Monday, October 22, 2007

I Can't Wait for Christmas

I can't wait for Christmas.
Why?
Why, you ask? Because the painting I am working on now is a surprise Christmas present for someone who already owns an original Geoffrey Raymond. Wow! Now that, my friend, is a Christmas present. Still time to place an order for a loved one.

I have also been asked not to share the development of this particular image with you, my devoted public, for fear of, in one way or another, spilling the beans.

Nonetheless, into the breach!

Quick aside: How, I wonder, does one go into the breach? How does one actually get there? Is it a specific thing, like riding (See: Tennyson, Alfred Lord; "The Charge of the Light Brigade")?
Half a league! Half a league!
If Shakespeare is to be believed (and really, who wouldn't?), one doesn't even go into the breach. One unto's one's way in. If you will.

This from "Henry V":
KING: Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more,
Or close the wall up with our English dead!
In peace there's nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility,
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger:
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favored rage;
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect:
Let it pry through the portage of the head
Like the brass cannon; let the brow o'erwhelm it
As fearfully as doth a gall├Ęd rock
O'erhang and jutty his confounded base,
Swilled with the wild and wasteful ocean.
Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide,
Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit
To his full height! On, on, you noble English,
Whose blood is fet from fathers of war-proof,
Fathers that like so many Alexanders
Have in these parts from morn till even fought
And sheathed their swords for lack of argument.
Dishonor not your mothers; now attest
That those whom you called fathers did beget you!
Be copy now to men of grosser blood
And teach them how to war! And you, good yeomen,
Whose limbs were made in England, show us here
The mettle of your pasture. Let us swear
That you are worth your breeding; which I doubt not,
For there is none of you so mean and base
That hath not noble lustre in your eyes.
I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game's afoot!
Follow your spirit; and upon this charge
Cry 'God for Harry! England and Saint George!'
Whoa! Stop everything.

Just to show you that life is a series of circles (and as further proof that I, your humble servant, don't just sit around doing shots and complaining that I don't know what to paint but rather, even on the fly, even in the midst of a post, rabidly research the shit I am feeding you), consider this:

The Battle of Agincourt (which, at least in Shakespeare's version, featured the above speech) happened on the same day as The Charge of the Light Brigade! Different year, mind you (1415 vs. 1854). But same day. October 25th. A mere coupla days hence.
What are the chances of that?
Pretty low, by my estimation. Right there with the likelihood that The Iceman, my boy Kimi Raikkonen--the Flying Finn, astride his flying red Ferrari--could win the F1 driver's championship on the last day of the season, coming from seven points behind Hamilton and four points behind Alonso.

Me? I am deeply moved. I swear, when Raikkonen won yesterday I almost burst into tears. Either I'm too sensitive or else I'm getting soft.

Consider this (if, perhaps, for the fifth or sixth time):
1.

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
"Forward, the Light Brigade!
"Charge for the guns!" he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

2.

"Forward, the Light Brigade!"
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldier knew
Someone had blunder'd:
Their's not to make reply,
Their's not to reason why,
Their's but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

3.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.

4.

Flash'd all their sabres bare,
Flash'd as they turn'd in air,
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
All the world wonder'd:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro' the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reel'd from the sabre stroke
Shatter'd and sunder'd.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.

5.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro' the jaws of Death
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.

6.

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wondered.
Honor the charge they made,
Honor the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred.

I wish my father was still alive. I would call him up and share with him this interesting fact, and he, in his own way, would express gentle shock that this was just now coming to me for the first time.
"In peace there's nothing so becomes a man as modest stillness and humility"
That's quite a line.

Do you know that, at 100 mph, Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari could just as easily drive across the ceiling as across the floor (assuming your apartment was big enough)?

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