Friday, 30 October 2009

Drink and the Devil

Come and have a yarn with John. Although the words of the much-loved anti-hero and all-round ne'er-do-well Long John Silver the impressive turnout of family, friends and collectors on Tuesday night all boarded ship here on Bury St. to do exactly that. Not that we were huddle around the apple barrel. The amassed crew gently imbibed refreshing rum punch whilst Squire Lawrence heartily signed books and greeted old friends in a congenial atmosphere far from piratical. The shattering of a wine goblet may have heralded the onset of mutinous revolt however the fortuitous discovery of another crate of grog below decks swiftly allayed any such erstwhile activity, and order was restored without recourse to the local magistrate.

Described by one as the definite version of Treasure Island, John Lawrence's masterful handling of this great classic of British literature is none the less impressive than Stevenson's rollicking adventure yarn. John's work, as always, shows profound understanding of subject, a keen perception of spirit and masterful technical ability. The bloody and ultimately fatal struggle between the unremittingly evil Israel Hands and the Irishman in a brutal moment of piratical infighting is displayed in superb style. The struggling combatants, framed by the doorway of the cabin, lurch one way across the deck whilst the Hispaniola sways precariously to the other. In a scene of desperation, volatility and ferocity there is little mistake to be made from John's vivid depiction that this is no mere inebriated disagreement, but uncompromising and ghastly conflict to the death. The spirit of these illustrations is gripping and heartily evoke the spirit of this fabled bygone age. Much appreciated by all, the gallery was looted of these beautifully produced books, and we now dig in earnest for more. For the true bounty hunter this rich booty can be acquired for a mere scattering of doubloons. No map required.

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