Saturday, December 31, 2016

A List of Books I've Been Reading During 2016 ...

... & Which You Might Find Interesting, Too ...

1. Deep Listening, Pauline Oliveros
2. Commotion of the Birds, John Ashbery
3. My Private Property, Mary Ruefle
4. A ZBC of Ezra Pound, Christine Brooke-Rose
5. The Book of Beginnings, Francois Julien
6. Taction, I. Kyuyoh
7. The Unknown Craftsman, Soetsu Yanagi
8. A Picture Is Always A Book, Robert Seydel
9. Modern Music & After, Paul Griffiths
10. Archeophonics, Peter Gizzi
11. Selected Poems, Keith Waldrop
12. tout droit vers la fin en sifflotant, ARPAIS du bois

Friday, December 30, 2016

For more on the Black Ice CD & the thinking behind the project ...

Ear Food : Ten Highlights of 2016 ...

(in no particular order)

1. Discovering Tord Gustavson's music
2. Julian Bream playing Britten's Nocturnal after John Dowland
3. My appreciation of J.S. Bach piqued, reawakened, transformed, affirmed ... through the playing of Anna Gourari, Til Fellner & Igor Levit
4. Discovering Gyorgy Kurtag
5. That Saturday in Antwerp & hearing Barbara Hannigan's voice for the first time & all that opened up ... Abrahamsen ... the Satie collaboration with Reinbert de Leeuw ... etc.
6. Nikolaus Harnoncourt's Beethoven
7. Thomas Ades - Aracadiana in particular
8. Mette Henriette & Anna Thorvaldsdottir - very different but somehow linked in my brain
9. Finally getting Pierre Boulez - Le Marteau sans Maitre is the one!
10. Anything & everything by the Belcea Quartet (& actually getting off my arse & being there at Flagey the other evening)

& one (two) more ... acknowledging that Frank Zappa & Keith Jarrett still cut the mustard (Chicago '78 & A Multitude of Angels respectively)


A playlist to bring 2016 to a close & ease into 2017 ...

Black Ice, Wolfert Brederode Trio
Voice of Chunk, The Lounge Lizards
Ed Blackwell box set (including Old and New Dreams)
Vespers, Rachmaninoff

Clues 22 & 16 Down caught my eye in today's Guardian cryptic crossword ...

Tycoon requiring a wig, lacking leadership: a word of caution about this arse (6,5)

Nice one.

Thursday, December 22, 2016


A Merry Christmas 
A Happy New Year 
to the 

(i.e. those still reading) 


Friday, December 16, 2016

Belcea Quartet Twentieth Birthday Concert at Flagey - more or less up the road from us.

On the programme: 

Schubert - String Quartet no. 10
Penderecki - String Quartet no. 2

then, after the interval ...

Penderecki - String Quartet no. 4 (its Belgian premiere with Krzysztof in attendance)
Schubert - String Quartet no. 14 'Death and the Maiden'

Gorgeous stuff. 

End of year in anticipation of New Year Resolution: do this more often. 

Supposedly Musique 3 recorded it. I'll let you know as & when it is broadcast. 

Sunday, December 11, 2016


One definition of "inconsolable" is that sense of wanting to share an enthusiasm with someone who is no longer there. 

To my knowledge, Eric would never have managed to hear this new box set from Keith Jarrett. More's the pity. So to fill his absence, I type these words on the chance someone else will coincide. 

So far I have only listened to the first disc - 'Modena' - which is divided into two parts plus a short encore of 'Danny Boy'. To my ears, this is some of Jarrett's finest solo piano playing. Where last year's Creation left me cold, this new release compels repeated plays even within the same day. 

I'm only too aware of how Jarrett can be his own worst enemy: pretentious liner notes, uneven albums, tantrums on stage. However, when you hear music of this quality you're prepared to forgive him. 

This is special. 

Ten Polaroids for Eric

They say that death kills you, but death doesn't kill you. Boredom and indifference kill you.

Iggy Pop


Everything you do is music, and everywhere is the best seat.

John Cage

A genius is the one most like himself.

Thelonious Monk


There is no reason not to consider the world as one gigantic painting.

Robert Rauschenberg


Always keep your bowler on in time of stress, and watch out for diabolical masterminds.

Emma Peel


All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth.

Richard Avedon


Well, may I ask what madam was expecting to see out of a Torquay hotel bedroom? Sydney Opera House? The Hanging Gardens of Babylon? Herds of wildebeest sweeping majestically across the plain?

Basil Fawlty

Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.

Henri Cartier Bresson


There is never any end... There are always new sounds to imagine.

John Coltrane


New mysteries. New day. Fresh doughnuts.

David Lynch


Friday, December 02, 2016

"... But is the
earth as full as life was full, of them?"

Lines by Frank O'Hara & of especial poignancy today.


Sunday, November 20, 2016

.... nothing if not eclectic. Haphazard even?

The Zappa is one of the best concerts issues in decades (Vinnie C on drums, Ed Mann on percussion,   Tommy Mars on keyboards ... an exploratory version of 'Yo Mama', super solos on 'Village of the Sun' & 'Black Napkins' ... you get the idea). His quip about doing a stupid dance will hurt you less than voting acquires an especially painful prescience.

Monday, November 14, 2016


I happened upon this photo of Pound in Venice & recognised the place immediately - we were in that exact spot back in May. These days, there's a bar to Pound's right - where, in fact, I had an argument about not being allowed to take a wine glass outside (something to do with loutish student behaviour & local regulations). On the opposite side is the last warehouse where they repair gondolas. 

E. looks at the picture & then asks how come Daddy is looking back at the man with the scarf & beard? 

& you know ... looking as closely as the resolution of the photo allows ... it is rather uncanny ... 

Friday, November 11, 2016


I can remember with absolute clarity the first time I heard Leonard Cohen's music in a top floor study bedroom in Barton Street London. The combination of that voice, the melodies, the album title 'Songs from a Room', & this particular photograph on the back cover went deep. 

While I've never been a great Cohen listener or collector he stood for much that I love & respect. Watching the DVD of his most recent (& I suppose last) tour I was struck by his dignity, humility & awareness of the wider political context within which he was performing to his devoted followers. There was little of the mega star bravura & conceit. Rather, an astonishment - even wry amusement - that anyone should be listening. 

"There is a crack in everything/ That's how the light gets in".

Much quoted & deceptively simple (for those with ears to hear it is a distillation of cabalistic thought). 

Right now, there seems to be not so much a crack as a bloody great gash through everything. How dearly we need some light to come flooding in. What a bitter irony that at a time like this another voice of weighed & tempered words should disappear. 

A wrist for every watch
releasing doves

(Barbara Guest, 'Türler Losses')



Walking through Turin airport back in September for want of anything better to do I window shopped around the cases of watches on my way to the gate. As a rule I'm not into watches - certainly not the  multi-function deep sea diver/ rocket pilot/ clunky thick metal strap & case/ high end brand kind of thing. Leaves me cold. However, my eye was caught by a very simple thin watch by Daniel Wellington. I hesitated ... duty free? ... but then why would I want to have to stare at the annoyingly 'designer' reversed 'D' every day? Close but no cigar. 

Arriving home, I'm reliably informed that "everyone" has a DW (or covets one) at my daughters' school. Proving, yet again, how out of touch I am. 

Nevertheless I start to look into watches seriously & in doing so happen upon the far less advertised (& to my mind far superior) Larsson & Jennings watches. 

This time last week I was up in London & visited their Monmouth Street store with its impeccable  minimalist chic (succulents in pots on the counter, watches displayed on stands much as Apple presents its iPads & iPhones - you get the idea) & extremely cheerful & helpful sales person. 

I bought a watch for myself (see above) & one for the elder Wafflette as a belated birthday present. (Lugano 40mm red & brown strap models, if you're interested). 

The point is, L&J watches cut the mustard. First, sapphire glass. Second, a silent Swiss movement. Third, that elegant simplicity - XII at the top, no date, no second hand. All you need. The strap is discretely embossed with the L&J lion. So well judged. 

Strange, I know, to be writing such a plug. However, these are beautiful watches which cheer up your day. 

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

One of those days ...

... when that phrase John Cage loved so much - "every day is a good day" - is tested to the limit.

One of those days ...

... when you apologise to your children for the world.

One of those days ...

... when you redouble your belief in true education (not the current horrible travesty of managerialese & neo-liberal conformity), critical thinking & the radical divinity of the human Imagination that William Blake celebrated.

Yes, these are dark days ...

As Frank Zappa would say: when the lie is so big ...

Friday, October 28, 2016

Just heard that Meredith Monk will be the Composer of the Week on BBC Radio 3 next week, starting Monday.


Sunday, October 23, 2016

Gosh ... 130,000 page views!

It seems a lot but ... over ten years?

& how many visits are by search robots or myself checking a post has been printed accurately?

Then again, who cares?

& today ... a quick visit to the sumptuous Full Abstraction exhibition ...

As most of the works are behind glass there's no point trying to take pictures of the whole work. Far better to hone in on details - which, in any case, are what fascinate.

Here are a series of beautiful passages of paint & mark making (Robert Motherwell, Cy Twombly & de Kooning).









This was a more satisfying visit - last Sunday afternoon with the younger sprout.

An upstairs 'loft' space lit with spot lights and a series of watercolours by Anne Herbauts (confirming my suspicions that she works more or less on an A4 scale & then enlarges or reduces depending). What really makes the show, though, is the Broodthaers-style mock museum cases containing a range of found items. The premise of the exhibition is the forest being overtaken by the sea. Thus, in the morning, we each become unwitting Crusoes beach combing the streets for what the waves have left behind. It is a beautiful conceit & a fantastic engine for generating a series of wry surrealist re-imaginings. The same intelligence & poetic eye that informs AH's book works is here for all to see. Such a modest space & scale but what ripples it sends out into the day. Fresh eyes. Marvellous.

(Only open Wednesday & Sunday afternoons).


Here goes with a series of posts bringing you up to date with exhibitions going on in Brussels. For some reason October is especially rich.

First ... the Japanese Modern Art selection at the Bozar. Frankly, it's a major disappointment. I went hungry for works by the great Yu-ichi Inoue & found only the one - and annoyingly shielded behind highly reflective glass. It was virtually impossible to appreciate the brush marks given the superimposition of either yourself or other works on the other walls.

Nevertheless, my first direct encounter with his work. (There's a show in Frankfurt but four hours driving there & back is just a bit too much).




& more ear food ...


(note: this is the trumpeter not the bassist of the same name)



(I was looking for the Belcea Quartet but this is meant to be good, too)



(overplayed, perhaps, but the Midnight Cowboy theme gets under the skin)


Saturday, October 15, 2016

The current ear food ...






Something to do with the arrival of Autumn ... an appetite for string quartets & solo piano ... 

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Puzzling ... how can the first Brahms String Quartet have such an immediate effect & the 4th Symphony (yes, the ever so famous Fourth, conducted no less by my hero Carlos Kleiber, a performance that everyone agrees is unsurpassed) leave me so utterly ... cold ... indifferent ... bored even?

Hackneyed melodies ... bombast ... staggering rhythms.

(& yes, I know this must sound as utter philistinism).

My rule of thumb on Brahms: the fewer instruments the better.

Monday, October 03, 2016

Renault Clio IV wind noise update.

Boring as it may be for some readers, I feel a responsibility to follow an earlier post about wind noise.

Due to a recent visit to the garage to have two dents repaired (the first was my fault trying to avoid a wooden pillar while parking; the second was the fault of a waste disposal van driver early one Sunday morning on Folkestone harbour front reversing without looking) I was given a replacement car for the week. A silver grey Clio IV diesel & within seconds of accelerating on the Ring that tell-tale noise began. Yep. Each model suffers from the turbulence caused by the wing mirror design.

Consider this before buying ...

Sunday, October 02, 2016



So I take myself off to the local museum & mooch around the Oriental collection (other than a family of three, I was the only person there at 10 o'clock). 

Not much calligraphy on display but there is this scroll beneath a glass case. There wasn't any explanatory text in evidence & - needless to say - I can't decipher it. But I am utterly entranced by the brushwork. With my index finger I trace the strokes in mid-air, trying to recapture the descent of the brush, the moment of contact, the movement, the 'taction' with paper, the lift. Then the return to the ink pot before taking the plunge again. 

In the lower example, look at the character fifth column, eighth down. Or sixth column first row. Breath taking. 

&, by way of contrast, the restrained elegance of the top example - which was written to the right hand side of the sheet. 



only the main computer seems to be able to load the pictures


Saturday, October 01, 2016

One of the ongoing problems with this Blog has been the refusal of various apps to upload posts containing images.

Here's a new attempt.

These are collaged fragments from the Turin workshop - a series of preliminary strokes made on the wrapping of the sumptuous Arches paper we were working upon.

So here goes ...

... & lo & behold it fails. Again.

If anyone knows what the problem is then please let me know.


Thunder & lightning (7:50 pm). The first movement of Tristan & Isolde playing on BBC Radio 3.


I listened to the first Brahms String Quartet earlier this afternoon & fell under the spell. Am I right in hearing a motif from the Clarinet Quintet in the second movement?

Question: why don't I respond to the Symphonies in the same way?

Whose recording might work the magic? (I have the budget Karajan).


New month & a new look.

& this to listen to ...



Thursday, September 22, 2016

Every cloud has a silver lining ...

... today's announcement that Mary Berry will hand in the oven gloves & resign from TGBBO is sad as such - someone who seems to be genuinely decent, knowledgable & not some overnight one-trick wonder - but more than compensated by hearing that Paul Hollywood will follow the sticky dough to Channel 4 where (surely) the show will sink like an under-heated Yorkshire pudding.

(Truly the Son of Clarkson. Vroom-vroom! Await the obscene salary & spin-off deals. Then the behind the camera tantrums ... )

Not forgetting the welcome news that the pun in the arse sisters - Mel & Sue - will stand down. The icing on the cake.


While still in posting mode ... I had the misfortune to hear the resurrected Radio Active 'comedy' (sic) on Radio 4. Embarrassing from start to finish. Thirty years ago that kind of Edinburgh fringe-sub Python-John Cleese asperity still had some edge. Today ... er ... Who, I wonder, gave it the nod?


Whereas ... in preparation for a series of classes on Beckett I watched The Music Box on the e-board - a Laurel & Hardy short from (I'm guessing) the 40s?

Pure joy.

The way Stan lifts his leg with his hand - as if communication with this limb has broken down ... How Oliver reproaches Stan for being stupid trying to lift the piano off the carriage on his own only to insist on kneeling down for it to slide over his back ... The constant twang of piano strings implying the instrument must be falling to bits inside the box ...

A student who happens by watches entranced.

This kind of comedy has no sell by date.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Apologies for the rather lengthy silence. Things are still ticking along.

Expect a post or two on the Turin Calligraphy Experience ...

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Lobster tonight - thanks once again to Bob's Seafood on the harbour front at Folkestone.

A pleasure tempered, however, by witnessing - as in slow motion - a van reverse into the side of my car, parked in front of the Captain's Table cafe, as I sat enjoying my post M25 early morning coffee. A strange dream-like sensation as the two vehicles come into contact while you look on powerless to intervene.

While, as such, it has left only a dent a few inches away from the petrol tank cover the design of the Clio will probably entail replacing the entire right flank panel.

Tomorrow will be a day of phone calls.

Friday, August 05, 2016

& as if it had been waiting for me ... the Bloodaxe Denise Levertov Selected sitting on a shelf in the Reading Oxfam bookshop (£3:49). A quotation from Arthur Schnitzler on the fly leaf & a few biro markings against certain poems. Otherwise clean.

That'll do nicely.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

While the others splashed about in the lake I made an Anthony Gormley rip-off.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

I picked up the New Directions edition of Denise Levertov's 'The Poet In The World' when I was last over in the UK. It was one of several volumes inscribed 'David Holloway' in a modest careful hand. Given two of the others were by Zukofsky, I wonder whether this is the same David Holloway who figures in one or two lists of correspondence relating to the Charles Olson Society?

Whatever ... it's been a day of unrelieved rain here in post-Brexit Brussels. What better way to spend such a day than reading one after another of Levertov's essays? Sipping them might be a better phrase. For they are rich & subtle & deserve to be turned around in the mind.

I will admit to having seen DL as very much in the shadow of Robert Duncan - in fact, I realised today that I have not a single volume of her actual poems. (This will be remedied). However these essays are some of the most clearly articulated & perceptive writings upon the real nitty gritty stuff of poetic making that I have read.

It's been a very well spent day.

Monday, August 01, 2016


Back from our trip down to Burgundy. 

Here's a section of a wall from Noyers.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

& so ... we will have Boris as Foreign Secretary.

What else but utter dismay ... 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Watching Dave's last appearance at PMQs & his series of parting quips I suddenly realised who he's been modelling himself on for the past few years ... Siegfried in All Creatures Great And Small - or at least Robert Hardy's performance.

That same ruddy complexion, chipper manner & asperity born of an innate sense of superiority. That breezy way of leaving the room ...

Which, logically, makes May the James Herriot figure ... landed with all the nasty jobs.

How very apt.

As the front door of No. 10 closes you can imagine the rolling up of sleeves as she readies herself to plunge her hands into the most diseased wounds & orifices imaginable ... Is there disinfectant of sufficient strength?

Tuesday, July 12, 2016


Evidence of strange religious rites being practised in suburban Hampshire? Or symptoms of post-Brexit desperation? 

Spotted last week. 

Monday, July 11, 2016

Breaking news ...

... Boris Island will be led by the Head of Customer Services at Marks & Spencer.

This follows the decision to stand down by the captain of Guildford Ladies Golf Club.

(Last week's Guardian article which compared the leadership race to searching through the dirty laundry bin for the least soiled item got it absolutely right.)

Dismal stuff.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

I’ve just received my copy of Right Back the bestselling boys’ soccer mag (rival publication to Outside Left). Amid all the goodies on offer this week is the latest installment of Billy’s Magic Boots entitled Bend It Like Boris. Here’s a taster ...

“ ... Billy was walking towards the touchline shaking his head. Somehow his skills had deserted him. England v Rekjavik Prep, nil nil and only a few minutes left on the clock. What a humiliation lay in store! They’d be the laughing stock of the dorm. Something had to be done and quick.

“Get your track suit off, Johnson,” barked beetle-browed Bodgson the games master. “You’re on for Billy.”

“Crikey! I mean – me?” spluttered Boris. But he required little further encouragement. What an opportunity to show what he was made of. “Cometh the hour, cometh the man” he whispered under his breath. After all, it was what he had been waiting for all term.

“Here” said Billy dispondently “try these”. He held out his magic boots. “Who knows, maybe they’ll work for you.”

Mater had always said you don’t wear other chaps’ shoes, thought Boris, but needs must. In any case, second hand shoes, second hand ideas, he’d been getting by on those since the Juniors. He hurriedly laced up the golden sandals and entered the fray.

A cheer rang round as the doughty Englishman took to the field. Chants of Land of Hope and Glory mingled with Swing Low Sweet Chariot.

“There’s pluck for yer” quoth old Gubbins the caretaker, a tear in his eye, as he doffed his cloth cap to mop his working class brow with a Union Jack. 

There was no time to waste. The minutes were trickling away as fast as Jeremy Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet. These herring smokers needed to be shown a thing or two.

Strangely the boots seemed to be speaking to Boris, inspiring him, urging him on. He could feel the energy tingling in his ankles and surging up his shins. Yes, he was Pele – no, hang on, can’t have one of those Samba Johnnies. He was Georgie Best – no, that wouldn’t do either. Who did Papa go on about? Stanley? Yes, that chappy out there in Africa discovering waterfalls and things. No – another Stanley. Morgan Stanley – that sounded familiar. He could see him now in footer bags running down the wing.

But what was this? His mind had been wandering. The ref had blown for a free kick. Rekjavik Prep had cut someone short just outside the penalty area. Farage, was it? England’s master dribbler! How dare they! There he lay sprawled face down on the battlefield (turf, Ed.).

The dastardly Norsemen were forming their wall. Who, then, was to take the kick? Who could be entrusted with his country’s hopes in this Time of Need?

“Boris! Boris!” that’s what the boots were telling him and – now as he listened – so were the crowd.

He placed the ball and looked around.

If he gave it a bit of swerve – and let’s face it he was good at that – the ball would be in the back of the net before you could say Jacques Delors. He stared at the serried rank of boys in front of him sizing up the wall when ... Boris blinked and rubbed his eyes. Things were going decidedly funny. All squiffy somehow. Faces started to blur, the pitch began to sway and buckle. What was going on? He hadn’t had a swig of matron’s gin for weeks now.

Boris blinked again trying to focus his eyes on the goal in front of him. Now he could make out the features more clearly ... there was Heseltine ... Cameron, too ... what were they doing there in the wall? And – wait for it – O God ... no ... that little toe rag Gove who should never been part of the team ...

Blindly, Boris struck the ball and watched as it traced an arc over the heads in the wall and into the back of the net.

A roar erupted from the crowd as deafening as  Eyjafjallajokull. 

“Goal!” shouted Rekjavik Prep (or whatever that is in Icelandic).

But why were they so happy? ... oh no, oh crikey ... he’d just kicked the ball into his own goal!

“Bad luck old chap,” smirked Gove, patting him on the back ....


Boris woke in a cold sweat. He’d just had the most dreadful nightmare.

He sat up in bed reliving the horror when he felt a cool hand rest upon his shoulder. A soft female voice was whispering in his ear telling him it was going to be all right ... government wasn’t a game ... she’d sort it all out ...

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