Friday, 23 October 2009

Back from the North!

And a good time had by all.
Carlisle has plenty of history, Roman and later, and makes a fine base. We visited Scotland with Dumfries and the Robert Burns centres, went close to Newcastle with Hexham Abbey and Chesters Fort on Hadrian's Wall, and took in Keswick, Derwentwater for a breath of the English Lake District.
Stayed in Carlisle itself for the last day, and a lovely Evensong at the Cathedral followed by a friendly Thai meal (second evening in a row!) opposite the hotel. Train back. Also: Tullies House and Museum for Local Interest and the WALL again, and the Guildhall Museum for a 14th Century wood-beamed sloping floor Guilds & all feel for the past.
Pics to follow soon!

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Stately England?

What's the difference between the National Trust and English Heritage? Tweed and tea-rooms, but warm and with roof! EH outdoors and a flask...:)

On the move on Roman ways

Would the Roman troops have gone by train? I doubt if they'd have got this far or built Hadrian's Wall. 'We apologize for the delay in the construction of this wall, this is due to poor overhead weather conditions'. Oh dear. ;-)

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Burma VJs

Picture from BurmaVJ film Facebook group page.
Incredibly brave video journalists, filming the peaceful protests of 2007 and their subsquent brutal suppression. Monks leading the people, and finally a handful of students, against one of the world's cruellest regimes. 3 of the journalists are in prison (under no doubt awful conditions).
There's an online petition letter to send to the UN to keep up awareness of Burma, too easily forgotten in the world's news. for details.

Monday, 12 October 2009

A Tale of Two Concerts

Radio 3 last Friday (9th Oct): Martinu, Strauss - 4 Last Songs - Mahler's 10th Symphony, First Movement (Adagio).
Picked up on Martinu through Radio 3's composer of the week for a couple of days when I was off sick.
Mahler - hadn't listened to this for ages, even years. The shattering power of this movement is actually remarkably invigorating: if the 9th Symphony is a gut-wrenching emotional evisceration (if that's a word), of the nearness of the end, this pulls you beyond to a sense of beyond destruction, the phoenix from the ashes and all that. A triumph and a glimpse of what Mahler might have become in a modernist age if he'd lived longer.

Picture from, accessed 12/10/09.

Town Hall last night (11th Oct): Old Dance School, Toy Hearts, Destroyers.
Lively, tuneful, atmospheric - and in the case of the Destroyers, completely and superbly mad.
Folk (Dance School), bluegrass with their own songs (Toy Hearts), Klezmer in thrash-tuba-fiddle-guitar mode.
Tremendous talent and all local bands!

Queuing for the Exhibition

A tale of Spanish gold ... well, Staffordshire anyway. Some wonderful examples of Anglo-Saxon metalwork, found in a field by a man with a metal-detector ... Queueing takes about 2 hours, I'm afraid I left it, but others enjoyed the show, the exhibits will go to the British Museum for further work now I think.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Global Greetings

- Library pictures (British Library in London!).
Gruesse an Freunde und Bekannte nah und weit.
Bonjour, buenos dias, buona siva, usw.

other worlds

Amnesty International events: speaker on - dreadful - conditions and some very brave people in the Congo. Regional Conference, reminder of others concerned about rights and abuses worldwide. Look at

Send instant messages to your online friends

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

morning time blues?

Time to get going, an easy trip to work, unlike many people's commute.

Some thoughts on Reading

No, not the town west of London.

Trigger is "How to talk about books you haven't read" by Pierre Bayard, published in English by Granta (from the French, "Comment parler des livres que l'on n'a pas lus?").
Don't feel guilty that you haven't read everything! It's important to express yourself and write too, not just read other people's thoughts and expressions all the time.
Starts with the librarian in "The man without qualities", who deliberately doesn't read the books in his library because it would prejudice him and make his job impossible.
But he does read the contents pages and makes an assessment of the books to catalogue and shelve them appropriately. Yo man!
Goes via critics who are happy to make judgements on books without reading them, eg Paul Valery.
The comic pain of giving a talk on something you've read to people who think you're someone else (happens in Graham Greene's "The third man").
Wish I'd thought of all that earlier.
Don't feel guilty, don't be afraid of "culture". Come to think of it, that only puts other people off and makes the wary even warier of engaging with "intellectual stuff". A real problem in this country with its class divisions and prejudices and self-imposed cages which we must try to break - at least try.


Picture from accessed 06/10/09.
Forget to post on this. 50th anniversary opera staging at Barber Institute (University of Birmingham). Handel's Agrippina, sort of I Claudius (if you remember that) meets the Aeneid meets Carry On Rome. Superb singing and orchestral accompaniment, lively drama - with some very up-front and revealing moments, a bit too revealing if you were sitting at the front as we were ... Nero in a G-string, could've have lived without that really, though my other half didn't seem to mind. On the other hand, Poppeia and the veils ...
Was a bit long though, half-hour or so shorter would've been welcome. But thanks to D.P. for the suggestion and tickets. Performance standard excellent.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

On the road at home!

From my phone to the blog although I'm at home. Hmm.
Editing this on the laptop now though.

Canal Side

Out and About and some Folk Culture

Colum Sands at the Red Lion Folk Club - laid-back, fun and perceptive take on life in Ireland and on his travels. Lovely guy, nice evening.

Getting lost and asking for directions .. 'Am I on the right road for Cork?'
'You're on the right road .. but you've turned the wrong way!'

Much-missed Aunt, and an eccentric Uncle.
Mobile phones ... is anyone left at home?

Funeral wakes ... "Well, it could've been worse ..."