Tuesday 28 February 2012

None Shall Pass!

The revolution has started. On sunday, I was confronted by the Che Guevara of sheep, was turned back at the border, by a fleecy militia.
Tomorrow they march, they will be unstoppable. (Unless surrounded by roast potatoes and mint-sauce). 

Yesterday's Infinitely Replicated Fractal Dinner

 It always seems a sin to actually eat something so beautiful. But mmmm, lightly steamed, with a cheese sauce? Oh yes. Nice in salads too. If I didn't eat it, then it would just be wasted.
Can't have that. 

Fractal and Fibonacci!


I've been pestered on three evenings this week by different charity door-knockers, all with proper i.d., sweatshirts and coats printed with the charity's names.
All want me to sign up for a monthly donation, pointing out that it's tax free, and would make so much of a difference.

This week, I decided not to do my usual, which is "No, thank you, go away", but to listen, then tell them why the answer is still "No".
(basically, that I'll decide which charities I'll support, in my own time, and any charity which actively pesters me will be absolutely excluded from consideration.)

Believe it or not, after I'd let one go through his entire spiel of how my little donation would enable them to find a cure for cancer, and if I didn't sign up there and then, all the deaths from now on would be my fault, and I then said "No, I don't think I want to donate, right now.", the guy turned to his female companion, and said, I can't believe how this guy's just wasted our time!"

I said, "Well, I was just sitting, reading, when you rang the doorbell, I'd have been quite happy to not have been disturbed, but, as you insisted, and rang again, I thought it was only polite to get up out of my chair and stand here in the cold for five minutes with you, before I declined to give you my money."

According to Adullamite....

I'm a 'versatile blogger'. He's lumbered me with the award, (along with a veritable pantheon of other bloggists).

I'm a bit late at responding, my busy life got in the way, in that I've been too knackered to get around to it, and I only knew I'd been nominated because Red Dirt Girl told me.

Adullamite's a displaced Scot, whose blog ranges over a plethora of interesting things and thoughts, though I don't share his enthusiasm for football, Scottish or otherwise. All that effort wasted on kicking an effigy of an inflated pig's bladder up and down a muddy field. Once upon a time, of course, his ancestors would have been kicking an enemy's head around the town. I suppose a adidas pig's bladder is easier on the toes.

What do I have to do? Oh. it seems the Versatile Blogger Award comes with terms and strings. I must display the award....

And share seven things about myself.

  1. I am a displaced Emperor. Tremble, peasants, as I pass! Well, I was born in the 'Imperial Nursing Home' in Harrogate, Yorkshire, and a child, I was convinced that obviously only the families of Emperors would frequent such a place. I was, it seems, somehow mislabeled at birth, and thus handed to a much humbler family.  My mother, would often mutter exasperatedly,  "He's not my child!".
  2. I am horribly untidy and seem incapable of creating order out of chaos. Chaos is normality to me. I live a cluttered life. I'd love the ability to declutter and live in one of those stark white houses so beloved of architectural journals. Alas, it is never to be. I will eventually die under an avalanche of books.
  3. I talk too much, as my uncle Len ("Loquacious Len", alias "Garrulous Griff") used to say,   'Inoculated with a gramophone needle'.
  4. I love history, a sense of place and connection with people long gone.
  5. I hope I'll never stop being curious, and interested in everything.
  6. I wish, however, that I could focus on individual tasks without being distracted.
  7. I wish I'd met Red Dirt Girl a lot of years before I really did.

The other part of the award is to pass it onto 15 more deserving people, and there I falter, because I think the recipients might sigh and hurl bricks at me. Most of them have already got one, it seems, and are mentioned by other recipients.  I'll try, though, and I'll do it in Adullamite's stealthy way, in which he doesn't actually inform the recipient directly, just tags them in a post. I'll try to add some that readers here might enjoy.

  1. Nag on the Lake The Nag posts often, and has won Canadian Popular Culture blogging awards, she's witty and eclectic.
  2. "ook?!" thought, pictures, pots, Wales, mountains. 
  3. TheBloggess.com  Impossible to describe. The Bloggess is not my daily read, but she can be so funny I snort tea out of my nose. Sorry about that. I didn't mean to disgust you quite so much. Jenny the Bloggess doesn't need my support, or my recommendation, nor is she ever likely to know I tagged her, as she has about as many readers in a day as I'll get in a zillion years.
  4. Violins and Starships  links and interesting oddities around the internet.
  5. Miss Cellania How she finds all the stuff she posts, I'll never know. Amazing. Go there.
  6. "Tai-wiki-widbee" is an eclectic mix of trivialities, ephemera, curiosities, and exotica with a smattering of current events, social commentary, science, history, English language and literature, videos, and humor. We try to be the cyberequivalent of a Victorian cabinet of curiosities.
  7. newshelton/wet/dry/

I give in.
Well past bedtime, and I've failed in the versatile blogger challenge.

I like blogs. I like the huge variety of blogs out there, but I'm sad to see so many blogs are closed up, their lights out and nobody home.
Facebook? Twitter? Pah!

Thursday 23 February 2012

Rosy Hues in the Evening Sky

A few minutes ago, I looked out of the window. It's dusk. Night is on its way, and I see this colourful rosy cloud.  What, you may wonder, is so special about that?

Well, it's sunset, or, to be a little more accurate, almost a quarter hour after sunset. And the sun sets in the west, doesn't it?

Well, the clouds in question are to the north-north-east. Usually the sunset is on the other side of the house.
And to the west? not much in the way of  sunset at all.
Five minutes after I took the last picture, all the colour was gone, and now, twenty minutes later, the outside world is dark.
I liked the candy-floss colours.

Posted by Picasa

Wednesday 15 February 2012

A Guitar is a Thief in the Night.

A guitar is a thief in the night
That robs you of sleep through the wall
 A guitar is a thin box of light
Throwing reflections that rise and fall
It reminds you of Memphis or maybe Majorca
Big Bill Broonzy or Garcia Lorca
A truck going north or a cab to the Festival Hall

And the man who plays the guitar for life
Tests his thumbs on a slender knife
Forever caresses a frigid wife
His fingers travel on strings and frets
Like a gambler's moving to cover bets
Remembering what his brain forgets
While his brain remembers the fears and debts

Long fingernails that tap a brittle rhythm on a glass
Around his neck a ribbon with a little silver hook
Like some military order second class
You can read him like an open book
From the hands that spend their lives creating tension
From the wrists that have a lean and hungry
Eyes that have a mean and angry look

A guitar is a thief in the night
That robs you of sleep through the wall
A guitar is a thin box of light
Throwing reflections that rise and fall
A guitar reminds you of death and taxes
Charlie Christian outplaying the saxes
The beginners' call
And the very last call of all

On the midsummer fairground alive with the sound
And the lights of the Wurlitzer merry-go-round
The midway was crowded and I was the man
Who coughed up a quid in the dark caravan
To the gypsy who warned him of danger
"Beware of the beautiful stranger"

"You got that for nothing"
I said with a sigh
As the queen's head went up to her critical eye
"The lady in question is known to me now
And I'd like to beware but the problem is how
Do you think I was born in a manger?
I'm in love with the beautiful stranger"

 The gypsy (called Lee as all soothsayers are)
Bent low to her globular fragment of star
"This woman will utterly screw up your life
She will tempt you from home, from your children and wife
She's a devil and nothing will change her
Get away from the beautiful stranger"

"That ball needs a re-gun" I said, shelling out
"The future you see there has all come about
Does it show you the girl as she happens to be
A Venus made flesh in a shell full of sea?
Does it show you the shape of my danger?
Can you show me the beautiful stranger?

 "I don't run a cinema here, little man
But lean over close and tune in if you can
You breathe on the glass, give a rub with your sleeve
Slip me your wallet, sit tight and believe
And the powers-that-be will arrange a
Pre-release of the beautiful stranger"

In the heart of the glass I saw galaxies born
The eye of the storm and the light of the dawn
And then with a click came a form and a face
That stunned me not only through candour and grace
But because she was really a stranger
A total and beautiful stranger

"Hello there" she said with her hand to her brow
I'm the one you'll meet after the one you know now
There's no room inside here to show you us all
But behind me the queue stretches right down the hall
For the damned there is always a stranger
There is always a beautiful stranger

"That's your lot" said Miss Lee as she turned on the light
"These earrings are hell and I'm through for the night
If they'd put up a booster not far from this pitch
I could screen you your life to the very last twitch
But I can't even get the Lone Ranger
One last word from the beautiful stranger"

"You live in a dream and the dream is a cage"
Said the girl "And the bars nestle closer with age
Your shadow burned white by invisible fire
You will learn how it rankles to die of desire
As you long for the beautiful stranger" Said the vanishing beautiful stranger

"Here's a wallet for you and five nicker for me"
 Said the gypsy "And also here's something for free
Watch your step on my foldaway stairs getting down
And go slow on the flyover back into town
There's a slight but considerable danger
Give my love to the beautiful stranger"

Pete Atkin, and lyrics by Clive James.

Monday 13 February 2012

To My Valentine


Oh go through the walls, if you must.

"Oh go through the walls, if you must, walk on the ledges
Of roofs, of oceans; cover yourself with light;  
Use menace, use prayer 
My sleepers will flee toward another America."

(Jean Genet), though he wrote in french, and I'm endlessly suspicious of what, exactly, happens in a translated poem. But that's a debate for another day.  Actually the poem from which these words are lifted was not in the least to my taste.
But these words seemed... luminous? the first time I ever read them, I was in the little yellow house, on an island somewhere in the middle of the Baltic sea, and Harry had just come back from a weekend in Stockholm.
He'd bought some records.
Oh yes. Records. not downloads to an ipod, kids, back in the day, music was analogue and glorious.
Album sleeves were art.
Records were big rigid discs of mostly black vinyl. On the surface was a texture, which on closer examination, with a microscope, perhaps, would resolve into one, just one.. line. A groove. A wavy, wiggly groove. A groove that wrapped and spiralled hundreds, nay, thousands of times on the circular black disc, from the edge toward the centre.
What witchcraft is this? the tiny groove, the texture, is a code.
We set the disc spinning, at a precise 33 and a third revolutions per minute.
And we unlock the code with a needle. It seems so unlikely. But a needle, or more likely, the needle's descendant, the point of a sapphire crystal, set in an arm which transforms its movements into modulations in a tiny electrical current, which we feed into an amplifier, and thence to coils of copper, glued to cones of paper, over a heavy magnet. As the needle of sapphire vibrates in the groove on the revolving disc, so those vibrations are induced in the paper cone, as the coil is attracted and released by the magnet's field, as it is fed with varying energy.

Without thinking at all about the strangeness of the mode of coding, we played the record, Patti Smith, Wave.
I read Genet's words.
Listened to Patti's.

Friday 10 February 2012

Have Kids?

This is a man who found something his daughter wrote on facebook, it was addressed "to my parents", but... hidden from them, she thought he'd never see it.

He was not exactly impressed.

Here's a father's reply.

Friday 3 February 2012

"O, My America, My New-Found Land!"

by John Donne

Come, Madam, come, all rest my powers defy ;
Until I labour, I in labour lie.
The foe ofttimes, having the foe in sight,
Is tired with standing, though he never fight.
Off with that girdle, like heaven's zone glittering,
But a far fairer world encompassing.
Unpin that spangled breast-plate, which you wear,
That th' eyes of busy fools may be stopp'd there.
Unlace yourself, for that harmonious chime
Tells me from you that now it is bed-time.
Off with that happy busk, which I envy,
That still can be, and still can stand so nigh.
Your gown going off such beauteous state reveals,
As when from flowery meads th' hill's shadow steals.
Off with your wiry coronet, and show
The hairy diadems which on you do grow.
Off with your hose and shoes ; then softly tread
In this love's hallow'd temple, this soft bed.
In such white robes heaven's angels used to be
Revealed to men ; thou, angel, bring'st with thee
A heaven-like Mahomet's paradise ; and though
Ill spirits walk in white, we easily know
By this these angels from an evil sprite ;
Those set our hairs, but these our flesh upright. 
Licence my roving hands, and let them go
Before, behind, between, above, below.
O, my America, my new found land,
My kingdom, safest when with one man mann'd,
My mine of precious stones, my empery ;
How am I blest in thus discovering thee !
To enter in these bonds, is to be free ;
Then, where my hand is set, my soul shall be.
Full nakedness !  All joys are due to thee ;
As souls unbodied, bodies unclothed must be
To taste whole joys.   Gems which you women use
Are like Atlanta's ball cast in men's views ;
That, when a fool's eye lighteth on a gem,
His earthly soul might court that, not them.
Like pictures, or like books' gay coverings made
For laymen, are all women thus array'd.
Themselves are only mystic books, which we
—Whom their imputed grace will dignify—
Must see reveal'd.   Then, since that I may know,
As liberally as to thy midwife show
Thyself ; cast all, yea, this white linen hence ;
There is no penance due to innocence :
To teach thee, I am naked first ; why then,
What needst thou have more covering than a man?

Wellies for the Red Dirt Girl

Red Dirt Girl goes all googly eyed over  footwearhttp://throughthegate09.blogspot.com/2012/02/frivolous-friday.html. This week's exciting footwear is on her blog.... Shiny red welly-boots. Very shiny. Too shiny to wear in the steamy southern rain.

 Welsh-Walesian blogger/potter/gardener gz comments "I'd go for yellow ones!!  ("Where would you be?" The Big Yin !!)"

 And it occurred to me that the Red Dirt Girl and most of the non-brits reading would not know what the reference is about.
.  All-round larger than life scots comedian, Billy Connolly, a lovely man, had a song, about wellies. (also known as rubber boots, wellingtons, topboots, billy-boots, gumboots, gummies, barnboots, wellieboots, muckboots, sheepboots, poopkickers, or rainboots) I thought I'd post it here.
But before that, I thought I should come clean, and confess I recently bought a pair of uber-wellies myself. My job often requires me to trudge through mud water, and filth, and no matter what the advertising says, I've yet to find a leather waterproofer that works for long. So I end up with cold wet feet. I had some wonderful wellies, they were made by Nokia.
(Yes. Nokia). The phone company was an offshoot of the rubber company's cable division.
(The tyres on my car were Nokias too.) The Nokia boots weren't cheap, but they were lined with thick felt, supple and warm, with grippy soles that would take tungsten studs for grip on winter ice, and my feet would stay warm and toasty in minus twenty degrees C.
Find them here.

My new boots aren't Nokias, they're made by Scottish footwear makers Buckler.
At work I need to wear safety footwear, steel toecap and steel insole protection, in case someone drops something heavy on my poor little pinkies, or I step on timber with upward protruding nails. I've seen someone get a nail almost all the way through his foot on a demolition site. Anyway, if I buy safety footwear for work use, the company pays. I hate cheap wellingtons, they're rigid, cold, foot-chafing monstrosities, usually with no grip. I wanted comfortable warm grippy boots, and Bucklers make such a boot, the uppers are soft insulating neoprene foam, the soles are grippy...
And they're blue and fireball-orange! They're just the thing for wading through slush anf freezing mud, stomping across the field where my leather boots would be sogged in no time at all.

How'd ya like them boots, RDG?!

If it wisnae fur yer wellies where wid ye be?
ye'd be in the hospital or infirmary
cause you'd have a dose o' the flu or even pleurisy
if ye didnae have your feet in your wellies.

wellies they are wonderful
wellies they are swell,
cause they keep oot the water
and they keep in the smell.
and when you're sittin' in a room
you can always tell,
when some bugger takes off his wellys.

If it wisnae fur yer wellies where wid ye be?
you'd be in the hospital or infirmary
cause you'd have a dose o' the flu or even pleurisee
if ye didnae have your feet in your wellies.

Or when your out walkin' in the country wi' a bird
and your strollin' over fields just like a farmers herd
and somebody shouts keep aff the grass
and you think "how absurd"
and Squelch! you find why farmers all wear wellies

If it wisnae fur yer wellies where wid ye be?
you'd be in the hospital or infirmary
cause you would have a dose o' the flu or even pleurisee

there's fishermen and firemen there's farmers an all
men out diggin' ditches and workin' in the snow
this country it wid grind to a halt and no a thing wid grow
if it wisnae fur the workers in their wellies.

If it wisnae fur yer wellys where wid ye be?
you'd be in the hospital or infirmary
cause you'd have a dose o' the flu or even pleurisee
if ye didnae have your feet in yer wellys.

now MPs and the government
they hivnae made a hit
they are ruinin' this country
mair than just a bit
if they keep on the way their goin'
we'll all be in the shit....
so you better git your feet in yer wellies.

If it wisnae fur yer wellies where wid ye be?
you'd be in the hospital or infirmary
cause you would have a dose o' the flu or even pleurisee
if ye didnae have your feet in yer wellies.