seeing the result locked into the press and the first pristine sheet being run off.

These days the type is set on a computer and the results are usually printed on high speed lithographic presses, but there is still a place for the artisan printer, where individual craftsmanship can be expressed through short-run work. (Hat Tip:

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Stepping Up

Leadership should be much more about taking responsibility than taking power. It takes a lot of courage to be a leader and stepping up to a leadership role is certainly not for the faint-hearted. Today I present three leaders who as of today are doing just that, for many and varied reasons no doubt. Despite their motivations, which will be tested in the fullness of time, character (likewise) and resilience, they will all have one thing in common today.... a vision of What Could Be. The first is Barack Obama, who is visiting our fair land to engage in dialogue with our prime minister and others regarding the state of our world in terms of its finances, security and environment. The second is Alan Shearer, who has apparently been appointed as manager of Newcastle United until the end of the season. The third is Jeff Reid, a personal friend, who today begins his term in earnest as the leader of the brand new (unitary) Northumberland County Council. Whatever you think about these leaders and their causes, let's raise a glass to them today and wish them well in their particular endeavours.