Wednesday, 29 February 2012


Although less frequently visited than this blog and with but six followers, my Ex Libris has evidently caught somebody's eye because it has just received a nomination for the Most Fascinating Blog of 2012 Award. 
It was this posting about P L Travers and Mary Poppins that won me a place on the list of 93 nominations chosen by librarians from a pool of over 2,300 submissions!

Having been nominated, it is now up to the voters to decide which of those 100 blogs is the MOST Fascinating – which includes, of course, my beloved blog readers!

I'd love you to read my post and - supposing you find it even the teensyist bit fascinating – consider casting your vote on behalf of the Practically Perfect Miss Poppins, her creator and this hopeful old blogger!

UPDATE: Voting is now closed for this award.

Let me express my gratitude to all my readers who voted for this blog in the recent Most Fascinating Blog awards.

Although it didn't win, my nominated posting earned Ex Libris 10th place out of the 93 blogs that were in the running for the award.

So many thanks to all those readers who voted.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012


Today's the day...

After over two years of uncertainty (the horrors of which I have spared my gentle readers) we are finally moving flat for (at least) the next six months while our old home is undergoing major surgery and a minor face-lift.

With sixty-something joint-years of accumulated STUFF, this has not been an easy time and whilst we haven't yet cleared and packed EVERYTHING, we couldn't possibly have reached this day without the very practical help and support of some wonderful friends who have toted piles of dusty books, sorted and packed boxes, moved wall-loads of pictures, cleared and cleaned, provided sustenance for the workers, necessary laughter at moments of despondency and generally kept our repeatedly-flagging spirits from sinking into despair!

The following film is dedicated with huge thanks to Sheila & Roger, Mandy & Rob, Christine & Richard, Sophie, Gay & John, Robbie and Jo plus Gill, Sharon and others who have provided moral support and encouragement...

Wednesday, 22 February 2012


When ordinary toothpicks just aren't up to the job...

Sunday, 19 February 2012


Back by popular demand (one of you asked for it - and you know who you are!) it's time for another Sibley-blog––


As the tea table with its plates of fancies goes flying, what are these charming, 1950s, Grafton-fabric-wearing, ladies saying or thinking...?

Your suggestions via 'Comments' below.

Closing date for submissions: 26 February 2012; the results shortly thereafter.

Friday, 17 February 2012


But he looks so different from the way he did in Mary Poppins!

"Today I'm a screever and as you can see, a screever's an artist of 'ighest agree; and it's all me own work from me own memory..."

Seriously, this the latest exhibition at the wonderful Dulwich Picture Gallery, a treasure house and one of the joys of living south of the river.

The exhibition, Van Dyck in Sicily: Painting and the Plague 1624-25 is devoted to that 17th century screever, Anthony Van Dyck. In the spring of 1624 the painter Van Dyck moved from Genoa to Palermo in Sicily an, soon after his arrival, the city was struck by plague and most of the population died.

The exhibition takes Dulwich’s own Portrait of Emanuele Filiberto (right) as a starting point and expands into an examination of Van Dyck’s activity in that year.

It will also be the first time in the UK that Van Dyck’s portrait of the Viceroy of Sicily from Dulwich’s own collection will be seen next to the spectacular suit of armour worn by the viceroy in the portrait – still surviving in the Royal Armouries of Madrid.

The exhibition is on show from 15 February until 27 May.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012


so today's post has to be about...


Here's a series of early Sibley drawings – shortly after I discovered felt-tip pens! – giving a unusual take on a well-known vow!


Will you LOVE





As LONG as


May your VALENTINES be always TRUE..

...and if you don't have a VALENTINE today
then I'm sending a You-shaped share of My Love!

Friday, 10 February 2012


As it cannot have escaped your notice we are in the year of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee: sixty (not-always entirely glorious) years of our second Elizabethan Age.

A novel twist on the current celebrations is to be found at The Cartoon Museum in London with an exhibition of mostly quite loving – but sometimes refreshingly critical and even, occasionally, caustic – cartoons focusing on the reign of HMQEII.

Entitled Her Maj, the exhibition is itself a sixty-year retrospective of the work of the British cartoonist from respectful (and whimsical) views of the young Elizabeth as Princess and bride by Ernest H (Winnie-the-Pooh) Shepard, via stalwarts of Fleet Street's comic draughtsmen such as Horner, Cummings, Mansbridge and Giles to those irreverently naughty boys at the drawing board, Rushton and Steadman (along with Spitting Images' Fluck and Law), and thence to their even more iconoclastic successors of the likes of Steve Bell and Martin Rowson.

The star of the exhibition is, without question, the great Trog (Wally Fawkes) who's superb mastery of black and white medium of the classic newspaper cartoon along with colour covers for Punch such as the Pearly Queen and Consort above and the royal landlady below, run through the length of the exhibition.

The subject matter ranges the gamut of six decades of news stories – trivial or momentous – that have grabbed the headlines and caught the cartoonist's eye: royal visits, pay-packets, yachts, dogs, bedroom-interlopers, children, marriages - and divorces.

As Kennth Baker pointed out in opening the exhibition, Her Majesty has fared a lot better at the hands of the cartoonists than some of her ancestors, but there are still those painful recollections of the 'annus horribilis' and its aftermath.

As always with the Cartoon Museum exhibitions, the selection of images is diverse and diverting, thought-provoking and smile-eliciting as the following sampler demonstrates...

Up the Mall. An everyday story of Royal folk.
Private Eye, 1968 © Ralph Steadman

Colin Whittock, Northern Echo, May 2011

Dave Brown, Independent, 18 May 2011
© Dave Brown/Independent

Honeysett, The Oldie, 2008 © Martin Honeysett

Her Maj: 60 Years of Unofficial Portraits of the Queen remains on show until 8 April at The Cartoon Museum, 35 Little Russell Street, London, WC1A 2HH.

Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10:30-17:30 and Sunday 12:00-17:30); Closed: Mondays. Admission: £5.50 Adults, £4 Concessions, £3 Students with valid student ID
Free to Under-18s, Art Fund Members and Friends of the Cartoon Museum.

Special Her Maj Events:

15 March 18:30-19:30 Persistent Reign: The British Royal Family in Cartoons 1952-2012
Dr Nicholas Hiley, Director of the British Cartoon Archive. The changing image of the Royals (and in particular Her Maj) in the 20th Century.

29 March
18:30-19:30 Lèse majesté: An Unofficial History of the British Monarchy
Curator Anita O'Brien on how the cartoonists have viewed royalty from George III to Prince William.

Tickets: £4.50, £3.50, £3.00 Advance booking recommended:
Telephone 0207 580 8155; email:

Steve Bell 'If…' The Guardian, 22 November 2010
© Steve Bell

Wednesday, 8 February 2012


Further to those night-time shenanigans in a bookshop: here are some much earlier goings on, this time in Walt Disney's 1934 Silly Symphony, The China Shop...

Monday, 6 February 2012


After that unintentionally ambiguous Damart advertisement, I was interesting to discover that an emporium once noted for its refined and conservative taste and (in the Gents Department) unquestioned machismo...

...was unwittingly pushing at the closet door back in the 1950s!

Sunday, 5 February 2012


It is night, the snow is falling...

...but the public-spirited citizen never sleeps!

Thursday, 2 February 2012


My recent mention of Eric Gill's statue of 'Prospero and Ariel' (inspired by the characters in Shakespeare's The Tempest) prompts me to tell anyone who doesn't know it, the following story...

While the sculpture was in progress, concerns were raised because it was thought that the dimensions of Ariel's penis intruded uncomfortably upon what were perceived as the boundaries of common decency. Such Rabelaisian candour could not permitted to embellish the facade of an organ of rectitude like the British Broadcasting Corporation!

Gill was requested (one can only imagine with what bureaucratic awkwardness!) to reduce the offending member. Rather surprisingly for someone who was a pretty rampant phallacist, Gill agreed, and duly cut the boy down to the size we now (just about) observe!

Click here to read Gill's biographer Fiona MacCarthy on the dilemma of whether the sculptor's sexual proclivities (some illegal, several immoral) should influence our appreciation of his sculptures.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012


It's not often – in fact hardly ever – that one wins Two Awards in One Week, but I am someone who has!

Around the time I was getting that BBC Audio Drama Award, I received a comment on this blog from Wendy of Good Books for Young Souls telling me that she had honoured me with a LIEBSTER BLOG AWARD.

The word 'Liebster' is German for 'beloved' and this award is given by bloggers to bloggers of blogs with fewer than 200 followers in recognition of the fact that their blogs are enjoyed (even 'beloved') and in the hope that this added recognition will lead to their being read and followed by many more people.

The rules are simple: you don't have to accept the award, but if you do, you are asked to thank the blogger who nominated you and nominate five of your own favourite blogs.

Even though I have kept to blogs (as opposed to websites) this wasn't easy because (as you will see from the side-bar on the right) I follow a great many blogs... Anyway, here are five diverse blogs that are well worth a look...

1 Attempted Bloggery

2 Pencil Notes

3 Kevin Kidney

4 Gifts and Dreams

5 It's Always Something...

I hope you enjoy them even a little bit as much as I do...