The Other – David Guterson

The Other - David Guterson
The Other – David Guterson

Neil Countryman and John William Barry meet as teens on the running track. John William comes from Seattle’s old money and founding families, Neil is from the other side of the tracks. They develop a love of the outdoors, which for John William results in him becoming, for a time, the Hermit of the Hof.

A novel that I find my brain returns to ponder periodically.

Publisher page: The Other – David Guterson

Review: Escape from the unhappiness machine – Giles Foden, The Guardian, 18 Oct 2008

Singer 28K Treadle Sewing Machine, Serial Number F509343

When I was small, my dad used to disappear up into the room in the roof of our suburban Silhillian home to use this sewing machine.

Singer 28K treadle sewing machine, serial number F509343

I’ve no idea where it came from, but one of my earliest memories is my dad making me a royal blue zip fronted tunic, which I wore on my first day at Greswold Infants School (even if I did hanker after a pleated skirt with shoulder straps like all the other girls had).

It also produced clothes for my Sindy doll – an orange satin evening gown with lace bodice trim was a particular favourite – and, less of a favourite (sorry mum!), a somewhat gaudy pair of  dungarees for me. And, once my dad had taught a young me how to use the treadle, to thread up the machine and to wind fresh cotton onto the bobbins, I made a whole array of clothes – a black and white polka dot shift dress I wore one Sixth Form summer channelling Audrey Hepburn, two ball gowns for my first couple of years at St Andrews.

When dad moved to Herefordshire, the sewing machine moved in with me.

I’ve never known much about it, and as I am at long last contemplating passing it on to a new owner I thought I’d see what I could find out.


With Singer Manufacturing Company Ltd painted onto the top, emblazoned on a shield sporting shuttle and needles, and twice on the treadle base, it was clearly a Singer sewing machine, each of which has a unique serial number. My machine is F509343.

Singer 28K treadle sewing machine, serial number F509343

Googling Singer sewing machine series F led me to two excellent websites:

Here’s what I learned about F509343.

It’s a Singer 28K sewing machine, manufactured by the Singer Manufacturing Company Ltd at their Kilbowie factory in Clydebank, Scotland between January and June 1910, which makes it An Antique! Albeit one in a batch of 130,000.

The sewing machine is beautifully decorated with the “Victorian” (rectangular bed) decal. The faceplate is embossed with the “grapevine” pattern with two corner dots. The stitch plate is circular, nickel or chrome plated (I can’t tell which), covering the feed dogs with 2 split slide plates that run from front to back of the machine to cover the vibrating shuttle mechanism.

Singer 28K treadle sewing machine, serial number F509343

The sewing machine cabinet has an extension leaf table work surface, suspended drawers on either side and a small drawer in the middle for storing cotton reels, patterns, scissors, etc and my three spare bobbins, plus a cover – making it Extension Leaf Table Cabinet No. 126.  Although now painted white, the woodwork is usually oak.

Singer 28K Treadle Sewing Machine, Serial Number F509343

The sewing machine stands on an ornate cast iron base housing the treadle and flywheel that power the needle.

Singer 28K treadle sewing machine, serial number F509343

It’s really a piece of furniture in its own right, measuring:

  • 100cm high, from the top of the cabinet cover to the floor
  • 90cm wide, from the folded edge of the extension leaf on the left to the edge of the table by the wheel on the right
  • 48cm deep, from one side of the front castor wheels to the other side of the rear ones.

Except that the Scots men and women who made my sewing machine would have been measuring in feet and inches, so let me try that again:

  • 40 inches high
  • 35 ½ inches  wide
  • 19 inches deep.

It’s a gorgeous piece of machinery.

Singer 28K Treadle Sewing Machine, Serial Number F509343


Email me if you want it.

Free.

You’ll just need to collect it from the City of London.

I’ll even throw in a lesson on the basics.

Montage - Singer 28K Treadle Sewing Machine, Serial Number F509343
Montage – Singer 28K Treadle Sewing Machine, Serial Number F509343

Two for the Lions – Lindsey Davis

Two for the Lions - Lindsey Davis
Two for the Lions – Lindsey Davis

Gladiators!

Unwillingly in partnership with Anacrites but happily and lucratively working on Vespasian’s tax census, Falco finds himself investigating the murder of an arena lion.

When the trail grows cold, Falco and family – extended to include drunken sot brother in law Famia and truculent teenage nephew Gaius – travel across the inner sea to the northern shores of Africa in search of Helena’s errant younger brother Camillus Justinus and Baetican heiress Claudia Rufina who we last saw eloping, at the end of Three Hands in the Fountain.

Here the plot lines converge as Falco and Co travel around the main towns of Cyrenaica and Tripolitania, culminating in a denouement at the End of Harvest Games in Lepcis Magna.

Time to revisit my photos from 2009’s Libyan Explorer trip….

An excellent outing!

Author page: Two for the Lions – Lindsey Davis

Three Hands in the Fountain – Lindsey Davis

Three Hands in the Fountain - Lindsey Davis
Three Hands in the Fountain – Lindsey Davis

Falco and new partner Petro are on the trail of a serial killer, whose victims start turning up piecemeal in Rome’s water supply. Helena is nursing new baby Julia and helping to keep their enquiries on track and Claudia Rufina, visiting from Beatica, is engaged to Helena’s brother Aelianus.

Anacrites is still lodging with Ma and becomes embroiled in the investigation on behalf of the Water Board.

Meanwhile Falco and Petro find themselves assigned an official patron/supervisor in the form of ex consul Frontinus.

Author page: Three Hands in the Fountain – Lindsey Davis

The Invention of Nature – Andrea Wulf

The Invention of Nature - Andrea Wulf
The Invention of Nature – Andrea Wulf

Who’s Humboldt?

The Invention of Nature is Andrea Wulf’s biography of Prussian scientist-naturalist-ecologist-explorer, Alexander von Humboldt, whose travels in the Americas gave us Humboldt’s Penguin, amongst many, many other things, and whose renown resulted in place names ranging from Mare Humboldtianum on the moon to Humboldt University in Berlin. Most importantly, via the publications,  lectures and correspondence that occupied Humboldt for the majority of his long life, he developed the concept that has been called Humboldtian science – a holistic view of science and nature, climate, the environment and ecology, and by extension encompassing art and society.

During his lifetime he engaged with politicians, revolutionaries, scientists and artists – Thomas Jefferson, Simón Bolívar, Charles Lyell, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe – and his writings continued to influence key scientific, cultural and artistic developments of the 19th and 20th century; Darwin, Thoreau and John Muir were all fans, as were George Perkins Marsh and Ernst Haeckel who I’d not heard of before reading this book.

And you’ve never heard of him.

Not directly related to Humboldt, a quotation that I liked appears at page 324

‘Solitude,’ Emerson warned him [Muir], ‘is a sublime mistress, but an intolerable wife,’

Author page: The Invention of Nature: The Adventures of Alexander Von Humboldt – The Lost Hero of Science