12 December, 2006

Bruay la Buissiere, France

I just spent a very pleasant, sunny weekend in northern France. A friend bought a small house in Bruay near Bethune, about one hour from Calais and a few friends and I took the ferry across the English channel and arrived there late morning just in time to help get lunch ready. Because it is not in one of the usual tourist areas very few of the locals speak English so one is obliged to try a little French. This led to incomprehension on all sides but also to lots of humour.
Bruay is in the area which was devastated by the First Word War and is one of the poorer places in France. However, it is a very interesting place and the local inhabitants are very friendly and welcoming but puzzled why an Englishman would want to live there. Alex's house is a refurbished miners cottage at the end of a terrace opposite a local butchers and a small bakery. France still has very many small specialist food shops as supermarket penetration is much less than in the UK. Even in ordinary working-class areas there are cheese shops, wine shops, pattiseries and independent boulangeries. We went out early on Sunday morning to buy fresh baguettes and croissants which were baked on the premises. They made a superb breakfast with fresh orange juice, coffee and a slice of Port Salut and mimolette cheese.

28 November, 2006

My Heroes (22) Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan was born in Duluth, Minnesota and came to New York in 1961 partly to pay homage to his idol Woodie Guthrie, who was dying in a New Jersey Hospital, and partly to make his name on the Greenwich Village folk scene. Since 1962 he has produced a never-ending stream of music that, more than anything else shows his genius as a song-writer. His latest CD, ‘Modern Times’ made him the oldest living artist to top the album chart at the age of 65. It is a magnificent recording which owes nothing to current music styles and, in a way, sounds like the past 40 years didn’t happen. It’s a remarkable tour de force that I have played endlessly for the last three months.There is a whole industry of Dylanology that has grown up around him; people have written books attempting to analyse some of his more inscrutable lyrics and examining the entrails of every segment of his life, both private and public. The dubious ‘science’ of rummaging in the contents of star’s household garbage, to get details of their habits, began with Dylan. However, he has always kept his silence and maintained an air of mystery; he hardly ever speaks on stage and has always denied his interest in being a ‘protest’ singer and says he never wanted to be in that position. There is no denying that, throughout his career, he has cleverly positioned himself in the most advantageous position for the furtherance of his chosen profession.

27 November, 2006

Guess what this is!

Clue one: Picture taken fifty years ago.
Clue two: Object weighs over one ton.
I will post the answer in a day or two!

23 November, 2006

My Heroes (21) June Tabor

June Tabor is an English folk-singer in the traditional style with an instantly recognisable voice. Here are some comments about her from various places:
"Tabor has used her amazing voice to reinvent and experiment with both contemporary and traditional songs"
"Anyone who has heard June Tabor sing isn't apt to forget the experience. Her voice is one of the few genuinely unique vehicles of the folk world: haunting, powerful, and with a deep feeling for the song, it has won praise and admiration beyond the confines of 'folk'."
"I prefer her traditional and more traditional-soundings songs to her contemporary pop-ish stuff, but will listen even to songs that aren't really to my taste for the wonder of her voice--she is a masterful interpreter of all kinds of songs. She might be an acquired taste because she's not for the easily depressed--her material is usually deep, soulful, painful, though she does some wonderful, lively, funny traditional material, too."
If you would like to hear some of her music click here to go to a brilliant site where you can scroll down to listen to some of her wonderful interpretations of some songs about The Great War. I recommend 'No Man's Land' & 'And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda'. They also have the beautiful versions by Eric Bogle, who wrote the songs. This site happily lets you know that you may download any of these songs in MP3 format, free of charge.

However, I warn you that you need to be in a mellow, introspective mood to listen to these songs. They are extremely moving and, if you have any sensibility, you will need to wipe away the tears. Dona Nobis Pacem.

18 November, 2006

Twenty Heroes

I have made links to the first twenty of my 'My Heroes' series.
Coming soon!:
Bob Dylan, Walter Matthau, Sebastian Faulks & more!

12 November, 2006

The Costa Del Sol, Spain

The Marina at Puerto Banus

I just got back from three full days on the 'Sun Coast' of Spain. We had three days of unbroken sunshine with temperatures in the mid 70’s (24c). Marbella (pronounced ‘mar-bayer’), in the province of Andalucia, is the classiest resort on that coast. We parked our hire car between a Lamborghini and a Maserati without shame! Puerto Banus is the marina area of Marbella and is the kind of place where lots of people-watching goes on. Although not officially a part of the ‘beautiful people’ set me and my gang did get some looks – mainly opened-mouthed disbelief. ‘What are these people doing here?’ kind of looks. Although the town is dripping with money and is the resort of choice for starlets, millionaires and the richest of all Britons, soccer players, there is still a down to earth side of town. Orange Square in the old town has a 16th century Town Hall and lot’s of small good value restaurants.

The 16th c. Town Hall in thePlaza de los Naranjos, Marbella.One of the many fine beaches and promanades in Marbella.

09 November, 2006

Quiz Question (4) Heart of Darkness

Heart of Darkness is a novella by Joseph Conrad first published in book form in 1902. It tells the story using a device known as a frame: one, unnamed, character is relating a story told through another narrator, while the two of them are waiting in a ship anchored in the Thames Estuary. The book is very well written and, incredibly, Conrad is writting in his third language, English. His first two were Polish and French. His skill with words is nonetheless amazing, as he tells the tale of a company agent who steams three hundred miles up an African river to seek a rogue company man. The themes of the book are the evils of imperialism and an examination of many forms of 'darkness', both physical and mental.
What famous Oscar-winning film was based on this story?

07 November, 2006

Dona Nobis Pacem - the Peace Blog

Super Blogger Mimi has gone to extreme lengths to make sure that there are loads of bloggers, all over the world, posting this Peace Globe today. So here is my contribution!

01 November, 2006

Computer Problems!

I expect my posts to be a bit limited for a week or so while I sort out some computer problems. I do hope to be able to visit most of my favourite blogs though. See you there!

28 October, 2006

Cockney Rhyming Slang

The true definition of a Cockney is someone born within the sound of Bow Bells. That specifically refers to the bells of St. Mary-le-Bow church in the East End of London, however it’s a term generally applied to indigenous working-class east enders and sometimes, loosely, to any working-class Londoner. The word itself originates from fourteenth century English meaning a cock’s egg; a term used by country folk to refer to town’s people. I imagine the implication was that town-dwellers, being unwise to country ways, would not know that hens, not cocks, lay the eggs!
Cockney Rhyming Slang (CRS) is not a language because all of the words used are clearly English, neither can it be called a dialect because those who use it are perfectly capable of not using it. Here’s how it works: Words, usually nouns, are substituted by a pair of words, the second of which rhymes with the original word – but, usually, only the first word of the pair is used. Confused? Read on.
The best way to illustrate the above is by example. The CRS for stairs is ‘apples and pears’, so the word used is ‘apples’. “I’m just going upstairs” becomes “I’m just going up the apples”!
Here are some other CRS words that are still in common use:
Arse= Khyber (Khyber Pass) so “Stick it up your khyber.”
Mate= China (China Plate) so “ How are yer, me old china?”
Phone= Dog (Dog and Bone) so “ I’ll give him a dog tonight.”
Look= Butchers (Butcher’s Hook) so “Take a butchers at Tom’s new jam jar [=car].”
Things can get really obscure sometimes when a double link is used. For example, Arse (again!) can sometimes be Aris. This is from Aris being short for Aristotle, which rhymes with bottle for which the rhyming slang is ‘Bottle and Glass’ and glass rhymes with arse! There are no rules!
If you are new to this try translating the following and I will post the answers in a couple of days:
1) She’s got beautiful minces.
2) She may be his skin and blister but she’s nothing like him.
3) I can’t see. Where’s me gregs?
4) I bought a new whistle for me wedding.
5) What a lovely pair of bristols she’s got!
It’s a living culture and new slang for modern words appear all of the time.

22 October, 2006

My Heroes (20) E. Annie Proulx

Annie Proulx (pronounced 'Proo') is a writer of wonderful fiction. Her densely written, observational style is packed with lots of detail and a very strong sense of place, such as the unfashionable parts of Newfoundland, Wyoming and Texas. Her descriptive writing always reminds me of John Steinbeck's work due to her obvious affection for the places and kinds of people who are not usually the heroes of modern fiction. She has a Dickensian knack of naming her characters in an outlandish way that very soon seems to be perfectly natural.
For example “That Old Ace in The Hole” (2002) features, among others, Jerky Baum, Pecan Flagg, Blowy Cluck, Coolbroth Fronk, and Waldo Beautyrooms. It’s the story of Bob Dollar, hired by Global Pork Rind to buy up small farms, in the Texas panhandle town of Woolybucket, so that they can be turned into hog farms under the guise of buying land for luxury housing. The book touches on the larger issue of pollution and depletion of the water table as a background. The story is fairly thin on plot but rich in character and anecdote.
“Accordion Crimes” (1996) lovingly tells the story of a succession of owners of an accordion. Annie Proulx is a dispassionate observer of life but she does not shy away from unpleasant scenes and can be brutally honest in her depiction of those who are the losers in life’s lottery.
“The Shipping News” (1993) is a magnificent novel that demands a lot from the reader, whose attentiveness will be richly rewarded. At the start of each chapter a picture of a different type of knot is shown and this turns out to have a metaphorical reference to the content of that chapter. It was turned into a successful movie with Kevin Spacey in 2001. In a similar way “Postcards”(1992) showed a drawing of a postcard at the start of each chapter with a message that was sometimes directly relevant to the story and sometimes just added background colour. In 1997 she wrote a short story which was published in a collection of her work called "Close Range: Wyoming Stories" (1999) which was filmed in 2005. That was the very successful "Brokeback Mountain", in which she typically tackled a subject that had hitherto been taboo in mainstream literature.

19 October, 2006

Marwell Zoological Park, Hampshire, UK

Zebra and Ibex share a large open space together

Marwell Zoological Park is near Winchester, Hampshire in southern England. It is run by a Charitable Trust and is especially concerned with animal conservation and is involved with the protection of British species as part of the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. The park is laid out over a very large open area with great access to all of the animals.

The meerkats are always popular with small children.

A beautiful eighteen month old tiger

An unco-operative rhino who wouldn't look in the direction of my camera.

16 October, 2006

American vs. British English. Part, the second

The huge number of words, phrases and expressions that differ between US, British, Canadian, Australian and Indian English can lead to misunderstanding, confusion and, best of all, lots of humour. Some common words that differ are (US first): faucet=tap, sidewalk=pavement, pavement=road-surface, broil=grill, diaper=nappy, soccer=football, apartment=flat, elevator=lift, fries=chips, chips=crisps, jello=jelly, jelly=jam. This list could go on for many more words; it's a wonder we can understand each other at all!
Here are some common spelling differences: favorite/favourite, color/colour, analyze/analyse, memorize/memorise, enrollment/enrolment, catalog/catalogue, check/cheque, plow/plough, tire/tyre, leaped/leapt, strove/strived.
Also in the US it is common to say "You have gotten much better at doing that" while in British English you would say "You have got much better at doing that". (Also what they were actually doing would probably be different too!)
I would be interested in hearing from other English speaking nations about their own differences.

14 October, 2006

Quiz Question (3)

The name of which famous literary work is contained in the completion of this short item. It was originally a prose piece but is now usually presented as verse:
No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manner of thine own
Or of thine friend's were.
Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know......

11 October, 2006

Bournemouth, Dorset, UK

The pier houses amusements and a theatre

What a surprise! Bournemouth turned out to be warm and sunny all weekend. It’s full of leafy avenues lined with tall pine trees which allow dappled sunlight on to the streets below and good quality hotels staffed by enthusiastic young people from various European countries such as Poland, Lithuania and Spain. The houses are mainly Edwardian and make creative use of red brick as a building material. It’s a classy seaside resort with the minimum necessary amount of the usual blights of the English coast-line such as ice-cream parlours and tea-rooms. The demographic profile of England’s south coast always used to be that of a disproportionately aged community, full of retirement homes, convalescent homes, residential nursing homes and sedate, expensive hotels. But that has changed considerably in recent years and, in Bournemouth at least, there is a university, an Art college and lots of language schools which attract thousands of young foreign students. Consequently there is a thriving night-life with lots of restaurants, bars and entertainment.

These tiny beach huts, facing the sea, fetch a premium price and there is a long waiting list to obtain them. The road in front of them is free of all traffic.

05 October, 2006

In Bournemouth For The Weekend

I am going to Bournemouth, on England's windswept and rain-battered south coast, with a big family group for a long weekend. I hope to be posting again by next Tuesday. I wish everyone who stops by here a peaceful weekend!
My cowboy friend is going away too!

03 October, 2006

My Heroes (19) Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins is the author of 'The Selfish Gene' and 'The Blind Watchmaker'. The subjects of his books are evolution and genetics and he is a devout atheist, which is not the reason he is one of my heroes. He makes the list because of the way he writes and manages to make a difficult subject accessible. For example, it has long been a staple arguement of creationists that something as complex as the human eye could not have 'evolved'. Dawkins meticulously and patiently explains how some lowly life form would have, by chance genetic mutation, have created a single cell that was slightly light-sensitive and this gave it a tiny 'edge' over it's competitors because it could hide from predators when it detected their presence via the light-sensitive cell. Thousands of generations later this advantage would have spread through the population and then a second mutation would have produced another light-sensitive dot on an animals surface and two light-sensitive spots gives you a knowledge of direction of light source through stereoscopic 'vision'. It's a slow, bit by bit, progress over millions of years but eventually - the eye!
Dawkins was also the originator of the idea of the meme a kind of cutural gene that passes through the population and grows if successful and dies if not in an exacly parallel way to the gene.
Most genetic mutations kill their host but the very rare ones that benefit the host are passed on through DNA to the next generation and slowing spreads through the gene pool if it is advantageous.

30 September, 2006

Banbury, Oxfordshire

Banbury Cross, Oxfordshire. This one was erected in 1859,
one hundred years after the famous nursery rhyme (below) was first known.

Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross,
To see a Fyne lady ride on a white horse.
With rings on her fingers and bells on her toes,
She shall have music wherever she goes.

The delightful Oxfordshire Market Town of Banbury is in an area that has been inhabited for well over 2,000 years. In 2002 Iron Age workings dating back to 200BC were discovered but the town was not really developed until the 5th century when the Saxons developed the town. Then, in 913AD, the Vikings ravaged north Oxfordshire, but they were traders and they established a number of market towns and Banbury actually benefited from the Viking 'input'.

Today, it is one of a large number of English towns that are full of history, which is best shown through it's range of buildings. The Tudor property shown above is in superb condition and now houses a modern retail shop. Below, I have shown a Victorian-built public library, which is a typical example of minor public buildings of that era.

29 September, 2006

My Heroes (18) Woody Allen

"My one regret in life is that I am not somebody else"
I adore the films of Woody allen He has been making about one movie per year for the last forty years and his output is probably better received in Europe than in the USA. Some are better than others it’s true but very many of his fims are classics. My personal choices would be Manhattan, Annie Hall, The Purple Rose of Cairo, Small Time Crooks & Bullets Over Broadway.
I love the sequence in Bullets Over Broadway where a gangster is keeping an eye on his boss's talentless moll (who has been shoe-horned into a part in a play) and while he sits in the stalls at rehearsals he gets interested in the play and begins to suggest improvements and eventually takes over the direction to the dismay of the author John Cusack. Another great sequence is in Small Time Crooks; a gang takes over a bakery shop next to a bank. They plan to dig a tunnel over a long period and rob the bank. The robbery fails but the bakery is an enormous success and they become millionaires! Great stuff!
There are several strong distinguishing features and recurring themes in Woody's films. Some are obvious and well-known such as his often repeated portrayal of a nerdy nervous New Yorker who always seems to attract beautiful women and the way he often portrays himself, or his leading man, as a writer or film director. The credits to his films are always white on a black background and non-rolling and he favours the technique of using long and medium shots to film a conversation instead of the more usual chop and edit style cutting from one speaker to another.
The films often have minor characters caught up in a sub-plot where a couple have a very dysfunctional love-life and his technique of turning to the camera and addressing the audience directly was best shown in this sequence from Annie Hall:
MAN: It's the influence of television. Now, now Marshall McLuhan deals with it in terms of it being a, a high-- high intensity, you understand? A hot medium--
WOODY ALLEN: What I wouldn't give for a large sock with horse manure in it.
MAN: -- as opposed to the truth which he [sees as the] media or--
WOODY ALLEN: What can you do when you get stuck on a movie line with a guy like this behind you?
MAN: Now, Marshall McLuhan--
WOODY ALLEN: You don't know anything about Marshall McLuhan's work--
MAN: Really? Really? I happen to teach a class at Columbia called TV, Media and Culture, so I think that my insights into Mr. McLuhan, well, have a great deal of validity.
WOODY ALLEN: Oh, do you?
MAN: Yeah.
WOODY ALLEN: Oh, that's funny, because I happen to have Mr. McLuhan right here. Come over here for a second?
MAN: Oh--
WOODY ALLEN: Tell him.
MARSHALL McLUHAN: -- I heard, I heard what you were saying. You, you know nothing of my work. How you ever got to teach a course in anything is totally amazing.
WOODY ALLEN (To camera):Boy, if life were only like this.
I cannot count the number of times that I would have liked to have my own 'McLuhan' to produce whenever neccessary and I always recall that scene.

25 September, 2006

I've been tagged by Gem!

I've been tagged by my blogger pal Gem with this here book meme: also for today (Tuesday) this blog is awarded Bestest Blog of The Day!
1.One book that changed your life - the hardest question first.
Richard Dawkin’s ‘The Selfish Gene’. It is a book that explains genetics in a way that only religious fundamentalists could object to. (And they do). Dawkins is a virulent and uncompromising atheist but I believe there is still a place for religious belief within evolution and genetic study, although it’s not for me. This book changed the way I percieve the world and I have told the author as much.

2. One book that you've read more than once.
‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. This was my introduction to the genre of magical realism and I was knocked out! Fortunately it has a family tree printed on the inside cover because the names of the characters are all so confusing one needs to continually refer to it. The opening sentence of the book is this:
“Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.” Note the inbuilt contrast between ‘fire’ and ‘ice’. Garcia Marquez is a master and this book has stayed with me for twenty years.

3. One book that you'd want on a desert island.
If there’s a book called ‘The Boy’s Own Annual of Escaping From A Desert Island by Using Coconuts and Seashells’ then that’s the one. However, if not, I would want ‘Palgraves Golden Treasury’ particularly the copy that was awarded to my mother as a school prize, which I already possess.

4. One book that made you laugh.
‘The Third Policeman’ by Flann O’Brien. If you don’t know this book or only know it through a strange reference to it in one episode of the TV series ‘Lost’ you will be in for a surprise. Whatever you think it may be – it isn’t! For example, how often have you come across the phenomenon of a man who is slowing exchanging molecules with a bicycle so that he and the bicycle are gradually changing into each other. No, I thought not! The book is surreal, satirical, complex, surprising, very funny and one of a kind.

5. One book that made you cry.
‘Schindler’s Ark’, the book on which the film ‘Schindler’s List’ was based. (It may have been published in the USA as ‘Schindler’s List’). Explanations unnecessary.

6. One book that you wish you had written.
‘Essays’ by Michel de Montaigne. You might think this to be a dull and dry collection but it is far from it. He wrote on every topic with insight, reason and humour and, for me, he represents humanism more than any other writer. Here are some of his quotes that I would have loved to have written: “Marriage is like a cage; one sees the birds outside desperate to get in, and those inside equally desperate to get out.”: “My life has been full of terrible misfortunes most of which never happened.” And finally, the quote that makes me think that he would have been a brilliant blogger: “There is no pleasure to me without communication: there is not so much as a sprightly thought comes into my mind that it does not grieve me to have produced alone, and that I have no one to tell it to.”

7. One book you wish had never been written.
‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ is a rabid anti-semetic forgery that has been conclusively and continually exposed as such, notably by the Times of London in 1921. However, it is constantly reproduced even as recently as 2005 in Syria. Thousands of naïve and innocent minds have been corrupted by its falsehoods.

8. One book that you are reading at the moment.
‘Kalookie Nights’ by Howard Jacobson, almost too brilliant for words. I will be doing a post about it eventually. I’m reading it slowly because I never want it to end.

9. One book that you've been meaning to read.
‘Finnegans Wake’ by James Joyce. Joyce is reputed to have said “This one will take the professors a thousand years to unravel” so I might wait a bit.

10. Five others that you’d like to do this.
I nominate Rob, Serenity, Jim, Slaghammer & Vive42 . If any of the nominees don't want to play, that's fine, no offence will be taken. Also if you would rather I posted your list because it doesn't fit in with your blog's style - that's OK too!

23 September, 2006

My Heroes (17) Richard Condon

Richard Condon's most famous novel, published in 1959
Richard Condon was born in New York in 1915. After working briefly in advertising and publicity, his second novel, The Manchurian Candidate and the first movie of the book, made him famous. His books are hugely enjoyable and very readable. Although entertaining and funny, they have satirical targets and connect subjects such as US politics, the fast-food industry and the Mafia as a part of the same interrelated truth about the madness of the world. Other novels of his have been filmed; these include Winter Kills, transparently based on the Kennedy assassinations, A Talent For Loving which, at one time, was going to be a vehicle for The Beatles and re-titled Eight Arms To Hold You but it never happened. In 1985 a very successful film was made of Prizzi’s Honor with Jack Nicholson and Kathleen Turner. The recent remake of The Manchurian Candidate with Denzel Washington was, for me, a big disappointment, particularly when compared to the wonderful original with Frank Sinatra, Lawrence Harvey and Angela Landsbury.
Although it was never made into a movie, one of Condon,s best novels was An Infinity Of Mirrors. The action of the story takes place between 1932 and 1944 in Paris and Berlin where a beautiful young French Jewish girl and a Prussian officer meet and fall in love. They marry and move to Berlin just as Hitler is rising to power and their tragic story begins to unfold.
Richard Condon died in Dallas in 1996. Many people consider Thomas Pynchon to be the natural successor of Condon's trailblazing style.

20 September, 2006

RAF Lakenheath, Suffolk, England

I took this photo from about a quarter of a mile away
I'ts a F-15E Strike Eagle from the 492nd Fighter Squadron based at Lakenheath
Royal Air Force Lakenheath is in the English county of Suffolk, about 70 miles north-east of London and is a huge complex that is leased to the US military. Suffolk is the perfect place for an airbase as it (and the whole of East Anglia) is the flattest part of England. To give you an idea the 'East Anglian Mountaineering Club' is an excuse to meet in the pub for a drinking session. There is hardly a hill in East Anglia, let alone a mountain!
Lakenheath is the home of the US air force's 48th Fighter Wing also designated the Statue of Liberty Wing which makes it, uniquely, the only Wing to have both a name and a number. There are around 5,700 military personnel plus 2,000 US and British civilians on the base.
Although I am not usually a militaristic kind of person I found it strangely stirring to be there. The thought that struck me at the time, and the reason I am posting this, is that everything seemed to be so 'open' and non-secretive. I took the above photo from the well-sign-posted visitor's car park and there were no restrictions. Also, all of the factual information in this post comes from the internet. In fact from the US Air Force's own Lakenheath web-site! I believe that is the kind of freedom they represent. Could you imagine any other country being so transparent about it's military?
This photo of a trio of F-15E’s was downloaded from the official website. It was taken last month and if you look closely, just below the nearest aircraft, there is a small circle on the ground. That’s Stonehenge, one of the world’s most mysterious Neolithic structures. Stonehenge is not far from Lakenheath - if you are travelling by jet-fighter.
If there are no posts from me in the next few weeks, it means the military police have come to take me away and I was wrong about all that 'non-secretive' stuff.

17 September, 2006

High Flight

John Magee was born in Shanghai, China where his English mother and American father were missionaries. He was educated in England, became a US citizen and learned to fly in Ontario, Canada. He joined the Royal Canadian Air Force and was sent to England before the USA had entered the war. He became a Spitfire pilot and his love of flying is abundantly obvious in this poem which makes me feel as though I were flying when I read it. It was written on the 3rd of September 1941.

High Flight by John Gillespie Magee Jr.
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, --and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of --Wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air...
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark or even eagle flew --
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

The poem is derivative of several earlier works by other writers but nevertheless stands up as a masterpiece of a decription of flying. Three months after writing this poem, in December 1941, he was killed in his Supermarine Spitfire in an accident over Lincolnshire, England. He was nineteen years old.

16 September, 2006

Running On Empty

The album Running On Empty by Jackson Browne can genuinely claim to be unique. With two exceptions all of the songs were new and had not been previously recorded but it's not a studio album; every song is a 'live' recording. They were recorded on stage, backstage and even in hotel rooms. One of the songs begins with a backstage recording and seamlessly segues into an on-stage performance. The song 'Rosie' was recorded with all the roadies and stage-hands standing round Browne's piano and that's how it's now performed on stage. The theme of the album is the life of a band on the road.
All of the above, though, is not the most remarkable thing about Running On Empty. What really makes it stand out is that the songs are so very wonderful. My own favourites are 'The Road', 'You Love The Thunder' and, of course, 'Rosie'. You gotta love 'Rosie'. If you love yourself don't let too much more of your life pass by without knowing these songs,

14 September, 2006

Quiz Question (2)

Can you complete this children's rhyme with the 'literary' last line?
(Of course you could Google it, but you wouldn't do that, would you?)

Vintery, mintery, cutery, corn,
Apple seed and apple thorn;
Wire, briar, limber lock,
Three geese in a flock.
One flew east,
And one flew west,
And .......?

If you need a clue I have posted one in the comments and will post the answer there in a few days, Bazza.