Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Not one to usually give a damn about cars - beyond 1) it goes, 2) the CD player works - the past two months have been uncharacteristically Top Gearish. I have been paying undue attention to such things as hub caps, chrome side finishes, metallic (or not) paint options. The reason? Answer: the not too distant (I hope) arrival of the new car.

Related to this has been a lottery-style calculation of the current licence plate series. (Due to Belgian law, my old plates will have to be surrendered for the new European issue). Right now we're at 1 - FXL ... & I was working out the odds of an 'FZ' coinciding with my car being certified as road worthy. Pathetic, I know, but it passes the time staring out the window at the procession of traffic as students grapple with their essays.

However ... what do I discover but due to some obscure bureaucratic decision after 1 - FX ... the series will skip to 1 - GAA ... . What!? No 1 - FY ... or 1 - FZ ... ! Why?

So bang goes my chance of a Zappa-related plate (unless by some weird twist I end up with the 1- FXZ ... due next Tuesday, which wouldn't be bad).

Have I lost all sense of proportion? Or is this a form of lettrist mania/ arcane alphabetic superstition?

I'll let you know which combination turns up.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Watched Lift to the Scaffold again after many years & notice this time around the role of cars : Tavernier's convertible, the German tourist's sports model & the Renault Dauphine Jeanne Moreau drives.

The closing scene remains as stunning as ever, the gradual development of the crucial photograph (& its subsequent disappearance through overexposure).*

Last week it occurred to me how photographs are changing. The ubiquitous teenage BFF snap with an iPhone or Touch (bunny ears, V sign, funny face which are now standard for the genre - hold up the iPhone, put our heads together, make a face, snap! Giggle.)

More significant (disturbing?) is this way of looking into the camera which already anticipates the result - a kind of boomerang effect. Gone is the uncertainty of lens/film/exposure/developer and the delay (trip to the Chemist, SAE to the lab, etc). Or that late Victorian kind of pose where one sat for posterity). Now the moment returns immediately, the pose is always-already taken. In a sense, each snap fulfils a pre-established image & is forgotten as quickly. Send/ delete/ ...

Whereas, watching Moreau, the close ups, the sheer astonishment occasioned by this face - how little of it would survive today's pixilated encoding.


* a pedantic objection (or fascinating alternative reading) to the final scene: who is the 'third' who took the compromising pictures of Tavernier & his mistress? Someone else was in on the secret - the tiny camera was surely not able to manage time delay shooting?

Sunday, November 17, 2013


(Reading left to right) My uncle, an unknown little girl, my paternal grandfather (who I never knew), an unknown older boy, my Dad.

The date? 1939? (I'm guessing). 

The occasion? A Sunday walk along the cliff tops? Portland? 

These (& other) questions. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Rumour has it, Belgian car licence plates FVZ were issued today. Given my new car is meant to arrive in a month, is it too much to hope I might just get one? No idea of the odds.

Monday, November 11, 2013

"In my religion all believers would stop work at sundown and have a drink together 'pour chaser la honte du jour'. This would be taken in remembrance of the first sunset when man must have thought the oncoming night would prove eternal, and in honour of the gift of wine to Noah as a relief from the abysmal boredom of the brave new world after the flood. Hence the institution of my 'Sundowner' with which all believers, whether acquainted or not, would render holy that moment of nostalgia and evening apprehension. Brevis hic est fructus homullis. In my religion there would be no exclusive doctrine; all would be love, poetry and doubt. Life would be sacred, because it is all we have and death, our common denominator, the fountain of consideration. The Cycle of the Seasons would be rhythmically celebrated together with the Seven Ages of Man, his Identity with all living things, his glorious Reason and his sacred Instinctual Drives." (Cyril Connolly, The Unquiet Grave)

Plucked Enemies of Promise from the shelf in passing which, in turn, sent me back upstairs to find this volume. One of those you keep going back to.

This morning I sat eating breakfast on my own (the girls still abed) my yoghurt accompanied by Samuel Barber's Agnus Dei unscrambling its digital bits across the choppy Channel from Broadcasting House. One of those 'moments': unaccustomed calm, sunlight, smoke lifting off chimney pots, steam from my cup of tea. Monday rhymes.

On days such as these I wonder what I might achieve ... that teasing sense of opening, a pause, a beginning to draw a circle in which ... knowing tomorrow it will all dissolve. & so we lurch on ...

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