Sunday, September 27, 2015


A Saturday in six movements ...



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At half-time it was tempting to switch off the television & go up to bed. The signs were familiar - another dissolve into a penalty-driven game with Wales squandering chances through indiscipline & tiredness. However, I decided to see it through.

Then came the injuries & you began to wonder what happened if a team simply runs out of players. (Volunteers from the crowd?).

& then came the extraordinary minutes of magic. That try after a kick-through followed by a penalty kick virtually from the half way line. Gob-smacking.

While there have been more impressive games of rugby from the point of view of skill & running, this has to rank as one of the greatest Wales-England encounters in terms of sheer character. Effectively down to a 'B' team they pulled off a heroic victory.

Yes ... in the end the Biggar team won.



Monday, September 21, 2015

What now seems many years ago, I flirted with the idea of going into Law. (A degree in English Literature qualifies you for ... well, ...).

I dutifully sat in on a few days at Oxford Magistrates to get a 'feel' for the business & found what I saw more then enough to confirm my initial suspicions.

One morning, in particular, sticks in the memory. Two cases. The first was an unemployed man down from the Midlands, in search of work, who had been caught stealing a Boots sandwich (price about £1.50). His Defence said that it should be taken into consideration that he had not eaten a proper meal in over a week. He was found guilty - a fact he did not deny - & was handed a 6 month jail sentence.

The very next case involved a group of undergraduates who had caused wilful damage to college & public property (estimated at several thousand pounds) after a night of general drunkenness & debauchery. Their Defence read out testaments from their respective tutors of good behaviour plus - & this I remember with particular clarity - a request that it be taken into consideration that they were to leave on a skiing trip in a couple of days.

They were found guilty but issued a caution.

Today's allegations by Lord Ashcroft concerning David Cameron occasions such recollections. It is abundantly clear that there is one law for the rich & another for everyone else. Cameron's misbehaviour - should it be proven true - will be consigned to youthful misdemeanours. In any case, if what you get up to takes place on private estates who's to know? (& there's always a fat cheque from Daddy to right the wrongs). It's also worth adding that anyone who attended Public School in the 70s will have been aware of parties which got seriously out of hand. Either you were there or heard about it after. Occasionally someone was expelled. Halcyon days of 'experiment' is the euphemistic term.

As Zizek has pinpointed time & again, notice how the outcry masquerades astonishment. Did anyone seriously not know that such things went on? Really?

Naturally the Press will swoop upon the salacious allegations. Of far more damage is the Ashcroft non-Dom knowledge.

There's a pig in a poke.

Sunday, September 20, 2015


A day spent listening to Liszt - a composer I've never had much time for (the usual prejudices).

However, today - a revelation. First, Argerich playing the first Piano Concerto (conductor: Abbado) & then Grimaud for the Piano Sonata in B minor. Both stunning.

The Sonata, in particular, is ear-opening & jaw-dropping: for all its scored permanence it sounds improvised. Inviting ridicule, I am reminded of Keith Jarrett's extended pieces - Bremen, Lausanne, the Köln Concert above all (the wild dynamics, the sudden shifts of mood, the percussive attack & massing of sonorities).  Several times I was expecting Grimaud to start yelping & crooning.

A piano being activated, explored, pummelled & caressed.

& then those last bars & the final chords. Messiaen! The 20th Century rings the door bell.


Friday, September 11, 2015


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Molten globe of a sun this morning heading down towards the Ring. Sorely tempted to turn, park & wander off into the woods. Instead I carry on dutifully & arrive at the usual destination & put the back-up plan into operation. A suburban route around the block but then I cut off along the fields. The sun lies on the rim of the rise & there's low-hugging mist. Distinct September chill to the air. Mint to the nose. Retracing my steps I realise that horse chestnut trees line the path. Conkers! & yes, there among the grass the first of the year, dewy moist. Pick up & pocket. 

Sunday, September 06, 2015

"With that he rose to a full tree-high standing, the sable cat-guts which held his bog-cloth drawers to the hems of his jacket of pleated fustian clanging together in melodious discourse."

Which is, of course, from Flann O'Brien's At Swim-Two-Birds. Plucked off the shelf this afternoon for whatever reason & just the ticket. To be sure.

Saturday, September 05, 2015



The most interesting thing I've heard all day.

All week. All month.

For quite some time. 

(& their more recent 13 Degrees of Reality is mighty fine, too, from what I caught at the Mediatheque earlier this afternoon).

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Still coming to terms with the newly-published 'fact' that there are 420 trees for me on this planet.

Seems rather greedy, really.

I think I prefer just going for a walk & seeing trees - big ones, little ones - for everyone. Every thing.

How many trees per bird? Slug? Fungi? Caterpillar? There's a thought ...

O the silliness of statistics.
"I occasionally wonder what portion of my life has been spent dawdling like this along streams. In search of turtles, or frogs, or rock bass, or simply lost in thought and basking in the lee of the great iambic-tetrameter noun Inconsequentiality."

('A Visit to Four or Five Streams', Rivers & Birds, Merrill Gilfillan)

It's sentences such as these that make me cherish Gilfillan's prose.

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Apologies for the absence of posts. As you will have gathered, I've been busy. Sadly, though, with nothing particularly rewarding.

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Then ... Monday evening ... . . . Dweezil Zappa at the Bozar . A really impressive performance - two hour...