The April 1 Friday Special – Helena on the Dutch Mona Lisa

The Friday Special Podcast for the next few weeks is in the care of Helena. She’s rolling out her new Art Appreciation course. Here’s the link to the Old Marylebone walk she cites.

Here’s my (David’s) Introduction to Part 2 of said course.


Ah, yes, it’s Friday – Bonus podcast day. The Friday Special. Get you set up for the weekend. 

Sometimes a run of the Friday Specials is a mixed bag. But it isn’t this Spring.

For the next few weeks we’ve got a sequence going – one of Helena’s art appreciation/art history courses. Started last Friday – March 25th, the first Friday of this spring. Doesn’t mean you have to listen to them in order – or listen to all of them. They’re each self-contained – a good listen in their own right. Just as you can listen – with a lot of enjoyment – to one of the four concerti of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. But if you listen to the whole thing – well, you’ve increased your enjoyment and satisfaction.

A brief word about art historian She’s an Oxford graduate. History and Art were and are her subjects. She’s a brilliant guide – they just don’t come any better than Helena Jones. I’ll just push out two stories here which, combined, get her into focus. An American friend – he’s a big deal in corporate America – the most successful American I know – was in Helena’s thrall. When he was in London he would always ask which walks she’d be doing during his stay. Christopher memorably said, “I could listen to that little blonde all day.” Well, yeah, I know, it’s not politically correct – but it is what it is. It’s the assessment of a high-powered, tack sharp American executive who doesn’t suffer fools, who doesn’t have time for waffle or anything less than the first-rate. 

That was Christopher. Now me, David. I also am in thrall to Helena’s art talks. I learn so much from them. And I now have done a lot of podcasts. Getting on for 600 of them. Ninety-nine out of a hundred times I script mine and then record them. I assumed Helena was doing the same. Because they’re so well put together, she’s so articulate, so assured, they’re delivered so beautifully. My jaw dropped when she said, “no, I don’t script them – I just do them.” I’m still stunned, almost in a state of disbelief. Certainly in a state of wonder and renewed appreciation. That’s it, every time I listen to her now I’m aware, I’m thinking, she’s doing this unscripted, off-the-cuff. That’s a measure of both her command of her subject, and the range and power of her mind. In academic terms, she’d be one of those rarities, an Upper First. I’ve never asked her but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if she was an Oxford Upper First. When you listen, just keep it in mind, “she’s doing this unscripted.” It’ll add to your enjoyment and appreciation.

Ok, here’s Helena. Here’s Part 2 of her Spring 2022 Friday Special Art Appreciation course. 

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