‘My clever work pony was so loyal that I’d give him my sandwiches.’

Joseph McQuiggan, far right, at Nettlesworth Colliery, County Durham in 1965. Image Credit: Photograph by John Bulmer
I was 15 when I began mining. I had my heart set on it, and left school on the Friday and started on the Monday. I began with screen work, separating the stones from the coal.
Before long, I’d been trained to go underground. It wasn’t claustrophobic – even when you’re working a seam that’s only 18 inches high. Typically, I’d work at the face, up against the rock, chiselling the coal out.
We’d go down clean and come back up covered in coal. Every 18 months, you got a chest x-ray to make sure you had no dust on your lungs. I was OK; I always wore a mask at the coalface.
When this photo was taken, I was around 23 years old; I’m on the far right, looking cheeky. I remember the photographer, John Bulmer – he was a young man, a lot like us. He’d say: “Forget I’m here, get on with your normal day,” and we did.
We’d go to the stables with the ponies from the pit and wash them down with a hosepipe, put them in their stalls and make sure they were fed and brushed; all the while, John was snapping away.
They are the most intelligent animals in the world – just marvellous to work with. The ponies helped carry the coal out to a landing point above ground.
I had a little one called Anchor. He was small and white. He led me a dance for about a month, but I persevered, and by the end, he’d do anything for me.
He was that good, sometimes I’d give him my sandwiches. I’d give him both of them and go without lunch, because he was earning the money for me.
Source: ‘My pony was that good, I’d give him my lunch – he was earning the money’ | Art and design | The Guardian

The Charter of the Forest, 1225.

In 1217, King Henry III (r. 1216–72) issued a new version of Magna Carta, together with a new charter dealing with the royal forest. It was in a proclamation of February 1218 that the name ‘Magna Carta’ itself first appears, in order to distinguish the Great Charter from its shorter forest brother.
On 11 February 1225, at the same time as issuing the final and definitive version of Magna Carta, Henry likewise issued a new version of the Charter of the Forest. Thereafter ‘the Charters’, as they were called, were always linked together.
This example of the 1225 Forest Charter is one of three surviving originals. In substance, it is similar to the Forest Charter of 1217, but includes the statement about the granting of a tax in return for the charter, and the same long witness list, as in the 1225 Magna Carta.
Like Magna Carta, the 1225 Forest Charter was also sealed with the King’s Great Seal. This copy retains its original linen seal bag.
In John’s reign, roughly a third of the country was royal forest, and the penalties imposed for forest offences were a major source of revenue for the king.
One aim of the Forest Charter was to reduce the area of the royal forest by removing everything which King Henry II (chiefly blamed for the forest’s vast extent) had placed within it.
The Charter also banned capital punishments for forest offences (such as poaching and hunting the protected deer), and exempted those having woods within the forest from fines for erecting buildings and creating new arable land.
via The Forest Charter of 1225 – The British Library

Solid gold crapper to be installed at Blenheim Palace.

A Solid Gold toilet is to be installed at Blenheim Palace Oxfordshire.
Visitors will be able to spend an 18-carat gold penny when Maurizio Cattelan’s gold-toilet artwork is set to be installed at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, this autumn and people will be able to use it. Photograph: Jacopo Zotti (Guggenheim Museum 2016)
The 18-carat gold artwork, by Maurizio Cattelan, made headlines in the US after the Guggenheim offered it to Donald Trump instead of the Van Gogh painting he requested.
It will be plumbed into a bathroom at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, near the room in which Winston Churchill was born.
Visitors will be able to admire and use the toilet, an experience that will be new even to the Marlborough family who have enjoyed lives of luxury at Blenheim for more than 300 years.
“Despite being born with a silver spoon in my mouth I have never had a s.h.i.t on a golden toilet, so I look forward to it,” said Edward Spencer-Churchill, the current Duke of Marlborough’s half-brother and founder of the Blenheim Art Foundation.
“It will be an installed, working, usable toilet.”There will be enhanced security, Spencer-Churchill said, but whether there will be a queuing system or booked slots has yet to be decided.
And there is the question of how long people can stay in the toilet. “I’m not sure I can answer that question yet,” he added. “We’d like people to enjoy their time in there without giving them too much time, if that makes sense.”
Source: Flushed with success: solid-gold toilet to be installed at Blenheim | Art and design | The Guardian

Balancing the Stones, Isle of Man.

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The Isle of Man has never looked more beautiful than in the backdrop to these striking photographs of cleverly-balanced stones.
Adrian Gray, a world leader in the art of stone balancing, has been hard at work scanning the island in search of the best locations to put his honed skills to the test, with photographer Mikael Buck on hand to record the unbelievable results.
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Gray takes his inspiration from his stunning natural environment and studies each stone carefully to fully understand weight distribution and how the shapes will fit together before building his monuments.
He was asked to create the sculptures after the Isle of Man’s government noticed his talent on Channel 4’s Grand Designs.
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via Stone balancer Adrian Gray creates striking statues on the Isle of Man – Photography – Arts and Entertainment – The Independent.