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Nora flew!

The day didn't start auspiciously. It started, as it ended, with large amounts of water evacuating the sky with rapidity. But no thunder. Phew.

We'd put off the bike practicing from the day before, because one parent and two barely controlled small children on bicycles who need to be walked across main roads - not so good. There's great joy to be had, meanwhile, when living in a wet climate, in buying a full waterproof provisioning system for your kids, regardless of the point that it won't be used very often. When we got to the playground with the wide disused paddling pool (brilliant practicing ground for kids) in, there was an almighty puddle in the middle, and with continuing buckets of water flooding down from the sky, we had the playground to ourselves, laughing like idiots, splashing each other with puddle water.

Nora's a nervous sort. She worries about most things and her first reaction to new things is sadly, often a "No I can't!" with a look of panic until she's persuaded that of course, she can just give it a try. Just once. So I took off her stabilisers without her knowing a couple of weeks ago. First time she tried, we got to the stage of us holding on to the saddle and running like a doubled up monkey next to the bike as she cycled, then yesterday in quick succession it went from graduating the saddle hand to a back-resting hand to a.... no hand!

No hands! Nora flew! 

I did, I think, jump up and down waving my hands in the air and going "Woohoo!".

Poor Nor - she wanted to instantly be able to cycle like a pro, and was fed up when she couldn't - but she managed to take a curve on her own and do a couple more runs before the insistent rain became a little bit too much for the little cold wet feet to bear any longer (the only limit with kids and water is - why do they make children's' wellies with such stupidly low tops? The group of people who are most likely to want to wear wellies, have to wear ones that don't do the job. Ridiculous). So, regardless of days out and Nannies and Grandads next weekend - more practicing!

(We promised Nora a 16" 'grown up' bike when she'd learned too. Thank god for Ebay).

Faces in everyday things. Why?

Matt Jones has posted a great discussion piece on Berg London: "Humanising data" in which he discusses design solutions which are in sympathy with the point that mysteriously, faces appear to surround us, created seemingly magically from the everyday.

I chipped in with a few thoughts in a post, given that I was mulling over this very thing as I returned home the other day. The conclusion I came to was this. Here's what a typical baby development site says about the development of sight in the newborn:

"At first your baby can't focus farther than 8 to 15 inches away — just far enough to make out the face of the person holding him. He can detect light, shapes, and movement beyond that, but it's all pretty blurry right now. Appropriately enough, your face is the most fascinating thing to your baby at this age (followed by high-contrast patterns such as a checkerboard), so be sure to give him plenty of up-close time.

1 month
At birth your baby didn't know how to use his eyes in tandem, so they may have wandered randomly or even crossed now and then. This month or next, he'll be able to consistently focus both eyes and track a moving object. A rattle passed in front of his face will often transfix him as he explores this newfound ability. He may also enjoy playing eyes-to-eyes with you: With your face very close to his, move your head slowly from side to side, with your eyes and his eyes locked."

Mothers' faces and bodies are optimised to accommodate their new offspring's limited vision capacity. Dark eyebrows, dark eye centres with white surrounds, dark lips and nostril holes and also importantly, dark nipple circles for feeding (ok, that's not a face, but there are two of them. not sure how relevant that is but still). 

Put simply, it appears to me that the proliferation of faux faces around us in everyday design is asa direct result of this first visual stimulus. We are pre-programmed to fall in love with the human face - the Mother's face. It is the first source of comfort, safety and reassurance for us.  I don't think it is an enormous stretch of the imagination to suppose that this formative experience has an *enormous* effect on our growing intellects, and my suggestion therefore is not only do we seek out these faces, either consciously or otherwise, as consumers but we do also as creators. The face: stylised, unwittingly introduced, or confidently asserted represents something so fundamental to our visual sensibilities that we  are as drawn to it as we would be any comfort blanket. The face - the Mother's face is the original security and reassurance device.

What I'm missing in this epic thesis is any theoretical discussion or reference to back it up. I can't begin to assume that this thought is in any way unique and new. So anyone got anything interesting they would like to cite?

Here are some faces, for your enjoyment:

Faces in places

There are faces everywhere

Hello, little fella!

I saw a face! I did! In a house!


Hello yes. Still here. Bit distracted.

Lots of things I want to get off my chest though, and no time to say them.

For absolutely no reason at all I've been researching ethical footwear. Well, no, if I were writing a column, I'd say it's because I need a new pair of shoes, and I'm a bit fed up with wearing petrochemical ones, BUT, I am a vegetarian. So what gives? Is there a truly ethical shoe company, from whom one can source decent winterish shows that last, that have a low carbon footprint and dare I even mention this, might even be made of leather, given that leather is a bi-product of an industry where the carbon etc has already been accounted for? Ans: Not so simples. So more on that later because it's *interesting*. 

Watching a documentary about the Great War last night, I was struck how much the war, for long stretches, seemed to be characterised almost by hysteria, throughout the players. Sending tens of thousands of men to their deaths, surrounded by the carnage from the days or weeks before in a landscape so much closer to hell than anything by Jake and Dinos Chapman. Andrew Marr mentioned one Army Officer who had been a maths teacher before the war, who had calculated the rate of loss of his men if they went over the top, as a result of their knowing the exact position of the German machine guns. 100%. He took this evidence to his superior officers, and he was told "Obey your orders". They were all killed.

Back in the UK, in London - astonishing, this. you could actually hear the bombardment. From London. The siege mentality and paranoia gripping the UK must have been like a form of insanity. The whole war during the middle period where no gains were made on either side sounded unbearably irrational.

We went on holiday, James is growing up so much... I enjoy his company more and more I have to say. When he's not whining, he is a delight to be around. The whining is merely a phase, I'm sure. The holiday was wonderful and I wish I was back there now.

A whole slew of other ideas and Oooh, this that and the others - and I still haven't written about Arthur blinking Jefferson. But he'll have to wait.