Friday, April 30, 2004

I've Got You on My Wish List

I am back on Music For 18 Musicians again. I wish I could find my copy of Drumming, which is even more sparse in its repetition and still manages to convey a powerful sense of emotion. You know how some bits of music always bring to mind some particular event or image or smell? Well Drumming does this on some weird and very powerful level probably because the repetition drives itself into short-term memory and locks itself against all the other things in there at the time. I remember reading about how listening to music can help you remember things so maybe this is the best piece of music to be listening to while trying to remember something. My aunt complained once when I told her that Steve Reich was very good and she made a point of listening to his Composer of the week slots on Radio 3. She was horrified by the repetition and was generally not happy with it. I told her about Come Out the other week expecting her to recoil in horror at the thought but she said (without any irony I thought) that it sounded quite amazing. We shall see when I play it to her sometime. She also browsed through my lovingly kept copy of I Want to Spend the Rest of My Life Everywhere, with Everyone, One to One, Always, Forever, Now by Damien Hirst and was (she says) pleasantly surprised at how interesting it was. That didn't stop her complaining about the pointlessness of some of it but then again I complain about that as well. BTW I am shocked to see that they cost FROM £249 on Amazon. Lets have a look at ebay shall we? Well $350! Good job it didn't stay in the garage then. The assistant did try to get me to buy two copies - one to read and one to keep in the cellophane as an investment but then again, if you are a regular reader, you will know about my problem with Waterstones assistants after the Lancaster incident.

That is a bit of creative tension - foreshadowing like in Bloom County which, I am delighted to see is back - well Opus is anyway. A penguin for the electronic age. All this and a cross-dressing cockroach. Wonderful! I will be lobbying The Guardian to bring it back.

MF18M just changed section in a way that is almost heartbreaking. The change from Section V to Section VI is better than Sex, Chocolate or Bridges - trust me. Lets me think about a list of other such moments in music. I will work on it alongside all that time I am going to spend on 'eIn C' (sic). Have a good weekend everybody.
No one Under 70 Should be Described as Elderly

Maybe I should not listen to loud and issue-based rock like this; it gets me wound up to the state I was in yesterday. I was convinced that someone was slipping me regular coffee instead of the decaff. If only I was this angry in my twenties; I could have been an angry young man. There is some comfort though. I think I probably mentioned this before but when Simon Armitage was on Tracey McCloud's show on BBC 6 he was described as a 'young poet' and he is older than I am.

I just read The Guardian's review of The Streets' new LP (that's how the article describes it). Now ever since Seamus Heaney praised Eminem, I have been slightly suspicious of such candidates for Pseuds Corner - this article even nominates itself for the sentence "Half Dostoevsky's Notes from Underground, half Samuel Pepys." but this time I have been swayed. I kept thinking the description of the narrative reminded me of something and in the end I decided it was a Mike Leigh film. Read the article and see if the same thing occurs to you. Maybe ML should do the video. It's a concept album; why not do a concept video. Sounds like it would have a lot less bad language than the Gordon Ramsay programme. Not sure I will buy Mr Skinner's album though. Someone will let me listen to it first I am sure.

The Pepys book is wonderful. After the pages listing the main people mentioned in the test it drops straight into the middle of an argument between Pepys and his wife Elizabeth which is as good as (well far better than) any soap. An extended paragraph on smell also draw you in using a sense that is often overlooked historically but which is probably the most evocative. I seem to have fallen into a fuzzy-edged state which means I cannot think properly any more. I am not sure what this means but the solution probably requires some coffee. Well my lfe is certainly not as interesting as Mike Skinner's is it?

I was driving home yesterday. Within about a mile of home, with good classical music playing on the radio, something hit me about how everything seems to be going well. I may have talked about a moment when I was still at school and went for a walk up The British Camp. While sitting at the top I though I suddenly had the total solution for everything - a sort of spiritual Unified Field Theory. Unfortunately, the feeling left me as soon as I decided to walk home again and all that remained in memory was the sense of loss. It struck me yesterday that just by growing up and experiencing things, I have been working my way to some sort of non-paranormal solution to what I saw all those years ago. The sense of rightness is nothing like as intense as that first vision; it is instead a gradual build-up to feeling good about everything. It may just be a local feeling, local to now but it seems to be a useful factor. I sometimes think of myself as still a kid, or at least still in my late teens. I like to think that I have a balanced view of things despite all the Pompous, reactionary old git stuff which sometimes gets the better of me. It is around this age that the occasional worries about mortality become more prominent but this feeling of confidence in your own place in the world seems to be a screen for this. Larkin was petrified of old-age and death; it seemed to be an almost permanent worry for him, something which does not seem to have troubled other poets publicly.

Listening to Second eponymous Throwing Muses album. Maybe that does not sit well with what I have just been writing but its a good album. I should listen to the lyrics but then again they probably don't make any sense to anyone except Kristin Hersh. Remember "This hairdo?s truly evil; I'm not sure that it's mine." from Hips and Makers?

Time for sleep - er work.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Google and Fugue

Various ineptitudes have made me angry today. I can't really mention any of them but if you knew, you would be as angry as me, I am sure. Well that has put you in the picture as to how I feel today. Maybe I can impress on you the range of strange faces that I have been pulling, much like the cartoons of Jim Dixon on the front of my library copy of Luck Jim. There are twelve of them, passport-sized and arranged in three rows of four. Each ones seems to capture one of the described imitations (face-pullings really) from the book. (Daughter took time to point to each and say "That's Jim. That's Jim and that's Jim".) Anyway, I am listening to a collection of Bach Harpsichord pieces to calm myself down. I really used to like harpsichord music a lot but I seem to have gone off it recently. Maybe I will change it in a minute. No! This piece is quite wonderful. (Many more schoolgirl-style enthusings omitted)

I did have something that I thought really important to write about here but as usual, without any hand-written note about it I have forgotten it. The smell of spring in the air has made me feel slightly better about myself and everything that usually gets me down. That and the thought of the nice clean pages of the Pepys book when I get home. N1S is currently starting solids and is half way (at least) to the first weight for boxing (which as you all know is Strawweight).

Totally blocked for the last five minutes! I cannot think of anything but this to write. I did have a few ideas but they all sounded pretentious. That hasn't stopped me writing before has it? I listened to Another Green World which made me think of Arena, the programme for which the title track of AGW was the theme for. I thought of the connection between this and the fact that the BBC appear to have made a commitment to have more arts programmes on TV during prime time. Now I am not going to complain if they do put more stuff out of this nature but I think that there is quite a lot already - maybe I would like at least one programme a night but some decent drama would be nice as well. I hesitate to praise TV now because it sounds like I do nothing else and I have thought for a long time that I should be turning the TV off and reading more instead. The problem is that after a hard slog at the hot screen here, it is just so easy to glaze and vegetate in the armchair. I read somewhere that it takes less effort to watch TV than to just sit still and think. Nice to see that the BBC article illustrates the archetypal makeover show with the vacuous Lowri Turner. She may be one of those people who I dislike by default for some strange reason. Does that happen to you. I am friendly with most people, if only in the generally guarded British way, but sometimes I can start almost hating some random person I see walking down the street. I can of course hate the people who give me reason to - the bad drivers (the drivers who drive slightly more badly than me I should say) and unemotional staff, but sometimes this unreasoned dislike worries me a lot.

Now all that has reminded me of the target of a rant I planned from yesterday. I will give the excuse for watching the programme I am about to berate as being that I was channel hopping which suggests my desire to read more is something which I should action as soon as possible. The programme was I think called "Sixth Sense" with a guy called Colin Fry (I was going to use a noun not in decent use to describe him but I have withdrawn that for the sake of decency). This programme is one of those Clairvoyance-in-front-of-a-TV-audience things - ClairAudience as the credits put it - more of which later. This sort of thing makes me so angry. The cold-reading technique of this man is as transparent as a vacuum and yet the people who go there, do not see it. This inability of people to see themselves as emotionally manipulated makes me so angry - it is deception pure and simple. I know that in a free society people can spend their money on whatever they like but this ranks with paying money to someone to provide a service and then them NOT DELIVERING IT. The programme makes even cover themselves over the chance that someone might take them to task about the accuracy of some of the readings by putting up a caption saying that the show is purely for entertainment valuse and that opinions on Clairvoyance and Clairaudience differ. Well they could go further and say that the whole thing is a load of tosh but that they are very thankful for all the money that they get for doing it. Angry stuff has gone now. I am slightly calmer than I was but not enough.
Believe the Hype

So no storm then! Well you can't have everything.

I finished Lucky Jim last night. Can't see the point of it all. From hype I was expecting some sort of intelligent novel but it was simply about getting one over on enemies with the reward of ?500 a year and the better looking girl and being allowed to crow about it to your main rival. It's almost like celebrity gossip; it really is on that level. I must be just too old to be swayed by rewards along the lines of money and young women. Even so, I am not sure I would have found it a wonderful ending when I was 25. There was some tension in the final 30 pages but I suspect that was from the presence of the Claire Tomalin biography of Pepys which was next to me as I read. It has been lying quietly, exuding some form of almost chemical attractor for a few days and I only just managed to resist tossing the KA book aside and dive in. I know I said that I would start the Consolations of Philosophy but it's my life so there! And there is the daily diary entry here.

Just had a long rant with colleagues about something so this entry is curtailed.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Hand Ups All Those Of You Who Think That Philp Glass Thinks He Is Gertrude Stein

Who is Gertrude Stein? Never heard of her except in a music review in Q magazine years ago. Of course Word is the thing to read these days. Q went so downhill that I stopped getting it. Now do try the online issue of Word. It might even make me subscribe. Well I have done so there! Petulant child that I am. No poetry today. Too excited.

My keyboard seems to be slow.

I still keep thinking (only thinking) about creating the self-playing version of In C for the computer. While watching the percussion yesterday, this got me thinking about a program that would select a random style - not a genre but in the range of fast/slow or loud/soft or even just a particular rhythm - and then improvise around it. After all isn't that what writing music is about anyway. Just select a key and off you go. Now I though about it for awhile and I decided that it would not be that difficult to do. Now all I need is some time and wha-hey - here comes a bank holiday. I might not get away with seven hours at it but you never know. We do still have to go Kite flying which was promised some weeks ago but has been scuppered by lack of wind or surfeit of lampreys - sorry - rain. Maybe I can spend some time locating the picture I have of the massive kite I saw being retrieved from the sea off Bali. It looked big enough in the air but when it was gently gathered up - tail and all - by a long string of people in the sea, it became clear that this kite was longer than Concord and nearly as noisy what will all the flapping.
You Will Never Be No Good

Vaughan Williams on the radio (Concerto Grosso), the promise of a good thunderstorm, spring and torrential rain. Oh yes. Everything is fine here. What about you? I love thunderstorms. I've probably raved on about one I remember from when I was about four. We lived in Nottingham then, where I was born. We moved when I was five but there are lots of things I can still remember about living there. This storm was in the middle of the afternoon and caused the sky to go very dark, with the result that the whole of the front room was full of weird shadows caused by the combination of strange light outside and having the lights on inside. I seem to remember being scared and fascinated at the same time. I'm not bothered now and when I was single I used to sit on the step during storms, just out of the rain but able to see the sky and any lightning there might be. Maybe not a good idea. I still like to sit on the step during rain and my daughter will join me, wrapped up in a coat. We don't have a particularly wonderful view but the main thing is the ambience, the strange breeze that goes with rainfall, the white noise and the general air of environmental goodness that goes with it all.

My daughter starts drum club today and yesterday she was distracted from her pre-sleep reading by the sound of the percussion heats of The BBC Young Musician of the Year. Now this heat always promises some of the most unconventional pieces of the whole competition and of course she loved it. We had to promise to tape the second part. I wasn't going to watch it but flicking back to it, I was drawn in my something I recognised but which I could not remember the name of. It turned out to be a Vibraphone, piano and Bass Guitar version of Spain by Chic Corea. I suppose I cannot say that the player of this piece should have one, because I didn't hear all the other pieces but she did anyway. Maybe her parents will let her get the lizard now. There were some things I remember from Evelyn Glennie albums as well.

Mood soars. Like early morning, up before the rest, tracking down the hills to the fresh and calm sea. Shadows are already short and high against the walls of the buildings. Presence like Eva Marie Saint, and where did this come from; what song are you listening to? Sun shingles away across the bay and we are left with the smell of oil and fish from the shouldering trawlers left gently rising in the current that makes it this far into the harbour. How much about this world do I know? Enough to make it real from the few memories that come back. Rain and sun all in one day. Too many people now. Nothing flows any more.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Listen, little Lurgi-ridden yakko.

I stumbled across an episode of the Goon Show on BBC 7 last night. It was confusingly described as 1985 - an episode from 1955 which took some working out until it became clear that this was Sellers, Seacombe and Milligan's version of 1984. I was trying to work out whether this was elitist what with the book only being out a few years before but of course there was the 1954 TV version with Peter Cushing.

Attention! The BBC canteen is now open. Doctors are available.

I never really got on with the goons; their shows seemed disjointed and slightly irrelevant, but maybe that is because I just didn't understand the narrative. With the 1985 show, I know the story and so it fitted together quite well. The harmonica version of It had to be you was good as well.

I am still slogging through Lucky Jim. As I get older I seem to be able to keep going with books I am not really into. I used to jettison the boring ones - maybe I still should. Lucky Jim seems to have too much narrative for what it is actually trying to say. It's almost a journal of events with no real tension. Excuse my philistinism (lovely word) but why the hype over KA? MA is a much better writer. This slog through LJ is all the more annoying because the following three books arrived yesterday: -

The Consolations of Philosophy
Samuel Pepys
Pretty Girl in Crimson Rose (8):

and they seem to rattle in the small pile which they form on the bedside table. I will finish LJ.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Trailer Park Blues

Sometime back in the seventies, when every summer liquefied the roads and we lived in a perpetual round of trips out, visits to each other's houses and strange, fictitious adventures, I first had this dream. I dreamt of a rainy day, one of those days when the crackle of water on the windows acts like a lullaby, a gentle drumming to make you slip into afternoon sleep against the strange worlds inside your book. And I dreamt that the rain was wearing away the mud in the yard outside, making each tiny pit in the gravel bigger and bigger until they began to join up. And I still have this dream, only now the rain is harder and darker and more like the deluge you get from a cold storm in winter. There are no green-covered trees to shelter us from the icy north blasts, just the weathered clapboard of this rickety house. And in the yard, the rain has worn away pits about the size of a shoebox. I am full of regret in these dreams; I could have done so much between those early, sunny days and the now ehen I can begin to see a final count of how many Saturdays I have left. That rain is digging my grave. Of course they are not big enough now or for ages. I cannot actually smell the end but the trouble is, it is all beginning to come into focus. It is spring now and most of the time I am happy.

Today I read a message to some news website from the father of two soldiers out in Iraq. I saw this man in my own head, in his little world of sun and Sunday car-washing. And then some time further forward in this little vision, up comes a day when one of these two sons is killed and the sunny world is just the same except for this man and his family. My dad told me about the first air-raids he experienced in London during the blitz. A flattened street is something a ten year old boy would always find interesting but he regrets that clambering and inquisitiveness now, because from so far away he sees all the things that small boys miss - the Woman crying on the step of a demolished house, the venting gas, all the pitiful possessions spilled and smashed on the road, ripe for looting. Today there was a picture of a North Korean boy collecting door-knobs from the wreckage of the town around the station at Ryongchon. I saw my dad all those years ago in that picture. Nothing ever changes; we all just get older and find some new terror to unleash on each other.

Some of the people whose blogs I read seem to have this "I-am-right-and-you-are-wrong" attitude - stand firm - stand up against the evil that is around without ever wondering if there is a tiny piece of blame on their own side. They don't have any agonising over what they have done wrong in their own life or what their Governments might have done wrong. I like things to be elegant in my work. If something need a complex set of programming code to get it work, or has evolved over time and contains a mess of logic, then it always need cleaning up. My comfortable life is based on some people not having a comfortable life. You may argue but I can get to "I am right and you are wrong" as well. I am right - I know I am. I cannot live life accepting either that I have to operate in the face of the reat of the world or that I have to accept the pain and suffering of other. It can be made better; it will not be easy to achieve but it can be done. The answer is not globalisation but nor is it the uprising of the oppressed (or those that imagine they are oppressed). I do not know what the answer is. There is no person around who is the final output parameter of some giant, cosmic program who will tell us all the "answer". There are plenty of people who think they are the answer, but as I have said before, the world is far bigger than most people imagine when they think they have an answer. It is also more complex even in the level when you can say I understand everything. They do not understand everything. Our dear leaders do not understand everything - indeed sometimes I think that our dear leaders understand less than average. Maybe they think opinion is less complex than it actually is. Everything is reduced to figures, things that you can supposedly measure because people think that those are what defines the world. It is neurones and electrical impulses on a tiny scale, which define the human world. It is like trying to measure the width of a human hair with units no smaller than centimetres; even the basest approximation is not within the ballpark, not within a cosmic scale. We might as well all vegetate in front of the TV and wait for resurrection.

What can I do about this? Probably nothing. I am as much of a slacker as I was when I first heard the term from an American Penfriend in 1978. You get no answers here, just opinion. There is just too much entertainment in the world for most of us to bother making things better. Meanwhile, the rain in my dream keeps falling, driving itself into the ground. About 1500 left I suspect.
Film Corner 2004

Saw two films over the weekend. The first was a duty attendance with daughter number 1 (and only) at The Cat in the Hat for which I had low expectations and hence was presently surprised at how good it was. Some of the innuendo was obviously meant for the adults but the whole thing was compulsive - it kept both of us rapt for the necessary time and my daughter in jokes for the entire weekend. I do hope that the Baby Sitting joke is just a joke as Number 1 Son may find himself under N1D.

The other film which I knew was going to be good anyway was actually the best film I have seen in ages. It was Love Actually and I know that a few people I am acquainted will probably dis it as a piece of un-realistic tosh. Yes some of it was simplistic but as I have said many times here, simplistic is good; it is was most people can get their head around. Having said that, the actual film is quite complex. We watched the deleted scenes that unusually are worth watching and as Richard Curtis said, were quite worthy of being in the film; they were removed purely to get the film down to a manageable length. There were two African scenes at the end, based on posters of people supposedly in need in Africa who actually turn out to be relatively happy because they are loved. It was these that made the film spill the boundaries of being just fiction and turn into something that we all have. I know that you will think of me a as soppy, something which would have mortified me only a few years ago but the poet's heart has got the better of me. I cried at the end of the film. I have just read one of the reviews on IMDb, which berated Curtis for using 9/11 within minutes of the start of the film and accused him of profiting from the disaster. The point I would make is that 9/11 is always brought up as the worst thing that ever happened (when I rave on about other things equally bad and never so much talked about). Well if it was so bad then would it not go into consciousness as part of everything. I though the reference to the messages of love from the doomed planes actually said something quite touching. We are all striving for happiness and a better world - hell some people think (entirely wrongly and with definite evil intentions) that explosions are the way to do this when we all know that this does not work. Work beckons and I haven't finished ranting yet.

Friday, April 23, 2004

The Award for Best Welcher Goes to ...

My colleague was pointing out that Easyjet are now doing tax-free flights to France. I asked if that meant anywhere and the reply was along the lines of if you ask the pilot nicely enough he will land outside your chosen gite. I said that this created a mental picture of some Bereted, rural type dropping his pipe and asking what the hell the big Orange thing was. My colleague's answer to that was short, to the point and, at the time extremely funny - Judith Chalmers. Not as funny when written down. Still makes me chuckle gently and wonder if my colleague had been using some Derren-Brown type trickery to make me set up the whole elaborate conversation.

I only paragraphed there so as not to have the punchline in a prominent position.

I have decided that you do not really want to know more about my mysterious, early girlfriend so we will pass on. I was thinking about how a comment I made yesterday about how there is a dichotomy between the people who write stuff just to sound extreme and those who are quite prepared to carry out some atrocity because they really are that full of hate. This led to think about how naff my whole comment sounded and that any intelligent reader would already be aware of this distinction. In turn, this made me think about how all of thought could be boiled down to a simple veracity just by 'cancelling out' and various simplifications. Bit like a complex set of mathematics which boils down to a relatively simple sum in the end. Or maybe like a large and complicated software development that because of undefined specifications becomes unmanageable until the analysts or the programmer take a step back and re-write the whole thing incorporating all the required elements and get a simple and elegant system. My thought process has raced ahead and realised that this very discussion has huge potential for self-reference. It is also beginning to sound like philosophy of a sort which reminds me that I have ordered Alain deBotton's The Consolations of Philosophy which should arrive before I finish Lucky Jim and start on Status Anxiety. The Premier Amis Senior novel is actually dragging me in - it is one of those books which needs persevering with until you reach a certain point after which reading it is a breath-taking coast to the finish. That point really needs a name - I want to say Point-of-no-return but point-of-trashing-passed seems better. What a paragraph! This was not intended to be a random Friday but I seem to jumping between topics without any real direction. Yeah! New Paragraph here I think.

That sounded like the statement made my Kenneth More in Doctor in The House about the baby he was changing "developing anti-social tendencies! - Yeah!" Should we return to the subject of the previous paragraph and start on metaphysics? I have poetry floating in and out of my head at the moment. I want to go and distill it all but it seems to be intensifying still and maybe I should wait until it is more intense before I try and sort it out. It is funny that I think of these thoughts in my head as poetry when they are plainly just images and smells and even weird feelings prompted by the memory of something. (Maybe I should have ordered this book as well.) My task as a poet is to take all this - imagery is the only word I can use but that sounds wrong - and turn it into a well ordered set of words. I know you can attempt an experimental structure for a poem, even try a mindmap I suppose, but the best invocation of a thought is still transferred from human to human by words and nicely structured words are best. I know that you would not think so from looking at this current random collection but it is still true. I am not going to turn into a concrete poet yet.

A final, completely random entry here. Many years ago, when I was still at college, I went to stay with a fellow student over at his house in Wiltshire. We came back to his house after a night at the pub and in our drunken state he handed me a book which he said I must read. It was implied that it was some sort of intellectual book and so I stuffed it in my bag and forgot about it until I got back to my digs when I discovered that the book was this though not in that binding. Well I found it buried in a box in the garage at the weekend, slightly musty and minus its (rather chaste) dust jacket. Well Roger B, if you want it back. then you are welcome to it. My wife said that she was going to add it to the pile to be taken to a charity shop which has me imagining some little old lady holding it up and asking which shelf they should put it one. The top one I would think. You better get back to me or it will go out for the dustmen before the kids are old enough to select books without pictures or conversations and believe me, there aren't many conversations in this book.
Is Mother Proud of Little Boy Today?

Happy Birthday Bill!
Happy Birthday George!

Currently playing in the headphones is Souvenir by OMD which for me always lives up to its name. It reminds me of an exact time, place and person. And that person is ... Should I put the name down and see if anyone spots it? I am sure they won't but you never know. Well it was an early girlfriend and like all girlfriends I had at the time, we met while we were picking beans in the farms around where I used to live. She moved up to my high school after that summer and I ignored her for days! Isn't that terrible? She didn't seem particularly bothered and did persist. We lasted a few months, about the time Souvenir was in the charts which dates this exactly. Maybe more at lunchtime.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Complain to the Subtle Energies Commission.

Listening to - On Air - June Tabor

meant to link to this page yesterday. The British Library has created online versions of some of the great books in its collection. The Sforza Hours is stunning though it seems to have a very colloquial view of its religious subjects. The depiction of Christ being attached to the prone cross especially captures the provincial mood of the whole thing. The guy pulling on the rope at the bottom which braced against the base of the upright is especially dynamic. The Leonardo notebook is also good and through being turnable you get a real connection to the artist. Well I did anyway.

I was thinking about the extremity that I sometimes see posted on the various pages that whistle across my field of view. I wondered about how many of them actually think like they purport to rather than simply mouthing off in this obnoxious way simply to wind people up. It seems to me that some comment is like shouting rude words at the top of your voice in the library (See Dick and Dom in Da Bungalow - have to watch it 'cos of first born). The only worry is that it is very difficult to tell who is doing this and who is likely to strap a bomb to themselves and disintegrate in public places simply because of the shaking hatred within them. As I was saying to Matty Groves only the other day ...

Can't carry on because it does not just seem right in the light of what I am listening to. Nothing seems right; we should not smile or laugh while all this is going on. Nothing changes ... ever.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

No More Larkin' About

There is currently a terrible pun as the title of this entry. I may remove it though I will leave this sentence so you will have to guess whether the pun is still there or not.

Finished the Larkin Biography (big clue there by the way) yesterday. I didn't feel sad at all at that poet's demise, just a little empty. There was no posthumous life either and I thought I could sense some haste to finish the book and get it all out of the way. Maybe that is me.

I have actually started Lucky Jim and am managing to stick with it. I was surprised that it did not hold my attention as much as Andrew Motion's book. I cannot say what it is about the text of a book that makes it grab attention when compared to another. Things that I should race through just sit heavy on me and books which really should make me want to jettison them after a few pages can keep me enthralled. Well, writing has such a complex final result that this sort of thing is perfectly normal. Like all those Jungian ideas of synchronicity, which in a big and complex world can just be the product of coincidence rather than any mysterious connection between different parts of the universe.

Interesting stuff here about Martin Amis' Larkinophilia (I think that is a much better Amisian word than the current header of Larkinaholic - or maybe it isn't - after thinking about it the suggestion of addiction is much more like what Amis would have used.) Now are the correspondents here, trying to sound like Amis? That would be too much of a clich?; only MA can write like MA; anything that sounds like him is just crap. But then again should MA not try and sound like himself; each book should sound different from the previous one and from my limited exposure I suspect that they do. What if Martin decided that the boundary between styles was something smaller than a book? What about a chapter or a paragraph? You could take this literary differentiation to its extreme meme and have every word in a different style. You don't think that is possible? Maybe not. Still it would be a conceit not far off as extreme as that of Time's Arrow. I found a book called "The Arrow of Time" at the weekend but that was about physics and relativity.

I wrote a poem about why time slow for a moving observer last week (it may have been less time than that but I have been moving about rather a lot at the moment). Oh well, there are certain consolations of philosophy.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

In The Heart Of The Afternoon

Excuse the sledgehammer entry here but I have just listened to the recording of Oppenheimer describing the effect of the first atomic bomb test on those that witnessed it. I knew the main bit - 'I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.' but I had never heard the preamble about it being Vishnu taking on his multi-armed form - (something which is these days such a throwaway joke or stereotype) - that makes an already-powerful statement so much stronger. I get the impression that most people simply think of nuclear weapons as large and powerful explosions but to me they are like prising the back off the universe just to gain a slight advantage.

That is slight in the overall scheme of the cosmos - imagine some final conflict when every missile gets launched and every warhead goes off. The earth would be burning and irradiated - sterile for millions of years. Now think of the camera in your head slowly panning away from this vision of hell until it focuses on some celestial object. Now we begin to zoom away from this once-blue planet and space steals the sound instantly we are at peace just a few hundred miles up from the surface of our planet. Maybe some civilisation will pick up a strange burst of radiation in a few years time but the total affect of our day of judgement over the rest of the universe is almost nil. Pan away from a suicide bombing, out over the debris-littered beaches to the sea and the cries and the acrid smells are gone. A fighter bomber is gone in seconds - leave it to go home and there is just the wind in the trees. This is no solution. Good people will have to focus on these things in order to make them better. Our world is full of horror, things so much more terrible than your average episode of Star Trek.

Yes! I know that is all airy-fairy wet-liberal stuff but I am within ten pages of the end of the Larkin book and it is not nice. Larkin had to have his oesophagus removed, something that is obviously traumatic and still I don't feel anything for him. Now at the end of the Biography of Laurie Lee, I cried. I was at work and had to try hard to set myself right for the day. I have to say that Andrew Motion has written a book devoid of boredom. I was quite worried that I would not be able to finish (or even start) such a dense and detailed tome. It has also prompted me to get Lucky Jim out of the library if only for the shallow reason that Larkin is the dedicatee. Let you know on that one later. Also BOUGHT Status Anxiety - because I can AFFORD TO, being of such high STATUS.

I was re-reading some entries this morning, prompted by visits noted to various archive pages of mine. I got the normal "Did I really write that" feeling again. I seem to be able to remember most of the poems I write but blog entries just seem to fly away into the blogosphere and never into my brain. I would like to say that this indicates that I am being totally unguarded about the entries here but that is not the case. I have long though about starting a private version for more personal thoughts - something to instruct my executors to burn when I go. I could say that I have already started this and indeed the poems are probably already more unguarded than this. Even so, I don't think I would really be worried about any of them being posted up now. In fact, here comes another one now :-

White Noise (25/03/2004)

The rumbling of whales has broken sleep,
a weight of animal to ripple harbours
over half the coast, sub-sonic dives
messing with the spring-tide notes.

In this room, the surf is ludicrous,
a shivering of lighted curtains
a gale-force ghost to awl through
flaking paint and warping frames.

This ocean is a mask, a baffling,
a thing to steal all talk
a crawling, winding special force
which joins me in my snaky dreams.

And now the sea has merged with me
a ruined sense destroyed by music
that leaves me silent. All I have is sea,
a nightly high-tide, breaking waves,

an ocean of regret at money spent
to drop me stupefied and ill,
of ignorance and injury
at things I meant or never said.

The water at the door has called for me,
a knock of soak has entered here
and flows like nitrogen,
an upwards glow of panic.

The gauze is cool and hard,
a trap of stream and fruit,
as strange as words that loop
and scream against the truth of home.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Wet and Silent Spring

I finally cleared out the garage at the weekend right down to opening every box that we packed when we moved here. We had to throw out many things which had just gone mouldy in the damp but that has at least meant that we can get to any place within the garage without having to climb over anything. I did find a couple of CDs I have been looking for, the best of which is Piano Circus' version of Six Pianos and In C. The latter is the best version I have heard and that included a performance of it by Terry Riley himself. I suppose you could say that Piano Circus have created a corporate vision of the piece that is obviously against the basic idea of the piece. This does link in with my idea for an automatic version of In C. I am trying to work out how exactly this could be done but now I have a much tighter method of playing midi notes and bearing in mind that the Piano Circus version of the the piece uses only the six members of the group playing live, I see a possible workable solution. All I need is time. Where will that come from? I cannot find the full score for Six Pianos though I do have the first few bars and indeed I have created a sequenced version of this. The computer will allow a more easily controlled version if I ever locate the music.

I was going to write something about my worst failing being lack of confidence in my own abilities but whichever way I phrased what I was trying to say it sounded arrogant. This of course means that I have failed to have confidence in my ability to describe rationally my worst failing. I am not arrogant or at least I hope I am not but I do realise that my ability to string words together is slightly better than average even if it does appear slightly old-fashioned at times. This must be the start of a period of increasing confidence. Even in the work I do, I see stuff done by other people and it seems there is not even a basic consideration of correctness in that. I saw a major system the other week that failed to handle something which is basic to time keeping and which I worked out how to program when I was still under twenty. There appears to be a general lack of awareness of certain things that I would consider basic to what I want to call ethical behaviour. I can?t quite define exactly what I mean here but I suspect that there is no grey area in this. You either see something that is ?unethical? and it grates against what you imagine is the proper way to behave or you see it and shrug your shoulders and it is no great shakes. I was going to link this to the wider situation in the world but the whole thing just depresses me to the extent of not wanting to bother commenting any more. You may be mumbling "but you're going to anyway". Well for once you are wrong. It is spring and at the moment the bombs don't matter.

Friday, April 16, 2004

Get Your Sticky-Backed Plastic Here Folks!

I am sure any British readers will have heard about the death of Caron Keating. This article from the Guardian is not only a warm tribute but quite a good evaluation of what a Blue Peter presenter should be. I can just about remember Christopher Trace - the first BP presenter though he left the show in 1967 when I was three! Must have been the time when Blue Peter was all I was allowed to watch. I can remember the time afew years later when I discovered the channel-changing knob on out Black-and-White TV. The programme on ITV was Thunderbirds so imagine how I felt about finding that I had been missing all that!

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Music For the Grid

I have the document of all poems open as well as this blog page and I cannot decide which to write this lunchtime. The poem is about the Big Bang (after the Hawking programme the other night) and I am struggling to work out how it should finish. Philip Larkin (I know that it sounds pompous to mention his name with reference to my own feeble efforts) sometimes took years to complete a poem but mine are usually polished off in the 50 minutes available to me at lunchtime. I should really try and create some structure to what are normally un-rhymed, un-metered ramblings, what I have heard described by one traditional poet as like playing tennis without the net. (It was Robert Frost - I love the Internet). Actually, having looked at this last poem of mine and tweaked a few words, it is actually quite structured - with form though no rhyme. I am not going to have a go at rhyme here because a well-formed one is one of the most satisfying concepts around. Of course, a forced one has the potential to jarr quite badly - think McGonagall though of course he has charms beyond what you could expect from such bad verse.

I have actually noticed a few odd, unintended rhymes creeping in to my recent stuff. Maybe the great and complex rhyme structures of Larkin are seeping in and making themselves felt subconsciously. There is just so much stuff to do.

I want to write about the whole terrorist/war on terrorism thing but I feel that I cannot comment on such a complex thing. Yes the bottom line is that blowing people up is a big wrong thing and that if I equate the West's idea of terrorism with the various actions taken by the west in what after all has a retaliatory or revenge component alongside the business elements of overrunning a country, I am in danger of being labelled - what I don't know but I can see some red faces and steming ears out there. I did think that there was a view that when Saddam became the pariah, business sat back and worried that it had lost its market in Iraq and that now they are breathing a sigh of relief that things are back on track. But now of course things are far from on track. Some people say that it is ungrateful of the Iraqis to turn on their liberators. It did not happen in Germany after the war. Well maybe it did and as many people say, good will prevail in Iraq and it will be difficult to find anyone who supported the uprising in a few years. Most of this ignores the cultural aspect. Britain and the US were culturally similar to the Germans, in my opinion far more so in 1945 than they are now but the real thing that upsets me now is the fact of good ol' boys swaggering through a country which they think they understand and patently do not. Deep down I do feel that The US and British Governments think they are on the side of the angels and right and truth and all that but that they cannot get to a realisation of the possible mistakes they make in the way they go about achieving a good and safe world. We do not know the future and so I am quite able to take part in a bit of fence sitting about what the world will be like in a few years' time; we did not foresee the current uprising and apart from the atrocious hostage-taking going it seems to be a small contained thing. The hostage thing seems to just be a meme that will quickly run its course. In the meantime it derails efforts to rebuild which is what is needed badly. My wishy-washy, leave-them-to-it attitude from before the war (the Iraq war this time) does nothing to help the situation on the ground now. This does not mean I have changed my mind but instead that I think we should move forward. I have no views on how that should be achieved - there may be no solution other than civil war. We have been here before. Indonesian Independence and following coups resulted in so many people being killed. These and worse things have happened under the radar of the west and will keep happening. Maybe as the tendrils of the news organisations spread to ubiquity, we will see all of this bad stuff all the time. This may make us think.
I Never Told Them About That Three-Week Trip To Transylvania

Listening to - Abonecronedrone - Sheila Chandra

My colleague dripped blood all over the floor at the hotel where we gave blood yesterday and to his embarrassment, was pounced on by three nurses who thought he was about to faint. It looked like he was being decontaminated after some horrific chemical spill.

What exactly is a cliche as defined by Martin Amis? Sooner or later everything will become a cliche. This is like how eventually, every piece of music will have been played. Buried in the digits of Pi somewhere, there is every original construct, already fully formed. What is worse every construct is repeated an infinite number of times. There is no end to the cliches.

Apologies for not bothering to put on the acute accents. It just seems so fiddly to do. Maybe there should be a list of commonly used accented characters attached to the right-click menu so you wouldn't have to use the key sequences or the character map. Where do you write to for such suggestions? Talking of suggestions, giving blood yesterday made me think about those unfortunate accidents where an injection of some wacky drug (chemo of some sort) is given into the spine when it is only for the bloodstream. Surely there should be some sort of connector convention like the unleaded/leaded fuel pumps which could prevent this happening. Even better, as it seems simple to create a tacky Christmas card that plays some badly sampled tune, would it not be possible to put a warning message into the seal of the drug bottles? It would be activated on opening and would be triggered again every time the bottle was moved until it was destroyed. Drugs are expensive and surely this would add no real cost to that of production though I suspect the added cost to the end users would probably be bumped up as it would be hidden in the total cost.

I managed to work out enough yesterday to explain why time slows for a moving observer. My wife was quite happy to accept the bits that I couldn't explain sufficiently rigorously. But remember that Einstein himself simply postulated that light speed was constant for all observers without being aware of the Stuff Lorentz had worked out. So that's all right then.

I am getting very close to the end of the Philip Larkin book though still nothing has happened. It is strange to be drawn into reading this account of a life with no real trauma, the result of which was almost pure thought in the form of poems with no real view outside the poet's own mind. I go through phases of trying to change the whole main view of my poems (what a management consultant would call the whole paradigm - one day if you get a management consultant on his own after he has used the word 'paradigm' - ask him what it means) and they remain purely event and memory driven. Sorry about the long parenthesisation (and also that use of the word). I am going to use another terrible word now. Prior warning is given that the word shall be 'dichotomy'. I cannot get away from the strange feeling of the dichotomy between the normalness of life here and the seemingly huge events in other parts of the world. I suppose the cliched view would be that life goes on regardless of the death and destruction that we see. The fact that the victims of what the media sees as the most important events number only in the thousands rather than the hundreds of thousands caught up in the real biblical stuff of famine, plague etc, is proof again that an explosion which kills two hundred people is far more terrible than a curable disease which kills two thousand (and probably I should say two hundred thousand). I know all of the bombs (and I am doing the normal bleeding-heart liberal thing of making no distinction between a pack of Semtex wrapped around an alarm clock and a million-dollar cruise missile) are related to the wider issues which probably drag in the famine and the illness. But maybe if we treated the big things as important, the littler ones would probably go away. There will be no solutions. There will be no demonstrations - no demonstrations. No Truce.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Do You Know We're Going Backwards?

Good day yesterday. A day out with Wife and Kinder plus TV about Stephen Hawking in the evening. My wife was expecting this to be boring but was pleasantly surprised which resulted in the plaintive cry of why wasn't science like that when she was at school. She did pester me with a question about why time slowed down for a moving observer but a simple, understandable explanation was beyond me at 11:00 at night. I tried the old light-ray-in-a-moving-railway-carriage stuff but wasn't quite up to the explanation. My daughter did actually pre-empt this earlier in the day when she wondered why were moving backwards relative to a ruddy great lorry in the outside lane though I resisted any attempt at explaining further.

The best book I have ever found for explaining the stuff about Mass, Length and Time is Albert Einstein and his inflatable universe which is from the Dead Famous Series done by the same people who do the Horrible Histories. All those Relativity books seem to skip over how the equations (The Lorentz stuff) relate to the real world but this book doesn't and for the first time I really felt I knew how it all worked even if it still seems totally against experience. Science should be fun.

Off to give blood this morning. I have just found out that it has been moved from the school across the road to the pub which of course opens up the possibility of a request for an cool, Iron-Replenishing glass of Guinness though this is probably not very likely.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Come In Julie Banahan

I don't know who Julie Banahan is but she lives in Devon and I have a postcard addressed to her in my handwriting. There is no actual message on it, just the address. If you are her or someone who knows her then please contact me.

This must be a random Thursday with so much oblique strategy within the first paragraph. What shakes the trees today commander? We have no results back yet so we cannot say. This tanker rusts by the dockside, a shell, a poetic heap of oxidation and thought. In the oily water round it we find ambergris and other fine and wonderful things. Perfume is made of this secretion. All that money, all those whales dragged up onto the factory ships and we make perfume of them. Smell of whale darling? That is lovely Darling. Go back to your womb, get boys toys and contract in Limbo. The rust flakes and the steel creaks, a failed organism. This ship is not useful any more. It will not sail again. Maybe they will drag it out to sea and power it back into the beach like at Gaddani. Speed her in boys. Right up the beach like a whale again. This tang and twang of salt will sink into any metal we recover here. Your new car is made of this old craft. They move over her like ants and steal the engines. There's a boiler rolling inland to be melted down and turned into the first car for the sub-continent. Money is all they want, not martyrdom. Or maybe she will end on the bottom of the sea boys, split in two and rolled down some submerged bank of sand down into the always-dark, the always cold. There are those boilers again, discarded by the graceful fall to land. Every glass of water I drink has traces of that iceberg along with the last breath of Ceasar. Baby talk, that is what everything is. I don't feel like I have left my teens yet. I still know all the Kings and Queens from William the Bastard onwards. I would relate them to you but there is no time. Henry! He was one of them, the fat bloke with the beard and the ulcer on his leg. And his daughter was nice, well one of them was. Never burned no one. Hung a few though. Real toys again. What is the ultimate toy? The opera, the theatre. 10 Quid the lot! We have a catalog or maybe a catalogue. Could be a decalogue though I'm not sure what one on those is. See the alluvial floodplane outside your window. In a thousand year all that will be gone back to a real flood and we will have to live in the mountains like hermits. They will pan from left to right, fed and clothed without having to pay for anything. The sea will be all around and we will live of leaves and roots, always on the edge on starving. Dolly Robots. Who can tell when they are real. I am a robot says Richard. Lalla always agrees with him. Maybe he is a proper one, a robot in they way we always think of one rather than the defined way he imagines. I am a machine, an intelligent machine for building babies and bridges, playing a role in evolution so subtle that I will never be aware of it. The prophet built an artificial man who talked. You will never know whether man made people or god made people. He killed the robot. Gradually the technology takes us over. This gives me pause to think about how bad it will be when the robots become us. We are machines, machines, machin,machin machines, nothing more. Dolly died young didn't she? A sheep with arthritis that killed her so early. And placed him in the garden of Eden. The process is as follows. Make a mand and woman and you are god or man? Taaake ooouuutttt thaaaatttt Deeeeee Ennnnnnn Aaaaaay and put in all the genes from another cell and there you have a man. We are stuck like a bad record. I was talking about ships and rust and here we are back with Steve questioning how real all this mad drive for clones actually is. They are going to kill many clones before they have one that lives. The wind fills the sails and we are taken back a thousand years, before that first king. I ran from Senlac hill, screaming at the mess of many bodies. And placed them in the Garden of Eden, created by our Genes. We haven't trained them; they just do it anyway as if it was programmed in already. Like a flute in some sixties library, the jazz of the eternal lunchtime. This one only has big coloured art books preparing for a new kind of consciousness. I can never spell that. We must preserve the genetics and we all have the same. I cannot tell the difference between them. Anyone else have a moral-boosting idea?
Eating Chocolate and Marmalade

Listening to - Hunkpapa - Throwing Muses

(as well as the source of the title above).

I can't work out how I ever became a fan of Throwing Muses. I heard Dizzy on a channel 4 alt rock programme but I also heard something by 10,000 Maniacs the same day I think. It wasn't really my sort of thing at the time but I suspect it was the actual meaning of the songs that got me into it further. Poetry with a spiky backing that's all.

We have visitors this weekend and my wife had removed lots of books from the side of the bed for the tidy up. I have retrieved the Philip Larkin Collected poems because that is an integral part of reading the Larkin biography. The list as far as I can remember is :-

Dead Famous - Mary Queen of Scots and her hopeless husbands
A big coffee table book about Mary Queen of Scots bought on wild impulse in Stirling Castle

(We were trying to see how much liberty Jimmy McGovern had taken with his recent Tudor/Stuart epic - answer lots.)

The collected poems of TS Eliot - the original and best anagram ever.
Wintering by Kate Moses - The next to be read I promise.
Hard Water - Poems by Jean Sprackland
Book of Matches - Poems by Simon Armitage

My english teacher would be proud after despairing about all the Sci-Fi I wrote when in his charge.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

It's a Big Enough Umbrella ...

Listening to - Accelerator - Future Sound Of London

Still plodding on with the Philip Larkin biography. For a book of the life of a man for who not a lot happened, it is a compelling read. I thought at first that it was too detailed, going into so many tiny events of Larkin's life but that now seems to be its best point. I have so many books piled up waiting to be read; I should not have to buy any more for months. The Larkin is taking ages but is worth it.

My daughter has an obsession with Angela Lansbury. It started with the DVD of Bedknobs and Broomsticks which was a great film when I saw it first time around and is so much better on the special edition which puts back many minutes of lost film. Daughter refers to Ms Lansbury as Angela and was pleased to find her presenting he new copy of The Wizard of Oz. The obsession has gone as far as asking for when Murder She Wrote will be back on TV in the afternoons. It will have to be taped though I am not sure how suitable it is for a five-year-old. Actually, remembering the very few times I have seen it, I would question how appropriate it is for a forty-year-old. Daughter has a further obsession with the Sherman Brothers who did the music for BKABS, Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

I should really write about something important but more and more I am wondering what the point is. So much around us is ludicrous and pointless. What do the bombers want? Why are military bombings different to terrorist bombings? Why do we spend so much on things that give us tiny increases in comfort at the expense of so many other people? And above all this what possibly can we do about any of it? I know there are so many sub-questions to all this but these are always used as obfuscation, to justify the stupidity of the basic problems. And when I get fired up about these things I stand back and realise that I am becoming fired up by people who over-dramatise one side or the other. Witness the 'Low-key demolition' of Ian Huntley's house in Soham that was so Low-key that all the news programs had lingering shots of the excavator knocking the walls over. Maybe it gave closure but surely it being there one day and gone the next would be enough. Witness also the reports of the averted chemical bomb plot. Broadsheet stories downplay the use of the chemical and say that the chemical effects would largely be destroyed in t he explosion. The tabloid view is of a Flesh-eating chemical. Now I would not want to be on the business end of any explosion but do we not play into the hands of terrorists by reacting in such panic to any plot?

Monday, April 05, 2004

Don't Shoot!

I found this picture of Sylvia Plath the other day which is from the same session as the one on the cover of Ariel's Gift. The picture on the book has been cropped to remove the Teddy Bear. See the difference?

I just cannot write anything at the moment. It all sounds so blank. If only the world was all images.

We watched Man on the Moon yesterday and we still have Gray's Anatomy on tape from the other night (as Ed says, thank God for BBC 4). Kaufman and Gray are very similar and with both there is the feeling that they both might pop up somewhere and start laughing at us poor saps left behind.

Friday, April 02, 2004

No One's Yes men

There is a new PJ Harvey album - Uh-Huh Her- out in May. I heard the single - The Letter - last night on Tom Robinson's show on Radio 6. Thank God for the BBC.

I want to sail along some sandy-edged river, spark out on the deck of a yacht with an empty glass at some designed angle by my side. Feed me on Nectar and Ice and that is all I want. There is no more. All this passion means nothing to anyone. Keep it real they say but I cannot tell what is real anymore. Practice back to finish any accepted path and drive it away. There is nothing that has not been experienced or written about before and now we have more time to worry about things that don't really need worrying about, we have to lie back and forget about doing anything.

Trilobite Of The Month

When I was about eight and my brother was around six, we used to go into the Suckley Hills to look for fossils. The banks around the whole area are sandstone, great lumps of it cracking up and flowing down onto the dry tracks. There were orchids there as well, and tiny, wild strawberries with a minute rush of tart and sugar. We used to find bits of trilobites though never a whole one as we hoped to. There were bits of leaves in the rock as well, preserved veins and the darker stain of the main leaf.

Suckley is in the heart of Hop country and every collection of farm buildings seemed to have its own Oast House or maybe two. It was always hot and we should have taken more water with us. Sometimes I could just go back, with a wish to click my fingers and be sat in the grass over one of those flaky fossil banks, drinking some sugary drink and listening to nothing but the sounds that were always here. How well do you have to be able to write in order to convey these images? This is not some faded pastel blue of a seventies photograph but the deep, burning azure of the clear sky of memory. There is my brother in his shorts and with the bamboo stick he took everywhere then. He is as cool as some explorer and that is what he thinks he is. We are spies and heroes, African hunters. Here is me slight and bookish, with some collection of special equipment held about me. We believe these things are true; that we are the people we pretend to be.

At home genuine drama happens. We are only here as some form of running away. We all ran away at some point. Of course us children never left for long enough to cause our parents to worry but we were taken away our mother or our father at various times. We once got as far as Wales though we never knew we running away; it was just a holiday with Doctor friends of my mother, a holiday in some other cushiony summer place. This time, the sky is dark and the summer present like some wiry, grey woollen blanket, scratchy and annoying, making you want to be washing all the time. There were kites in the sky there like miniature vultures waiting for the end, waiting to pick over the carcass that would be left behind. We had the run of this house, a bungalow with long corridors and lots of weird things to play with and things for us to be told not to touch. They had a Grand Piano squeezed into the drawing room. We just about had room to sit at it and play all the black notes from end to end and back again so as not to be discordant for that would get us shooed off into the secret rooms and passages that led up to the attic. In that room there was a Victorian rocking horse; it was too small for us but we tried it anyway and I think it survived.

And while our mother cried in the front room, we played at being bomber crews in the caravan parked on the gravel drive. We were engines of destruction for whole countries, for unending waves of Luftwaffe fighters coming at us out of the Welsh sun. The kites wheeled away in that watery sky and we were happy. The garden seemed to grow around us, cutting off the rest of the world, even shielding us from the madness that caused our flight. We had squash and biscuits and lectures from people who would seem two centuries old were they still around today.

What tales are there in the history of those few days? My mother did so many things in her life; Just recently I found out that she worked on the Pipeline Under The Ocean (PLUTO) project which supplied oil across the channel after D day. After that she went to study medicine at Trinity College Dublin. Some day we will find her photo there. There is so much in the background, things I will never know. Tomorrow is already here.