Sunday, February 19, 2017

Getting Stuck In

Expectation reigns within our little corner of the universe on this fine afternoon. The Missus has been labouring to put together some bits and pieces of the culinary variety for some of our chums and I, for one, can't wait to get stuck in. Not sure who invented the notion of High Tea but they should be in line for an award.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

On The Path

Spent an extremely fruitful hour today listening (hard & focused) to the first CD in the Richard Hickox version of RVW's Pilgrim's Progress which recently arrived in the post. It's obvious why Michael Kennedy rates this so highly and sort of centrally in his survey of the great man's works. The echoes of the 5th Symphony seem to explain that work. Strange to think that the composer was, as far as I understand it, an avowed atheist. Or was he? The liner notes to this version of the Progress suggest things were not quite so clear-cut at the time of the completion of the opera, or Morality as Kennedy rightly terms it.

I'm looking forward to the second CD tomorrow, and a window on the Celestial City, whither, I suspect, we all aspire, whatever beliefs we think we adhere to.

Friday, February 17, 2017

In Praise Of The Fridge Magnet - 2

In just one word, excellent life-enhancing, life-altering advice.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Fading Lights

Needed to walk out somewhere at Maghrib just now and was struck by the strange quality of the light at that time. It doesn't exactly thicken, Macbeth-style, but it seems to acquire a certain weight, as if the day has wearied of itself. Yet within that weariness is a sense of expectation of the night to come and the scurrying life that will accompany it. The fading of the light signifies not so much an ending as the transition between scenes.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017


Listened to the great man's Chaos and Creation in the Backyard on getting home from work yesterday and wondered why I don't do so far more often. What a brilliant collection of songs, brilliantly performed. I suppose it was the fact it was Valentine's Day and Mr McCartney is possibly the greatest romantic tunesmith of my time that led to me giving the CD air-time, and I'm very glad I did. Which leads me to ask myself why I so often under-rate him, not, I hasten to add, in his persona as a Beatle, but in terms of the post-Fab Four solo work. I've not even listened to it all.

I think the answer lies in the fact that, through no fault of his own, he's not John Lennon. So you don't get the cutting edge brilliance and audacity of Instant Karma, Cold Turkey, et al. And you don't get that perfect voice. But - I now remind myself - you get the consistent loveliness of My Love, Let Me Roll It, et al and the second greatest voice in Rock 'n' Roll. (What were the odds they'd sing in the same band? Another proof, if you needed one, of the existence of the Almighty.)

I ended up down-loading Flowers in the Dirt last night from i-Tunes, an album I once possessed on cassette, and playing it very late at night just to confirm my faded half-memories of the wonderfulness therein. And I rather suspect there's going to be a lot more down-loading to follow.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Height Of Romance

Exchanged slushy cards with the Lady of the House and treated her to tea and curry puffs at Arab Street. All highly satisfactory. More Tony & Cleo than Romeo & Juliet, but I've always much preferred the later play. And, contrary to appearances, I reckon these are our salad days.

Monday, February 13, 2017


I'm in that delightful period when I'm able to just think about the show we'll be doing in July with my drama guys without the pressure of having to get something definitive done by tomorrow. That part of the process starts in April, though much work is underway on the sets and staging front already. But even with the stuff that's underway there's still lots of room for new ideas & directions and the thought of what we'll be putting on stage in terms of objects, and sounds, is deeply inspirational anyway.

As usually happens to me I'm finding my thoughts revolving & evolving (I hope) around certain obsessive images. An example of this, from many years back now, is how I couldn't stop thinking about circles when planning a version of Roger & Hammerstein's Carousel. (Probably I was the only one involved who realised this, but circles of one sort or another dominated everything - sets, choreography, blocking.)

This time around I can't stop thinking about blood. That sounds pretty weird, no? Well, you can't say I didn't warn you.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

In All Weathers

It's been a blustery, rainy kind of day here. Looking out of the window at a McDonald's this afternoon (we live richly, the Missus and myself) I commented that we might have been back in Edinburgh in late December, were it not for the fact that we were warm and going to remain so despite having to step out into the wind and rain eventually. When we got back to the ranch I phoned John & Maureen to discover that they too had just got back from their morning shopping with the snow beginning to fall. Can't say I envied them.

The good news is that Maureen sounded well, as if keeping it together. The bad news is that she's still not had any serious surgery to repair her eye and her vision remains limited. John was complaining about the cold weather getting to his back, which in a way is promising as he didn't have anything grimmer to talk about. He reckoned he'd be better off in the warmth of this Far Place and I can see his point. That's one of the many reasons that I can find no complaint for being here.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Rough Stuff

Enjoyed a walk to Holland Village and back in the late morning, early afternoon, which suggests I didn't do too much damage to this aging frame of mine yesterday. Was pleased to discover that not only is the old shopping centre still there but there appear to be signs it might survive the on-going frenzy for getting rid of old Singapore and replacing it with buildings of ferocious modernity and ugliness. A big shop in the building that recently disappeared has suddenly reappeared and the little second hand bookshop that does rentals that never quite shut down looks like it's re-establishing its shelves and stock.

If so, this is particularly timely for this reader as I've been thinking of consciously upping the amount of popular fiction I consume this year, especially on the 'murder' front. When I was in Edinburgh in December I found myself quite embarrassed over the fact that I was so unfamiliar with the work of her favourite son, (of recent times, that is) Ian Rankin. I toyed with buying the first of the Rebus novels whilst we were there, but for some reason, which I now regret, decided not to, and have since sought for it in vain on these shores.

Anyway, today I came away with cheap copies of Stephen King's Mr Mercedes and Balance of Power by Richard North Patterson. Patterson's No Safe Place, featuring the key characters from Balance of Power, is one of my favourite 'best seller' reads of all time and I can't quite figure out why I've never read further into his oeuvre - so now I'll put that a little bit right. But I must admit I just had to read the opening of the King and immediately got hooked (and this despite having a pretty good idea what Mr Mercedes is all about from a fairly negative treatment of the little series of which it marks the beginning in a recent NYRB.)

On the serious lit front I just finished Ian McEwan's collection of shorts Between The Sheets. I reckon about a third of the stories therein really worked, another third were pretty interesting and the final third creaked beyond redemption. And now I'm off back to the grisly events in Mr King's little offering, which I suspect will deliver one hundred per cent pure enjoyment, to this reader at least.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Catching Up

Got back to the gym tonight for the first time in a couple of weeks. My right knee still feels a bit fragile - I couldn't do prayers properly for quite a time - and even today at Friday Prayers put up some resistance at one point, but I decided it was now or never. Also my throat finally seems to be back to normal so I judged I'd be able to handle the heavy breathing routine.

It wasn't easy, I can tell you. But I kept going for the full forty minutes and was still walking at the end. Now hoping to be able to get up in the morning.