Wednesday, 28 November 2012
Monday, 26 November 2012
I sought out Double Concerto (for piano, harpsichord and two small chamber orchestras) by Elliott Carter who died recently, aged 104. Why? Because Charles Rosen, who’s performed the piano bit a dozen times, says it is “Carter’s most brilliantly attractive and… most complex work”. For me, whatever Rosen says goes. Also not much was written for harpsichord in 1959.
Friday, 23 November 2012
ESSENTIAL Ignore advice of male driving enthusiasts; they speak a different – often subjective – language. Given the choice I would have a chauffeur.
Tuesday, 20 November 2012
Saturday, 17 November 2012
Thursday, 15 November 2012
Perhaps he did though he's a sporting gentleman (golf) and as far as I remember as tall as me, if much narrower. For now he has a different Zach-imposed name: Grandad Who Looks After Nanna. I have only met GWLAN once and have never discovered how he feels about names that sound to be translated from Zulu.
I know, I said, we'll choose one and give the other to GWLAN (not forgetting N) because they dote on Zach and look after him an awful lot. That was several months ago and the two pictures still hang on our walls. I could submit this problem to the BBC radio programme The Moral Maze. Or invite the services of your good selves.
Wednesday, 14 November 2012
I get up at 6.25 am. Precisely, of course, because by now I'm obsessional. My mind's sharper; my writing's technically better, invention arrives less grudgingly. I know these things even though I know I'm Boastful Brit for saying so. Where's the stiff upper lip, the sense of restraint?
I use this sharpness to cut into whatever needs to be written: presently the final 500 words about two spies fencing with each other, or the final 8000 words of Blest Redeemer. That's the theory. But first and fatally I access LiveMail to find out if anyone's responded. If they have I'll often use up the two hours ostensibly allocated to novels, short stories and schlock verse to being clever-clever with my correspondents. My wider social circle. And commenting on their blogs too, of course.
Receiving an email is almost the equivalent of a letter in the old days, a privilege, a gift despite the technology. Runes to read. I'm in danger of getting sentimental.
So can Amazon, INKcredible (printer inks), Dawson (sheet music), The Marquise at Alkham (swanky food), First Direct (a bank), Santander (another bank) realise how TRULY DISAPPOINTED I am to receive their huckstering blandishments instead of something from a live being in, say, Pennsylvania. How full of bile, how resistant to their products and/or services, how mulish, how trigger-happy, how bloody-minded? How utterly put out? Well now they know and the hell with them.
BOOK NOTE For most people these days Hemingway's down the terlet. Wanting to swim against the tide I'm re-reading A Farewell To Arms. Two extracts:
The town was very nice and our house was very fine.
"Wine is a grand thing," I said. "It makes you forget all the bad."
Tuesday, 13 November 2012
Obviously when I say I don't smile that's not quite true; I have in my time responded to jokes and friendliness. What I mean is I rarely initiate smiles. I distrust the gesture, don't do it well. Here my two brothers Sir Hugh (left) and Nick (right) beam away at the Frenchman we persuaded to take the photo. At best I am smirking.
Friday, 9 November 2012
IT WILL TURN TO DUST
Unconscious of those sleek-fit otter ears
And oblate lips that snaggled teeth conceal.
Should I have been so damnèd confident,
Given those parboiled eyes with pendant sacks,
A mouth that falls apart, an accident,
A wattled neck with flaps of melting wax?
A nose for poking into others’ lives,
Untended hair that apes insanity,
While all the while a tomblike gauntness strives
To add an undeservèd dignity.
Without the face I’m told I irritate;
With it, the greater I aspires to grate.
(1) This is one of my better shirts.
(2) I have learned never to smile for portraits
(3) The prints are first-rate
(4) Zoom and it's worse.
Wednesday, 7 November 2012
... Currently you are donating £5/month on the 26th of the month as well as £15/month on the 26th of the month. We are unsure if these donations have been set up intentionally or in error... let me know whether or not you would like to continue with both of your gifts (or)... if you would prefer to cancel one of the donations.
Imagine! Inviting VR to cancel a donation! In fact it was a cock-up and the single donation is now £20/month.
Monday, 5 November 2012
● THE DIGITAL clock and thermometer were from Barbara. Being un-French she ambushed Grégoire with surprises, with gifts that did more than meet a need. The electronic displays looked far too sleek for his wooden chest of drawers and he accepted them bemusedly. But now the hot nights kept him awake and as one numeral slid into the next (sometimes backwards with the thermometer) he pretended these changes were Barbara, in another form of life, observing him and approving.
● Each had a ramekin straight from the refrigerator, the contents hidden by a hard yellow shell. “Buttered shrimp,” she explained. “In England the shrimp would be brown and very small, fiddly to peel. The best come from Morecambe Bay on the north-west coat. Hot butter poured over the shrimp, a touch of cinnamon, allspice and pepper. France, alas, lacks brown shrimp so I’ve made do with your so-called grey shrimp. A bit discouraging…”
● “Such a silly word in French. Culpabilité. As if there were blame. As if I’d want to think about guilt when you’re here. With your dahlias.”
Saturday, 3 November 2012
This is an inhaler, its benefits obscure. I was, however, seduced by its name - Ventolin. Large enterprises, and especially Big Pharma, are peculiarly bad at agreeable names. Think of Royal Mail becoming, briefly, Consignia. But Ventolin, plus previously mentioned Amoxicillin, buck the trend.
Ventolin is a euphonious (ie, pleasing to the ear) word based on a recognisable root, vent, meaning wind. But the honeymoon stops there. Using it is not intuitive. Stick the boot "toe" between your lips, breathe in and squeeze the plunger. That's the theory, except instinct stops you breathing in as you plunge. Take a week off to rectify this.
Try again. If there's a chill sensation on your tongue then you've misdirected the "toe". The particles have thus been absorbed without reaching the air-ways. Take another week off to master this skill. By this time you're well again or dead.
Moral: Don't be taken in by a nice name.
Joe né Plutarch's phone call (see previous post). He reminded me our first Blogger's Retreat lunch occurred four years ago, the day after Obama's victory. Alas, physical failings preclude me from taking an immediate rail trip. Sink or swim without us, Barack.
Friday, 2 November 2012
I am not well but that’s a good thing, I can write about drugs.
Thursday, 1 November 2012
I shouldn’t complain. Sir V (he was later knighted) gave us low cost books from good authors. But so did Penguin yet their books, even though paperback, didn’t look cheap. Am I too picky? Of course I am.