On Harry Smart – poet, geographer, artist etc.

There has been a bit of background chat in recent years about the correspondence between geography and poetry. A conference session was organised at the IBG in 2010. Last year, Royal Holloway inaugurated a new MA in Place, Environment, Writing with a lecture by Sir Andrew Motion.

One of the animating figures of this new programme is the geographer Tim Cresswell who has his own new collection of poetry out later this year.

And here in the parish of @EdinGeography, we hold our seminars under the mustachioed visage of poet and geographer James Wreford Watson – a doppelgänger of Bruce Forsyth – whose acclaimed landscape elegies in the 1950s were laced with an edge of genteel smut.

Much less attention, however, has been given to the geographer-poet, Harry Smart, who published three collections of work with Faber in the early 1990s – Pierrot (1991), Shoah (1993) and Fool’s Pardon (1995).

Fool’s Pardon, Faber, 1995

Admittedly, Smart is less of a geographer-poet than a poet who happens to have a PhD in geography. His thesis, submitted to the University of Aberdeen in 1984, was later published as a Routledge monograph – Criticism and public rationality: professional rigidity and the search for caring government (1991).

One suspects that geography was not, for Smart, a formative intellectual home; in any case, he left it behind sometime before the ‘cultural turn’.

Living in Aberdeen, and later in Montrose, Smart took some cultural turns all of his own, leaving academia to become an evangelical lay preacher, then a poet. Three collections with Faber can reasonably be called success.

After poetry, fiction: his political thriller set in 1960s Africa was titled Zaire (Dedalus Books, 1997), though the fact that the country of that name immediately declared itself as Democratic Republic of the Congo probably didn’t help sales.

In 2000, Smart enrolled in a Master of Fine Art at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in Dundee where he undertook painting and photography – you can read some of his reflections on his art practice here.

Black Apple © Harry Smart

It’s fair to say that his visual art, like his writing, does not shy away from darker themes. His website – distinctly NSFW, as they say – is a fascinating labyrinth of essays, excerpts, poems, photos, art and erotica. Though it hasn’t been updated for many years, it is well worth a visit.

I was intrigued to discover some photographs in which the Montrose railway bridge – designed by the same architect as the ill-fated Tay Bridge – became a backdrop to some calendar shots. This is by no means the most surprising juxtaposition on the website.

The estuarine landscapes of Montrose and the east coast also appear in Smart’s poetry. The following poem, Praise, from Fool’s Pardon, is a particular favourite. A rendering of Scottish Calvinism and landscape, it takes the form of a modern doxology.

It has often come to mind when exploring the Firth of Forth in these dark January days.



Praise be to God, who pities wankers
and has mercy on miserable bastards.
Praise be to God, who pours out his blessing
on reactionary warheads and racists.

For he knows what he is doing;
the healthy have no need of a doctor,
the sinless have no need of forgiveness.
But, you say, They do not deserve it.

That is the point; that is the point.
When you try to wade across the estuary at low tide
but misjudge the distance, the currents, the soft ground
and are caught by the flood in deep schtuck,

then perhaps you will realise that God is to be praised
for delivering dickheads
from troubles they have made for themselves.
Praise be to God, who forgives sinners.

Let him who is without sin throw the first headline.
Let him who is without sin build the gallows,
prepare the noose, say farewell
to the convict with a kiss.


Occupy Rockall: on plagiarism, patriotism and ‘heroic science’

Dealing with plagiarism is one of my least favourite aspects of academic life. Today’s case, however, is much more fun. And as it doesn’t concern any of my own students, it involves no additional admin. That’s already a win.

Yesterday I came across a sentence, that I once wrote in a paper for the Journal of Historical Geography, attributed to somebody else in the Guardian. To be honest, my surprise was not that someone had lifted my expression than that they had actually read my obscure paper about Rockall in JHG. I’ll take all the readers I can get.

The purported author of the sentence is Nick Hancock – a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society – who is going to live on Rockall for over two months in 2013 (plenty of time, one might think, to reflect on appropriate attribution).

Hancock is an ‘adventurer’ – or, when he’s not wearing a dayglo drysuit, an Edinburgh property surveyor – who is aiming to break the record for the longest occupation of this unwelcoming rock. As Hancock intends to be there for 60 days, living in what looks like a yellow septic tank lashed to the rock, I guess the obvious question is: why?

Rockall Solo is rather hazy on this, aside from a bid to raise money for the forces charity Help for Heroes which, Nick tells us, “does not seek to criticise or be political” but rather to simply support “those wounded in the service of our country since 9/11”. Founding patron: Jeremy Clarkson.

This theme of heroism takes us back to another rationale as articulated in my purloined sentence (from MacDonald, 2005: 632), now oddly turned into a tagline on Nick’s personal website:

“To have visited Rockall was the epitome of heroism and reflected well on the bravery and moral character of the traveller”

A painting from Rev. W. Spotswood Green, Narrative of the cruise introducing notes of Rockall Island and Bank, Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy 31, 3 (1896) 39-97, p. 46.


And here is the nub of it. In my paper (here: pdf 0.4mb) , I detail the slow emergence of a scientific professionalism that sought to distance science from mere thrill-seeking. At the same time, however, I argued that scientific accounts of Rockall were interesting in that they showed how science still retained the influence of the sublime – a bourgeois male aesthetic that celebrated heroism.

In the original paper, I was not trying to say that Rockall’s early explorers were a cut above the rest (splendid chaps – all of them). Rather, I meant that inside the paternalistic and imperial values of Victorian society, a landing on Rockall was to enact the perceived virtues of manly science.

In short: it was an argument about class and gender in the making of scientific knowledge; it’s definitely not an endorsement – not then, and not now.

If all of this sounds a bit grumpy, this is less about missing footnotes than about a wider complaint I have about the modern expeditionary culture that is shared among many of the non-academic members of the Royal Geographical Society. Many favour old-fashioned ‘discovery’: the search for geographical knowledge providing the scientific legitimacy for getting there first or staying there longest (for which read: secure the territorial claim).

The British annexation in 1955: Corporal A. A. Fraser watches First Lieutenant Commander Desmond P. D. Scott hoist the Union Flag on 18th September

And to be honest, there isn’t much discovery on Rockall Solo. The scientific rationale is, at best, wafer thin.

It was always thus. When naturalist James Fisher helped the British state annex Rockall in 1955 he used science to authorize a brazen geopolitical claim, all so that Britain could test its shiny new nuclear missiles over the Atlantic.

British Prime Minister Sir Anthony Eden, who that same year was to be found bombing his way through the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya, could be afforded this small advance amid a worldwide imperial retreat.

As I established in the paper, Rockall was the last ever territorial extension of the British Empire. All 83 feet of it.

This leaves Nick Hancock FRGS as just one of a long line of British occupiers – James Fisher, Andy Strangeway, Tom McClean – bearing the Union Jack and asserting the values of military heroism.

I don’t really mind the odd moment of bibliographic forgetfulness. But I find it much harder to overlook the pith-helmeted patriotism. After all, if the British claim to Rockall is so well founded, surely the rituals of discovery – settlement, flag-waving – are all a bit beside the point? Just ask the wildlife.

© Steve Bell If… 1985 The Guardian



Elegies for coal, Cockenzie and carboniferous modernism

Levenhall Links is one of my favourite places, a small slice of the wild where Edinburgh spills into East Lothian. I escape here to watch the birds from an earlier age, when agriculture still found a place for lapwings and skylarks, curlews and meadow pipits.

Sitting behind the damp concrete wall of the bird hide, I lift my binoculars to scan the shallows for waders and ducks. On each visit they are alternately abundant and absent. The pleasure of anticipation is a little like that offered by a good second-hand bookshop: you never know what you’re going to get. Today, mostly oystercatchers.

Levenhall is a great place for a telescope. Wait … godwits! Are they bar-tailed or black-tailed? I’m definitely going to need the ‘scope for that.

Tilting the glass up from the waders, I follow a ship on the Firth of Forth and admire the outline of East Lomond rising above Glenrothes. There is a depth of field here.

For all its apparent naturalness, there is nothing wild about Levenhall Links. The site is dominated by – and has its origins in – the imposing hulk of Cockenzie Power Station, the ash from which has been landscaped to create ‘wader scrapes’ for post-industrial godwits and their kin.

I love Cockenzie Power Station. It is hard not to be moved by what is reputed to be Britain’s least efficient coal-burning behemoth. Unfortunately the EU doesn’t feel quite the same way which is why it is being decommissioned next year. Whether it will also be demolished is as yet unclear.

Part of my fondness is architectural. Few towns are so dominated by a single modernist building as Cockenzie, which carries itself like a mediaeval cathedral towering over its hinterland. To lose it is to mark the end of an era – the dissolution of the carbon monasteries.

Modernism in Scotland seldom had such scale to work with and, in 1959, the architectural firm of Sir Robert Matthew did not waste the opportunity. It is a shame then that the building has fewer advocates than others from the same design partnership – most famously, the Royal Festival Hall on London’s South Bank and Edinburgh’s Royal Commonwealth Pool.

Located on the edge of the Midlothian coalfield, Cockenzie guzzled coal by the trainload which came snaking down the rails from the new superpits at Monktonhall and Bilston Glen.

Watching the godwits (bar-tailed, but you always have to check), I can’t help thinking of the late Professor Neil Smith ­– Marxist geographer, spatial theorist and also, apparently, a keen birdwatcher. His untimely death last month deprived geography of one its most lively minds (my colleague Tom Slater and Don Mitchell have both written fine tributes).

Smith’s work on the ‘production of nature’ shaped my early academic interest – the idea that nature is the outcome of social processes, not the other way round; that nature is, in a sense, congealed human labour.

The godwits preening on the pulverized fuel ash are on a substrate whose provenance lies in the labouring communities – not only in Cockenzie but also in mining communities across the Lothians.

A few miles south at the Monktonhall Colliery, the mine shaft was sunk over 900 metres – a inverted Munro’s depth – into the Jurassic past. Thousands of workers poured daily into this meticulously engineered abyss, capped with a winding gear that was itself encased in pulse-quickening Brutalist architecture.


These superpits were the pride of Scottish labour, at least until Thatcher’s henchmen at the National Coal Board, Ian MacGregor and Albert Wheeler, took revenge on an entire industry for the miners strike of 1984-1985.

Monktonhall had a reputation for militancy; many of its workers came from Neil Smith’s home town of Dalkeith.

All these material histories – of dirty, skilled and risky work; of solidarity and community – lie dormant in the mud at Levenhall, in the mountains that the miners moved, in the spoils of these now privatized utilities.

The aerial architecture of Monktonhall lasted just a few months into the era of New Labour but the site is still there, a dispiriting wasteland of new birch framed by mature ash avenues along the colliery bund. It is exceptionally quiet.




At least Monktonhall looks set to resist ‘amenity’ use. There is no getting round the fact that the ruins of coal-powered modernism aren’t pretty even after thirty years.

It is doubtless a good thing that Levenhall has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest. But I worry that the modern guise of nature-as-biodiversity is apt to obscure the ‘storyable’ properties of nature – of landscape as an archive of labouring histories.

In Neil Smith’s classic first book, Uneven Development, he observed that when the

“immediate appearance of nature is placed in historical context, the development of the material landscape presents itself as a process of the production of nature. The differentiated results of this production of nature are the material symptoms of uneven development.”

I know that this is not the usual stuff of contemporary nature writing, but perhaps it could be? Such natural histories might yield more politically productive accounts of the corresponding labour of humans and godwits.



The Militarisation of Nature: cyborgs, biomimicry and the best of DARPA

Here are a collection of examples that I use in my Human Geography lecture on the militarisation of nature. If you want to find out more about DARPA then you can do so here.

The videos below are examples of biomimicry – using the mechanism of a biological organism as a model for an inanimate object or machine.

Other examples are closer to what we might call a true cyborg (cybernetic organism) which involves the fusing of both biological and artificial systems. These range in scale from remote controlled insects, rats etc through to the more ambitious remote controlled shark.


DARPA’s Cheetah, September 2012


DARPA’s Pet-Proto Robot, October 2012


DARPA’s Big Dog, April 2010


DARPA’s Legged Support System, September 2012


Nano Quadrotor drones – capable of coordinated flight, January 2012


For one of the early fictional imaginings of a cyborg world, watch Ridley Scott’s 1982 sci-fi classic, Blade Runner. Here’s the trailer:

Wreford who? Will Self to the give the Wreford Watson annual lecture

On 27th September our annual Wreford Watson geography lecture at Edinburgh will be given by the novelist and essayist Will Self. His title, ‘Decontaminating the Union: Post-Industrial Landscapes and the British Psyche’, will doubtless give an audience of geographers in Alex Salmond’s Scotland plenty to chew on.

I’m looking forward to seeing whether my colleagues ‘savour it or spit it out’, to paraphrase Richard Rorty. Pretty fun either way, I suspect.

Will Self, whose latest novel Umbrella was last week shortlisted for the Booker Prize, will need little by way of introduction. The same can hardly be said for James Wreford Watson (1915-1990) in whose memory the lecture is held, funded in part by the Edinburgh University Club of Toronto.

Wreford Watson is probably better remembered as a poet than as a geographer and if this dual identity seems less unusual these days, Watson can be credited as something of a pioneer.

Born in China to Scottish Presbyterian missionaries, he spent the first half of his academic career in Canada eventually becoming ‘Chief Geographer’ – a enviable title, you have to admit – for the Canadian Government.

In 1954, Watson moved back to his alma mater here at Edinburgh where he took up the Chair in Geography.  That same year, he received Canada’s highest literary honour – the Governor General’s Medal for Poetry – for his collection Of Time and the Lover which, as with his other poetry work, was published under the name James Wreford.

Though Watson’s geographical work is by no means unimportant, his contributions were to fields that now seem rather obscure. Who now thinks of geography as ‘a discipline in distance’?

On the other hand one might find some correspondence with contemporary intellectual tastes – in affect and enthusiasm, for instance – which are evident in his 1983 Presidential Address to the IBG:

Geographers can’t afford to miss out on passion – far less dismiss it. Geography without passion is about as alive as a body without blood – ready for the grave diggers.

By far the most important of Watson legacies is his insistence on the centrality of literature. It was, he said, ‘the soul of geography’ and an essential part of a geographical education. He even boasted that he had ‘never written a [geographical] article or a book without an appeal to literature’.

The converse is also (mostly) true: his poetry usually bears the trace of his professional career, evident in poems such as ‘Cross Section’ and ‘Aerial Survey’.

Of Time and the Lover employs the language of geography to detail bodies in luuurve. By his own account at least, he seems not to have missed out on any passion.

It is earnest stuff: a suggestive topography of rivers; valleys; hollows; shallows; depths; days of summer heat and silken rain; surfs of passion; trembling leaves; and elms laden with drizzle.

Is it as bad as I’m making it sound? Probably not. To say that it is ‘of its time’ is to gloss matters that would make it a suitable subject for Gillian Rose’s critique of the landscape tradition in geography.

Try this, from ‘Identity’:

All his geography projects

on the mollweide of her hips,

and yet there is no map can trace

the well known frontier of their lips-

that war-torn boundary and bridge

O both their eagle is and dove;

themselves on this side, but on that

a greater than themselves they prove.

‘There are lapses of inspiration and of taste in Mr Wreford’s book’ wrote Northrop Frye, ‘but there is also a dignified simplicity and a sincere eloquence’. Allowing for the genre, that feels about right.

Much of Watson’s poetry tended towards pastoral, vaguely Christian elegies – a form which, like that of his geography, is now deeply unfashionable. It’s hard not to wonder what he would have made of The Book of Dave.

One might argue, at a push, that Watson set the stage for thinking of geography as a literary project or, more plausibly, for thinking of literature as a geographical project. And it is to this stage that we are pleased to welcome the geographically-inclined Will Self.

The KLF’s ‘It’s Grim Up North’ as geographical gazetteer

Ah, The KLF – everyone’s favourite money-burning art pop pranksters. Here is a typically bonkers but altogether listenable track from 1991.

It’s Grim Up North was originally slated for The Black Room, the darker unreleased companion to The White Room album.

The JAMS’ industrial techno materialises amid the traffic, in the rain, and at night – with an overcoated Bill Drummond presenting a geographical gazetteer for the rave era.

After reciting a catalogue of 71 English towns and cities – ‘Northwich, Nantwich, Knutsford, Hull’ – the list concludes with the undeniably accurate claim that these ‘…are all in The North’.

Apparently (i.e. I just read on Wikipedia), the release of the track was coincident with some ‘It’s Grim Up North’ graffiti that appeared at the M1/M25 junction. This in turn prompted Nottinghamshire MP Joe Ashton to table a motion in the House of Commons on uneven regional development. And if that isn’t a worthy parable for an undergraduate geography lecture, I don’t know what is.

On playing with rockets

Last week Edinburgh hosted the annual conference of the Royal Geographical Society – Institute of British Geographers, at which I was co-organising a session on ‘Ludic Geographies’ with Tara Woodyer.

My own paper on rocket toys is something I dusted down from two previous presentations some years ago.  It will comprise only a page or two of my rocket book, but the material is interesting because – as with some of the academic literature on popular geopolitics – it re-orientates geopolitical agency from statecraft to everyday life.

Rocket toys, I argue, were part of the means by which weapons of mass destruction were rendered intelligible in, and transposable to, domestic contexts.

Moreover, certain aspects of play – technical improvisation, making, collecting, ordering, strategizing – are seen to be at work in both playroom and stateroom, toybox and silo.

My interest, unsurprisingly, lies in those toys which replicate JPL’s Corporal missile, the weaponised version of Frank Malina’s WAC Corporal. You can see some of the adverts for these here.


The indistinction between military hardware and its analogue plaything is nicely illustrated in these two sets of instructions, one from the Corgi’s Corporal missile and the other from preliminary operating procedures from now declassified British Army files.

One is formal, earnest and technical; the other is … well … a bit rubbish.

The academic argument of my paper – no need to thank me – goes something like this:

  • That play is constitutive of the Cold War.
  • That we can think of sovereign nation states, like all subjects, as the ontological effects of practices that are performatively enacted – in this case, through object play.
  • That play is not something that happens on the surface of geopolitics, far less as a response to it; geopolitics is itself, in part, a ludic enterprise.
  • That there is no meaningful distinction between missiles and their toy correlates: the rocket is entrained in the ludic activities of both children and adults.

All I need to do now is buff up these bullet points into 8000 words of persuasive argument in academic prose with appropriate citations. Oh dear.



The founder of the Welfare State visits North Uist, 1919

‘Wasn’t there a famous Beveridge?’ Barbara asked me. ‘I think he was here’.

Barbara Maclean of Sollas, who recently passed away just short of her 92nd birthday, grew up on the intertidal island of Vallay which lies off the north coast of North Uist. Her father was the farm manager for Erskine Beveridge (1851-1920), the linen baron, archaeologist and photographer who built a mansion on the island and which still stands today as an enigmatic ruin.


For fifteen years, I have been slowly scraping away at the story of this house and its inhabitants. When I interviewed Barbara back in 1998, I wondered if what she called ‘the famous Beveridge’ might turn out to be Lord William Beveridge – author of the Beveridge Report, the architect of the British Welfare State and one of the giants of applied social science.

I was doubtful. It took me altogether too long to work out that he was, in fact, a cousin of Erskine Beveridge; and that, yes, he had holidayed there in the summer of 1919 – albeit over 20 years before he wrote his famous report.

Last month, I went down to the archives of the London School of Economics to sift through the papers of William Beveridge and discovered a modest treasure trove of correspondence that provides new insights into the Erskine Beveridge family and their island home.

The story of the then Sir William’s trip to Vallay House is itself fascinating. It was here he penned his inaugural lecture to the LSE whose Directorship he took up later that year.

He wrote to his parents about the unhurried pleasures of travel in the islands. While waiting for the tide to allow him cross the sands to Vallay he stopped in at the Post Office in Malacleit ‘for an hour or two with a very welcome fire and tea and whisky’.

He finally arrived at Vallay in the early hours of the morning ‘where we found cousin Erskine sitting up for us’.

Also surviving from this trip is a holiday snap of the family group. ‘Will’, as he was known to his cousins, is in the middle. Erskine Beveridge, of whom very few photos exist, is in sombre Edwardian fashion. Standing in front of Will is Erskine’s youngest son Charles (wearing a cap) and another adult son, George, wearing plus fours with his regimental Balmoral.

Within in a year, Will would be taking one of the coffin cords at cousin Erskine’s funeral. George, who inherited Vallay, later drowned in the ford.

This is, of course, just a tiny episode in a full life. Although born in India and having lived and died in England, William Beveridge was came from a Fife family that maintained close links with Scotland.

This all seems worth remembering now that William Beveridge’s legacy is being systematically unravelled and with such muted protest.

The family of Erskine Beveridge had sorrows aplenty, to which the crumbling Vallay House still testifies. The present ruin of the Welfare State is a tragedy of an altogether different order.


A narrative essay, The Ruins of Erskine Beveridge, is forthcoming in Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers.

On the ruins of St Peters Seminary

On Saturday 9th June, I donned some stout boots and a hard hat to visit a Catholic citadel. The trip to St Peters Seminary in Cardross was certainly an education – though not perhaps in the ways its founders might have anticipated. St Peters is one of Scotland’s iconic Modernist buildings; it is also a splendid ruin.


It was a glorious day spent ‘botanising on the asphalt’, to use Walter Benjamin’s memorable phrase, picking over the detritus of utopian architecture and a monastic ideal. And, appropriately enough, it was the botany that moved me most. A seminarium is, after all, a seed-bed – a plot for nurturing our knowledge of creation and Creator.

While the ‘seminar’ is one of the familiar rites of modern university life, we are apt to disavow its religious provenance. Here, in the often dank confines of St Peters, the strained kinship of seminar and seminary were reunited under the avowedly secular auspices of The Invisible College – an AHRC-funded project convened by academics Hayden Lorimer, Ed Hollis and Michael Gallagher together with Angus Farquahar at NVA.

Completed in 1966, St Peters was designed by the architects Gillespie, Kidd and Coia – a piece of monumental Modernism that now enjoys category A listing.

St Peters embodies a familiar paradox: that the building has found greater favour as a ruin than it ever did when it housed the diminishing supply of priests in training. It is now a place of pilgrimage for urban explorers; it surely won’t be long before it acquires that ultimate hipster accolade of being featured on Fuck Yeah Brutalism.

It is, for all that, a remarkable place – not just the seminary itself but the many other ruins on the estate, which once featured Kilmahew House, a large Baronial pile that dates from the mid-nineteenth century. Ruins are heaped upon other ruins.

One of my tasks of the day, as a member of The Invisible College, was to do a little digging through this palimpsest. I was dispatched to the former greenhouses of the old walled garden of Kilmahew House where, not unexpectedly, I found a lot of broken glass.

Among the more interesting vestiges of the greenhouses in their glory days were the self-propagating epiphytes that have now colonised the crumbling walls. These are bird’s nest ferns (Asplenium nidus), originally from Asia and Polynesia, but naturalized in Britain as a glasshouse stalwart in the era of high Empire.

To inhabit these spaces is to enter another age – one which, for me, also has a family connection. A neighbouring ‘Big Hoose’, comparable in grandness to Kilmahew, can still be found across the Vale of Leven at Overtoun. Alas, the walled gardens and greenhouses of Overtoun House have since been demolished. My grandfather, James Salmond – from whom I acquired my modest gardening knowledge – grew up there as the gardener’s son. He was doubtless familiar with the setup at Kilmahew. Gardening on a grand scale was all my grandfather knew – at least until he became another child soldier in Europe’s imperial war.

The Salmonds, like other branches of my extended family, were originally Presbyterian. Which brings me to a question: why was it Catholicism that favoured Modernist architecture? It is actually hard even to imagine the words ‘Scottish Presbyterian’ and ‘Modernism’ in the same sentence.

The easy explanation is that Presbyterian expansion was largely a nineteenth century affair. But as I wrote in a paper (1mb PDF) a decade ago, the theology of protestant architecture is oddly aligned with the principles of Modernism: a stripped down aesthetic that gives primacy to function; and a worship space shorn of ornament, so as to emphasise the centrality of the Word.

As film footage of the St Peters chapel shows, similar principles found a welcome home in the post-Vatican II Catholic church. It is interesting to note that the construction phase of St Peters (1961-1966) closely parallels the duration of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), even if the Catholic affinity for Modernism is clearly much older.

A stencilled graffito at the current entrance to the St Peters site – a well-used gap in the perimeter fence – approvingly quotes Sir Herbert Read from his 1934 Art and Industry

‘The machine has rejected ornament and the machine has everywhere established itself. We are irrevocably committed to the machine age’

As the ruins of the machine age are now encased in ivy, this uncompromising sentiment now seems slightly quaint. It is the living ornament that so often has the last word.