Wednesday, April 25, 2007

DSC_2986 - ColregsFirst sunburn of the year equals first sail of the year. Yes, I know I probably could have got sunburnt in February and I could also have been sailing much earlier, but, well, we can't all live in San Diego, and the sea's still cold now so it's not as if I'm a total wimp (despite for the most part not expecting to get wet when sailing - capsizing simply isn't a me thing).

So the weekend was spent in some distinctive, or possibly stunningly normal, B&B, complete with beds illsprung swathed clinging sheets and breakfasts where the components are only distinguishable through variance in ratio of grease to salt. I now can understand the friend who abandoned Atkins in favour of a diet with includes jacket potatoes and bananas; it's odd to be driven to craving Coxes* at breakfast and indulging in psychosomatic imaginings of lemons. All this in a room designed round the display of trinketry, furnished with locked keyless bookcases, fake ferns in repro planters, and a eight inch Venus de Milo overshadowed by gaudy chunks of pottery, consisting of petrol station finest, discards of scout jumble sales and some identical to my grandmother's cheapest set (which provided many year's service until I dropped the pile while putting them away), all bathed in the sound of early morning Radio 2 issuing from the ersatz Deco radio. The bedrooms don't quite compete, featuring only foam etched wallpaper suggesting either they put the paste on the wrong side or affliction by recent catastrophic cascades, manic fringing, and doilies like volcanic ash marring some fairly decent pieces of furniture. Taste is an odd thing.

* The plural of Cox's please, MQ.

So after one not wholly sleepless night, but one not helped by intercostal wires, the sight of a sprogmada putting all thoughts of sailing far from our minds, we each devised separate entertainments. One little piggy went to Jewson's, one little piggy went gossip foraging and this little piggy went wee, wee, wee round much of the town, camera in hand, as will be demonstrated by Flickr, where the results are slowly appearing. Rather than repeat what has been said and will be said at the other place (look, it's your own silly fault that Flickr gets probed before the blogs; I know my update rate is low, but it seems to be slightly above average. Flickr has constant new stuff, blogs have that "I'm not giving up blogging but" post yet again).

After the journey of discovery and confirmation, I wander back while we spend a great deal of time doing not terribly much with varying degrees of panache (as per usual). The grand plan for easing boat storage turned out to be not quite so simple, not quite so easy and not quite so effective as expected. Split drain pipes will go, with much coercion, onto scaffolding poles, but if the space is a pig to get into, a little less friction makes little difference. It is the universal rule of that place that a boat requires more people than can sail it to get it up the beach and put away, which given the ever more Parkstone-ish character of the place generally means struggling while certain people feign blindness (the same people who expect help shifting ironwork for private moorings without any use of please or thank you. But then they seemed to think applying a lot of effort was more important than applying a little thought when moving something extremely heavy; cue crashes, yells and demands to get a prop where I was already trying to get one).

At some point we actually managed to get the boat ready to sail and us changed (exempting she who has never knowingly sailed for about a decade). It's probably best I avoid any lengthy examination of the helm's competence, but we spent our time pinching or sailing in sweeping arcs while I tried to work out how to avoid blowback (or whatever it's called - when the wind guided by the jib puts a dent in the main) when the jib's on the verge of luffing. I'm never sure if the helm's not keen on hauling or whether he's enduringly unobservant. The latter I suspect, given how long it took him to realise the rudder had popped up again (we may finally have sorted it out, but more later.

Tiring of being damned if I do and damned if I don't, I take over the helm. We struggle onwards, with my crew infuriatingly trying to crew. Look, just sit still and try to keep the jib filled. It wouldn't be quite so bad if my weight weren't two thirds of his, meaning that my finely tuned shifts to balance it are are demolished by his struggles to get to where he thinks he ought to be. Ferries have sunk from smaller sudden shifts of load. Knowing commands only beget complaints about the tone of voice from him, I try vainly suggesting doing more with the jib that let it be a glorified burgee, but in the end decide my responsibility ends at the mast.

After the rudder pops up once more I decide to head back to Cygnet (spot the Googleproof codename), the crew fretting all the while about the tidal race across the ledges that has been there my whole life and the whole time I've been sailing, all this while the white water is about a third of a bay to port. If I sailed where he wanted me to we'd never make it past the end of the pier. I make it in on the same beat-come-reach-come-run-come-beat-again, the last waver of wind helpfully matching where the crew had left the jib and thus when visible to spectators everything looked fine.

Of course it started going wrong as the crew Rogered too soon, the wind veered a bit more and became onshore again, which is great fun when the crew is holding the boat side on to both the waves and wind, and I ended stuck between trying to get the main down and the rudder up while a spectator suggested I sail it onto the trailer. Fortunately my withering look was lost in the sagging mainsail (apparently he meant it as a commendation or my sailing ability, having such been discussing my competence and the beauty of my approach with she who does not sail. Naturally I treat all such comments and reports of compliments with the disdain they deserve. Of course I bloody well can; I'm me. To expect anything less is to be like GA's Great Uncle Bulgaria, who nearly fell off the stern shortly after asking if I really could row, and my first stroke then wasn't even that hard). Naturally the boat had to retaliate, upstaging and negating my effortless grace, so when I pulled the rudder up the cleat did not exactly come off in my hands, although it did come off on the rope which was in my hands.

Uh-oh. Realising that looking the sheared screwheads isn't going to achieve anything, I wedge the rope under one of the catches for the rear buoyancy hatch (well, it's basically the boat's boot that doubles as a buoyancy tank). Flinging myself forward to loose the main halyard I then manage to get the luff wire slotting into the bottom of the feeder. Standing in a rolling and yawing boat trying to haul a halyard with one hand, lift the boom on a jamming gooseneck and free the end of the wire with my other hand, all while the sail's catching the wind is not quite as much as sailing is. Especially not with a rapt audience.

That's the problem with sailing - the bits that aren't sailing. Setting up the boat not knowing where things have been left, how they've been left and what particular bit of jury-rigging needs doing this time aren't very enjoyable. I would suggest the sailing holiday solution to this (having someone to catch the boat and being able to step off it is so nice, even if I could never quite part myself from the habit of yanking the dagger board out feet away from the beach), but I know that doing things myself does mean that useful things like the bungs go in, at least most of the time.

Having rendered the rudder limited in its ability to manoeuvre (well, if it won't stay down and is lacking the cleat on the tiller which holds it up, then it's limited in its ability to reliably manoeuvre. I managed to turn it into Schroedinger's rudder, or possibly the Grand Old Duke of York's), we haul it up the beach and do the usual shuffle to get it away (having first eradicated all visible thistles). It's probably just as well dinghies don't have BMW-sensitive alarms, and it's hardly has if they really need that corner of boat (bear in mind I've been moving boats for about as long as I've been able to sail them; it's an awkward space with a small approach).

Thence much not-muching and so to dinner. Or rather wandering till we find somewhere to eat. Cue entering a pub to have the 3 guys watching television look up and the three girls clustered round the bar studiously avoid looking. Negotiations on whether the kitchen's still open, but it closes at nine at that's still nearly half an hour away; I'm not sure whether the bargirl was more dismayed to realise that more customers might mean more work or that it still wasn't nine yet. She really wasn't pleased when she realised that despite her hints we might like to eat in the restaurant (partly because the bar was full of smoke; although it turned out to have drifted out to the back restaurant). So back we head, to await the promised restaurant service.

At about quarter to nine we depute someone to go and find the waitress and perhaps mention suggest that us giving the pub is rather reliant on actually being given the opporunity to buy something. This prompts action, along with the request for a credit card to keep behind the bar lest we should flee (er, we just doubled the paying population of the pub and have to walk through the near empty building to get out). Oddly we completely ignore this request and no more is said of it.

We order quickly, except for one who insists on pondering and then goes with what he was intending have in the first place (look, I'm the indecisive one, and I've managed to pick something and it's not even the default lasagne). Drinks appear, which thrillingly for the pub mostly consisted of tap water each with a sole ice cube because we'd said "no ice" and they'd said "it doesn't run cold" (yep, it'll have been sitting under the sun baked High Street all day).

The food appears and we wonder whether we're the only people to have eaten all day. The chillies come in heaped balti bowls and that's not including the rice. I'd reckon to get at least three meals out of that amount of mince. I start wondering whether I ought to have ordered CCC instead of my steak and whatever pie (which is a reasonable size although apparently served from a great height) when I'm asked to taste it. Yep, there's definitely more chilli than either con or carne.

While we eat the waitress slams and stomps round setting with clattered aplomb a couple of tables for breakfast. We indulge in subtle looks and quiet comments, not quite being sure how to take near decapitation by Weetabix. Settling for misplaced efficiency rather than outright aggression we attempt to ignore it, and suddenly it's over to the sound a spinning bowl falling out of thrumb on a table. Theorising as to whether she has to get it done before she leaves and when she might leave we're interrupted again and two people burst out of the kitchen door. A while later they they return and within minutes come back out at the head and crashing procession of the youth of the town. One guy reels out and registers with shock the presence of customers, but he's swept away by the flow.

The silence returns, only the faint eddies in the smoky air betraying the past maelstrom. The waitress reappears to ask "Can I have the dishes?" This is met with silence except by those still eating. She departs, confused. We agree she must be new (Can? Have? Dishes? Asking before we've all finished and knife lies with fork? I know it's not a single shoulder establishment, but that's still being a tad proactive).

We finish and arrange paying, which thanks to chip and pin and a short lead involves walking behind the bar. It turns out she wasn't just new, but this was her first day. I'd never have guessed. And so we depart, leaving the cluster of barmaids to ignore the same cluster of customers-come-boyfriends at the other end of the bar, while young and enthusiastic guys bound in to set up for their hopefully more popular gig later.

And so to bed, via the Guardian crossword, because it's a small, bloody minded, tourist town out of season.
[Below are a couple of phrases intended for a use which never came: guess what and who they're about. Further down is the rest of post, abridged by time]

Slightly flirty, slightly bitchy.
Too known and yet not known.
Once more I've forgotten to finish this off, having left it for probably months, so now I cannot quite remember what else happened. We did our duty, for God, Queen and sailing club. This involved the usual chaos of the start, which was postponed through lack of wind, which then shifted (yes it is possible for an absence to have an angle), requiring a change of course which was still ongoing when the race started. The start also had the quirk of only one person on the committee boat knowing of the new start timing, which gives three minutes intro rather than five, and which none of the laminated and fool-proof paperwork mentioned. Much of the race was spent chatting to the people on an adjoining safety boat (who shouldn't really have been there, but...), and by chatting I mean the adults talked while the children kept making slightly too much eye contact and no noise. But then with powerfully blue eyes, looks a bit like a blond cavalier, gorgeous smile, young enough to still show vulnerability mixed with machismo, old enough to be adult, and of course clad in a wetsuit which invariably flatters [and flattens] you can hardly blame me for wanting to avoid anything inane or crass and thus skipping that branch of communication. Unfortunately I couldn't contrive a situation where I swap with the good doc, leaving us alone and adrift, instead having to settle with being rescued from my marooning by them, during which I felt far more ungainly than I possibly was.

I'm sure other stuff happened (like managing to get two thirds of the way down the main room at the club before I noticed the sumptuously voiced commodore was making an announcement to a rapt audience) but I can't remember much of it. All that's remained is a cluster of mistakes while sailing and the distinctive presence of a cute guy. So that'll be my faults and someone else's everything but. Oh well.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

DSC_2623 - In case of emergencyThe problem with not blogging regularly is that one never quite can remember what has been done. Did I mention the parakeets? No? Oh, well a pair were being both thoroughly incongruous and utterly natural when I went to visit my brother a while ago. First time I've seen them naturalised and it took me a while to work out that the chittering things with odd flight styles weren't just some odd but normal and half-forgotten bird.

Speaking of things half forgotten, Easter was quiet. Literally. I was ploughing my way through His Dark Materials (good but not stunning) on Easter Sunday when I realised that there was nothing beyond birdsong. No cars, no people, no extractor fans ostentatiously shushing, no fractious traffic rumbling, no spiteful compressors hissing, no electrical drilling whine, no plaintively ululating alarms, no generic hum. Just finches, tits and the rest. It's odd to think that that's how Sunday used to be. I know this sounds like nostalgia, but having thought it through, it seems true (at least for certain parts of the country]. Nothing was open on a Sunday. There was nowhere to go. There was nothing to do but go for a walk or visit people. Visiting people meant pre-arranged trips where the journey is a small part of the event. Going for walk meant only that. Partly it's economics, partly opportunity, partly attitude. Petrol was treated as a rarity (even if it was only thought of as that), cars were scarcer, more sacrosanct and less reliable, roads less efficient, but above all the country was shut down for the duration.

It's odd to read that back, because it sounds so old fashioned, yet it can't be, but I know the world never used to this perpetual, incessant, presumptive. It's disconcerting to find oneself aware 'twasn't ever thus. It's easy to learn the world moves on, said he who still half expects the names in the news to be Thatcher, Reagan and Gorbachev, but it be able to recognise differences in the slowly changing parts of it seems strange (and faintly damning - I can't be old enough to know the past).

Speaking of things changing, am I meant to be worried by this Pakistani Summer (well, if an Indian Summer runs into autumn...), which allows the absurdity of watching the Grand National barefoot in shorts through sun-bleached vision? April is meant to be wet, April showers should not come from a watering can; Easter is meant to mean dreary days trapped indoors with books and bank holiday epics, not eggs eaten before they melt.

Incidentally I've been listening to Hypem's radio while typing this. It's an odd mix, alternately dully generic and plagiaristic (just listen to the beginning of Bright Eyes's Four Winds and try not to think about being naughty or nice, but the Jackson's thing may well have been a borrowing to start with). But either their computer tries to blend based on similar sound or fuzzy synths are very in (I suspect it's simply the industry's current vogue for all things eighties - actually, that's not just the music industry, as digital television recently managed to a Back to the Future on air at the same time as Short Circuit and Weird Science. All they needed was a Police Academy to complete the set and the earth would have spun at eighty-eight miles per hour flinging us all into a land inhabited solely by Goldie Hawn and Harrison Ford). But having said that, I'm baling on Hypem as they've just switched from Miles Davis to punk-trance. Back to Winehouse methinks.

Other cultural stuff included a last minute foray into the RA's Citizens and Kings exhibition, which explores the development of portraiture. The Tate's Hogarth thing was more fun and possibly more coherent (the Royal Academy are good at propounding one arguement, stating shifts in style occurred at fixed points in one room and then having the next room wreck any semblance of pattern while ignoring the incongruity between them). Look out for the very blue eyes and his neighbour Calonne early on, a friend's baby sister with castanets on her hip, and the twin eyebrows of Kemble and Siddons. But the best thing in there is Christen Købke's 1832 portrait of Frederik Sødring (No. 81, page 176 of the catalogue [reduced to £4.95 as the exhibition closes on Friday]). It's just very obviously of the Protestant north, because it still looks normal. It's just simple, hence bluntly modern. It's the mix of light, technique and attitude which proclaims it to be a product of Northwest Europe. Which makes me realise I must try harder with my photography, as usually I aim for low sun scudding across the land, flaring on protrusions, yet in terms of art that which grabs me is the immense depth of fairly dull, flat, greyly white light. Cue hopeless search for a bit of panelling beside a window, by Vermeer I think, which grabbed me on first viewing and has lingered ever since. I've got a postcard of it somewhere, yet cannot find it or an online copy. Anyway, you probably get the idea.

And then in contrast we moved onto Gilbert and George at the Tate (with the still damaged chimney). I didn't have anywhere near long enough to go round this, nor really the right company (look, if I couldn't comment on which males I thought were good looking in the images at the RA, an exhibition which burst into full frontal, full rear and full unflattering angle male nudity isn't going to be the most comfortable of viewings. And attempting to come out beneath explosions of spunk might be not be the best idea). But there is some fascinating work in there, along with many intriguing photographs (yep, I did go along the Thames later to work out how the view's changed). I think I'll be going back, once I figure out the right person to go with (if you know anyone who is patient, liberal, tolerant and intelligent...), as it's worth investigating properly. Do keep an eye out for Martin Clunes though, in amongst the semen-eaters.

Oh, and I nearly forgot, in going to the RA I passed through the Jericho sculpture-cum-installation in the courtyard. Rickety towers of shipping container moulded reinforced concrete, with frayed and battered edges. Hmm, I wonder what that's about? Well, the walls of Jericho fell down because they were all eating sloths or something, or perhaps being fans of Gilbert and George (hang on, wasn't that Sodom and Gonorrhoea?). So it has a name redolent of Biblical destruction. But isn't there still a Jericho? And where is it? In Palestine. With the Israelites still running circles around it. Walls falling down, shelled out look to buildings, that curiously impermanent permanence that inhabits lands with volatile economies such as those besieged (I remember being very confused on discovering years ago that a Palestinian refugee camp could consist solely of 4 storey reinforced concrete buildings, because that doesn't really sound like a temporary refuge or a camp). Are the reinforcing bars left exposed through hope of future extension or because the remainder has been blasted away? I think I get the analogy. I also think I quite like the towers, through a mix of gun emplacement chic (well, obsolescence and hence unpunishable clamber friendliness) and the clash with the surrounding neoclassicisms. It still wonder what would happen if they turned the fountains underneath on though.

Think that's it (it had better be, because I'm disappearing for a while imminently). Forgot to mention the pheasant alarm clock but you can figure that out for yourself.


PS. Insert your own links, or just Google (I know it's not the worldwide strand, but I don't have time).

Thursday, April 12, 2007

DSC_2689 - Shouldn't throw stonesI know what I haven't done - I haven't mentioned Flickr recently. Well, maybe just a little bit, and there is the traditional upper right accompanying shot dredged from my account, so you'd probably have to go some way back to find a post without a Flickr link, but I know you lot and your non-link-clicking ways, hence thinking I might just remind you.

Anyway, there's a couple of reasons I thought of doing Flickr. One is I want to post about something else but haven't uploaded the pictures to Flickr yet, so can't add the all important (ok, perhaps purely padding) illustrations. Firstly is the discovery, albeit more much belated investigation, of Guess Where London, which is boring, frustrating, infuriating and quite brilliant. Basically, one has to guess, or know, where pictures of things in London were taken. I added the Hogarth post shot to the pool and despite the obscurity it was guessed in one go. I therefore retaliated by identifying a shot of the Temperance Hospital on its very first viewing and by knowing my postboxes. Of course, my next submission has yet to gain anything more than pageviews, despite saying where it is (sort of) on the front.
And this is about as far as I got before getting distracted. I know there were a couple more things to say, but I can no longer remember what they are. And obviously things have moved on a bit in the world of GWL.

Oh, remembered one of the other things, which was the addition of two new sets reflecting the best and the worst of my account as rated by Flickr. Unsurprisingly enough the trial set titled "Least Interesting" has been less popular than its counterpart. But oddly enough some of the shots in it aren't what I would have thought were the worst (but then most interesting shots aren't necessarily good). Partly I added the sets to investigate what makes interestingness (I'm not that keen on the possible self-reinforcement of the Most set, but GWLing skews it anyway) and partly because I found some cunning thing which makes auto-updating sets possible.

Thrilling, huh?


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

DSC_2401 - Bow on Bow[Some now distant day] was gin day, featuring both Gin Lane and One Gin in a dry London, but disappointingly no actual gin. It started with Hogarth at Tate Britain - look out for the Godliman at number 25, the unicorn's corn, a visual version of consequences, the little publicised counterpart to Gin Lane and remember to always count the hands - and continued with Tchaikovsky's Onegin at the Royal Opera House, which just about managed to be more show than interval.

Yep, that was yet another ballet at an opera house, but then I think I may prefer ballet to opera, even those about simpering girls dallying with contemptuous and contemptible men. It's something about not having awful screeching women interrupting the music, although a chorus line entering stage right en pointe is not the quietest thing on Earth, regardless of intention; it's like having a scattering of lacewings start playing wardrums. Speaking of quiet, a trumpet mute can make a lot of noise, at least it can when dropped mid-insertion. Fortunately our seats were high enough that we could see him chase after it, insert it, play a couple of bars and then change more quietly this time to another form of mute. It was also interesting to notice the French horn players scurry into the active orchestra pit just before they were due to play (considerately the idlest parts of the orchestra were best placed to slink out for a while).

Hmm, I seem to have roared through that far too quickly, so what else is recent? Doing happy family ball games somewhere in South London (otherwise known as seeing how long we can go without breaking into a proper argument - I think the ball deflected the aggression and the retaliation went into shots over powerful or poorly aimed), where the dynamic between whatever I'm supposed to call my brother's girlfriend and my mother would have proved entertaining were it not so loathsome and dispiriting. Essentially my mother set out to dislike her and came away with a cornucontemptia of reasons to do so, ranging from the SIL's folly in attempting to replicate a salad dressing (which my mother had ensured would not be on the salad, demonstrations of attempting to lose weight being more important than actually bothering to do so) by applying the bottles of olive oil and balsamic directly to her plate (less drizzle, more monsoon) to not putting cucumber in the mixed salad but serving it separately, probably to save the SIL's awkwardness in picking it back out again. I think my mother was thoroughly thrown by my brother and co having things to do (at Planet Hollywood, which I think we should file under 'one should not laugh') and so ensuring that the evening stretched into only moderately morose (does this count as Bunbury?).

It's odd, but I can't quite work out why my mother seems set on hating her so. If one has to resort to using cucumber as a basis for a vendetta then it rather debases the whole thing, doesn't it? And what's the betting that if ever my mother caters for any party including the SIL then it'll be sure to consist solely of cucumber sandwiches made with white bread regardless of the depth of snowdrift outside (the logic being that if the SIL eats brown then my mother will choose the opposite, and if the SIL prefers white my mother will seek out a loaf so unpalatable that even the ducks refuse it, while perpetually emphasising the martyrdom of all for the SIL's supposed benefit).

But then my mother's probably decided the SIL, with her scandalously papist ways, intends to trick my brother into creating a bankrupting armada of children. It is dismaying to remember my mother sometimes sounds a little Elizabethan, although she's yet to accuse anyone of Popery (one of the most repugnantly scented crimes), she has expressed disappointment, away from the SIL, that the Scots girl is not an Anglican. I stayed quiet, rather suspecting a Church of England in Scotland might not survive too long, while not being terribly sure of what the equivalent is. But then the wee lassie also appears to care about football, which is on an anathema par, said he who can never remember which way round Rangers and Celtic-with-an-ess are, possibly because in my mind the people who care about such things all live beyond "here be dragons" (cue Idris).

[The following was meant to continue from the penultimate paragraph above, but I got distracted and now realise it might apply to me too, hence not actually bothering to do some proper editing and sort the tangle out]

I know this sounds quite callous, but bright people can be when they so choose. More worrying still they can be when they don't necessarily mean to be. But having played with a camera in the SIL's presence (she accused me of trying to be a paparazzi by walking backwards. I didn't point out that paparazzos don't tend have only a collection of blurs or shoulders and chin shots. I also didn't think saying I didn't have much to say to any of them en masse was a good idea. Anyway, I've always walked backwards in groups; it means I walk slower so don't leave people behind, means I can see what's going on better, hear more, feel more a part of the conversation yet can equally drop out simply by having to look where I'm going), I'm now disturbingly aware of her ability to look remarkably like both my mother and my aunt. The smile rate is up slightly from both of those, but it's not a convincing smile, and the frowns and grimaces are far more prevalent; the latter being a pure [mother's maiden name] expression.

And having aimed a lens about all afternoon, I realised that of the lot us, my brother's the only one who smiles much of the time - I've no idea what I do. I used to smile a lot. The brace and school overcame that. I started doing it again and then I started noticing the permanent lines in my cheeks, so tried to stop (leaning on my hand is a really bad idea [as I just realised I'm doing while proofreading], and the crease slitting each dimple makes me want to cry), then came the continuing tectonics of failed orthodonistry (whatever certain people say, it is not anything that can be loved) and being told off for using what was termed a cheesy grin in a group photo and then having every subsequent attempt at a smile rebuffed as unphotogenic (the final version has me looking waspish). Have you ever tried to smile when you've been told that what ever you do it makes you look awful?

Somehow I've managed drift from my family's foibles to my own frailties. Yet I ardently dislike both the realisation that my body might not be forever youthful and that I'm vain enough to care. I'm above all that, said he wondering what that Boots thing was they had in Horizon a while ago (answer: expensive, and whatever happened to the impenetrable-if-you-missed-the-first-five-minutes Horizon of probability waves and suchlike? The one that was aimed over everybody's heads, but that was fine because we're all used to encountering things we don't understand until we think about them? Whereas now it's rehashing poorly simplistic stuff we already knew. It's become podcastable. Why watch the whole programme when a 3-minute mp3 or mpeg can tell you the same amount of information, and everything is already in a short article on the BBC's website or that of Guardian? Where's the stuff that says "Warning: Heavy Thinking"? Where's the stuff that isn't just old news with the names changed?).

Once again I've strayed. But I'm not sure what else there is to say, other than how much I'd forgotten what London is like. It has people, many people, young people. It's very disconcerting to suddenly look up and make contact with a pair of blue eyes when that hasn't happened for months. Especially when in directly behind one's parents and those eyes happen to be male and oh so attractive. It's horrifying to think how easily I'd forgotten the youthfulness, the busy-ness, the density, the enjoyment, the happiness, the interestingness (damn you Flickr), the not-tired-of-life-ness, the summer-come-early-ness, the divertingness, the entertainingness, the provocativeness, the playfulness, the more-fun-than-The-Family-Ness-ness, the all-the-world's-a-stage-so-come-and-play-it-ness of it all.

And sitting through a ballet betwixt my parents, my mother bemusing the students beside her, my father grinding his wallet into me as he edges onto my chair, silently trying to escape the couple next to him who dared to be the same sex, all the while trying not to show excessive interest or disinterest in the thighs, buttocks and what one imagines to be codpieces arrayed before me. Then came the misery of the Tinkerbelling, where all got an equal clap on the first round because I couldn't decide which level of bluff to use (while also wondering if any mean set designer has incorporated a mirror behind the bowing ranks; the costumer design noticeably preferred the male form), which was just as well considering they seemed to run through every possible combination, a system either gained from Mastermind the boardgame or from those dull psychological tests which imagine that rephrasing and paraphrasing the questions will encourage widely differing answers thus betraying inner turmoil or possibly the fact the respondent got bored and made pretty zigzags down the multiple choice columns.

And speaking of processes of deduction, I'm not much forwarder, having noticed and commented something which might affirm the operating hypothesis, but it might also just suggest I'm forgetful or having been paying attention.

And... not at all connected (was that convincing?), Martin's pestering on Flickr (oh, 4,658 photos / 30,002 views), lead me to the discovery of Eurion, which I've therefore just noticed as the anthers and watermark surround of a ten pound note (I only have £10 notes on me at the moment).


Thursday, April 05, 2007

DSC_2438 - In[ter]ventionJust finished the Life of Pi. Of the books I've finished recently, it's the best, although the competition was Iain Banks's Espedair Street and William Corlett's Now and Then. ES I failed to get into, which is odd for the author but it didn't really do anything in itself and thus did nothing to me. Now and Then was interesting enough although a tad Mills and Boonish (I think it just about avoided mentioning a 'throbbing member'). The better bits were probably intended as padding, but it is slightly disconcerting, and rather annoying, to have read a book describing the dullness of people whose conversation is dominated by route planning and then find oneself surrounded by family plotting alternatives to Wandsworth while I silently wondered where on earth Mitcham is (it turns out to be somewhere no one else can find and hence is quicker).

Reverting to Pi, have I mentioned never forgiving my brother for countermanding Roald Dahl's declaration that the story of Henry Sugar is true? Because I wanted to believe it and I didn't want to believe that an adult would lie about lying. I can and could with fiction, but to say something was based in truth when it isn't was forcefully disillusioning. But this gets me away from the book - oh, I've just realised it was an ark, or perhaps The Ark (God, I'm slow), or maybe the ark of the covenant school educated boy, or even an arc as in a circle as in pi - which is a master of magic spells and illusion (allusion?). Is storytelling for the sake of storytelling worthwhile? Is embellishment for entertainment acceptable? Is invention an improvement on what might have come before? Is doing something because one can good, bad or necessary? Is the differentiation between improbable and impossible relative and does it matter? The boy's named after a swimming pool; this oddity stays constant regardless of anything else, so why should anything be classified as absurd? And were they meerkat bones?

A thoroughly good book (could that be why it won the Booker Prize?), readable, interesting, engaging, running beyond what is needed to be any of those. Like a Lynch film for the number of questions it can provoke (it even has some at the end to aid book group discussions), yet more entertaining and satisfying, and distinctly less harrowing (oddly enough given one does coprophagy and detailed butchery, the other mostly just darkly lit clever editing, yet the pragmatic analysis neutralises everything in the former and the lack of reason bolsters the latter). About the only thing it didn't do was make me learn new words (reading Stephen Fry does tend to spoil one).

And I'm not doing well in reviewing this so I'll stop. I do wonder how many people will get themselves killed by tigers after reading it though.

Oh, and the image is shot from near the end of the book, with the amendment, not made by me (b... b... but you can't write in books! That's as bad as folding the corners of the page over to mark place) possibly ramming home the point of it.

Except I've just discovered the line as amended is how it is reproduced in the book group questions appended in the book. So not only is it possibly one of the most pivotal lines in the book, bringing in or reinforcing a specific interpretation, but it is one that either was left out or edited out. Which seems very odd (and makes me realise it wasn't just Sin being cynical; yep all the books mentioned were/are his). What about the American market demanded that God, or a challenge to God, must be excised from the closing chapters?

Perhaps I'm making to much of it, but hands up if you can spot the difference between the following lines:
A. "Thank you."
B. "Thank you. And so it goes with God."

Which do you think might offer more insight into either the story or its interpretation?


Sunday, April 01, 2007

[Realised I forgot to add later: Yes it is]

Greece 4 600 - 20You know I asked you a while ago to advise on a matter of ettiquette? Well, this time I've got a bigger problem.

I've just discovered, and I'm not supposed to know about this, that a friend who never quite got round to giving me my Christmas present (it's typical for her; somehow purportedly wondrous presents are mislaid or forgotten and so never appear), has, in lieu of whatever marvellous yet unseen item she supposedly already bought me, managed to front row tickets on one of the preview nights for Jersey. Naturally enough, this being a musical which is based around the work of Bon Jovi (and you thought Mamma Mia was bad enough. Whatever next? A Scooch biopic? I fully expect some scene of great brinkmanship to erupt into a mime-the-actions version of Livin' on a Prayer*), the other members of the party include she who is giving me the ticket and er, that appears to be it. So basically my Christmas present is being co-opted as a presentable male to something she wants to go to but doesn't go to on her own. Such a generous gift. Tell me - this drink tastes odd - have you put something special in this chalice?

* I had made some comment about dreading the scene which leads to Paradise City before remembering that that wasn't them. Being such a great fan of the mighty Jove I'm struggling to remember any other songs of theirs. There's the one I remembered while Flickring, You Give Love a Bad Name, which confusingly features the line 'shot through the heart', which I think is a completely different song also by them. Oh, and there's It's My Life. Can't imagine that one being too hard to crowbar into pretty much any show, unless it's entirely about zombies or perhaps rocks.

So I need to find a way out of this, which short of finding an extremely rich, insultingly good looking, ludicrously charming man (scratch the last one, Titian wouldn't notice as long as there's constant money) with profoundly dodgy taste in music to displace me in the ticket-buyer's conciousness isn't looking likely. The alternative is remembering the words of Baden-Powell and so endeavouring to remember the words of the big BJ; if my life will not be worth living I may as well make it thoroughly so.

And I thought the front row of Avenue Q was rictus-grin mortifying enough (ok, so I liked that, but we all have a little secrets, don't we, Mr Owns Three Sugababes Albums? I'll leave it up to the rest of you to work which Anyhooite that is. Point and laugh at will). Wish me power-chord heavy luck; hopefully I'll suffocate in a cloud of dry ice.


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