Saturday, August 31, 2013

The neighbours opposite have decided to declare their newly-painted gate once again an access to their garage by sticking a no parking sign (plus number plate) and threatening tow-away sign. This, despite the fact that they - and everyone else along the street - know that they condemned their garage on moving in, built a small (verging on absurd) swimming pool in front, and grassed over the rest. There is absolutely no possibility of a car getting in or out.

Instead, they have decided to interpret 'right of access' to mean a personal parking space in front of the gate. Unfortunately, given the length of their car, they cannot actually fit within the width of the gate access leaving them no alternative but to jut forward into their right-hand neighbours' gateway. (So far she has been generous enough not to complain).

A further complication is that a lamppost stands on the other side, meaning that any car can park up to this point without preventing access (were access feasible) to their garage. And cars do. In response, the neighbours have decided to park right up onto the bumper as if declaring their 'space' has been trespassed upon. (Do this in town & you'd have your wipers pulled out or wing mirror twisted off).

The new development we witnessed on opening the curtains this morning is their decision to now park partially across their gate access (thus a good meter or more back from the right-hand neighbour's access way) and a good two meters past the right-hand post of their entrance. In effect, they are now taking up two parking spaces along the road - all in their effort to assert a right to a space which is not, in fact, theirs in the first place. (Imagine the consequences were everyone to assume their driveway gave an automatic parking space to the left and right).

The icing on the cake is to watch them leaving (husband opens the little side gate, they embrace, she gets in & drives away) or returning (one or other gets out to check the car reverses within half an inch of any enemy car encroaching on their putative land). There is something both theatrical & pompous about the whole business.

I was wondering what it reminded me of when the penny dropped: the sister's house in Tati's Mon Oncle. In this instance I'm tempted to laugh also were it not so utterly pathetic - such arrogance, such small-mindedness, so little self-awareness. Who do they think they are?

Perhaps I should go out in the dead of night & chalk a parodic reserved parking rectangle with a symbol for the socially handicapped ... What do you think?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, August 25, 2013



I was booked in for the 12:50 crossing to Calais & so as I sail past Maidstone services before 9 am I'm wondering what on earth I'll do at the Terminal for three hours (it being the busy holiday season, earlier trains are most unlikely). So I head down to Folkestone to see the sea & inhale the ozone. 'Harbour' seems the best option & by 9:30 I'm in Elinor's Cafe having a morning coffee but I'm too excited to let it cool & only drink half the cup. Off to explore!

I walk to what I assume will be the sea path but find it only leads into a lorry car park. No luck. I retrace my steps & go left & find I've hit some kind of promenade with more cafes & restaurants & - far more interesting - stalls selling fresh fish & seafood. I hit on 'Bob's' & after a bit of discussion end up buying two lobsters for a tenner each. (Back in Brussels I'm reliably informed by Mme Waffle we'd be paying 45 euros or more for that weight). He tells me he's sad the Sea Cat has stopped - "we used to ring up our mate over in Boulogne, "two crab salads s'il vous plait", & we'd go over there & be back by the evening. Lovely." 

The point is: why has it taken me so long for the penny to drop? That just ten minutes further on & there's the sea. Why not enjoy Folkestone itself rather than hare up to the M25 or (the other way round) squander the hours in the miserable Terminal? 

Walking in, still with plenty of time before the crossing, I see what's laughably (chillingly?) called The Family Zone. You guessed it: a wall-size screen playing a Pixar film plus other screens & terminals delivering further doses of virtual Kiddie Fun. I want to run in there & shout that just down the road there's the sea & the sand & the sky & a horizon without edges ... Go & dig a sand castle! Throw stones at sea gulls! Have a chat with the crusties! Just get your eyes away from a screen! 

Next time, we're making that ten minute detour. & I'm having fish & chips staring out to sea. I know my Dad would approve. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

"Whereas the cell occupies a determined point of the organism, an idea really fills our whole self. It is necessary that all our ideas become incorporated in this way into the mass of our states of consciousness. Many float on the surface, like dead leaves on the water of a pond. By this we mean that when our mind [esprit] thinks it always finds them again in a state of immobility, as if they were outside it. These are ideas we receive ready made and that inhabit us without ever becoming assimilated into our substance, or ideas that we have neglected to take up, and that have been dried out, abandoned. If, to the extent that we distance ourselves from the deeper layers of the self, our states of consciousness tend more and more to take the form of a numerical multiplicity and to deploy themselves in a homogenous space, it is precisely because, increasingly, these states of consciousness take on an inert mode of being, a more and more impersonal form ... But if, digging beneath the surface through which the self makes contact with external things, we penetrate into the depths of living and organized intelligence, we will observe the superimposition, or even the intimate fusion of many of these ideas which, once dissociated, seem to mutually exclude one another according to logical contradictions ... "

(Bergson, quoted in Thinking in Time, Suzanne Guerlac, p75)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

still life










Getting to that point in the holidays when I look back over the eight weeks and wonder what might be defining moments. The Morandi exhibition at the Bozar has to be one of them. This morning I went (again) with sketchbook & tried to do justice with a pencil to what is going on in one or two of the canvases. Naturally, you're snatching glances between people browsing past. However, one thing is clear: looking 'with' the pencil opens up many aspects of the painting the gliding eye fails to see. & something else: trying to map each object & the relations between each object & you start to find you're out by several centimetres. The pictures get bigger beneath your hand. How does he fit it all in? That's before you try to do justice to the interplay of line, of tone, the light 'within' the canvas as well as the light of that precise moment of the morning. 

These are extraordinary paintings which jpegs & the reproductions in catalogues fail to convey in the same way. You just have to stand & look there and then. Which, of course, is precisely what the paintings are 'about'. 

Below two sketches. The pencil one is a particular favourite. 




Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Still here & reading Suzanne Guerlac on Bergson (among other things).

Copies of azimhuth & signiticanf (amazing! my autocorrect now suggests this spelling!) went out last Friday. I hope they all land safely - the person doing the weighing & franking didn't seem to have a clue what they were doing.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

& another ...


... like buses, you wait a small eternity for one and then two come along at once.

More info at the Sticky Pages site.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Oh no I don't believe it ... George Duke has died. Really?

If I had to choose an incarnation of The Mothers it'd be the Duke era (Napoleon Murphy Brock, Chester Thompson, Ruth Underwood etc.) & albums such as One Size Fits All, Apostrophe, Overnite Sensation ... I know Zappa said they were a boring bunch in some article or other but the music was terrific.

Today ends on a diminished chord.


Hard to believe, I know, that I could have reached this ripe old age and never (knowingly) listened to anything by Shostakovich. Maybe as the background to some BBC Four documentary some fragment or other went in one ear & out the other but nothing registered or made me want to find out more. & I know why - a conversation a long time ago in a train in the Paris Metro with someone who knew lots more about music than I, who made the statement that Shostakovich was "a first rate composer who wrote second rate music". What a silly way of categorising music (I'm thinking in retrospect) but at an impressionable age such pronouncements go deep. & so I found myself listening to that other S - Stravinsky - & avoiding DSCH. 

Time to make amends. This week I've discovered the two Piano Concertos (the Andante of the Second is especially beautiful) and - just now - the String Quartet everyone seems to talk about: number 8. (& yes, it's worth all the hype). On order are sets of the Symphonies & Quartets but they'll have to wait until the weekend. 

It's been raining since 10 o'clock this morning. I should have known that buying two garden tables on Tuesday would put the mockers on the weather. Never mind, it's the perfect excuse to stay indoors & listen to Shostakovich. 

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Hot off the press ...


a z i m h u t h 



finally finally ... a z i m h u t h is ready to issue. 

More details on the Sticky Pages website (

Monday, August 05, 2013

Unlikely as it seems but ...

... two good bits of news:

1) You can still hear Zappa's G-Spot Tornado & The Adventures of Greggary Peccary being played at this year's Proms festival -

(Pity about the simpering low brow link material - why not ring up Ben?)

2) Peter Capaldi transforms from Spin Doctor to Doctor Who - an inspired bit of casting (for once!). Finally the Daleks meet someone whose language is able to exterminate ... "You? You f!@$%ing lump of $%^^&** who d'you think you are? I've seen more horrible %^^&(^(* in my sister's &*)*&*&. So get out of my f*&^*ing galaxy will yeh!"

(& maybe a crafty dig at both the BBC & the current government as being nothing but a collection of tacky monsters & cybermen?).

I might even tune in.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Antwerp. & a new (at least to me) secondhand bookshop a little way past the church. In which I find ... this Black Sparrow Press edition of Barbara Guest's only novel. So why did I buy it when I have it already (the Sun & Moon edition)? Partly as the larger format & cover collage beguile, partly because I think I'm on to a bargain (it wasn't particularly), partly as a way of memorialising the day : seeking air, indeed.

There's something about this city. It gets me every time.

Just before leaving I see a man in one of the many courtyards, sitting at a table, crisp white shirt, an interesting-looking book open before him, a large glass of white wine to the side & think to myself yes ...

Hypocrite lecteur! Mon semblable! Mon frère!

Friday, August 02, 2013


zhuth (n/v)

1. A form of mania in which the next vertebra fits. 2. Slits in the circumference of the sky through which the Critic passes. 3. The doctrine of moths.

(... and that's it. Now to tidy things up & make it all into a book.)

Thursday, August 01, 2013


yhuth (n/v)

1. Over, throughout, across but not close. 2. A miniature toy resembling the female organ formed of timber and covered with turf. An object of veneration. 3. The writer himself on board ship surrounded by the 'white'. 4. A 4,320,000 year itch. 

. Driving into work the other morning with 'Village of the Sun' playing & humming & drumming along  & think...