Saturday, August 25, 2012

Shurely Shome Mishtake!

Statistician and Painter - never seen in the same room
Much excitement from eldest about the Tom Stoppard adaptation of Ford Madox Ford's Parade's End which started on BBC 2 last night. Of course this has mostly been the result of cool hero of said production being portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch though she has already whistled through the (accurately named) teratology causing some "ahs" of recognition when the assistant at Waterstones eventually uncovered it in a back room somewhere. I did start it myself in a desperate attempt to keep ahead of the TV version but in one episode it overtook me by quite some distance. And here's a tip for you - while the dead-tree version on Amazon is £8 - the links from there to the Kindle editions show versions at between £4 and £5. Search instead for it in the Kindle store and you will find it for 77p. Much as I don't like spending for something I already have, I was wasting much time in looking up words in the Kindle dictionary anyway so I've saved a bit of time there.

The TV version is very good - without the dumb exposition of most such dramas but bearing in mind Tom Stoppard is completely at home writing about football or Quantum theory, I wasn't expecting much allowance for the Downton audience. Christopher Tietjens is an honourable man - the most honourable man in literature maybe - a man blessed with an intellect of superhuman proportions yet cruelly manipulated by his socialite wife. There may even be shadows of Cumberbatch's most famous role in that he has the analytic mind of Sherlock Holmes but without the limit of only retaining information which is useful to him. Tietjens is as comfortable with matters of statistics as applied to Government Social Policy as he is with all-things equestrian or the minutiae of local legal systems. And like Sherlock, Tietjens has a sidekick who in any normal company would be the cleverest person in the cast in McMasters, an equally-honourable man of supreme intelligence and social wit. A fellow statistician, McMasters is an expert on Dante Gabriel Rossetti, a point highlighted by the producers decision to make the Actor who portrays him (Stephen Graham - last seen lusting after Sean Bean in The Accused) look uncannily like the subject of his monograph. There are shades of Goodbye to All That and even the Ghost Road Trilogy but Parade's End is more ambitious than either. It is described as an early modernist novel but to me seems like a link between mid 19th Century books and later more popular 20th century works.

And as a final tantalising link to another of my obsessions, I'm pretty convinced that FMF is The Nightingale of the PJ Harvey B-side to The Glorious Land.

Great TV - now can The BBC be persuaded to do a version of Arcadia?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

That Simon Armitage - What a Git!

It said in the guide 20 minutes each way - a quick walk of half a mile. And at the end a poetry seat and impressive carvings of one of Simon Armitage's poems about water in all its forms. Here's that half mile.

That's our car in the distance - I've blurred the number plate.
Doesn't look much does it? Just a gentle walk - 20 minutes - no rain - ambience of distant traffic and the occasional protest from a nonchalant sheep. Well it was about 20 minutes - but it was anything but gentle. The ground was slippy with rain and sheep droppings, its was treacherous with hidden holes just large enough to catch a carelessly-placed foot. Some of it would even have benefited from a few carabiners and other strange devices known only to Chris Bonnington and his ilk. I'm not sure they're expecting many casual visitors. Well we got there and it was worth it. Here are the stones themselves - click to see enough to read.

The stones are sheltered in quarry workings which are silent - all sound is swallowed in the way described in the poem itself. And then we had to come down which is worse - slippy and falling forward, it's amazing I didn't break anything - including the camera. And so to Marsden for lunch - a nice Chili Jacket at Angie's Kitchen - followed by a short hop (by car - I'm not mad) across the tops to Holmfirth and a coffee in Sid's Cafe. It must have been Ivy's day off. I did spend the day looking out for SA himself but I expect he might refuse to sign the book now I've called him a git.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Capitol Idea

Possibly to put his fat-fingered father to shame, 8-year old has just completed this 3D puzzle of The Capitol. Any offers of assistance were met with a grunt and most of it was done in one day. My own attempts at making his Airfix Junkers are rapdily turning into a glue-sodden mess of failed assembly. A couple of layers of paint might just perform a miracle. We shall see.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

A New Wave of Reason

We'll get that Turntable one day.
Off to town today for daughter to spend money on yet another new phone (Samsung Galaxy Y if you really need to know) and a visit to Probe Records yielded this wonderful item with the unexpected bonus of having the B-Side etched with the instructions on the Voyager Record instead of a second groove. If you think that a duet with Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking is the best thing since Sliced Protons then buy it. However, the real beauty of this speck of serendipity is that this is just one piece from a series - The Symphony of Science - a parade of scientific heroes set to music. Guess who got a Vocoder for Christmas.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Cynics R Not Us

We are in a little bubble of an alternate outlook on the world - good news stories are rightly in the ascent whatever bad things happen in the background. Today I was able to look at a picture taken on the surface of Mars only minutes before. That is perhaps what we should be looking at as the pinnacle of human achievement. The fact that no Men in Black get in the way of it is an extra gift that should hopefully send the conspiracy theorists back to their curtained rooms. 

And as well, after many weeks of being anxious, cynical and bored by the whole Olympics thing, I was glued to the box for the Opening Ceremony and again for the Super Saturday of Team GB Gold medals. It truly feels like the Idealists have actually wrested away the levers of the universe and we are at the foothills of a glorious future.

Too much? Perhaps but we can dream. 

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Hello Southport! We Are Lee Mack's Dibber

What better way to celebrate Lee Mack's birthday than by going to The British Lawnmower Museum to see his Dibber (stop sniggering at the back) and therefore prove that he was indeed telling the truth on Would I lie to You? It is slightly spooky to see Albert Pierrepoint's lawnmower suspended by a noose from the ceiling. Well worth the two pounds it costs to get in. And downstairs you can not only buy a brand new mower but a safe as well. The BLM - for all your grass-cutting and security needs.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Cognitive Dissonance in Blue and Grey

You’re always going to hate me,
It’s in your nature,
Colouring me in montone,

Pushing down the whole world,
Under one blue ocean,
Squeezing it to fit your single mind.

You were a towering non-believer,
Immune to the false hypnosis,
Armed with the real,

The sparking arc of ignorance,
Enlightened by knowing,
What you didn’t know,

Weaponised out of existence,
Until you were some shadow,
Talked of in low voices,

Marked for death and resurrection,
A figurehead of evolution,
Absorbing vitriol like a sunset.

But some bullet got you later,
A venom-polluted shell,
Painted delicately in tribal colours,

Which diffused like river dyes,
Released to trace the hidden track,
Of unknown tributaries,

Through your blood and brain,
Like the mad dilution you still deny,
(It pains me to agree).

And you hate and package,
Whole peoples as of one mind,
To kill all those that oppose,

Or end them, badging them as void,
Imagining yourself as target,
Their shining path objective.

There’s a military camp reflected,
In your censure,
Gold braided generals in the films,

You run unhindered when alone,
Stamping, escalating columns,
Irreligious armies mobilised.

What peace is this that comes with boots,
With tracks and guttering exhausts,
To tear up the land with cavalry?

What truce and truth from afterburners,
Prises answers from the poverty,
The dust and refugee,

Already sensitive and sinister,
Suspicious of the aid from troops,
And you in their face?

I’m sensitive and wrong,
The face of a new European poet,
Delighting in my lack of fight.

You’re tough and pulsing,
Threatening to burst your vessel,
A blood-spitting snake,

Coughing up the black smoke,
Of generations,
Breathing in sick history,

To report your fears of invasion,
Of demographic infiltration,
Of a nation sleep walking,

Out of your English bed and bedrock,
Over the hills of Jerusalem,
And into the distant grey.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

I Was There Right!

How did she get that dress under the table?