Saturday 29 September 2007
'Chastened to realise that the material of my childhood and adolescence has now become someone else's property. I don't own the intellectual and artistic rights any more. My life's not my own, it's someone else's . . . I've entered a world where truth and fiction have begun to blend.'
and coincidentally, following the reminder on Julian Roskams's blog of George Bernard Shaw's comment that English spelling would allow one to write FISH as GHOTI (f as in rough, i as in women, sh as in nation), today's Commentary piece is an article by Harry Bingham on 'why English rules the world of languages', in which he observes:
'[Shaw] couldn't have been trying all that hard, if that was the best he came up with. How about POTATO as in GHOUGHBTEIGHPTEAU? That's p as in hiccough, o as in though, t as in debt, a as in neighbour, t as in ptomaine, o as in bureau.'
How about it indeed?
Thankfully, however, Elizaphanian (aka Sam Norton, Rector of St Peter and St Paul, West Mersea) was, unbeknown to me, down on TBTE at exactly the right moment, and has posted a lovely photo of the moon above the beach huts here. Do have a look at Sam's blog. I can absolutely guarantee that it will confound any expectations you might have - this is no mere online filing cabinet for preachings from the pulpit. It's thought-provoking, funny, erudite, searingly honest - and of course, full of great photos of TBTM/A/E.
The tides are extreme this week - this afternoon's high at 2.36 caused more delay than usual to traffic and cut the island off from the mainland (to all but the intrepid, the foolhardy and drivers of Landrover vehicles) for a good long while.
Unfortunately (for me) but excitingly (for the children), my family car and its driver fall into all three of the above categories. Consequently, we steamed to the front of the queue on the Peldon (mainland) side of the Strood (me cringing all the while behind the Guardian Review section - oh the embarrassment!), waited until the water had dropped six inches or so and couple of 4 x 4s had made it across from the island side under their own steam (after a couple of dead and waterlogged cars had been pushed through 'by hand') , and then set off. I hardly dared look. The potential for humiliation on such an escapade is extreme - the current surging back across the Strood at the mid-point is very fast.
And no, I have no 'faith' at all because, unlike my children, I am old enough to remember the great 'Let's Pretend this Volvo Estate is a Discovery and Drive Through this Deep Ford' incident of 1994. It's not something one easily forgets.
Here are some pics the children took on a mobile phone, from their standing-up-through-sun-roof vantage point.
Looking towards Mersea - that's an abandoned van. Sandwiched between this van and another which had to give up, was a single-decker bus.
Some people leave their cars in the queue, roll up their trousers and enjoy the specatcle.
Friday 28 September 2007
Tries: Sackey 2, Tait, Farrell
Cons: Wilkinson 2
Pens: Wilkinson 2
Drop-goals: Wilkinson 2
Tries: Hufanga, Pole
Cons: Hola 2
Pens: Hola 2
So it's Australia next Saturday, then. Eeek!
Thursday 27 September 2007
I left a comment on Joel's excellent TextWrap blog a while ago. It's well designed, attractive and informative, and a good example of the sort of work-related blog which I originally intended this one to be before it descended into a repository for wedding photos and the domestic rantings of a grumpy middle-aged mother.
You will see that Textwrap features at the top of my list of typography-related websites below right.
Last night Joel sent me an email to say 'Hi' back, to present me with this coveted award, and to alert me to his other blog: Carson Park Design. This one has recently featured a series on the genesis of a logo for an Oysters & Ale festival. Love it. A lesson in clarity and brevity from which I intend to learn.
Wednesday 26 September 2007
On top of which my elder daughter is off school with a headache like soooooo bad and debilitating that all she can do is like stand up in the kitchen baking bread, watch old episodes of, like, Friends and pay frequent visits to my study in order to ask irrelevant and distracting questions re my opinion on High School Musical, hair straighteners, or some boy who was in Any Dream Will Do who has mitigated his disappointment at not having been selected by disporting himself virtually naked in trash teen mags.
My inner store of patience, concern and interest having dwindled to dangerously low levels, my stock response to all forms of human interaction is now, simply, 'arrrrgggghhhh!' and looks set to remain so.
The first shift of my working day due to end in about an hour, when younger daughter, 6 today, will return from school to play with today's haul of new toys - including a Barbie cat which, when supplied orally with water from (improbably) a miniature babies' bottle and then squished in the middle, will promptly wee into a small cat litter tray filled with pink (this is Barbie's cat, remember) absorbent granules. Oh joy.
Can it really be six years since I watched my younger daughter take her first breath as she was lifted over the green screen (yep, way too posh to push, moi!)? Or indeed more than ten since my son was handed across the same screen (10lb 2 oz and sideways on - so I don't think I need to feel guilty about that particular 'intervention') with the prophetic remark, 'well, you've got yourself a fine rugby player there, Mrs Doyle'? Let alone very nearly 14 years since, after what seemed like a whole week of real, sweaty, screamy, hard-work labour, my firstborn finally emerged? Late and reluctant to get out of bed. Some things don't change.
Enough Musings from the Maternity Unit, methinks, and back to what's left of the aforementioned hour.
Over lunch I clicked a few links and discovered three interesting things: (1) a new post by Jules on the English language, its glitches and its glories, which reminded me that I still haven't posted my brilliant and cogently argued piece about less and fewer - and also that the indispensable askoxford.com site is something well worth visiting if you haven't yet made its acquaintance; (2) Roland Chadwick's (see previous blog) myspace page ; and (3) the uncomfortable but compelling WorkingatFoodPlace blog - 'the working life of a UK supermarket slave' - certainly food for thought in many ways and surely worth a PhD thesis or two in itself.
Monday 24 September 2007
For me, picking fruit in the autumn sun is one of the finest, simplest and most delightful pleasures in life. I've recognised this since I was a very young child and my parents and sister would comb the (long-since bulldozed) copses around Odiham for blackberries and then visit my grandparents to climb their Bramley trees and harvest tray upon blue cardboard tray of fragrant, waxy apples.
The heady mix of smells, the buzzing insects, the sweet pain of bramble-scored arms and the throb of nettle stings - above all the satisfaction of watching the level in the big basket rising at each tipping of the plastic bowl. Bliss. Absolute bliss. I could spend hours and hours amongst the brambles (and often do) but on Saturday we had only 50 minutes. We gathered enough blackberries for a couple of crumbles plus some to put with sloes and elderberries for a batch of Hedgerow Jam.
The boiled-up sludge for the latter sat in the kitchen for a day or two, where I gave it a quick press through the sieve each time I passed, sending another stream of intoxicating purple juice into the big pan. Last night I boiled up the resulting six pints with some sieved apples, added the sugar and, eventually, after a l-o-n-g wait, at 1.10 am, it was ready to bottle up. No frilly lids, no labels - just two huge jars full and a dish for the remainder, which we spread with butter on fresh-baked rolls for breakfast this morning.
Well, better get back to work now, I suppose. Usual round of stuff to work on this week - the good, the bad and the positively ugly - and none of it making my fortune.
Sunday 23 September 2007
I’ve loved classical/Spanish guitar music since I was four and half and my parents bought their first ever (small, black & white) telly – with a bulging green screen in a walnut-effect casing, and balanced precariously on spindly splayed stainless steel legs (probably a design classic now). One of my favourite programmes in the Watch With Mother series, which came on just after lunch, was Tales of the Riverbank, in which a cast of live guinea-pigs, hamsters and rats were filmed improbably driving small boats and landrovers in the leafy environs of the Riverbank while Johnny Morris narrated their adventures.
What captivated me, however, wasn’t so much the escapades of the rodenty chums as the signature tune and other evocative guitar music. It was a sound that was new to me, and one which I found completely enchanting, and I’ve never really lost that fascination (though strangely it never inspired me to take up the instrument myself). So that was how the early Sixties affected my life. While those a few years older were thrilling to the guitar playing of the Fab Four, I was sitting on my little wooden chair at home, watching a hamster suspended in a small wicker basket beneath a balloon which gently rose above the reeds and rushes to the accompaniment of what was, to me, the most beautiful music in all the world.
Well, all the above is mainly to explain why, on Friday, My Boy (astonishingly, abandoning his chance to watch the Ireland v France Rugby match) and I betook ourselves to the Muddy Island’s Cultural Mecca for an evening with the decidedly brilliant Modern Guitar Trio.
‘. . . As well as all three of them being virtuoso guitarists, they also just happen to be extremely good composers in the own right . . . their compositions are of the highest quality and are never less than entertaining . . . The four-movement Sonata Melodica by Lindsey-Clark opens up proceedings in . . . very lyrical fashion . . . . tunes abound from every corner of this brilliant and exciting piece whether it be in the bright, vivacious sections or in the darker, moodier passages. It is altogether a highly rewarding work to listen to with a clear and uncomplicated texture concluding with a spirited Finale of uninhibited fun. Roland Gallery’s contribution to this programme uses the word ‘fusion’ in the title due to the two works combining the elements from rock, jazz, classical and world music . . . 'Chameleon' is an eight-minute work of varying moods and pace and cleverly uses the same thematic material in different guises . . . 'Fear of the Dark' utilises the ‘jazz’ sound a little more than its counterpart and makes for another entertaining work. . . . [P]ride of place must go to Roland Chadwick’s emotive composition The Wendy House . . . a piece I have returned to time and again for further listenings . . . [it] contains some of the most beautifully evocative writing for guitar ensemble this reviewer has heard in many a day. . . . I defy anyone not to be moved by the sheer poetry of this writing . . . the composer shows his very real talent for composing extraordinarily attractive music. There is no overstatement, no pomposity or grand empty gestures; it is simply music for music’s sake . . . Virtuosity, power and sensitivity are matched by all three artists . . . So here are three extremely rewarding and out-of-the-mainstream works done with style in every department in a recording which is uniformly good and clear. . . . . I strongly recommend this brilliant new release.
If, like me, you enjoy listening to musicians who cross, defy or simply ignore traditional 'boundaries', do go and see them if you ever get the chance.
Thursday 20 September 2007
The film-makers have a blog and you can see some advance clips of the film here. It's been showing at film festivals and arts venues all over the world for several months (hardly any of them in the UK, unfortunately) but will be available on DVD on 6 November. Guess who's pre-ordered a copy!
Wednesday 19 September 2007
Too easy to transform it into abstract shapes
- Those that inhabit forecourts of the mind.
If he did that, the quiddity escapes
That dour and loved resistance that we find
In obstinate things. A valid transformation
Takes more time, long staring, love, more bathing
In the air that holds us all, and long devotion
To their season day and hour. This, and the breathing
In of literal space into his spaciousness
The mental correlate of power out there.
This, and the light breathed in, the consciousness
That links us with the sun. Then he can dare
To shatter all the rocks, to pass them through
The mind's own fire that melts, makes all things new.
Sunday 16 September 2007
A gloriously warm and golden day; the morning's thrilling mackerel skies giving way to clearest blue. In the late afternoon, the sun caught this Pyracantha (which is backed by a claret-coloured Boston Ivy) and seemed to set it on fire. My happy-snappy little camera hasn't captured it very well at all but it gives a faint flavour of the full effect.