Sunday, April 19, 2015

Quiet in the gardens & the sun shines. Deckchair plus hat.

Reading Nightwood & dipping into a Wallace Stevens Complete.

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First thing, a 3km loop of the woods. Then into the pool & 20 lengths. How to deserve a breakfast.

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Dinner: confit canard, oven potatoes & beans.

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Tomorrow it's back to the chalkface & the old poser returns: how to maintain this happy equilibrium & positive frame of mind?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Even at this distance I can't ignore the impending UK election (much as I'd like to). Yesterday I caught the 'interview' - for want of a better word - with the Conservative MP Priti Patel & Eddie Mair on Radio 4's PM.

Parliament - let's remember - derives from 'parler' (to speak) & Western democracy enshrines the idea of discussion (think Plato's dialogues etc.). The ten minutes - although it felt longer - consisted of Patel delivering a monotonous regurgitation of party misinformation interrupted by Mair's 90 degree attacks & insinuations. To what end?*

I am not sure whether I prefer to think that Patel feels she is compelled to reel off the rehearsed sound bites or that she genuinely believes them. Likewise, whether Eddie Mair congratulates himself on a 'tough' grilling or frankly doesn't give a toss but this is what the producers want. (Oh how old-fashioned to expect integrity from either side ...).

The main issue is that any form of intelligent debate has collapsed. What we have is state sponsored errorism (no, not a typo) in which both politicians & journalists are complicit.

Is it any wonder that the frequently evoked 'younger generation' don't bother to vote or seem so apathetic? It's not simply that there's no party fit to choose but the very forum in which options should be aired has become so thoroughly compromised.

Who cares? (That's an actual question, not a shrug). Whatever.

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* note her repeated use of "Eddie" which only served to confirm the absence of any attempt at exchange or dialogue whatsoever. On both sides a remarkable display of un-listening. Patel knew what she was 'tasked' to say; Mair had his agenda set before the programme went live. Factor in the listener - wherever/ whoever they may be - & who felt included in this exchange? Campaign talk as living room carpet bombing - with the collateral damage that the electorate simply switch off mentally & physically.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

(photo of interesting cloudscape this morning goes here)

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Further JogBlog Update ...

A mini triathlon: jog (1500m circuit of the Hippodrome) cycle (to the pool & back) swim (20 lengths). Tarzan.

The legs really feel the shift from jogging to cycling but once in the pool it seems pretty easy.

Returning home I am absolutely starving.

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Through the letterbox: Wittgenstein's Ladder (Perloff) & Active Boundaries (the Michael Palmer collected essays).

However, the book currently blowing my poetic socks off is Mary Ruefle's Madness, Rack & Honey. The title just keeps popping up & having ordered it months ago it has skulked on my shelf reproachfully. Now it is time to make amends. & how. Marvellous.

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Monday, April 13, 2015

It's been a while but you've probably gathered that what with the holidays & one thing & another we've been out & about (5 days in the UK ... London ... Richard Diebenkorn exhibition ... Antwerp ... Ikea ... ) swimming & generally enjoying sinking into that porridge-like state of letting the days go by ("... and you may ask yourself ...")

Reading at the moment centres around Michael Palmer & threads leading from his work (Wallace Stevens ... Wittgenstein ... the Ray Monk biography ... ) which, in turn, have further extensions ... Joan Retallack's Poethics in particular.

On Saturday (rainy all day) I bit the bullet & tackled the piles of books, CDs & papers that had accumulated upstairs. There comes a point when outer disorder begins to confirm inner stagnation. Looking at the stacks of LRBs & old copies of Modern Painters I wondered when, if ever, would I have the time or inclination to go through them? The old question returns - am I a library? A: no.

So I started to flip through the MPs tearing out any articles or reproductions that caught my eye. &, inevitably, this has revived earlier obsessions & led me to a new figure - Wes Mills (more later).

As for the LRBs, I've struck a deal with myself. I will keep the past two years' worth & work through the others (dating back to 2008) over the next month. Useful articles will be kept, the rest binned or passed on to a colleague.

This is aside from the copies of The Wire which date right back into the 90s. I know why I keep them - that recurrent event of a new discovery in music which sends me back to articles & interviews that held no interest years ago. Yet ... again ... at what point does it become absurd especially when a current subscription gives access to back issues? What strange subconscious need makes me hold on them ... ?

& ... for those wondering ... jogging.

While over in the UK I made a conscious decision not to go out. Getting off the bus up near Piccadilly I was acutely aware of the annoying twinge in the left ankle. I limped, more or less, to the Royal Academy. However, after the Diebenkorn, I walked on up to my old stamping grounds (Charlotte Street via Charing Cross Road & Tottenham Court Road) & as if through sheer insistence the Achilles began to ease. Since then walking has been back to normal - a bit of stiffness first thing. & so ...

... this morning at 7am I donned the running shoes & headed for the Hippodrome. One careful circuit (about 1500m) & everything seemed fine. I walked back & then went for a swim. & this, I think, will be the routine for the week. Assuming the twinge doesn't return, I'll increase the distance next week. No doubt about it, it feels good to be jogging along again - the fresh air, the woodpecker banging his head against the tree, the sense of being up & about, the buzzy feeling in the palms & wrists ...


Friday, April 03, 2015

Amusing (but, I sense, seriously intended) piece by Alexei Sayle in today's Guardian arguing for his appointment as the presenter for Top Gear via a Dr Who-style regeneration of Jezza. Here's the closing paragraph ...

"Which brings us to Top Gear. Roland Barthes, the French literary theorist, philosopher and critic, wrote in a 1957 essay about the new Citro├źn DS: “Cars today are the exact equivalent of the great Gothic cathedrals.” During the medieval era, the finest minds and artists were dedicated to what was at the centre of society, namely God; today it is consumerism, the insatiable desire for new and better products, and just as those great medieval places of worship were objects of wonder and awe, so the car now fulfils that function, expressing where we are as a society in terms of design, technology and aspiration. In the Top Gear studio the cars are objects of blind veneration, just like the statues of the saints in those medieval cathedrals. So what better place to reintroduce Marxist ideas than on a show dedicated to cars? Every single thing in the world can be revealed through a proper study of cars – fashion, economics, environment and politics – and I am the man to do it. And don’t worry: the show will still be full of its trademark irreverence – though its targets will now be the rich, the powerful and the reactionary, rather than Mexicans, the safety conscious and Morris Marina owners. Because I am not a dry or didactic Marxist; I am one of the fun ones."

Makes perfect sense to me.

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As it's the first day of the Easter holiday I'm off for a swim in the pool at 7am. Not many of the regulars & so with the lanes virtually empty & no need to hurry I keep going past the usual 20 on to 30 & then think 'why not?' & hit 40 in as many minutes - a personal best. One trade-off from the jogging seems to be increased stamina & the confidence to push beyond what I assume is a limit.

& in case you're wondering ... I'm working the ankle with some stair exercises. Give it another week & I think I'll be off around the woods again.

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I've had the Gizzi Exact Change anthology downstairs for a couple of weeks now, dipping in as & when. This morning, after breakfast, I settle upon the lengthy Michael Palmer interview which hits me with renewed force. It's the kind of shake up & call to arms that I have been looking for. & the utter pleasure in being able to read & sustain concentration. A good Friday, indeed.

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Booked a ticket for the Diebenkorn exhibition on Tuesday. If you're in the vicinity of the Royal Academy ...


Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Not the usual litany of whinges today, rather several things to feel decidedly chuffed about ...

a) fourteen lengths of the local pool & in to work before eight o'clock had struck
b) I find the horribly expensive David Crystal Language Lectures DVD that I had assumed was irretrievably lost/half-inched by a student/ 'borrowed' by an ex-colleague & never returned
c) fiddling with the pen I broke last week, I slam it down end first (just for the hell of it) & discover - miraculously - that it works again!
d) the revised text I drew up over the weekend from a dog's breakfast of a policy document takes barely 50 minutes to check through & we're done
e) out of curiosity I drop in to the new Nias art shop down the road & find the very fountain pen I'd been looking for
f) late last night's discovery as I lay in bed listening to Radio 4 Extra trying to ignore the winds raging outside ... Elastic Planet. (A strange 'pataphysical series of absurdities narrated by the late great Oliver Postgate).

Yes, the blossom is cherrying.


Monday, March 30, 2015


The tooth gets a for-the-time-being repair with a stern warning that next time it's likely to be a crown.

But for the Achilles' tendon niggle, the footsteps leaving are lighter than those arriving.

How visits to the dentists make our sense of time elastic.

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Thinking, once more, about the concept of sympathetic resonance & its relevance to schools in an age of crippling uniformity & (dread word) "alignment".

Do Administrators look at trees? Not one grows the same way & yet each finds its form. (Apply this principle to students.)

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The younger Wafflette turned 13 yesterday (thanks to all who sent cards & good wishes) & today appears in one of the national newspapers riding her Scout group's entry to the 24-hour cycle marathon that took place this weekend.

& this despite the tempestuous wind & rain.

Positively heroic.