Oxford Time and Old Tom

Before the railways, every town in England had its own local time calculated from the Greenwich Meridian.  With the introduction of the railways came Railway Time or Standard Time.  Oxford is 5 minutes and 2 seconds behind Greenwich Mean Time.  As far as I know it is only Old Tom who keeps to Oxford time (although just once a day) and that is because Old Tom is a bell.  At 9.05 every evening he rings out 101 times and then for the rest of the day keeps to Greenwich Mean Time.  Old Tom resides in a tower built by Sir Christopher Wren in 1681 within the college of Christ Church, part of Oxford University, itself founded in 1525.

Here is Tom Tower today: 

 
I got very excited when I found this next picture.  It had every appearance of being an original, signed print by Valerie Petts.  Valerie is a well known Oxford artist and member of the Oxford Art Society.  Not only does she have her own website: www.valeriepetts.co.uk but she has a Wikipedia page too.  Many of her prints are for sale at: http://www.templecrestart.com

Sadly, for me, when I took the print out of its frame I realised it was not an original print and the signature is printed as well.  Never mind, I have still learnt a lot about time, Old Tom and ofcourse Valerie Petts who is clearly a gifted artist.

  

Waylaid by a Warrior

There I was researching poppies when I came across this man:

  
He is Xiang Yu (232-202 BC) and this is his Consort Yu:

  
To cut a very long story short, during the Qin Dynasty, Xiang Yu was known as one of the greatest Chinese warriors and a warlord. He was a very big man and a man of great strength.  His consort, Yu, was so in love with him she followed him everywhere and stayed with him throughout his battles.  However when he started to lose and things were looking a bit hopeless, she picked up his sword and danced with it trying to ease his sadness.  She later used his sword to commit suicide and poppies were said to have grown where she fell.  When all was truly hopeless, Xiang Yu also committed suicide rather than be taken prisoner.

It seems poppies can’t help being associated with death but also with sleep, dreams and peace.

Having said all that this next charity shop find gives off a completely different feel.  It is, I think, done with pastels and signed by the artist Christine Dracup.  I can’t find Christine anywhere but quite a bit of her work is on Etsy and EBay but nothing is dated later than the 1990s as far as I can see.  This one is dated 1998.  I think it is quite beautiful and I wonder why it was discarded.