Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Monday, May 30, 2011
Sunday, May 29, 2011
Then Noi announced that her ustaza told her you didn't have to wait for the azan to finish but could pray right away, as soon as it was time. I felt oddly disappointed to be deprived of my waiting - but we decided we'd better check this one out with Rohana, Noi's partner at her prayer classes, as to whether she misconstrued her teacher. I've never seen actually seen anyone start to do the prayer within the timing of the call to prayer, and neither has the missus, hence our conservatism. But wouldn't it be nice to find out that you can start earlier, but then decide not to, on the grounds that some things simply should not be hurried?
Saturday, May 28, 2011
But the killer for me was Elvis Costello's Almost Blue. The penny dropped. Sometimes you don't need to be too clever. Sometimes the feeling's enough. And having a good year for the roses is one of the fundamentals of this life.
Friday, May 27, 2011
Now I've experienced the big world I reckon it's okay, in its way, but not always up to all that much. And a heart needs a home, as Richard Thompson so shrewdly pointed out. And since mine has got the missus in it, and enough books and music to last me pretty much the rest of my days, I'm more than happy to take refuge in it.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
I think I'm reasonably, though not wonderfully, good at dealing with pressure and I can tell you I don't feel remotely diamond-hard when I survive the stuff. I just feel vaguely stupid for having carved out a life that sometimes subjects me to it. And when I see its ill-effects on others, something I've been horribly aware of just recently in quite a few cases, I feel a kind of quiet despair that we've managed to constuct a world in which we routinely arrange for people to be miserable and then blame it on some supposed defect of their characters.
We're not a hard species. We're soft and squishy and easily bruised, even if we pretend not to be. And that's good.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
This all bears out a point made by a singer from another age, that if you're not busy being born you're busy dying. Now I wonder who that might have been.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
But there have been odd flashes of light in the gloom. One yesterday in the midst of a particularly vapid letter read out to inpire myself and my colleagues. It didn't exactly have the desired effect, though working well as a soporific, but I stirred from my less than dogmatic slumbers to register the word functioncentric - if word is what this wee beastie is.
Small pleasures indeed.
Sunday, May 22, 2011
But having said, or rather shouted, that, I can't help but feel depressed at the idea that a fine manager like Ancelotti will be shown the (rotating) door. The logic of this escapes me The supreme lesson in continuity, Sir Alex's years of dearth at Old Trafford seems to have been forgotten or ignored by all. Except maybe Arsenal, and I suspect they may well benefit from their patience next year.
Saturday, May 21, 2011
Isn't it odd how little charm there is in modern popular music? - despite its many other good qualities. I like a sense of intensity - Springsteen-style - but there's such a thing as trying too hard.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
A couple of days ago I was prompted to download the latest version of Internet Explorer. It was quite easy to do, but left me with an interface I don't really care for. And whenever I press the button to 'Publish Post' on blogger.com (which I'll be doing in about four minutes) nothing happens - so I can't publish. I have to get into the site on a different computer to enable you, dear reader, to read my moaning.
And I know that's what I'm doing, moaning. The truth is, I'm lucky to own what I have and get done what I do on this thing, which is all down to the expertise of others. So essentially I'm just being childishly ungrateful. But it's great fun, so that's what I'll be. So there.
Monday, May 16, 2011
I felt like this after reading Sid Smith's fine book on my favourite group King Crimson (nattily titled In The Court of King Crimson.) I remember wondering even as I read whether I really had to know about all the unpleasantness among the various wonderful musicians who graced the band over the years and whether it really helped me hear the music better.
I hope I become a better reader of Golding. That's my only excuse. Otherwise after this knowledge there's no forgiveness.
Sunday, May 15, 2011
Suddenly the world seemed a more cheerful, friendly place.
Saturday, May 14, 2011
Actually it's just struck me that poor Ned Kelly and Carey (Peter) have never stood much of a chance against four writers (Shakespeare, Ackroyd, Carey (John) and Golding) who never fail to reduce me to fanboy status.
Thursday, May 12, 2011
Then it struck me that watching people from other eras in the fashions of their times, as in costume dramas or period movies, tells us an essential truth. We are all of us always dressing up and playing pretend - and it's great fun.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
He also makes a number of convincing points about Shakespeare the man. I buy into the idea of a Shakespeare without sentiment, particularly, a writer for whom the whole idea is that the material must work on stage and that's about as far as it goes in terms of any deeper meaning or message involved. And the notion of a man for whom speed and movement were irresistible has a powerful resonance.
The only difficulty I found reading the book was that I was continually wanting to break off and read the particular play under discussion.
Monday, May 9, 2011
Sunday, May 8, 2011
Changes are afoot in the polity - fortunately attended at this point by a sense of civility from most involved.
But the important things in life go on: our little place is redolent with the odour of dem bones and the gorgeous gravy in which they stew, the kitchen over-heating with the sheer oomph of it all. And we'll be overwhelmed with young eaters this evening, so all is as it should be.
Saturday, May 7, 2011
None of this matters, though. I'd trade a sticky, icky day here for a wet November in Manchester anytime and always.
Friday, May 6, 2011
Last Sunday's audience for The Lion King was a good one - appreciative, respectful of the details of performance, vocal in the right places. But they got one moment fascinatingly wrong. It was when the old lion king has died and is lying dead. The lionesses gather round and cry - pulling actual streamers of ribbons from the eyes in their masks. The effect was strangely moving and grotesque. Yet there was quite a bit of laughter, coming largely from the adults in the audience, I think.
Noi, the girls and I talked about it afterward. Fifi and Fafa knew the moment wasn't intended for laughter, confirming my sense that the effect was a well-judged one that shouldn't have gone wrong. So why had it? My sense was that the laughers had simply not managed to enter the mood of the scene, the world of the play. The lionesses, for them, remained rather wonderfully costumed actresses and were fair game for laughter when they did something that was so obviously false. But for those of us that art had transformed, laughter had been the last thing on our minds at that moment of solemn ritual.
Once audiences lose that capacity for allowing themselves to accept the necessary illusions of performance they (we) lose something not so much precious as irreplaceable. And I suspect they know they've lost it despite all the applause that hides the missing treasure.
Thursday, May 5, 2011
The populace here seem to regard themselves as being politically naive, but this is far from the case. Most people I talk to, regardless of age, or occupation, are extremely savvy, and engaged to some degree in the process, even if they think they aren't. Case in point: this morning I was asked to carry out a lesson in which the key question for pupils to get things going was simply to ask what they made of the election. The result: a series of insightful comments worthy of any participant in the BBC's flagship Question Time. Yet the 'lesson designers' (yes, there are such folks here) seemed to be of the opinion that young peole here are politically apathetic.
Beware simplistic generalisations, say I.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
I was too young to have witnessed live the monumental moment he floored Ali, but watching the moment replayed on English tv over and over in the years that followed confirmed the fact that he was a genuine contender. In fact, he was excellent in the re-match, when Ali was undisputed champion - and we're talking about the young Ali here, simply the greatest fighter ever seen in the ring. Henry's problem was simple and devastating: he was vulnerable to cuts over the eyes, and Ali knew that, and used that.
Sometimes you forget that were times when sportsmen really were giants in every way and you didn't need the hype to tell you that.
Monday, May 2, 2011
How utterly wrong I was - though I knew nothing then of the brilliance of Julie Taymor, the director who engineered the transition. Though engineered is completely the wrong word for a genuinely visionary process. She saw the possibilities of bringing to the stage a mixture of ritual and Broadway bravura to produce a stunning piece of popular theatre.
Last night was one of the best evenings I've spent in a theatre anywhere. (Despite said theatre being situated in one of my least favourite locations, the hideous Marina Bay Sands.) And anyone on this small island who's thinking of going, but isn't sure. Be sure. Brilliant.
Sunday, May 1, 2011
Later we're off to see the stage version of The Lion King and I'm hoping for something genuinely royal.