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Monday, 30 April 2012

The Tower of Pritter

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May Day

Once upon a time, on his album Up (2002), Peter Gabriel included a track in which he had taken the phrase signal to noise (from the world of hi-fi) and created a song - which, of course, one can interpret as one will (just as one can, say, the song 'Wallflower' from a much earlier album: whose theme is used in Birdy (1984), a film on whose music I commented in The Future or How do you choose a satisfying film? (Part 2))

On my interpretation of what some might find a limited (because repetitive) lyric, Gabriel is clearly distinguishing between what is valuable (the signal) and what might impede it (the noise). Therefore its own message (something like, from memory, turn up the signal, keep out the noise) is just as applicable to finding the occasional real news-story amongst what else appears in a number of our alleged newspapers as it is to that convenient triangle of factors - perhaps unthinkingly beloved by those who run training courses on assertiveness or communication skills - that purports to establish as empirical fact that some very low percentage* of what we (think that we) say is in our (choice of) words**

I have given counter-examples elsewhere, but, on what level of perversity as to the power of actual words does one have to be on to think that contextual data supply all 93% of what is meant to be lacking in simply saying?:

* You're fired!

* I want you to sleep with me

* You're standing on my foot!

* You've won first prize

* This duck is delicious

* Do you mind if I sit here / take this chair?

Bombard yourself, as Splatter can (I mean Twatter), with messages from an unlimited number of people, though, and you might - amongst 'the noise' - miss someone asking you to tea / to bed / for a drink.

Or following Bassfuck in a crowded bar on your preferred mobile device, highly meaningful though I'm really sure that all of its content is, might make you unaware that you are some banknotes and a credit-card or two lighter than when you started the evening.

Remember: the value of the Internet can go up as well as down


* Usually between 7 and 11%.

** As Cher successfully suggested in her cover-version of 'The Shoop Shoop Song' in Mermaids (1990), it's in his kiss.

The Symphonies of Saint-Saëns, and so on

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May Day

We are not confused by what Widor called Organ Symphonies¹, because we all know the Organ Symphony, made indelible (as to its last movement, at any rate) by that pop treatment in the late 70s!

If we know that it is Saint-Saëns' Symphony No. 3, we know that there must be others (though he could have destroyed them²), but they are never mentioned, and there seems no question of playing them.

So, as I dilated elsewhere, with Saint-Saëns as with Bruch, and we might, at best, hear

* Danse macabre

* The Carnival of the Animals

* One of the piano concertos³

* If operatically minded, Samson et Dalilia or one of a number of others

Well, maybe I shall try to find a CD of any of these other two or three symphonies, which might be indicative of whether conductors give them the time of day

If I find one, I might even buy it - at the right price - and waffle on about it in another posting...


¹ Actually, he called them Symphonie pour orgue (but that amounts to the same thing) . Of course, the Toccata from No. 5 (Op. 42, No. 1) most often gets an airing, usually detached.

² It appears that he wrote four others, but withdrew the first, and that what is known as No. 3 is the last of the five that he wrote.

³ Of which (I have them on a two-CD, with, as I recall, a crazy need to change discs mid-concerto!), I think that I like No. 4 best - it may be that it is the one with the jaunty theme that I find reminiscent of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5 (the so-called Emperor).

The Beethoven, at any rate, has that bouncy, Tigger theme in the last movement, which Imogen Cooper, as soloist in a live performance, convinced me could sound other than ridiculous (and said afterwards, as I recall, that playing it was a question of properly addressing the fact that it contains a hemiola).

What makes free jazz the equivalent now of punk rock in the 70s?

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May Day

Well, I often listen to all of Jazz on 3 (with the ever-present Jez Nelson), so it's not that I have a general aversion to contemporary jazz, but I am highly coloured by the experience of hearing Evan Parker, in a trio, play a small venue, when how the first set ended made me think, quite wrongly, that the second might not be so unrelenting, whereas I shouldn't have come back.

No, what I have in mind took an hour or so on the show very recently, with crass vocals - both the words and how they were delivered - and a deliberate emphasis on, whether or not people could do so (I have no way of knowing), not playing well.

There is no merit in naming the bands, but I suspect that, for the sake of good / bad publicity, some punk rockers hammed up their musical inexpertise, or did not trouble to develop any ability that they had. Some bands, as punk was never a uniform approach, achieved a raw effect by actually by putting basic rhythmic elements together with a rough-hewn melody, not peddling the others' feigned or lacking competence, but betraying a desire to create rebellious music that was worth hearing in its own right, rather than as a necessary element ina riotous sideshow. (Other bands were more musically sophisticated still, but consistent with fitting into the general picture of punk.)

This jazz that I heard on Jazz on 3, which I shall dub runk pock, was deliberately of the emperor's new clothes type, which free jazz can be at risk of seeming or being. However, although I know that I cannot play a saxophone as Parker does, I do also know when I hear what could be done by a few mates of mine and me with some musical instruments, mikes, recording-equipment, and, of course, beer: if I ever wanted to hear such a thing, I would just play the recording, and at least know that I was the one taking the piss.

The Dave-ings of an Arranged Mind (1)

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30 April

Well, let's see where this goes*:

1. Cameron is a Scottish name

2. David is a Biblical name

3. Blair is a Scottish name

4. Eric Blair (also known as George Orwell) made Barnhill, on the Isle of Jura, hame**

5. Brown actually sounds Scottish, as well as being it

6. As did John Smith, at rest on the Isle of Iona

7. In both cases, certainly with less affectation than Billy Connolly*** in Mrs Brown (1997)

8. Osborne, whose first names were originally Gideon Oliver****, first had paid employment, with the NHS, in a way reminiscent of Defoe: he had to make computer entries of the names of the dead of London****

9. In rotten Boroughs*****, votes cast by those actually dead may have exceeded those of the living

10. Which inevitably brings us, once more, to the question of Gogol and Dead Souls (1842)

11. But, in the UK, we pride ourselves on knowing The Government Inspector (1836 (revised 1842))

12. Apparently, a bit like the origins of Tomkinson's Schooldays****** (1976), Pushkin was supposed to have told Gogol an anecdote, from which Gogol then derived his play

13. Which takes us neatly to Public Schools, judges (again!), fags, and whipping-boys!


* A little game called Thirteen Degrees of Archery.

** Although he did much work on what he came to call Nineteen Eighty-Four, it is a common misconception, amongst those who know about his connection with Jura, that he died there.

*** Were Pamela and Billy made for each other? (No, I don't mean anatomically - not even in a Ken-and-Barbie sense!) Well, one was a welder, and the other was born in the Anderston district of Glasgow, and both have disguised their natal history, by, eerily, electing to speak with the accent that really belongs to the other.

Yet for all that Billy says cock and fuck, Pamela was far more genuinely provocative, even in just a few seconds, with her well-known American Express gag. (Plus beautifully amusing in taking off the quiddities of how the news was read at that time.)

**** On both counts, according to Wikipedia®.

***** Concerning which I owe all my knowledge to Blackadder the Third (1987) (as do some students theirs of The Great War to Blackadder Goes Forth (1989).

****** Palin and Jones******* collaborating to great effect in many of the Ripping Yarns

******* Yes, Bridget and Sarah!

The things we say! (2) - 'Mary makes friends again with her mother

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30 April

Assurance: No mention of that work from whose title - almost certainly alone - we know that it is, in part, about influence on others*!

Josef was very good at making friends, but fell down in keeping them

Odd, then, that the English language seems to suggest that we keep a friend in the same way that we keep:

* Someone's seat on a busy train

* A pet

* A tidy ship - or a good cellar***

* At our personal trainer's exhausting regime

* Someone sweet, happy, etc.

* Up a subscription to Punch (having 'taken it out')

* A friend waiting, because of traffic

* On making the same mistakes, keeping on, or even trucking

* On ad nauseam, etc., etc.

In other words, possibly quite a very much longer list of cognate uses of the verb to keep, some at least of which, I would say, are present to our minds when, as Michaela (and as people do), we make the proposal to Josetta Let's keep a house of ill-repute!

I'd also say that all the connotations, not only of to make, but also of to keep, are 'with us' when we proffer the olive-branch (the gesture made to Noah?).

And so, I suggest, when Mary says to Mother Let's (make it up and) be friends again, the possibility both of reforging that relationship, and of seeking to sustain that link (which might break again), and there all at once, along with tinges of

* Compulsion : I'll make you regret that

* Influence : He made her cry last night

* Creation : John made a lovely cake!

Need I provide the others?


* Though I shall comment: (a) consider the word of Italian origin influenza from which we derive flu**, and (b) the usages of the phrase under the influence, which maybe relate the worlds of hypnosis, and of drugs and alcohol.

** Those who write flu' are clearly deluded, and probably spend too long not on the phone, but on the 'phone.

*** What Thurber, very amusingly, talks about (in quotation of a one-time teacher of his) as container for the thing contained, in describing the figure of speech called metonymy, where the wine (bottles) contained in the cellar are referred to by the container, i.e. the cellar, or, in This is a very good bottle!, the bottle, when meaning the wine.

The things we say!* (1) - 'How are you placed?'

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30 April

In just writing an e-mail, I came out with the question:

How are you placed on 8 May?

Naturally, my being an Agent, I couldn't leave it at that, so a foot-note:

It's a weird way of asking a question, if you think about it...

After a riotous Bank Holiday, I will have been placed on a very high shelf, and will be inaccessible for days!


* Although (as an Agent) I would normally write 'The things that we say!'.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Snippets of Shakespeare (with thanks to Radio 3)

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29 April

Some responses to hearing (part of - my fault, not Radio 3's!) the new radio production of Romeo and Juliet to-night

1. What are we to make of Friar Lawrence?

Not really what Prokofiev did in that singing melody that he gave to him in the ballet (and the piano suite that derived from it - at least, until I check, I think that it was in that order (not that the piano writing was fleshed out for orchestra)).

I have little idea whether it is still fashionable to call Shakespeare plays such as Measure for Measure (and All's Well that Ends Well) by the name 'problem plays' (or who originated that term), but the Duke's ethics in MfM seem no more dodgy than the friar's!

2. Whisky in Shakespeare

Not that it was called that in this play, but that is, essentially, what the acqua vitae* that is called for when Juliet's body is found, after she has taken the friar's concoction and so appears dead (but might be capable of being revived).

3. Overacting in Shakespeare

As the scene unfolded, it may have been the performance, but the reactions - in particular of Juliet's father - seemed overblown (and even ridiculous) in an age much more used to mortality at any age (Juliet's certainly being no safeguard) than ours.

For me, almost reminiscent of Lady Macbeth's awkwardly incriminating interjection, roundly put down as inappropriate given that the king has been killed, to the effect not in our house!

4. Sun and Moon

For those who have read - or dare to read - Lunch on the moon?, my own lines needfully do not bear comparison with:

Arise fair sun and kill the envious moon
Who is already sick and pale with grief
That thou her maid art far more fair than she

(Act 2, Scene 2)

5. Another link with Macbeth

Macduff, when he enquires after his wife, is told that she is 'well' (meaning, as used, really that she is at rest), and only comes to the realization about 'all my pretty chickens and their dam' a few lines later.

Here, with the economy that we will see below when Juliet kisses Romeo, Romeo introduces the word, in its usual sense:

How doth my Juliet? That I ask again,
For nothing can be ill if she be well.

To which Balthasar, his servant, directly replies:

Then she is well and nothing can be ill.
Her body sleeps in Capels' monument,
And her immortal part with angels lives.

6. The apothecary

Since the seeming source, in Brooke's Romeus and Juliet (1562), not only narrates the story, but gives characters speech, it should be possible to see how much invention there was in Shakespeare's Act 5, Scene 1, when, 60 lines in, Romeo procures poison**...

That said, before he does so, the Act opens with 11 lines' worth of a dream, in which Romeo begins by questioning the 'flattering truth of sleep', but also showing that, maybe, he is tempted to credit it, and, in any case, feels better for it (until the question in line 15, quoted above, to Balthasar):

My bosom's lord sits lightly in his throne
And all this day an unaccustom'd spirit
Lifts me above the ground with cheerful thoughts

The purchase of the dram of poison, such soon-speeding gear / As will disperse itself through all the veins, put me in mind of a similar transaction in The Canterbury Tales, in the tale told by the Pardoner of the three young men who boast that they will seek out the villain Death to punish him - and find him.

7. The kiss

Brooke's narrative has Juliet kiss*** Romeus, but very differently from Shakespeare's portrayal of the touch of lips:

A thousand times she kist his mouth as cold as stone

Shakespeare's kiss is not only more tantalizing (as Romeo is clearly not long dead, and so might more nearly have been alive****), but there is a telescoping of several elements in barely more than half-a-dozen lines:

What's here? A cup clos'd in my true love's hand?
Poison, I see, hath been his timeless end.
O churl. Drunk all, and left no friendly drop
To help me after? I will kiss thy lips.
Haply some poison yet doth hang on them
To make me die with a restorative.
Thy lips are warm!

Two-and-a-half lines later, Juliet has stabbed herself, not having time for the long speeches and decisions of Brooke's narrative, as she does not want to be prevented from following Romeo in death when she hears voices.

No time for any more kisses than one, no time for farewells, but, more affectingly, the affectionate rebuke of her dead lover, and the conceit of wanting to share the means of death (with all its overtones) in that kiss.


* Revd E. Cobham Brewer's delightful A Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, in an old edition that I have, reassuringly tells us, in the entry before, about Aqua Tofana:

A poisonous liquid containing arsenic, much used in Italy in the 17th century by young wives who wanted to get rid of their husbands.

Fair enough, one might think, but the entry puzzlingly continues (and concludes):

It was invented about 1690 by a Greek woman named Tofana, who called it the Manna of St Nicholas of Bari, from the widespread notion that an oil of miraculous efficacy flowed from the tomb of that saint. In Italian called also Aquella di Napoli.

** Which sounded like a woman, on Radio 3, not a man, make of which change what one will...

*** Sure a Freudian slip, I typed 'kill' just now!

**** I am reminded of Leontes, at the end of The Winter's Tale, kissing what he thinks a statue of his dead wife Hermione, and finding it warm to his lips' touch.

How to bluff your way as a concert-goer: Lesson 1

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29 April

By way, first of all, of credentials - we will be naughty, and skip the learning outcomes* - let me say this:

I consider it sufficient basis on which to offer this bluffer's guide that, when shamelessly seeking an autograph from a both attractive and highly skilled singer last night, I should be told not only that I had been noticed in the audience (why wouldn't I be!), but also that my engagement with following the performance gave rise to the assumption) that I knew the repertoire (when I had never heard it before)

You justly retort (quoting God knows whom) Self-praise is no recommendation

To be continued


* Not necessarily an indication that there is nothing to be learnt - or, at any rate, no hope of learning it...

Engaging with a milk-bottle - some tips (and wrinkles)

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29 April

Caveat (1):

Since I could easily establish no gain in having a bottle of milk that had been left on the doorstep all day*, precisely because, on a warm or warmer day, that might render the product if not toxic, then unpleasant, it has not been a form of packaging with which I have been much in contact**.

Therefore, although not a tyro, I do have to admit that I am not 'in' with the latest ways of bottle management***.

Anyway, on with the trashy observations:

* Milk-bottles generally defy being cleaned, even if you have what passes for - and was probably sold as - a bottle-brush****

* The bottlers will, no doubt, claim that a rinse and an attempt at cleaning is all that they need to work on, with their industrial, high-pressure cleaning, when the bottles are gathered home to where they may once have been, side by side, waiting to be filled... (End of lyrical indulgence)

* The offer of delivery of (no t.v. celebrities intended) cheese in a bottle (and thus cutting out the middle man already alluded to) did not prove popular with householders, whereas that of orange juice did

* Odd that someone, without enquiring as to what it was (despite the fact that red leicester, for example, is pretty much that colour), wanted to buy some juice that is orange in appearance (but not, we notice, red juice or green juice)... (End of especially fruitless - pun intended! - indulgence)

* Back with milk-bottling, those foil-caps, even more than the bottles, refuse to be cleaned - hence the similar cheesy odour when someone seeks to do their duty of recycling the blessed things

* The date on the cap used to be much more clearly embossed than I found yesterday, when confronted with several bottles in a fridge, and, unreasonably, wanting not to deposit cheese into the planned cup of coffee that had set me off in search of milk (Winnie-the-Pooh, of course, is fearful of finding cheese at the bottom of a jar of hunny - make of that what you will, unless you are bound by the rules of Freudian interpretation)

* The foil-cap loves the bottle, and there are various stages to the romance:

** How to depress the cap, and thereby release the seal*****, without (a) deforming the
cap beyond its redemption in sitting on top of the bottle when in the fridge, and (b), almost in consequence, losing a goodly part of the milk - which only matters because said milk, unless cleaned up properly and thoroughly, yet again imparts that odour of mouldy cheddar to the home

** Especially overnight from when you first opened the bottle, the bottle neck / lips and the cap (Freudians sit up now: this is what you were waiting for all along!) will be glued together more firmly than, even though you know it happens, you can quite believe

** Forget wood glue (though I do wonder, now, what it is made from...******), and the claim that it is stronger than the wood that it binds! The Pandarus, which the milk has been initially (up to you which is Troilus, which Cressida), still serves to make them inseparable, because the cap does not want to come off, and you urge it, crying Come on!

** This can continue, with degress of ardour (depending on (a) how often you need to revert to your pinta, and (b) the related matter of dosage, which, by Degas' transformation, yields a broad measure of how quickly you consume it), almost ad nauseam

** When bottle and cap do have to part, because you want to recycle at least one of them: they show that they are still in love with, and missing, each other by both being near impossible to void of the liquid that brought them together

On which note, Salve, and may your chosen fluid keep pleasing you!


* I forget why - one posits the combination of an early start and a late milk delivery, or some such.

** And, unlike other collectors, have not curated a library of the different designs...

*** Some, addicted to the new ways (if arguably no better, not to say worse, than the old ones), would suggest following my relative Marmaduke's Twitter account (he wanted @milkbottlemanagement, but - so naïf is he - that, in fact, he ended up naming it after himself).

Caveat (2): Do so at your peril!

**** Hence that aroma of cheese at the homes of the collectors already mentioned.

***** NB This is not, I advise, a good excuse for tweets from Edgar the Dolphin!

****** Those in the know may already have thought of There's Something About Mary (1998).

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Drays of doubt

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29 April

When there is a shortage of water in (parts of) the UK, let's spare a thought for those counties that, in past centuries, were so unshakable in their beliefs that they got stuck in a rut, and, not unlike the Wednesbury lot who (at my hands, too) get such stick for coming to that famously unreasonable decision that no one could reasonably have made*, were worryingly in danger of binding themselves in hide.

The drastic solution was to seed this rigid application of rules and principles (and to hell with the consequences), a bit as one might a patch of ice with salt. So government-sponsored orators would go around, on the back of waggons, proclaiming alternative viewpoints, and arguing for a Grey between the Black and White. (Dr, later Dean, Jonathan Swift - although not one of these orators himself - wrote scripts for them to memorize and employ.)

Of course, some counties were so entrenched in their views, that all this achieved nothing, and the orators were hanged or stoned, and thus - as no one has dared since to send anyone into the vineyard (oops! different topic, as that's a parable) - we have modern Britain, where angels fear to tread in such homelands of dogma, discrimination and dis-ease***.



* Yes, how that decision is described** is a bit like divorce, and the behaviour that is so unreasonable that the other party could not reasonably be expected to tolerate it, except that almost any marriage will have given rise to events that are sufficient to flesh out the required particulars for a judge to certify that a divorce can proceed - broadly speaking, first, last and worst, plus a few others.

It must be said, a soul-destroying task, both for the person drawing up those particulars, and for the one reading them, even if both may be (as, respectively, solicitor / legal executive and judge) paid to do it... Pay does not make pleasant the unpalatable, as Seneca declaimed - but it does help!

** If memory serves aright, it was something to do with licensing a cinema, of all things.

*** As Stephen Potter would have called it.

The habit of collecting (4)

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28 April

Few - not even Bruno Bettelheim's adherents, acolytes, agents, and (they think) apostles - would doubt that the (core) impulse is something of the order of:

There's one that I haven't got!

Mrs President Marcos [I'm calling her that just to be flippant] knew that feeling well, but what did the possessor (as I cannot well speak for ownership) and person displaying this number-slave have at the forefront of his or her mind to have collected it?


Which one has to translate into GD IS SIX, as well as postulating that there must be many, many others in the series (in fact, as the whole aphabet isn't used, it must be 23 or 24 squared, some of which might mean more than others):

DD IS SIX (for Dating Direct*)

BB IS SIX (I need not explain that one, I fear)

GG IS SIX (good old Germaine**!)

BJ IS SIX (now that is rating something...)

CJ IS SIX (for those flagging already, just skip to the closing homily!)

All of which, though, assumes that the proposition talks about an age, anniversary, or score, whereas there could be something else going on...

x = 2

x x y = 6

y = ?

Back with the proposition GD IS SIX, could it, itself, be a known acronym, maybe for:

* Gross Diameter

* An open source code library for the dynamic creation of images by programmers (according to

* Graeme Dixon

* The ethical URL shortener with no registration required (according to

* Grand Designs

* Great Dunmow

* Gérard Depardieu (or, to extend him to his full height, Gérard Xavier Marcel Depardieu)

The end is listless, I believe

But it must really be to do with the spirit of North by Northwest (1959), one of the craziest, but still best, Cary Grant films ever - we are being (or feel that we are being?) set this puzzle to work out, who - or what - 'GD' is, and what it means for it to be 'six', or '6'.

But maybe it's a metaphor for what we make of life, and could mean no more than the title of that Hitchcock film - a big confusion about nothing (where people get killed - or do they?).

Maybe God's Design for Richard Dawkins, maybe Dawkins' message to a God (whom he states is fictional) - God Deficiency is Six?

In closing

Personally - if I can be intimate and private for this closing moment - I don't go along with much of that

We will never know the answer, but that's because it's all wrapped up with

Cheltenham - GCHQ - MI6 - Whitehall - Harry Palmer - hush hush - need-to-know basis - Reggie Perrin and his brother-in-law Jimmy


Post-Amen (as at 6 May)

In fact, it was GL15 SIX, so please ignore suitable amounts of the above!


* Or Deadline Dave...

** Would that be a kind of rating (a bit as for bowed Eric)?

Friday, 27 April 2012

Roulette Marriage

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28 April

If you've been married and not all that happily, you know how it is, so maybe this isn't as immoral as it seems*:

1. Short of rape, which still wouldn't count, it's up to those who have gone
through a marriage ceremony whether they consummate the union

2. The law of England and Wales does not allow divorce** within the first year of marriage (a period that might be inferred to run from the date of consummation)

3. Unless, as it turns out, consummation, or the failure to achieve it, is separate and only relates to annulment, i.e. not to starting 'a divorce clock' running at a later point than the day of the ceremony

4. And applying for annulment of what appears to be a marriage, as with so much of our wretched legal system, is both adversarial and a matter of persuading a judge

5. So one party to the marriage ceremony would need to allege that the other party, wilfully or through incapability, failed to consummate the marriage***, and he or she would have not to contest, probably event assent to the truth of, that assertion****

6. So maybe, three months after the ceremony, a judge might not swallow that the aggrieved party had taken so long to seek annulment (and rumble that the parties were conniving at - what will unfold below as - a contingent marriage)

7. Which leads us to the roulette element: thirty-six men and thirty-six women agree to go into a pool of marriage candidates, from which a pairing (and a number allotted to the pair, between 1 and 36) will be made on some basis or other, but essentially not of the candidates' choice (or not based on knowledge of the other opposite-sex candidates)

8. Cleared payment to the organizer by each candidate of the full costs of a civil ceremony is a prequisite to knowing where and when to attend (advised at short notice, say, by e-mail)

9. If one party fails to attend the ceremony, the one who does attend is reimbursed from the other's payment, and might elect to start again

10. If both fail to attend, maybe they get a refund of one-half each...

11. If they go through with the full legal ceremony, they get what they have paid for - they get what some cult leaders impose, on some basis or other, on the members of their cult

12. With a better knowledge of the facts and law than stated above, they choose how to proceed, whether to consummation, delayed consummation, or none

13. Each couple will have its own outcome that links to its number, whether they never met, met and could not contemplate marriage at first sight, went through the ceremony, etc, etc.

The tracked outcome of each numbered couple (for each of many such pools, in order to achieve a chi-squared level of statistical significance) feeds into a complex betting-system for roulette, reminiscent of the plot of the film Pi (1998)


* Though the Surrealists might have approved, as, without formulating it in marriage as such, maybe they did this by default... I gather that, despite the former Soviet regime having marriage, it was neither difficult to begin or end.

** Yet it does allow for the lesser step of judicial separation (as used when Charles and Diana first split up, I believe), which - as far I recall - relieves the parties of what is claimed to be 'the duty to co-habit' (if you can credit such a thing!).

*** Has this topic been in a news-story of late?

**** That said, if John Smith says that Boddingtons slept with someone (who may or may not be named as London Pride), and Boddingtons agrees on the right form and in the correct way that it happened, who is to say otherwise? (Except that it mustn't, of course, have been more than six months ago that John Smith first knew.)

Any better or worse than these company records that say that everyone listed as present had a meeting in Delft, whereas some, say, do not even have a passport - or were doing something quite different on Jamaica?

Some short comments about Peter Carey's work

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27 April

* I wrongly resisted Oscar and Lucinda (1988) for years - just because of that awful original Faber & Faber cover illustration*

* Illywhacker (1985), too, is amazing

* Who would play the role in any film? I suspect Anthony Hopkins (if they did it in time)

* How much does the multi-level pseudo-documentary nature of The True History of the Kelly Gang (2000) owe to forebears, such as, maybe, Wilkie Collins and The Woman in White?

* Wouldn't The Tax Inspector (1991) be brooding - and chilling - as a film?

* Bliss (1981) is just that

* And, yes, I do have some catching up to do - all in good time!


* And, to judge from Wikipedia, the original Australian edition.

What's the difference between a t.v. celebrity and a judge? (1)

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27 April

Well, first we have to ask what they have in common:

They will both (usually) pretend that they know what they are talking about...

Until - or even after - it becomes blindingly obvious that they don't, or that they should - e.g. the famous query Who is Gazza?

What's the difference between overstepping the line with a judge and with a t.v. celebrity?

The judge will just send you to jail for 30 days, but with the celebrity you are, to put it crudely, fucked - 30 days' worth in one night

As an unnamed person suggested to me by way of a riposte yesterday, how about?

And, of course, one may look good in a wig as you go down - and the other's a judge

Or even:

Well, one, wearing stockings and suspenders, whips you, telling you that you've been a naughty boy (or girl) - and the other is a t.v. celebrity

Not to mention:

One likes silk, one may have taken it, but neither admits to liking magnolia in a silk finish

Let alone:

One gives you a sentence you cannot believe that you'll finish, the other one that you know that he - or she - cannot finish

As to 'not finishing', there is no polish on them, but there's now more of the same

What did the bluebells tell Jesus?

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29 April

Dmitri Shostakovich concurred that Pushkin was right in stating that bluebells are very WYSIWYG*, pretty Zen.

DS demonstrated as much by transliterating the utterance - as only he knew how - to give the theme of the second movement of his Strinq Guartet [sic] No. 10 (sometimes seen as a printer's error, but actually a subtle slight on Stalin).

That apart, bluebells resemble snowdrops (and Märzenbecher) in being close to the ground, largely odourless, and, although not invariant, quite subtle in their varieties**.

As to whether they blabbed about the true nature of the Messiah and that he would suffer, opinions differ:

* Some say that the manna left in the desert areas was responsible

* Others blame Zionist / Marxist mechanisms of Tidal Flux

* It is, in any case, clear that Mendelssohn only accidentally gave the true name of God in one of the modulations of The Hebrides Overture, and paid a levy to the authorities governing Staffa for his mistake (but it was disguised, in the books, as late settlement of unpaid bills left by Boswell and Johnson)

* Botanists, who get shut out of many such a debate, say that bluebells were not in season at the relevant time - but what do they know about the conditions that prevailed two millennia ago?

* Sceptics suggest that, if the bluebells had been in a position to speak, they would not have been audible for the noise of the thyme and lemongrass

From which we can conclude that maybe the teaching of the bluebells, perhaps not as showy, resembled that of the lilies of the field, in being more like a PowerPoint® presentation in technicolor than a dry, formal lecture, given in a crumbling, drafty hall...


* Which, actually, stands for What You Saved Is With Yuri Gagarian, the official motto of Moscow State Bank (we could not publish the unofficial one, for tax reasons).

** They are not well known in Galilee, it has to be said, but maybe the success that has built on their debut album might lead to a World Tour that takes in the region...

Lunch on the moon?

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27 April

Lunch where?!

Moon and Sun, as for Francis,

They're in the same breath

For me, for a place to eat,

One is cool - literally -

And has coastal views

Peaked by a crisp crest,

Like a salad's crunch:

If you can catch it

Waiter! Could I have another?
Mine's floated off...

Rating: 4*, but no atmosphere

As to The Other Place

(Maybe Stratford-on-Avon's,

Or 'the one not mentioned' -

As with The Scottish Play),

Steaks 'from the grill'

Come burnt to cinders

Waiter! Could I have - instead -
The chicken Caeasar salad?

Rating: 2*, and stuffy in summer

© Copyright Belston Night Works 2012

What did Jesus teach about bluebells? (1)

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29 April

It needs saying: he does not, in the surviving written record, mention them at all.

However, we can infer that he was not indifferent to them (and their social aspirations), because he did talk about or engage with:

1. Lilies in all their finery

2. King Solomon in that connection (famous for his mine)

3. Wheat

4. Other crops*

5. Pigs (and a casting-out of devils involved swine)

6. Vines and 'the fruit of the vine'

7. Fig-trees

8. Sheep and lambs

9. Lamb as meat (in German, Osterlamm for the Passover meal)

10. Bread

11. Wine-vinegar

12. Wine

13. Vines

To be continued


* Which would have chimed with Woody Allen and Diane Keaton in Love and Death (1975)

My fifty-word story (from a few years back)

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27 April

Josef K. had fallen sick again, or so his doctor claimed. Not in person, one must understand, as this opinion was contained in what seemed a hastily penned note, left in the porch.

Josef tutted in a scoffing manner:
he sick, and with the lowest blood-pressure in the district!

He looked again at the scrawl, grimaced, and crumpled the offending piece of thin paper in his sweating fingers - grasping for the wall as he collapsed.

© Copyright Belston Night Works 2012

Economists in the Hen-House

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27 April

Economists in the Hen-House

John Stuart Mill
Was really quite a pill

Pilate said:
What is Truth?

Better that one man---?

© Belston Night Works 2012

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Royal Astonomical Society 'has no back-bone'

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27 April

Such, at least, was - what I deem to be - the clear import of seeing RA55 OFT => RAS SOFT

Or it could be telling me that the owner / driver / registered keeper (maybe all three at once) visits the Saudi town of Rass frequently?

Maybe even a message from or to (if not both) a West Indian person (or persons) about getting angry all the time, as it appears that 'rass' denotes the bum, and, in slang, using the term then means that someone is mad (in the sense of - very - worked up*)

Or, most paranoid of all, maybe it is an allusion to the Royal Archery Society, only there no more is one than such an Armadillo Society, and it is really a front for... you've guessed it, Pierre-Laurent Aimard and all those musical goings-on at Aldeburgh (well, Snape, if one could detect such a village, hamlet, or pair of cottages, though someone must have needed that whacking great maltings!)


* John is work TUP - meaning that he is a Totally Useless Person.

Wreckers comes home to roost: report on a Q&A at the Arts Picturehouse

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26 April

NB This is a report on the answers given to the more significant questions, and a review of the film (presently in draft) will appear elsewhere. * In consequence, please be aware that there will, almost inevitably, be spoilers *

On Tuesday night, I watched the screening of a first feature by Dictynna Hood, someone to whom I had previously spoken, several years ago, about the documentaries that she was making. (Before she was lionized by Tony Jones and his crew, of whom Trish Sheil was going to introduce Dictynna - who wrote and directed Wreckers (2011) and host the Q&A afterwards, I just had time to ask her whether she had enjoyed making this film, which she largely had.)

As, with a Q&A, I formulate a question mentally and try to hold it during the rest of the film, to ask as soon as the initial questions from the person hosting have died down (so that I do not forget my formulation), I came out with (something like):

You mentioned fairy tales and stories from Fenland – what I found in this film was delight, a sense of possibility, things revealed, things overheard or witnessed, tension, jealousy, menace, fury, and I wonder, Dictynna, how deep you had to dig in yourself – or in ancient sources – to find these impulses?

The latter part of the question, with its humorous implications that she might do or want to do the things that her characters do, made her laugh infectiously. She had already mentioned that she had taken strands from real experiences and the lore of the four Oxfordshire villages, now changed beyond recognition by the overlay of the motorway and its traffic, so she had filmed in and around Isleham - and she mentioned the looks and queries that she had received at another screening in Oxford the day before.

As the questions came (and there was a good turn-out and much interest), Dictynna said more and more, opening up as the film does – opening up vistas – as questioners wondered about the status, as dream, of the start of the film (which, as it stands, someone had wanted her to consider dropping, and for which she had also shot a scene in a chapel, also in or near Isleham, which she said was so beautiful as to be unusable, because it looked as though it belonged in a different film – maybe, someone suggested, still to be made, when she alluded to the footage being on the cutting-room floor*).

Others asked about menace during and at the very end of the film, and it turned out that not only had the ending had been thought of very differently, but that, at one point in the conception, the whole thing could even have been much more of a horrorfest! However, not perhaps as alarming as parts of a wheat-field (whose owner Dictynna was most pleased to see in the audience) - the ones that we did not see, which had been trampled by the crew to get the on-screen shot.

In comments, there was interest in and appreciation of how the countryside had been presented, and I asked a further question about location, because there are many instances of people walking, often enough in twos, both in the village and elsewhere: Hood explained that, in shooting in Isleham (which, although not on a through-route, is apparently busy), she had focused on Dawn with David’s long-lost brother Nick (Shaun Evans) on the pavement and shut out the cars to create a deliberate effect.

The perennial question about when in the making the composer (Andrew Lovett) had been involved came up, and, unusually for films, the answer was that, as one of three with whom Hood had worked before and had been approached when it was at script stage, he self-selected by his desire to engage with the work.

Dictynna also commented that the use of music had been deliberately sparing on his part, and he had made use both of silence, and processing the actors' voices to make sounds that one could not quite distinguish, which people present seemed to agree imparted a dream-like element that they also found pervasively in Wreckers, a blurring between what was dream and what seen.

Towards the end of the session, Dictynna revealed more, including a source of the main story in a Viking text, and also a story about the devil (though Nick, she stressed, has other qualities than mere devilish ones). (As she agreed with me when I said a few words afterwards, there are all sorts of resonances, including Shakespearean ones).

Finally, we were told that two more projects are being worked on, one - of all things - a romantic comedy, so watch this space…


* It's always made me think, subconsciously, that hairdressers must be much more house proud, because there the floor is swept clean of cuttings several times per day...