Tuesday, February 25, 2014

I notice that the local playground has been cordoned off with tape & there's a large sign announcing an archaeological dig in progress. The mind boggles. Did some toddler unearth a dinosaur thigh or Neolithic jawbone amongst the dog turds & fag ends in the sand pit? "Look Mummy what I found!"

Reminding me of Emma's question as we walked around the Greek Vase collection of the Metropolitan Museum: "why do Athena & Didier go all that way to Crete when they could find everything they need here?" Quite.


I see Jonny Trunk is selling mp3s of the Flashing Blade theme song. Next only to White Horses for its magical power to transform me back to being an 8 year old.


Monday, February 24, 2014

I make a pot of green tea

I lay breakfast

I go for a swim

I eat breakfast

I make a collage for today's page

I try to listen to The Book of Days against the sound of the vacuum cleaner on the floor below

I drive L & M to the shopping centre

I pay 1 euro for occupying a space for 10 minutes for no purpose

I ignore the voice of the GPS & get lost

I get home (eventually) & make coffee

I listen to an anthology of Punk rarities & think: what was I doing? when each song was being made

I remember meeting a member of The Mekons with Ben in a pub in Leeds ('89?)

I eat smoked salmon with Philadelphia on black German bread

I drink another coffee

I walk to the bench by the pond in the woods

I draw the tree nearest to me

I walk home & drink the tea L has made in anticipation of my return

I read another interview with Meredith Monk ("I always try to start from scratch") & discover that she has a 30 year old tortoise called Neutron

I watch a short film by Kate Greenstreet entitled 'Cloth' ("colour is to meaning as shape is to sound")

I stop typing

I go downstairs to the kitchen & open the door of the fridge

(not being able to remember the name 'Philadelphia' but seeing very clearly the grey oval tub & blue lettering)


(not that any of this amounts to much)

Sunday, February 23, 2014


this is worth watching, too.
"Producing a work is like making soup. You begin with individual vegetables in the soup: carrots are carrots, onions are onions, potatoes are potatoes. Then you put your vegetables into the stock and simmer. For a while, the vegetables are still vegetables, but little by little they become part of the liquid. Finally they boil down to an essence. Nothing extraneous is left, only the inevitable and delicious mixture the soup has become. Similarly, I try to let the elements of a work exist on their own until it is time to put them into a form. Part of the artistic process is distinguishing between the mind of judgment, which anticipates results and cuts off impulses, and the mind of discriminating intelligence, which sees clearly and at the right time what needs letting go."

(Meredith Monk)

You just have to listen to this ...


an interview ... no, better, a discussion between Meredith Monk and Bjork about their music and general way of looking at the world. It's almost needless to say it is absolutely fascinating. Pity about the intrusive link-woman but I suppose it would have been too raw just to let the two of them talk.

This weekend (more or less) has been given over to Monk. I listened to Book of Days again, yesterday, having put it to one side. Fabulous. Then I discovered Impermanence was tucked away on my iPod (I seem to have deleted it on iTunes - how ironic). The feature on Monk in The Wire then propelled me on to Google for more material - and thus the Bjork connection. There's also Bjork singing Gotham Lullaby at:


There's also the Peter Greenaway film on Monk in 8 segments up on YouTube as well as various other short clips. (I love the end of Turtle Dreams where the four dancers finish and in the very same movement walk off stage. In that invisible crack from art to life lies what's so wonderful about Monk's work.)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Is it just me or this morning it felt like the first day of Spring?

Opening the kitchen window just before 7am I heard bird song. Then, by 7:45, taking the earlier exit off the Ring, the sky is already bright above the bridge before the roundabout. Walking back to the car after a brisk ten minute walk it is ... as such ... daylight.

There's no denying it ... a really palpable feeling of Spring. Yet we're only two weeks into February?

Where did Winter go?

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

So ... 50 it is.

By way of contexts for Frankenstein I give the students a series of excerpts relating to Romanticism including the opening of Emerson's Introduction to Nature.  The sentence towards the end of the first paragraph leaps out:

The sun shines to-day also.

What better way to celebrate?

Monday, February 03, 2014

& while we're at it ... another gripe. The new Samsung phone was put to the test this morning ringing between wife/ car insurance company/ school secretary and the call-out van. Every time a call came in the bloody screen displayed a padlock & then went blank. I missed each incoming call. Researching the problem this evening it seems to be some Android default setting. Who - in their right mind - would devise this? A call comes comes in & your natural impulse is to answer it. Is that too simple?

Again, comments welcome from anyone who knows how to disable - for ever - this irritant.
Renault Clio IV wind noise ... Renault Clio IV bruit de vent ...

... I'm deliberately leading into this post with this phrase to catch any casual surfers on both sides of the Channel. Sad to say, the initial period of infatuation has worn off as I become more aware of the car's shortcomings. ("ah ... you see ... " I hear you say). Over the past month or so, travelling at higher speeds (100 km/h plus) there's a noticeable amount of wind noise around the rear view mirrors. Give the high winds of late I thought it was normal & then began to research the issue. True enough, go into the Forums & you'll see plenty of discussion.

I mentioned it to the dealer ten days ago & he agreed they'd look into it. They did & the head mechanic drove it home & back. Yes, there was an issue. OK ... The dealer said they'd do some research & drive similar cars & get back to me. By today, nothing. So when I dropped by to sort out the accident business I asked again about the wind noise issue. The mechanic had changed his story - or not quite. Yes, it was "abnormal" but "normal" for this model. Duh? He drives the souped up GT & that is noise free. So ... nothing to be done. I summon up my best French (& patience) & suggest that this isn't really acceptable: it is not a budget model, he has acknowledged that there is an issue, yet there is nothing to be done? What kind of impression does this give of the manufacturer? More to the point, of the garage? He shrugs.

To anyone reading who has a similar issue I'd be grateful for any comments. It seems that until there is sufficient evidence this "abnormality" will be considered "normal". Admittedly it is not life-threatening & - I accept - perhaps more noticeable given the very quiet engine. Play some music & it fades into the background. Nevertheless, you'd think they could summon up something better than this. I maintain that it's a lovely car. However, the follow-up service is distinctly below par. Comments please.
So ... imagine the scenario. 7:40am. You're driving along a dual carriageway about to take the slip road off to the left. It's dark. Ahead a lorry flashing on the hard shoulder. In the lane next to you cars are flashing by. Suddenly you see something in the middle of your lane, brake, a nasty crunching sound as your car goes over it, shit!, a what-the-hell-was-that feeling, park along the slip road, emergency lights on, open the boot, get out the warning triangle, put on the yellow jacket, assess the damage. OK ...

Well, that was what happened this morning. The lorry had lost its metal ladder. I'd driven over it & burst the left front tyre. On a scale of 1 to 10 probably a 5. It could have been far worse. As it was, we filled out the papers, I waited for the motor-assistance van, then drove on with my new tyre. We'll see whether there's any further damage underneath. These things happen. It's only afterwards you think of the other possibilities.

On a brighter note ... tomorrow I turn 50. It sounds so terribly grown up & yet things look much the same. Increasingly I appreciate just being here. Learning how to negotiate the snakes ... and ladders.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Back from a weekend 'de-assimilating from the digital hive' (as Ray Mears put it in a recent Desert Island Discs - or words to that effect) on the north French coast. This time, no snow just high winds & rain (Friday night) battering the windows followed by two days of superb sunshine. We couldn't have been luckier.

Fish soup, mussels, salt lamb, walks along the beach & promenade, great lungfuls of sea air, & that uncanny & immediately evocative sound of wading birds far out on the mud flats & the chink of sail ropes against masts.

Each time we come here I think if only we lived here & what you could do every day & then the question of what would you live on arises. These perpetual quandaries into which the mind sinks up to its ankles.

Far out on the path leading from the harbour there's a tourist information board about a local artist who obviously felt a particular affinity with the place. They reproduce one of his statements about never underestimating the effect of the earliest experiences of light upon a person's subsequent life. How memory is not so much olfactory as ocular. There's a thought.

As usual I bring with me back issues of the LRB knowing I will ensconce myself in the 'salon' & work through the articles I've been meaning to read. The James Meak piece is long but worth it - the scandalous selling off of local council housing. Today's Observer then reports Gove's latest interference with British education. The agenda is so blatantly evident in both instances & yet who is prepared/able to respond?

"Right to buy" yet another example of the treacherous double-speak of political language.

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