Saturday, 31 March 2012

David Cowdry


We went the Private View of David Cowdry's Exhibition at Aberglasney last night. Usual brilliant work.
The Exhibition is only on for a week so if you what to see it get down there. You have to pay admission to the gardens  but the exhibtion is free. There were queues to buy his work last night. I even own one of his works myself.
In my view probably the best artist in West Wales certainly for wildlife.The picture above is one of his works of a razorbill diving under water.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Boer War Memorial



The watercolour above is another version of Guildhall Square Carmarthen with the Boer War Memorial in front of the Court House. My Great Uncle, my grandfather’s brother died in the Boer War. He has his own memorial in Woodstock. Another of my grandfather’s brothers died as a result of mustard gas in the First World War. On the whole my generation has been pretty lucky.

I am still struggling with my CD collection. I have mentioned before that I am trying to move into the digital age. I have spent donkeys “ripping” my CDs to  iTunes. I had asked advice online on how to get them to play through a Home Cinema set up. I had been told its simple. Transfer them to audio file and put them on a USB memory stick.
Great I did that. Unfortunately the LG DVD receiver did not recognise the files! I then had to convert them all to mp3 which took 5 hours.

Success? Well not quite it worked but only the first few albums appeared. It seems like there is a size limit to the number of files the receiver will allow you to input. The manual doesn’t mention this although it does say there is a limit to number of files on a CD or DVD.

I tried LG support live chat – not working
I tried email to them I had an answer but not to the question I asked.
I rang them and was told the system was down whatever that meant
I sent another email no reply
I tried live chat again today – not working
I rang them again today . I was told the system was down.
I said with all the problems they had there was no hope of sorting out mine.

I think I will buy a Dansette record player and go back to vinyl!

Today I am in Origin Gallery.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Last Steam Train


The last commercial steam locomotive services finished in Britain in 1968. I was fortunate enough to have experienced and grown up in the age of steam albeit at the end of that era. I did this impressionistic version of the Last Steam Train today which brought back a lot of memories.

The other day I was fortunate enough to have a good look at a painting by Donald Ayres. He is a traditional painter with a style not unlike mine (although he  may not be thrilled to be compared to me). Donald has moved around but lived for a time in Carmarthenshire in the 1970's and many of his subjects were based on the area.
I provide a link to his website below:
 http://www.ayresfineart.co.uk/

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Towy Valley




I have pretty well finished the painting of the Towy Valley above. I will go back to it and have another look in the next few days and add a bit of detail probably?

I was pleased to hear from Colin and learn that Phil and Gill also occasionally drop in on my blog.

There were a few instances over the years when I was professionally embarrassed. Many years ago I was teamed up with a Detective who was something of a character. He was an ex PTI in the Para’s and had a fairly robust outlook on life. A real good guy.
One day we were dealing with a burglary nothing more than someone having their house broken into and their meter emptied. Now these were admittedly a few years back in the days when an offence like that was investigated. A police officer attended, house to house enquiries were made and every effort made to find the rascal wot had dun it! Policing was intelligence led, but the intelligence was the Bobby behind it. Life was so simple then! It was also before the time of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, which had a big impact in policing some areas (and passed others by).

Anyway we had a good idea who had done this, as there were only a couple of active burglars in that area at the time. Although we had no other evidence we collected one of our suspects off the street. He was fairly conspicuous with an outrageous haircut and leather jacket I think it would not be unfair to say he was a punk.

We sat him in the CID Office. He parked his jacket on a chair and we discussed things in general, the beginnings of the Universe and where he had been that morning. He was adamant that yes he had done lots of bad things but on this occasion no he hadn’t done it. To be fair he was quite an amiable youth despite being a good customer. (To be honest I got on pretty well with most criminal types, which thinking about it now is pretty worrying).
He told us he could go out and maybe get information and let us know who had done it but it wasn’t him. This went on for a couple of hours. He stuck to his story and I was beginning to think maybe he was on this occasion innocent.
At this point our supervisor came into the office and asked what was going on.
He walked over to the miscreant and picked up the leather jacket looked at us dropped the jacket on the floor with a clang and thud, looked at us again, muttered something about dumb and dumber and walked out. The whole of the contents of the meter were in the leather jacket, which must have weighed quite a few pounds.

 We hadn’t searched him and the whole time the stolen money was just sat there.

The cheerful burglar now happily admitted his work stating he nearly had us.

It’s fair to say we took a bit of flak over that one.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Dawn over the Valley


The sketch above is one I did for a painting I have started today of the valley looking towards Llanarthne and Carmarthen in the distance. Not great visually in itself I admit but it is full size and has the information I want on it. As I have said before better to work out your ideas before you start painting.

"Dawn is a feeling
A beautiful ceiling
The smell of grass
Just makes you pass
Into a dream" (Moody Blues)



Well that was pretty much it this morning when I went for the first walk of the day. I was wearing my Berghaus fleece as it was still a shade on the chilly side when I started out. Walking in to the woods above the reservoir I could hear the woodpecker on the old beech tree and for a change I saw him in siluette. A dark outline with the bright low light of the morning sun behind him at the top of the trunk. A great spotted woodpecker hunting for grubs for his breakfast. As we got onto the top looking across and down the valley the sun was blinding coming up straight over Merlin's Hill. 
Yes the Moody Blues got it right! 


Talking about my Berghaus it is starting to fray on the edges I suppose I should take it back as I have only had it 25 years. In fairness it has been excellent and outlived half dozen cheaper fleeces.


We have two of the grand children now so I have to go rescue Alex.


link to Dawn is a feeling http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VhW0C28dmD0

Monday, 26 March 2012

Broadhaven


The painting above is of Broadhaven and is one I finished last week. I know another sheep dog. For a change I used cerulean blue as my blue. Cerulean blue is interesting in that it is not one particular hue or at least it wasn't.
Its equivalent in Welsh would have been glas. It was initially a blue made form copper or cobalt compounds and had a greenish tinge. Latterly it is made from pigment and can be spelt coerulean. It can move towards viridian when mixed with a good trace of yellow.
Anyway Broadhaven is a nice spot and one we often walk to when stopping in Pembrokeshire. The walk from Druidstone along the coastal path is spectacular giving views across St Brides Bay and takes you passed an iron age hill fort.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

New Bridge Carmarthen

Here is the painting I finished this week of the new bridge in Carmarthen.  It was a commission and has been painted very softly.
On Friday night Alex and I went to Big Bills in Llansteffan. Always a treat. We went with our friends Wendy and Simon. It was strangely quiet. Bill is renowned for excellent food and big portions at a reasonable price.
I had a Bass probably 2-3lbs cooked in Pernod. I had a starter the size of a main and cheese to finish I have struggled to eat since as I am still full. A very good night anyway.
Today we have been sorting out the veg patch. Tomorrow we are taking work to the Boathouse in Laugharne.
A full week ahead.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Walking the dog


The painting above is an oil I finished this week "walking the dog". Typical British weather. Bit like "Winnie the Pooh and the Day the rain came down". I have to say I quite enjoy rainy days provided I am wrapped up. I quite often include a sheep dog in a painting probably because we had one when we were first married. He was a right character. He was obedient and would walk to heel  and ignore any distractions. He would steal things however a Christmas cake or a joint of meat if left unattended.
At the time our neighbours were Pat and Clive. They were to all intents the perfect friends and neighbours. Similar age with twin girls. There was however one mystifying trait. Much of the time when the children were growing up I was away leaving Alex to cope with three children under 6 and also no car. She would herd them to school or the shops with children pulling in all directions while the sheepdog would walk tidily behind.
Now if this wasn't bad enough she would meet Pat with her twins who were so remarkably well behaved. We never understood how they did it. Our kids would be pulling in all directions like an out of control Catherine wheel. Theirs on the other hand would always be clean, polite and stand quietly by their parents. It was a complete mystery.
Anyway ours turned out brilliantly (eventually).

Friday, 23 March 2012

A Greater Being


The painting above of St David's Parish Church in  Abergwili sold this week. It is quite an appropriate picture today. Blue skies and spring arriving, the wonders of nature. Like many people I guess I wonder about whether there is a greater intelligence or being.
We recently went to Harlech for a break. I took my telescope having an interest in the universe. Harlech suffers form of light pollution to speak of and is ideal for observing the great expanse around us. I was disappointed at first overcast skies day after day, couldn't last could they? Yes, after 9 days I gave up it wasn't going to happen, but have faith on the tenth day blue skies glorious weather and forecast for a clear night sky. Great.
We did a ten mile walk had tea then I set up my telescope which took about 30 minutes. I then waited for the evening arrival of  Venus, Jupiter and the Great Bear. What arrived sea fog!
Yes I think there may be a greater being and they have a very wicked sense of humour.
Actually in our house there is a "greater being" her name is Alex after that comes Jac and somewhere below I am situated.

Anyway here is a link to Mr Blue Sky which is appropriate
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H2Ncxw1xfck

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Abergwili


The above picture of Abergwili sold this week. This view hasn't changed a great deal since the Second World War other than the farm has gone that was on the corner. I have seen the same view painted by a German Prisoner of War in an impressionist style. Extremely well painted it was too.
Today I have primed a couple of boards and completed another oil painting. Now unfortunately I have to start tidying the garden. Its that time of year when I hear the sound of neighbours starting their lawnmowers. I eventually give up and follow the fashion. I wish someone would come out and say that long grass was better for the environment.
We decided to decline an exhibition yesterday. Although we did quite well last year and we were asked back I just felt our commitments were too much and we should be doing less.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Carmarthen Courthouse


The watercolour above is of the Courthouse in Carmarthen. A portrait of Sir Thomas Picton hanging in the courtroom was the subject of debate last year. Now there is no doubt that Thomas Picton was by our standards pretty much a man to be avoided and a tyrant and dictator during his days as Governor of Trinidad. On the plus side he fought for his country and died at Waterloo for his troubles.
To remove his portrait because we disapprove of his actions seems to be the start of a slippery slope. Do we knock down the Picton Memorial? What about Boudicea do we remove her statue in London. She slaughtered  every man woman and child when she sacked London and burnt it to the ground killing around 70,000 people in AD 61.
I guess she might end up before the war crimes tribunal today. Anyway this is all a bit political. The portrait is actually very good. Today I finished an oil painting and got to the gym. Alex has been busy framing.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

The Lord Giveth and the Lord Taketh away (Job 1.21)

Here is a watercolour of cattle that I did in Harlech. It is a simple painting pretty much in the tradition of Thomas Girtin or even John Sell Cotman.
One of the highs and lows of our trip was when we went to the Lion Public House in Harlech. We went at lunchtime for a pub lunch. We knew that they allowed dogs in so Jac was welcome. It was an old fashioned pub with an open blazing fie tiled stone floor and an assortment of different wooden tables and chairs. The brewery hadn't managed to turn it into a theme pub. There were two beers on tap draught Hobgoblin and Tiger.
I have never drunk Tiger and was a little put off that it was from Leicester (Leicester Tigers are an anathema to Scarlet supporters). Nevertheless I have to say that the beer which was a pale bitter served warm and flat was gorgeous.
It was the best beer I have had in probably 40 years. Beer as it should be from a barrel at room temperature. It took me back to beer when it was 1 shilling and 10 pence a pint about 8.5p in new money.
I was stunned I quickly drank the first pint and ordered a second. Meantime our food had arrived. Unfortunately so had the couple from hell. As we were quietly eating our dinner and washing it down a couple sat at a table on the other side of the room and started talking to or at us. They had a camper van and were on the same site although we hadn't seen them before.
The male proceeded to inflict upon us his life story in excruciating detail. Jac was under the table rolling his eyes at me and making gestures with his paw down his throat. Alex was encouraging the irritating man by staying awake.
My visions of a quiet afternoon by a blazing fire swilling down nectar of my youth were gone. I couldn't take the monologue anymore. We decided to forgo our pudding got up and left.


Monday, 19 March 2012

Harlech Castle


We recently spent a week away in Harlech in our camper. The watercolour above is one I did of the Castle. It was a great break, sketching and walking. We walked between 5 and 10 miles a day which suited Jac. Our van was next to a field of cows. It was interesting seeing the additional calves being born every day. One day Alex was quite concerned as one cow was in the act of producing  calf and seemed to be taking some time. She informed the camp warden who rang the farmer. They also had a good sense of humour as they gave Alex a pair of glove scissors and a bowl. Cows are generally quite happy to allow nature to take its course but in fairness the farmer did come out. The farmer named the calf after Alex. (no not really!).
The advantage for me was that there was a ready made subject for sketching. Cattle are very good as subjects as they move quite slowly and will maintain a pose for a good time.
Today I started on an oil painting which is a commission. Alex has been turning her attention to prints.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

En Plein Aire



I was talking to Nick the other day. He has taken up painting and pastels (good luck they are great but are too messy for me). We got on to the subject of painting and drawing outside. It is infinitely more difficult to paint outside than in a studio. Inside you have a stable secure surface, with plenty of room to arrange your materials.
You are also not at risk of the elements. I can recall any number of occasions when I have set up my easel on a clear day with a blue sky and started to paint only to see spots of rain appearing on my watercolour.
The picture above was done standing holding brush water watercolour pad and paints. Yes you need to be a juggler. Consequently although you can see what it is (Brecon Cathedral) it is less precise than it would have been had it been painted in doors from a sketch. The moral is simple choosing a subject with  less detail and more distance is a lot easier to paint outside.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Jumping Jack Flash


The picture above is of a chalet in Pembs. We stopped on the farm with our camper. Not a very interesting picture but it was something to do. To be honest its pretty bland but the trees are ok.
I was given an ipod dock as a present the other day. Isn't technology a pain? As a boy I made a crystal set with ex army headphones to listen to music with yards of earth wire and aerial wire strung out across my bedroom and garden. Then I made a radio with a battery. I later made a stereo system athough I had to buy the deck. I spent years collecting LPs and had a great collection. Finally they stopped making LPs and I changed to CDs. I have finally got a good collection and now it is has all gone digital MP3.
That's progress. Well my ipod was second hand and holds about 200 tracks not much considering.

So choosing which tracks to include is a task.

One firm favourite from my youth is Anandar Shankar. I saw Ravishankar live along with T Rex once (introduced by John Peel)  but I have never seen Anandar Shankar.

Anyway in case you haven't heard of his work  here is a link to one great track and a lot more interesting than the picture

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GnFci5UQKuU

Friday, 16 March 2012

Morning Sun in the Towy Valley


Here is the finished painting. I hope it conveys the effects of the strong morning sun and long shadows across the valley. There are sheep in one of the fields but they are hard to see at this scale. I intend to do a sister painting of the valley going in the other direction shortly.
Alex made a pavlova (a cake/fruit thing with meringue on top) last night. She didn't shut the door of the oven and asked why she said she didn't want the oven too hot as it could burn. Quite logical I guess and it didn't burn but unfortunately it didn't cook either. This may only be worthy of note as it is one of her few culinary failures and I know she wont take it to heart if she reads it here, like hell!
Anway if I am still around tomorrow I will blog again.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Gooseberry



The painting above shows the first days work of a view of the Towy Valley from Dryslwyn castle looking towards Llandeilo.
I try to work cleanly although I still get the odd thumb mark here and there. Working top down is a useful way of keeping colours clean. Although it is not the only method of working I use. Sometimes I will cover the whole board and go from there. It depends on the subject and effect I want.

I remember the day I went up to Dryslwyn Castle for this painting I took a sketch book and a camera. It was a lovely day and I was looking forward to an hours sketching. Initially I was the only presence there apart from the sheep. Shortly after I climbed the hill I saw other people coming. It was quite muddy and I was wearing wellingtons. I noted that my company consisted of a gentleman of my age complete with large camera and a young lady with a short skirt and high heels. When they arrived at the top it became obvious he was using her for glamour shots and was more interested in her contours than that of the valley. I decided not to hang around sketching as I felt like a gooseberry. (That's a good old expression). Anyway I did get some good photos (of the valley) which I have used for reference.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Newport and Carningli


I did the watercolour of Newport when we were on holiday over our wedding anniversary the year before last.
We stopped on a farmers field and were the only ones there. Mind you it was blowing a gale most of the time. We had lovely sea views when the rain abated. We even had to get up in the middle of the night to turn the camper into the wind to stop the wind lifting the van.
Anyway I heard this story the other day. A friend of ours was telling Alex that last year she had an off day with her husband. She showed him the cold shoulder and was off with him all day. Finally they went to bed with him mystified as ever.
She eventually said, "Well I can't believe it you've only gone and forgotten our wedding anniversary. Its the 6th today."
He turned to look at her and replied, "Yes it is the 6th of June today  but we were married on the 6th of July!"

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Guildhall Square


I was talking last week about David Hockney and his digital manipulation, sounds bad doesn't it? Well I must admit I am not a fan but never let it be said that I am totally stuck in the past. I have tried my hand at computer generated and manipulated images. Truthfully they don't really give me the satisfaction of making an image from a selection of ground minerals and a surface of paper or canvas. I also get bored sat in front of a computer for more than five minutes. I tried it I didn't like it, doesn't make me a bad person.
Anyway above is my digitally manipulated picture of Guildhall Square Carmarthen.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Cattle on the Brecon Canal



Although the Brecon to Monmouthsire canal is only 35 miles long it runs through some beautiful countryside.
Much of this is in the Brecon Beacons National Park. We occasionally stop overnight near the canal and walk along a section of it. Years ago when the children were small we found a spoil heap from where the canal had been dredged and they had all sorts of fun digging up clay pipes and bottles. I think we gave them to  Ysgol Y Bannau, The Welsh Medium School in Llanfaes. I also presented the headmaster John Edwards with a painting when we left. It was a great little school which is no longer there.

The view here is near Brynych showing Pen y Fan and Corn Ddu in the background.

Today I am doing a bit of sketching after taking the dog out and Alex is having a well earned rest!


Sunday, 11 March 2012

Abergwili Ladies



Here I promise is the last picture I will show from the series I did and yes it does include the Bascule Bridge
which can be seen to towards the bottom right.
The other day John said to me, "Mark you know that Stacey plays for Abergwili Ladies Football team, well her mom bought her a pair of shin guards for Christmas. Stacey was a bit annoyed though and said she would have to send them back as they had sent two different sizes. One was marked R for Regular and the other L for Large."
No its not true, ..... I think?

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Bascule Bridge


The picture above is part of the same series I referred to yesterday however it does have a closer link to Carmarthen. The picture features part of the mechanism of the Bascule Bridge at Johnstown. The colours are cooler than the rest of the series.I no longer have the painting. The Bascule Bridge has featured in several of my paintings which I guess reflects my interest in mechanical things. I have in the past made working steam models and boilers and as I have said before I was interested in steam locomotives as a child. The remnants of that bygone age still carry a nostalgic interest for me even it seems in a fairly abstract work.


Friday, 9 March 2012

Hockney


The abstract painting above is one that for a long time graced one of the walls in our lounge. It was 6 ft by 4ft.
It was part of the series I based on Picabia's works. I saw a program about David Hockney a week or so ago. I was very much influenced by him when I was younger.
I enjoyed his fresh bright works such as the bigger splash which he did when he was living in California. He is somewhat critical of conceptual artists or artists that are not "hands on" such as Damien Hirst. I also find it hard to understand the concept of an artist who is not able to make or produce their own work.  I haven't physically seen his latest works which are digitally enhanced. From what I have seen on television they don't have the same appeal as his earlier paintings.
Anyway I have to walk the dog now and then do some work.

Link for The Bigger Splash
http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/hockney/splash/

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Cattle after the rain


I really like this painting and am surprised I still have it. There again it has only been in one gallery and then I retrieved it.
Still everyone has different tastes. The earth coloured palette appeals to me and reminds me of those familiar wet days trudging through the countryside under grey skies. For me it is still an optimistic painting as I am happy to see all the seasons and revel in the differing views that nature brings.



Wednesday, 7 March 2012

The coming year


A good walk over Penlanffos this morning. I am looking forward to seeing the swallows arrive. The picture above is from last year. Spring cant be far away now and then we have to start preparing for our next exhibition.
It takes months of painting and framing along with working out any theme. Then you  have to make sure prints have been ordered in time, cards to make...A busy time ahead.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

North Wales farm



The picture above is a watercolour sketch I did of a farm in North Wales. Secondary colours work quite well for sketches in this type of landscape with a hint of primary (red) for an accent.
Alex has been cleaning the camper today and been doing domestic chores. We are collecting the grandchildren this afternoon. I have picked up another couple of paintings to do.
Thanks for the text Norma.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Brecon


The picture above is of the main entrance to Brecon Cathedral. I did it in a quite spell of an exhibition I held there. Doors are quite symbolic and are often either the subject themselves or contained within paintings for symbolic reasons. Usually explained as being new openings beginings. The three doors of a cathedral are referred to as expressing faith hope and charity. A door is the symbol of passage from one place to another.
Now I don't want you to get this wrong when I sketched the Cathedral door it was because I found it an interesting shape in its own right. Its old so its on a winner with me there also the colours and shapes were worthy of recording.
I suppose to give it a modern context WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get from me). Now I could have written an artists statement making up all sorts of deep reasons for painting this. Unfortunately  I find in the main artist statements are irritatingly irrelevant.


Sunday, 4 March 2012

One out all out


The picture above shows a trio of sheep at Dryslwyn Castle. I'm not quite sure about the mental levels of sheep but they have a poor reputation I haven't worked out if they are dumb or not. They certainly seem to have a collective intelligence.
At a local school the children were being tested by their teacher.

"Dafydd"

"Yes Miss"

"If there are twenty sheep in a field, and one gets out through a hole in the fence, how many sheep are left in the field?"

"None, Miss."

"No Dafydd, there are still nineteen sheep left in the field. Obviously you need to practice  your sums."

"Sorry, Miss, I live on a farm I can tell you they will all be gone!


I can't argue with that.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Noddy


Today I finished off an oil painting and did the little watercolour of Paxton's Tower.
Its close to my birthday and all the family are coming around for a big meal which is nice.
Alex is out shopping and has a fatted calf in the oven and half a lamb I believe? Mind you our family can eat!
So it could be an eventful night.

I have heard recently of a series of old colleagues passing away. It is always sad to know they now only live in your memory. Alan Henderson affectionately known as "Noddy" was a lovely man. He was a beat policeman in Newtown. He had a very good nature and was able to diffuse most situations. I remember his infectious smile slightly scruffy appearance and jaunty walk.

I am not sure what Saint Peter will make of you but I expect you are pounding those golden streets and making the angels laugh right now.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Havard Chapel Brecon


The watercolour sketch above is of the Havard Chapel in Brecon Cathedral.The Cathedral was formerly the Priory church of St John and dates back to the 1100's. It was apparently a cell of Battle Abbey in Sussex. Havard Chapel is in the North transept of the Cathedral and is the Regimental Chapel of the South Wales Borderers who won 11 Victoria Crosses at the Battle of Rorkes Drift during the Zulu Wars.The window itself dates from the 1920's and shows the entombment of Christ.
 I have had the honour to lead the church parade with the Garrison through the Town to and from the Cathedral. This is how it happened. At the time I was temporary Chief Inspector in Brecon. The Officer in Charge had for several days been worrying about the extremely difficult and challenging (note the irony) duty of leading and marching through the town with the military parade. Come the day he was seen walking round and round his office drinking copious amounts of coffee. With half an hour to go I was informed he had decided he was too ill to do it and had gone home! I quickly found a respectable jacket and was delighted to step in. I would have happily done it for him in any case had he asked.
Anyway the Chapel is worthy of a visit and I have sketched it on a couple of occasions. I am not a religious person but do enjoy visiting and taking in the atmosphere of Churches and Cathedrals.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

The Personal Touch

The above pen and ink sketch is of Harlech Castle. I have used it for the basis of a couple of paintings.
This afternoon I was teaching. The pupil chooses her own subject and today the subject was London.
She did a very nice modern take of the Palace of Westminster in the rain at night.

 I was asked if I had worked in London. Good question. Well I have been to London and worked there for a couple of days at a time but never lived there fortunately. The thing I found about the Metropolitan Police was you needed the personal touch. If you rang a CID office and asked them to do a job for you they were, too busy (according to them) or even if you got someone to agree to do a job for you you could never locate them again, they had either left, been transferred, been suspended you name it they had an excuse for it.
If you went there it was totally different they couldn't do enough for you. You would go into a CID Office and be introduced as the boys from the sticks. Hospitality then no problem. A drawer would open a bottle of whiskey would appear they would talk about everything and even the job in hand if you were lucky. Then the whole office would accompany you to the nearest "Boozer". The following day in a haze  you would be transported to arrest or interview the subject of your enquiry. Its probably all different now. DCI Gene Hunt has retired and a 12 year old manager fresh from doing his Phd in business studies is now allocating intelligence (read computer)  related tasks to career desk jockeys. I'm probably being very unfair and looking back the 80's were certainly not perfect but police officers lived and breathed the job.
Anyway so what was the subject today? The Place of Westminster and Big Ben well actually no because Big Ben is the name for the bell in the clock tower not the clock itself.