Pole inspired poetry.

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:


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.

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

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.



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

Dylan Thomas and birthday cake poles.


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.


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.

Insulator Roost

Insulators roosting at sunset

Regular readers of these pages may well remember Simon Natelson-Carter (#0372). For he is the curator of the Tamsin Pastelle museum in Wiltshire. It was he who introduced us to the fine telegraphic depiction by Ms Pastelle entitled “Insulators 1” the summer [sic] before last.

He writes again, two-fold.  Firstly to inform us that the museum has acquired two new pieces; one of which is an example of her” butterfly and cupcake poles”, and another, a “moody full-portrait of poles, bringing out their root, stem and plant-like nature”. Our breath is bated, a lot, in anticipation.  Apparently, we may well get clearance to see them by December.  Watch this space.

Meanwhile, he has also sent us the photo (right), captured by his friend, Mike Barratt, also of Wilthsire, showing a rare sighting of the twilight-gyre ceremony performed by bullers and pot-head insulators immediately prior to roosting for the night on the crossarms.  Puts me in mind of the Rainham Marshes at sunset.


Totem Pole

T elegraph Poles have always been something of a blank canvas for missing cat posters, village hall whist-drive flyers and lonely-lady telephone calling cards. But I’m surprised it’s taken so long to turn up one of these – a proper Telegraph Totem Pole. Openreach engineer John Brunsden tells us that this is his favourite pole.

It’s been like it for years, and still looking good near Stogumber Station on the lovely West Somerset Steam Railway ~ almost as good as what Banksy did with a BT Block and capping a few years back.

The walls at HQ TPAS

W ell just look what the parcel force man delivered here today…

Painting #15 - from Everything is Electrified by Joe Simpson#15. Mixed Media on Canvas. 100 x 50 cm – by Joe Simpson

This will look splendid on the walls here at Telegraph Pole HQ.  But we didn’t half jangle our nerves getting it.  With telephone bids coming in from around the world, and the Sotheby’s auctioneer about to bang his gavel to an Oligarch collector – we thought we’d missed our chance.  “Four million, three hundred thousand pounds anyone?”  “Going once, to the shifty looking foreigner in the front row…”, “Twice…”. 

Now, I blame the lamb biryani we had at lunchtime, but that was a terrible moment for my dyspepsia to kick in.  And to an excited auctioneer a gurgled stifled belch might conceivably sound like a bid. 

“Gone… Four million, three hundred thousand pounds to the startled looking gentleman over by the toilets. Congratulations, Sir.”

Right, I’ve just been on the internet and found a buyer for my right kidney.  That just leaves £4,299,000 to find! 


Everything is Electrified

Everything is electrified #9 Everything is Electrified, Joe Simpson

Everything is electrified #4 Everything is Electrified #15

I am clearly not alone in my appreciation of the aesthetics of telegraph poles in our landscape.

A new exhibition of grand skies, pylons and telegraph poles called Everything is Electrified by visual artist Joe Simpson runs from 20th – 30th January 2012 at Camden Town Unlimited on Camden High Street. The nearest tube is Mornington Crescent, the gallery entrance is just opposite the famous music venue Koko. Admission to the exhibition is free and the gallery will be open everyday 12pm – 8pm.

The pictures are stunning.  And I know that we on this website have a certain leaning towards telegraph poley things, but the pictures with pylons are very dramatic too.  Click on the links above and have a look.  Better still, get down (or up) to Camden and see them in the flesh.

Singing Telegraph Wires

Caroline is a name which has cropped up a lot this week. I booked my holiday cottage with Caroline on Tiree. Caroline answered the phone when I rang the bank to ask about squeezing a bit more from a moribund overdraft. It was Caroline who sold me this week’s losing lottery ticket at the Spar.  And another Caroline wrote to me about recording sound created by weather events whistling through long lengths of wire.

I’ll leave to students of C.G. Jung the synchronicity of all these Carolines. However I did tell the latter one that telegraph wires have slack built into them and so are unlikely to resonate into any kind of intonation worth recording.  I suggested that she might be better off heading to the high moorlands to capture the sound of taut, rusted, sheep fencing which I know to hum from my extensive hill-walking.  I also pointed her in the direction of the amazing singing forest gate of Black Mixen at OS grid ref SO 201 644 and which sings like a kettle when the wind is right.

But then some further research turned up Jarbas Agnelli.  Like many before him, Jarbas’ inspiration came from the way birds sitting on telegraph wires seemed to resemble so many musical notes on staves.  So, long story short, he converted them to a music score.  The result of which can be seen and heard in the video on the left.    

Not quite the humming telephone wires Caroline #4 was hoping for, but a pleasant diversion nonetheless.  


Lost masterpiece found

Insulators #1 by Tamsin Pastelle

Insulators #1

by kind permission the Tamsin Pastelle Estate

W hat an amazing week it’s been here at Telegraph Pole Towers.  Out of the blue I received an email from Simon Carter, the curator of an art gallery, presumably in Salisbury, Wilts.  His email contained a lost telegraphic masterpiece by Tamsin Pastelle and in its original JPEG form too.  He also sent us the following descriptive text:

This still-life in chalks by Tamsin Pastelle, entitled ‘Insulators 1’, formed the central panel of a Triptych and is thought to have graced the South Entrance of the B.T. Chapel of Remembrance in Salisbury, Wiltshire.

Believed originally to have spent her formative years in the Southern Heavy Water Region of Britain, she was most active in the Reclamation Period. She discovered her passion for Telegraphics when annotating Satellites through a pin-hole; but for years had to work undetected for fear of her public persona, as resident floral artist (watercolours) at the tiny village of Christmas-in-the-cotswolds, being publicly trashed. Had she not taken refuge ‘neath a Rural Transformer on that day of providence…

Extract taken from art notes compiled for the Tamsin Pastelle Memorial Gallery of Street Furniture.

What a find!.  And it gets spookier.  My late* father always claimed that he had featured in one of Ms Pastelle’s paintings.  From his days up a pole as a GPO engineer.  We never believed him of course – he made a lot of claims.   He was supposed to have been the inspiration for horned cherub #2 in Boticelli’s Mars and Venus.  We never saw this telegraph pole study of which he spoke, so we’ve asked Mr Carter if maybe he could help us locate it.


* my father not dead yet, just rubbish at being on time.

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