I reckon I'd survive at least a couple of days before my reputation would be completely blown. At least that's a bit longer than poor Gordon managed.
Friday, April 30, 2010
Thursday, April 29, 2010
I was reminded of this aspect of progress the other night when I put on one of those deep heat plaster whotsits on an uncomfortably aching lower back. Actually it was Noi who put it on after sensibly suggesting I wear one through the night. Now those things do smell, and you know you're getting your money's worth. Every time I turned over in bed I caught a noseful of my patch's richly pink heatiness and felt like a genuine invalid.
Come to think of it, hospitals don't smell much like hospitals. No wonder health tourism is catching on.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Of course, getting lovely presents helps.
Monday, April 26, 2010
Take this fine bit, from a uniformly fine much longer paragraph, on Mrs Greenow, one of the characters in the comic sub-plot of Can You Forgive Her?:
But she had already married for money once, as she told herself very plainly on this occasion, and she thought she might now venture on a little love. Her marriage for money had been altogether successful. The nursing of old Greenow had not been very disagreeable to her, nor had it taken longer than she had anticipated. She had now got all the reward that she had ever promised herself, and she really did feel grateful to his memory. I almost think that amongst those plentiful tears some few drops belonged to sincerity.
There's a refreshing, clubbable tolerance behind this clear-sighted analysis that you rarely find in the Victorian novel. Jane Austen has something of this, but her charity wouldn't extend to the Mrs Greenows of this world. Trollope's charity is central to his vision. I suppose that's why he tends to be regarded as a comfortable writer, peddling a kind of early version of the compassionate conservatism we've all come to roundly distrust. But I trust Trollope, because he doesn't hide from what money can and does do to people. Mrs Greenow is, in many ways, a dreadful woman, but she's also extremely likeable in her fashion.
By the way, the chap who wrote the rather snooty introduction to my edition of the novel (one Sir Edward Marsh, whoever he be, the edition being one of those natty little OUP World Classics in hardback that you don't see around anymore) thinks the entire Mrs Greenow plot is a waste of time and extraneous to the concerns of the novel. Never trust a Trollope fan, which is what he purports to be. Rarely has a major writer (and I think he is one, when on form) been so badly served by his 'supporters'. A bit like all those dreadful Jane-ites, I guess.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
One thing that characterises the work of quite a few students is an apparent desire to make simple things more confusing than they are. I'm guessing that this is done in the vain hope that obfuscation will be mistaken for depth. Although, having said that, quite a few folk have built careers based on this strategy, so who am I to criticise?
Saturday, April 24, 2010
And that's a reminder of another variety of drama - one sometimes so traumatic in its outcomes (the Bayern game!!!) that the pleasures of satisfied fulfilment are by no means guaranteed. At times I'm almost inclined to stick to massages.
Friday, April 23, 2010
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
But I do know that thinking seriously and carefully about how we treat our planet is an urgent necessity. Fortunately the young people with whom I have contact are more than prepared to do so - and. I think, they'll have the gumption to act on their thoughts. I just hope they have more sense than previous generations, especially mine.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
To some degree this is all preliminary to a reading of Fearful Symmetry, Frye's greatest book (I think) on Blake, I'm planning for later in the year - when I get a life again. I first read FS after innocently coming across it in the school library at Xaverian College, the scene of a good deal of my misspent youth. Talk about a window opening on the world: the realisation that things were a good deal more complex than I had hitherto suspected was welcome if somewhat intimidating for a kid who'd not that long since graduated from the Bunter books. (Does anyone still read Frank Richards?)
I hasten to add that the Frye itself is intended as preliminary to a big push on Blake's Prophetic Books and assorted goodies. And I'm planning a major Hughes festival of one. You've got to get beyond the critics, no matter how good they are, and Lear-like deal with the thing itself.
Monday, April 19, 2010
Amazingly a number of students who witnessed the collision (certainly some must have heard it - it being of the resounding variety) didn't find it funny enough to laugh, but actually offered sympathy. Young people are obviously far more civilised now than of old. When I was a student I'm pretty sure I'd have enjoyed the spectacle of teacher meeting glass door more than a little. In fact, I recall the wonderful Jack Connolly colliding with a half-open window when going incendiary doing one of Lear's speeches on the heath, half knocking-off his spectacles, and still keeping going, much to our merriment, admiration and general delight.
So this joins the other piece of advice every male teacher should take to heart: always check your zip before embarking on an assembly. Fortunately I learnt that one without having to undergo the requisite experience.
One last, odd little detail. Following said collision I walked around with bloodied brow for a good twenty minutes without exciting a single comment from anyone. (I was so busy at that point I just didn't have time to clean the cut.) I suppose it was taken for granted that a teacher on his way to a drama rehearsal might well go to extremes to get into character.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
I'm just about at the halfway mark and, so far, whatever has concerned Alice Vavasor, Kate Vavasor and Lady Glencora has been remarkably convincing and generally riveting. Our novelist really gets inside their minds in a way that is quite remarkable for its time, or any time at all. Whatever else Trollope was, he was in touch with whatever feminine side he possessed.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Now here's the puzzle. As I pointed out the other day, my opinions are invariably correct. So why is it that recalling those of the past so often involves contemplation of pretty egregious errors?
Mind you, I always thought Jon Anderson's lyrics were more than a little iffy. Some things never change.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
He was a lovely man, his warmth and tolerance palpable, and our world will be a sadder place without him. But I suspect heaven will be all the richer.
Monday, April 12, 2010
She'll probably have a good moan when I ring. Yesterday's concerned her increasing difficulty in getting around. And I'll do what I did yesterday - hopelessly murmur my agreements along with all her complaints. It's not enough, but it's the best I can do across the distance, and I think it helps ease her frustrations. If you can't have a good moan when you're ninety-odd then when can you?
Sunday, April 11, 2010
And isn't that original an odd thing in itself, often disconcertingly so? Several of the big laughs in the theatre yesterday had a distinctly troubled undercurrent to them - especially the one following Caliban's wry observation that being taught language means he knows how to curse.
I found myself, for the first time ever, watching the Ferdinand - Miranda sequences almost entirely from the perspective of Prospero. The fruits of aging, I guess. Their Romeo & Julietishness was as obvious as ever, but so was the truth, yet fragility of their beauty. It was almost unbearably lovely-sad, as is the comedy as a whole.
Art changes nothing. The enchantment will never last. The books are for drowning or burning. And the afternoon in the theatre made it all worthwhile. Perhaps.
Saturday, April 10, 2010
I must confess, I knew perfectly well he was looking for his team-mates in the rather jolly Odyssey of the Mind competition to which our school annually plays host. But it was nice to imagine he'd done it all of his own accord. Sometimes being daft just for the sake of it is the best way to be. But being daft on a competitive basis also has its rewards, I suppose.
Friday, April 9, 2010
For reasons too complicated to explain (but which relate to the idiotic scheduling attendant upon excellent programmes of all varieties) I've not really been a regular viewer since the first series, which I watched in its entirety. Having just watched one of the episodes from the final series, in which erstwhile assistant Sharona comes back for a guest appearance, I'm wondering why.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Such was the case this evening. For which I give thanks.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
The best artistic community in that respect is the immediate audience of the work. Being in a good audience can be a learning experience in itself; being in a lousy one can be disastrous in all sorts of ways.
My guess is that the first audience for The Tempest, groundlings and all, was as good as you can get in a theatre, and that in itself feeds into Shakespeare's genius. Wouldn't it be wonderful going to the play without a clue of what you were going to experience?
Monday, April 5, 2010
One of the reasons those reasons escape me is typified by my experience of the early afternoon: listening to a series of TOK presentations in a lecture theatre whose mean (and I mean, mean) temperature would have put an igloo to shame. The temperature there is controlled (or possibly isn't) centrally so there was nothing to be done about it except to shiver and barely bear it.
Of course, I wasn't dressed for the occasion. But, then, I never am because everywhere else is so hot and clammy. There's an irony in all this somewhere, but I'm still too chilled to bother to tease it out.
Sunday, April 4, 2010
And when computer gaming really took off it never took me with it, for pretty much that reason. It was way too complicated for me to bend my brain to. And I've always been thankful for that. It's not that I disapprove of such gaming. In fact, I do have at least some small sense of its appeal, especially the historical simulation stuff and role-play games. And that's why I know that if this had been current when I was a lad I'd have been hooked with the best of them. I'm not too sure that many intense hours at the computer screen would have been all that good for me.
That connection of games with a peculiar intensity is an interesting one. There's no point in playing if you don't play to win. But loss is inevitable (as yesterday's grim result usefully reminded me.) It's the balance between the two that creates the space to lose oneself, and, in the process, find oneself in. Learning to get back up to play on for the sake of playing.
Saturday, April 3, 2010
And just at this moment I'm suffering, sort of enjoyably, the intensity of the United - Chelsea game. About twenty minutes left and a season to save. It doesn't get more real than this!
Friday, April 2, 2010
In fact Tony at one point developed quite a selection of fairly sophisticated games, like a Sherlock Holmes one with Baker Street in the title that I remember as distinctly complicated. But perhaps memory is addled by the fact that reasonably profuse quantities of alcohol accompanied the gaming of that period. It added to the fun, certainly, but detracted from the clarity of it all. I suppose that's why I don't really regard this playing as having quite the same quality as that of my genuine youth.
I also forgot to consider games played with our various nieces and nephews, predominantly Fifi and Fafa. Cadoo springs to mind. And Pictionary at silly Christmasses visiting England. But here the fun took over from the intensity, I think. You really need to passionately want to win, even if you don't mind losing, for games to mean something.
Oh, and what about Scrabble which the missus and I used to play quite often at weekends? And sometimes with Mum when she was visiting Singapore. Gosh, I'd forgotten how good that was. Probably due to the shock of sometimes losing!
Thursday, April 1, 2010
I'm not counting games of a sporting nature here. I played football for far too long actually, contributing to some of my current aches and pains - but I can't say I've got too many regrets about that. No, I'm thinking of games as in the board games variety - Monopoly and that sort of thing. I last played seriously escapistly at university. Not Monopoly - but we had a thing about the wonderful Diplomacy, which I've not heard spoken of in years. I don't think I've seen a set since then. And I got into chess in a small way, playing a couple of guys who were much better than me - which was not difficult as I've no gift at all in that direction.
I also got interested in war gaming in a fair way, or rather developed an interest sparked by reading H.G. Wells's Little Wars (I think that's the title) as a kid. In fact, all the stuff I played at university was a development of what I'd been doing since being around nine or ten. Monopoly, Totopoly, Mine-A-Million, Scoop, Cluedo, The Battle of the Little Big Horn, Risk. Subbuteo, Scaletric. Elaborate battlefields of those little Airfix soldiers, especially Confederates versus Union in the American Civil War. Blackjack, gin rummy, chase-the-lady. Dominoes.
I must have spent far more time on all that than anything productive. Except that it was productive of a great deal of happiness. Paradise, almost.
I must get to play more.