Thursday 9 April 2015

Of Ghost Signs and Enduring Literature

I've been collecting more of Newark's ghost signs; seeing new ones and filling in the gaps concerning ones that I thought were there and I missed. Lo and behold! I looked again and they had re-appeared, reclaimed from titanium pigment death amid the pink clay.

One of them was a favourite. On my initial ghost sign reconnaissance I walked past it several times, failing to locate it on every occasion as if it were enclosed inside one of writer Douglas Adams' "Someone Else's Problem" fields. Then a few weeks later I walked on by, and it was there, its white letters surely laughing at me.

Letters. Man of letters. I suppose that's what I strive to be. Every so often I read about proper writers, and I get that synaesthetic metal taste in my mouth when I read about serious literature. I think its my brain imagining the taste of the inky hot metal that once upon a day would be used to print books.

I've been re-reading Clive James talking about his literary lunches with Ian McEwan and Christopher Hitchins, drooling over the covers of Ian Hamilton's "Review" magazine, elegantly outlining the poetic and critical content within. Which is hilarious, as I am not poetic and don't do poeting.

I just love the idea of being one I guess, or being a serious Grub Street lit critic.

This probably creates the impression that I worry that this blogging I do is somehow inconsequential. I don't think it is, because if it inspires the odd person to take even the faintest interest in the environment around them, then it is doing its job. If my readers like it or learn something new, so much the better. I wish it was good enough to be one of those blogs that the British Library are preserving forever in some server laden cave somewhere. But we will see.

In the meantime, I shall write some longer essays on a variety of subjects, and home that in some way my words might persist as long as these Newark ghost signs.


Just love this, on Pelham Street

An old pub sign, Kirkgate

Another old pub sign, this one maintained by local heritage department, also Kirkgate

Oddity on Banrbygate

An old bakery, just across from the last one

Change of tack, more Burton's Art Deco...

...with its own "Ghost Brick" to mark it inception!


  1. Great post Simon - I do enjoy learning about the area where you live :)

  2. Thanks very much, as ever! I'm still trying to find new places in the town, but it is getting track to run on, new things to notice....such as bell towers! We have a lot of them in Newark!

  3. Great post! We can learn so much from blogging. For me personally it sends me on a journey to find out more. Thank you Simon and have a great weekend.

  4. Thank you Denise, I shall be working tomorrow, but Sunday I'm back on the loose, always thinking of new places to go.

  5. I love these posts you do as I find them very interesting, we went to Morecambe on Thursday with a friend, we spent quite a lot of time looking at the buildings, trying to work out what they were originally built for, I thought of you (not for the first time !) and wondered if there would be any ghost signs on these walls. I really did not have the time to day but would love to go back and look at the buildings in better detail..
    Amanda xx

  6. Look up, look down, look sideways. Constantly. That's what I try and do, lol

  7. Hi Simon - found your blog through MidMarsh John. Will add it to my reading list and look forward to going backward through your older posts. Cheers, Wilma

  8. I found this post really interesting Simon.
    I probably pass ghost signs on walls etc and do not give them a second glance (more interested in the tree or bird near them :)
    I will be my observant I promise.

  9. Thanks Wilma and Cheryl for dropping by, I tell you after a long time feeling like this blog was a little quiet, it all seems to be getting rather lively. And I'm really grateful for that.