Wednesday, February 10, 2016

This arrived today - a belated birthday present.

I've never listened to any Elliott Carter but know that Zappa was a fan. That's recommendation enough for me.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

I don't think there was a minute when it stopped raining today. The kind of weather that throws you back on your resources. Thus: bacon sandwiches for breakfast & sausage rolls for lunch. Comfort food. & in the afternoon a happy hour or two while the girls nap shredding bank papers dating back to my move across the Channel.

I'm also going back through a box of old notebooks wincing at the stale observations & flat phrases jotted down in - presumably - the heat of the moment. One small little pad contains notes from our first trip to Washington & New York: titles of paintings mostly & some vacuous entries on American manners (ordering bagels in breakfast joints, expressions, etc.). About the most interesting page contains the title of a Max Ernst collage/drawing which sends me off in search of the image & others of the same ilk.

Perhaps that alone justifies the mouldy scribble. Gists & piths ...

Monday, February 08, 2016

Chortle if you will but I've been 'decluttering' (auto correct throws up 'de littering') using the Marie Kondo method. Yes, the book reads like the confessions of an OCD sufferer - is it, in fact, properly shelved under Self Therapy? However, there are some nuggets of truth in amongst the pages & it acts as a timely boot in the backside to knuckle down & decide what, really & truly, do I need?

For all the hype, the KonMari method is not so startlingly original. If Shintoism inculcates an awareness of the spirit within trees & rocks it is not such a far stretch to suggest that your socks might have a life of their own. (There's a section where MK reminds her reader that socks need to breathe & relax at the end of a day walking around. Loopy? Or 'in tune'? You decide.) Thus, don't roll them into balls but fold gently into three. QED.

Ultimately, the purpose is to declutter your mind space & that's not stupid at all. To what extent are our daily thoughts & actions weighed down with all sorts of baggage (psychological & physical) accumulated over the years?

Anyway, in concrete terms this has meant a major clear out of the wardrobe - shirts, trousers, socks, etc.. The KonMari operating principle: does it spark joy? That little formula solves many dilemmas.

Having tackled clothes I then went upstairs & faced the real enemy - the archive of CDs, books, papers ... you name it. Too much for one day, I have decided to take it in instalments. Thus, yesterday morning, pens & other art materials. It was astonishing how much could either be chucked or organised into more economical space. (&, of course, in the process ideas arise through the rediscovery of an interesting Japanese paper or pages of jottings that had gone astray).

In the afternoon I looked at the books & the usual worries returned: might I need this for teaching? Who gave it to me? Isn't this valuable? What if I decided to read X one day ...? Tricky. However, the 'joy spark' mantra helped & into the pile went many volumes that had just sat there doing nothing. Those 'on the off chance' finds that I had never got around to. Even - & this is tough to admit - my Jack Trevor Story collection (dog-eared paperbacks, hard-to-find pulp stories, one or two hard backs). Had I read any after the first flush of enthusiasm? No. Was I ever going to find a dealer or collector who would pay hundreds for a rare edition? No. & if I were really honest didn't I value the JTS of the journalistic pieces more than his novels? Yes. & so the problem solved itself: ditch the fiction & keep Letters to an Intimate Stranger & the biography (Romantic Egoist) I found that day in Bath. Metonymy rules.

So this morning it was off to Pele Mele down in Waterloo & the Nijinsky bookshop in Brussels. I know in advance that the amount I'll be offered is a pittance compared to what even one or two items might fetch with the right person. However, that's the price one pays for focus. & perhaps in the grander scheme of things someone will stumble upon the very book which they need at that moment (much as I have time & time again).

Still to be addressed: some six years' worth of LRBs & - gulp - twenty years of The Wire. Seriously, if anyone wants The Wires then let me know.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Hard to believe but apparently - at least according to the 'stats' - this Blog has received 704 visits today.

Presumably some kind of auto-generated search engine or someone who must be severely bored ...




I fear that this one slipped through the cracks. The texts were worked on earlier in 2015 & then the retirement of two colleagues prompted me to draw everything together into a volume. Three copies were stitched & then holidays intervened. 

Three more sets of pages remained to assemble - the usual excuses as to why I never got round to finishing the job.

While I make no great claims for this little project, the very business of folding the pages, cutting & gluing the outer band, then leafing through ... all give a strange satisfaction. 

2015 - I am acutely aware - was not a very productive year in terms of actual finished work. 2016, I hope, will see more volumes rolling off the Sticky Pages Press. 

Saturday, January 23, 2016


New Year's Resolutions melt like snow ... 

... Having made a determined effort not to buy any more CDs after the 2015 splurge (all of which were utterly justified for one reason or another. But still ...) this morning I - or as they say in French - je craque

By way of an excuse: earlier in the week I had been listening to Philipe Baron's excellent jazz programme at 6pm on Musique 3 (Belgium's equivalent to BBC Radio 3) and there was an interesting interview with Tord Gustavsen & Simin Tander. They were in Brussels for a concert which - of course - I had failed to notice. You can hear the interview at:   (the 20th January programme)

the majority of which is in English. So the CD is some kind of consolation for not managing to get to hear them live. 

I really must be more attentive to what's going on around me. 

Evidemment, c'est bon

Friday, January 22, 2016

A little before 8am & the sun just beginning ...

Sunday, January 17, 2016


shinrin yoku