The Fabled Lost Pole of Bala Leisure Centre

We’ve had a fabled lost tape-measure in this house for many years now – last seen when putting some shelves up under the stairs. Apparently, it’s right where I left it according to Mrs TPAS.

Anyway another futile hunt for same earlier put me in mind of a conversation I once had with Ged McCarthy the old pole prospector from them thar Mersey hills. We were sat around his camp fire in a layby on the B5105 late one night, eating beans from a tin and retelling tales about poles of yore, stay wires, double grooves and all that when he started to scratch out a map in the dirt on the back of his van and proceeded to mark an X.

“Ooh aar!”, he said, “Arr!”, he insisted, “Arr! here be found the remains of the fabulously fabled five-armed pole of Bala Leisure Centre.” {further oohs and arrs omitted for brevity} “Lost for many a year in the undergrowth it be, and nobody that has set eyes upon it has ever lived longer than a lifespan.” he warned. My spine chilled – Ged’s mate Deggsie had spilled Special Brew all down my back.

So magnificent is this pole that back in the 1920s they used to run bus trips to see it. People came from as far away as Norwich to gaze upon its tall wooden sticky-uppy grandeur. Slowly, though, fashions changed, fibre broadband arrived and BT Openreach came along and stuck a ‘D’ plate on it and its fabledness became lost to mankind.

Not any longer, because now you can light up the walls in your office/lounge/kitchen/bedroom/massage parlour with our reproduction of the original art-deco unoriginal fabled tour poster of the day. These come in A2 size (420 x 594 mm), unframed, satin finish all posted in a lovely refreshing cardboard tube. Just what your Christmas pressie idea head-scratching was looking for and only £8.99 plus p&p. And while you’re doing your Crimbo shopping you really ought to stock up on our diamond-encrusted*1 Telegraph Pole Appreciation for Beginners book. Key Stages 1-4 will delight, amuse, educate and something else your appreciative gift recipient – and they might just buy you something much nicer in return.
And if you enter the code IAMSKINT during checkout you’ll get 10% off everything – yes, everything: posters, memberships, mugs, books, everything. So just buy everything. What are you waiting for?The fabled lost pole of bala leisure centre
*1 We use only the finest homeopathic diamonds to encrust our books.

Scaled down brilliance

posted in: Art, models | 0

A rare thing it is for me to be so moved as I was when I received the photo below this last week.  This was sent to us by TPAS member #0654 Paul Kirkup.  And so elevated was I that I woke Mrs TPAS from her post-prandial sofa-slumber to share with her this brilliance.  Once she had calmed down from my intrusion and stopped hitting me she too became as enthused as me over the picture. I mean, just look at those hands! I could only ever dream of having fingernails so exquisitely manicured as that.  Then that is because I am the British freestyle nail-biting champion three years running and Paul obviously isn’t – but does make wonderful dioramas.
Paul tells us he built the pole as part of a diorama for a railway-themed competition – so the model must contain at least two railway elements and fit within a cakebox sized 8″x8″x6″. The full model you can see in the second picture and is called “No more coal”.
I fell in love with the concept of dioramas a couple of years ago when I attended an art exhibition in south Shropshire – Chapel Lawn if you must – and there were a couple there that I just couldn’t draw myself away from.  The attention to detail is simply stunning and requires a bloody-good staring at to take it all in.  And so it is with Paul’s model as a whole.  But this telegraph pole just blew me away.  There are rust stains from the step irons, and the insulators are broken just as they are – from catapult kids like me.
I don’t know if “No more coal” won the competition, but it should have.  Paul’s metaphorical ears picked up when I mentioned commissioned pieces – so I’m going to somehow engineer my little face lighting up on Christmas morning when I find one of these in my pillow case.  I’ll take her up a cup of tea just now I think.

The Lost Pole

posted in: Art | 0

Nat Simons artist

I would like to draw our sage readers’ attention to this new (to us) and quite lovely telegraph pole painting by Wiltshire based artist Nat Simons.  Nat is the curator and resident artist at Samsi Studios in Salisbury. Astute readers may remember said gallery’s display of a previously lost masterpiece called Insulators No. 1 by Tamsin Pastelle.  We were never told how that painting got lost or even found again.  But for this particular painting we do know.  Apparently, this chalk canvas had been turned against the wall for many years to avoid small hands smudging it. That storm has passed, so it can come out like the Sun, Nat told us. And how nice to see it again. For this reason if not any other, it is called “The Lost Pole”.  There are many “lost poles” in telegraphic folk lore.  One of which being “The Fabled Lost Pole of Bala Leisure Centre”.  More on which in a later post.

Meanwhile, to encourage this talented telegraph pole painter to spend more time painting telegraph pole pictures and less at having to work night shifts, we could all visit Amazon and buy his latest children’s book “Dee Dee and the Frangle“.  More from Nat Simons can also be found at the facebook page “Unfolding Tales“.

Poetry, poles, a prize-winning poem

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When Current Archaeology magazine published an article about our sagiest of societies back in 2015 poet Margaret Seymour found true inspiration. Her poem, reproduced here by kind permission, won first prize at the Sheringham poetry competition. So thanks to our ramblings, a myriad insulators, and the intrinsic beauty that is telegraph poles, these 152 words were selected out of all the thousands that are available and were assembled into the beautiful and unique, prize-lifting order that you see below. Congratulations and special thanks to Margaret. I’ve illustrated the whole occasion with a photo of a line of poles in Donegal. And some gorse. And Slieve Snaght in the background.

Distance Writing

The telegraphpoleappreciationsocietydotorg
knows poetry when it sees it – the epic
march of metre, neat crossbar rhyme-schemes
embellished with ceramic references
to fungi, daleks, Chinese lanterns;
long lilting lines punctuated by swallows.

It’s fond of folklore such as crossbars
are always on the side facing London.
It loves the drama of the telegram,
whistle and crackle of the human voice.
urgent pitter-pat of Morse,
the arcane doings of Openreach.

Its totems are the trunks of trees –
wayside gods inscribed with tribal marks
BT or GPO, plus date of last libation
of creosote. She of the high and shaky
brackets orders DO NOT CLIMB.
He of the yellow skull warns DANGER OF DEATH.

Happy the members of TPAS! For them
a road or railway is a procession
of curiosities, a document, a refuge
where ivy flourishes and kestrels perch,
a photographic pilgrimage where finally
lines of posts are enshrined as posts online.
Margaret Seymour

A line of poles in Inishowen, Co. Donegal, Ireland

Arty poles revisited

posted in: Art | 0

Many thanks to Sophie Jayne Howell for her recent email.  Well March it was actually, but geologically, that’s microseconds.  Anyway, Sophie said some lovely things about our website – that always keeps the delay in replying down to single years – but also that her darling father who once worked for British Telecom servicing the poles rambles fondly about creosote.  That’s nice.  Anyway, Sophie is clearly an appreciator of art as much as she is of, ahem, telegraph poles.  She sent us these three images which frankly, are all gorgeous.

#1 & #2 are Simpsons inspired artworks by Tim Doyle – part of his “Unreal Estate” series.  To quote Sophie here “…both of these have beautiful wiry sticky uppy-ey poles, covered in interesting looking squggly bits and big transmittery things. The poles loom in the twlight and just look lovely.”  The 3rd picture is Richard Rigg’s ‘I forgot what was said when we were outside, stood empty, now without those words I fell back’ Installed in Leeds Art Gallery in 2011, it is two lovely big telegraph poles. In an art gallery, Telegraph poles, Art – you can’t get better than that. 

Tim Doyle's Simpsons inspired artwork Night falls on the SNPP TimDoyle 2011Richard Rigg 2010

More from the Laureate of Lacoste

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The poet laureate of Lacoste, Finn Mac Eoin, has been in touch again. Firstly with another rather champion, laureate-worthy poem about telegraph poles and then a story about the picture you see below. Go on, you tell them Finn…

I was not aware that my affection for pole spotting had always existed, not until discovering that a Telegraph Pole Appreciation Society actually existed. Thank you for bring it to my attention, ( I thought I had latent polarity syndrome )

Poles Apart.

I——–I——–I
In the forest they grew up
together side by side,
branches touching, all
resisting the Atlantic winds.

But now, they don’t even
want to know each other,
totally individual and the
way they are cropped;

No foliage, not even a
limb for a bird to perch
on, anaemic looking, as
if they were anorexic.

It’s all about the look, bare
legs and those porcelain
earrings that look hideous,
homogenous, no character.

In my day we all knew each
other, helped our neighbors.
Now, they’re too weak to stand,
but for the wires! We’re poles apart.

Some twenty or more years ago after I had purchased this print in Akaroa, South Is. New Zealand I had occasion to go to Auckland where the subject resides. I made a special detour to go and see if the painter poetically licensed the Pole in order to accommodate the Bushell’s Fresco, or did it grow like this naturally?

To my delight, I discovered that the Pole is as is and had not been tampered with on the easel by a Churchill’s Hiccup brush stroke.

Regards,

Finn.

A print of an old new zealand corner store from a painting by Bill MacCormick

And so we don’t get into trouble for including the image, <here is a link> so that you can buy a copy of this fine print, off the website we nicked the picture from.

Pole inspired poetry.

posted in: Art | 0
A Lacostian pole to inspire an Irish poet A pole and a tree entwined

Lacoste in the Provence region in the south of France is famous for two things.  One being its once notorious resident, Donatien Alphonse Francois comte de Sade aka the Marquis de Sade who had, shall we say, a peculiar attitude to familial relationships. The second thing Lacoste is famous for is its resident poet laureate – an Irish born poet-gardener by the name of Finnbar Mac Eoin.  Finn, the author of “Two suitcases and a dog” has had a few run-ins himself with the rather parochial villagers.  A quick search of his name using a famous search engine should lead you to the full story.  But if you can’t find it, then here’s a film all about it:

http://www.imdb.com/video/wab/vi377855257/

Anyway, poet that he is, Finn found himself inspired by the telegraph pole you see here – wherein the pole and the tree do, genuinely, seem pleased to see one-another.  Finn submitted his poem to the only place he could or indeed should. And he kindly allowed us to pubish it.  The poem is best read in a Co. Cork accent.  Trust me. 

An Irish Pine.

Telegraph pole hugged
by a leafy evergreen
An expression of a mothers
pride at her wee cone who 
was taken away in the storm.

Now, would you be looking
at him, a fine upright lad who
didn’t  forget where he came 
from and well connected
too, by the looks of him.

Telegraph Pole Prints.

posted in: Art | 0

R ichard Kaye likes telegraph poles. As do I.  Unlike me, though, he has an artist’s eye.  And talent. He has produced a series of fine art prints of poles that haunt the skyscape of his locality.  It is the telegraph poles that haunt his locality not his prints.  His pictures are not at all spooky and don’t do any haunting.  At all.  I just want to be clear on that.  He uses a traditional drypoint intaglio technique.  Me, I think they’re stunning and capture the essence of everything about poles that has entranced me since my earliest days.  Here’s what Richard has to say about them :

I have become fascinated by telegraph poles recently as I believe they are really powerful, bold and iconic as images. It’s also interesting that they are all around us and yet rarely seem to get noticed. I have tried to capture them as silhouettes in order to make the black and white prints I create more vivid and compelling.
The whole idea started when I was sitting on my front step one night and looked up at the one outside my house.
As a series I am trying to capture the disparity in the poles and also importantly consider the most striking composition.

A series of prints of telegraph poles by artist Richard Kaye

The prints are for sale via Richard’s own <website> are very reasonably priced and should rightly grace the walls of any telegraph pole connoisseur. Personally I would like to buy the whole set as I feel they belong together.  Alas, times are tough at Telegraph Pole Hall here in Mid-Walesshire and just putting quails in aspic on the table is proving quite the challenge these days.  Proof of this can be found on proletarian fencing-site, eBay – in the category for Body Parts/Offal where my left kidney, with 2 days to go, has just 3 bids against it and is up to a paltry £39.77.  And I forgot to put a reserve on!

Telegraph Poles as art

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Am I mad? asked Claire Pendrous in her recent email.  Presumably her question was rhetorical.  If not, then I would probably need a little more to go on than the text and photos you sent me.  Herewith, both…

a bandolier of screw tops top half of a telegraph pole
Another view of Claire's telegraph pole with lots of insulators

Dear Sir BS,

I have found your fascinating website whilst searching the net to find information about telegraph poles and insulators.

We have in our garden, half of an old telegraph pole which I have saved from a local telecommunications company, …they pole-plant on behalf of BT. The reason I did this is that we need the pole to carry an electrical cable out to out garage, but I wanted to adorn it with a full double crown of white porcelain insulators. After several months of pestering the poor guys down at the local company, I now have the full double crown. The pole will hopefully go up after Christmas and then be fitted out with the insulator set.

In the meantime, I’m also the proud owner of a 4ft top section of a pole with two cross arms, and the top of a pole with an earlier style of metal crown with singe groove insulators and wooden spiked finial.

Anyway, the whole thing has got my interest, hence me coming across your site, which I have found wonderfully informative as a well as interesting.

I have attached some pictures of what I have accumulated so far, which hopefully will be of some interest.

Regards

Claire

No madder than me, Claire. If that helps! Meanwhile, as usual, click the images to enlarge them.

Dylan Thomas and birthday cake poles.

posted in: Art | 0

laughanpole

Simon Natelson-Carter (#0372) has written in to tell us that he recently spent a week in a lodge suspended 50ft above Dylan Thomas’ Boat House in Laugharne, Pembrokeshire.  He doesn’t say what particular misdemeanour led to his lodge-incarceration but it couldn’t have been that serious as here in Wales suspension above Dylan Thomas’ former retreats is often used as an alternative to open-prison.

Anyway, while he was there he took a look at The Tin Shed Experience – a 1940’s museum which is conveniently nearby.  There his finely-tuned telegraph pole detection gland spotted this telegraph pole–based construction within their grounds.  Once satisfied that no pole cruelty was involved in its erection therewith Simon and the museum owners celebrated said pole’s prior loyal service.  Though I don’t think this particular pole has done much by way of public telegraph work seeing how it seems to have an ’07 mark.

cakepole

Simon is also the curator of the Tamsin Pastelle museum in Wiltshire.  Some time ago he eluded to further artwork finds by this great telegraph pole artist.  Herewith the first.  Tamsin’s cake and butterfly period (possibly) followed a poorly-judged fungal foray which led to a plate of garlic magic-mushrooms on toast.

She may have ended up with a gippy stomach and an interesting insight, but we mortals have this colourful, vibrant, psilocybin-induced candle and butterfly filled masterpiece to remember her by.

This and other paintings by the same artist can be bought in greetings card form from the US website Card Gnome.

* As with nearly all images on this website – click to enlarge.

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