Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Popeye and Handel

I came across this Popeye mural in Croydon on Sunday morning, across from the West Croydon bus station. I was waiting for a bus and having an interesting high culture/low culture experience, listening to Handel's Fire Music over the bus station's PA system and gazing at Popeye.

Is he knocking the vitamins out of that spinach? What's going on there?

We've had frosty mornings the last few days. I brought in the geraniums -- which badly need trimming -- but otherwise we're going to let our outdoor potted plants do their own thing for the winter. I'm tired of hauling them in and out and frankly some of them need to be culled anyway. Once the fig tree loses its leaves, I'm planning to tuck it into our shed, where it will overwinter. (Apparently it needs to go through a dormant period and shouldn't be brought completely indoors -- at least, that's what I read.)

Sunday was Bonfire Night, the peculiar British holiday that involves setting off fireworks and lighting fires to celebrate the failure of Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators to blow up Parliament in 1605. We'd been hearing pops and bangs from firecrackers for several nights, but on Sunday evening our neighbors set off real fireworks that flew up into the sky, showered colorful sparks over the adjacent gardens and flashed on the walls of our house like lightning. I sat on the living room floor and watched them through the windows. Olga, surprisingly, didn't seem fazed. She lay on the couch and half-opened her eyes at the particularly loud bangs, but otherwise took everything in stride.


  1. It seems that Croydon is becoming something of a mecca for attractive street art. With regard to the Popeye and Olive Oyl mural I have no idea what is going on but Olive seems to be in physical distress for she has left a puddle of black urine on the ground beneath her.

  2. Because I am a writer, I spend a lot of time doing anything, absolutely anything, to avoid writing. So I Googled "West Croydon bus station" and took a lovely virtual walk around the place as of June 2016. I came across that Popeye moral in progress; no Olive Oil, just Popeye, on the side of a discount bed store, which is next door to Freda's Posh Hair and Nails. I have the phone # of the shop and if I get really motivated I might call them up and ask what's up with that Popeye/Olive Oil mural. I really, really don't want to write today.

    It looked like there was still a lot of construction going on at the station as of June 2016, but I've read that work has since been completed and the West Croydon bus station has won some kind of architectural award. I assume for being the best damn bus station in the realm.

    And Jesus, it's a long way from Hampstead.

  3. I was wondering how many bus riders would actually recognize Handel's Fire Music but then I remember you're not in America. Probably quite a few over your way. Not here....I think the riders might revolt and take over the bus.

    I've always preferred Water over Fire.

  4. I think that Olive Oyl and Popeye are doing some sort of sea-chanty dance together and I have no idea what the vitamin is doing but maybe it's Viagra because you know, Popeye is getting rather old and perhaps spinach just doesn't do the job for keeping him strong to the finish anymore.

    Okay. Now that I've brought your comments section to a new and silly low, I shall just say, "Good morning, Steve!"

  5. lucky you Olga doesn't mind the noise. Minnie gets downright neurotic.

  6. I think the vitamins vanished from that spinach when they overcooked it and put it in a can.
    Ms. Moon made me laugh out loud.
    It must have been this time of year when I visited London and made that journey to Portmeirion Wales. I remember on that long train ride back to London I kept seeing fireworks going off in every direction.

  7. I don't understand the elevation of Guy Fawkes to a heroic status. Maybe it's because his exploits gave the British the opportunity to act like citizens of the U.S. on the 4th of July and set off fireworks.

  8. To Mr Catalyst

    Guy Fawkes Night or Bonfire Night pre-dates American independence. We burn effigies of Guy Fawkes not as a form of hero worship but as a lesson to would-be Roman Catholic insurgents.

  9. I'm glad that Olga doesn't react negatively to the noise of fireworks. It can be such a bummer for dogs. I like the mural, and especially the human walking between Olive Oyl and Popeye.

  10. Knocking the vitamins right out of the can of spinach seems like a good explanation to me. But why? WHY??

  11. I tried to explain bonfire night to an American the other day! He looked at me like a loon

  12. YP: Croydon does indeed have some interesting street art going on. Which is a good thing, because it needs something.

    Vivian: You crack me up! I applaud your investigative work, even if it's in lieu of your writing! I didn't know about the architectural award, but it IS a nice little bus station, so that doesn't entirely surprise me.

    Linda: Well, I have a confession to make. I didn't recognize it either. I knew it was familiar, so I used my Shazam app on my phone to identify it. (The app "listens" to whatever music you're hearing and tells you what it is.)

    Ms Moon: Well, I guess I'm just glad that Popeye and Olive still have some romance in their lives. :)

    Ellen: It's amazing how mellow she was. Ernie and Ruby used to freak out at fireworks.

    Sharon: Yes, it WAS about this time of year, wasn't it?!

    Catalyst: Yes, as YP said, Guy Fawkes actually predates the American Revolution by almost two hundred years. Many people are confused about why the Gunpowder Plot is "celebrated," but the key is that the celebrations are not of the plot itself, they're of its FAILURE. The fact that the king survived is what's being celebrated. And as YP also mentioned, there's that religious element too -- keeping the Catholics in line.

    YP: Boy, you hopped right in there, didn't you? Do you monitor my blog for opportunities to educate my readers on English culture? :)

    Robin: I'm glad too. It surprises me, honestly.

    Jenny-O: I have no idea!!

    John: It's definitely a mystery to many Americans! I first learned about it when I was in New Zealand in November years ago and saw it celebrated there.

  13. LOOOL - The title of this piece is called Popping Confidence!

    This is a collaboration between two artists, whom one is a graffiti artist called Haz AKA Mr Popeye and the other is a screen printer artist called Miles Khan who does these colorful confidence pills all over Croydon and even London.
    These two artists haven't been in the Art game very long but are both very relevant within their own circle of art.

    I must say it was very amusing reading all of these comments by people who all look at things differently and have their own view and imagination.

    Any more questions let me know.

  14. Thanks for the background, Rio! I guess the beauty of art is that it's open to different interpretations by the viewers, right?! :)