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Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
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Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Hay: Hunger returns

Hay, final day. Hungry again; no sandwiches; made do with vanilla ice cream cone.

President Allende. Colombian historian describes lead-up to democratic election of  Marxist president in copper-rich Chile, followed by "hands everywhere, finger-prints nowhere" military coup engineered by Kissinger, CIA and the other usual suspects from the North.

Container ships. Moving and enthusiastic account of life aboard two Maersk container ships, huge as small towns yet managed by crews as small as 21. Revels in the detached existence of modern-day merchant marine where ships discharge and load within 24 hours at special ports distant from centres of population, sustaining China's economic miracle over our wide oceans.

Jane Austen. Interactive presentation in which audience is invited to explore The Blessed Jane's novels at the micro level, guessing who smiled 40-plus times in Mansfield Park and speculating on the horrors of living with, and conceiving a child by, the dreaded Mr Collins.

Freakenomics. Lateral ways of solving hard problems by adopting a child's mindset and asking the "wrong" questions. One present project: why does increased wealth not bring happiness?  The jury is, as they say, out for the moment.

P. J. O'Rourke. That extreme US rarity - a journalist who employs his Republicanism wittily - explains the emergence of the self-centred Baby Boomer generation, post WW2 and especially in the US, and how this has tended to trivialise public life and aspirations. Has soft spot for the way Barack Obama dresses.

7 comments:

mike M said...

Canon Collins labelled "dreaded" and Henry K. (barely)not? Anything with the Maersk prefix only brings to mind Tom Hanks in another of his seemingly endless portrayals of Tom Hanks. I'm not sure what you mean by "trivialize public life and aspirations." Rush Limbaugh and Lady Gaga are heroes to half the population.

Roderick Robinson said...

MikeM: Grievous error: Canon Collins was an early stalwart in the CND campaign -or were you too young?. Mr Collins (now corrected) is famous for his marvellously self-serving and ultimately vain attempt to sue for the hand of Elizabeth Bennett.

Kissinger requiring an adjective? Never gild the lily.

Mister Phillips was referred to in the Hay presentation. The crew of the real container ship objected to one scene, characterised by "I didn't sign on to mess with pirates." saying, in effect, you sign up for whatever happens.

mike M said...

I looked up Canon Collins (I'm still too young to know everything), and couldn't fathom your objection to him. Couldn't figure him into the Austen reference either, but figured it was obliqueness on your part, not error.

Managed to endure Capt. Phillips to the end. Crew was portrayed as wishing they had been furnished arms, which would have made pirate fighting easier. Even with TH starring it was reasonably entertaining until the Seals showed, appearing to have all agreed to shave at the same moment six days prior to arrival.

Lucy said...

Gosh, Capt Phillips has evidently made a career change since he split from Princess Anne.

The speculation about the horrors of poor Charlotte's conjugal relations with Mr Collins is one of those things that lurks in every reader's mind, I imagine, but few give voice to the thought, it being too horrible. Especially once the idea has been suggested, as it was somewhere (Jane Austen Book Club' maybe, a rather middling novel but with a few interesting angles), that maybe Charlotte might have preferred to have been married to Lizzie anyway, but the option for girls of her class in Regency England did not exist.

Roderick Robinson said...

Lucy: The thought of coupling with Mr Collins is pretty horrifying though I suspect there are chaps like me who wish they could - for ten seconds, say - change sex to gain a better idea of the full depth of the horror. (Only an idea, mind you; nothing physical). Even on this reduced basis, though, it would take a woman to provide chapter, verse and phrase.

Remember, this was an interactive session and Mr C cropped again elsewhere. Darcy's first proposal to EB was thought to be crass enough to make even Mr C seem "elegant". NOTE re. previous sentence. This was what was what said but I think the speaker was referring to Darcy's first reference to EB, made indirectly to Bingley.

Lucy said...

Mm, well he says to Bingley that she's not handsome enough to interest him, can't remember if it's in her hearing or not, but he certainly make some very uncomplimentary remarks that she hears. But his first proposal is really along the lines that he wants to marry her against his better judgement and dwells on her inferiority in a way that is certainly fairly graceless.

So who does smile more than 40 times in Mansfield Park?

Roderick Robinson said...

Lucy: Thanks for enlarging on Darcy vs. EB. You shoulda been there, of course, glowing like a Janeite ember between us, competing with a phalanx of women who occupied the first three rows and who had their hands up every time. Me, I'm not in that league but I was struck by how this method - approaching JA by the back door, as it were - tells you things you never suspected.

The Mansfield Park smiler? VR, who's reading the novel at this very moment, says it was Henry Crawford but I have no idea. I was carried away by an avalanche of further questions (eg, Who smiled archly? It may have been Fanny whom VR - a revisionist if ever there was one - condemns as "wet" and "JA's worst heroine") all of which led to John Mullan's climactic bit of stage management, based on JA's coded destination for Hell for women who misbehave. The hands shot up. Margate? Margate has its points but not there. Bath? Oh no, not at all. London? You're getting warmer. Lyme Regis? You're getting further away. What's that - say again! Yes, you've got it - Twickenham!!!

Oh I am old and in my dotage. I should have cast my mind back to 1951 when I learned the first and totally immutable rule of journalism - take notes.