Tuesday, March 31, 2009


When our ever so high-minded and principled press have finished with the sordid elements of MP's expenses, no doubt they'll move on to other things we can curl our toes about.
Why would a minister of culture buy that colour curtains with that carpet. Taste, culture, he has none and should resign!
Iain Dale is right (can't find where I think he said it though - maybe I just have a fertile memory!) - a lump sum and no breakdown - it just gives opportunity to the nosy and the prurient.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Going, going

Macclesfield Borough Council is having a end of all things sale

Only 24 hours to go! (try to ignore the handsome photographer, he is not for sale!)

Simple pleasures

For some obscure reason (well obscure to some) I got far too much pleasure from this item from the Mad Priest. Combination of the first photo and the reason for its choice.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Unconscious Mutterings - 28 March

This week's set of word associations from Unconscious Mutterings are as follows
  1. Road trip :: finding yourself
  2. Pool hall :: gambling
  3. Extraordinary :: rendition
  4. Jackson :: Pollack
  5. Heartfelt :: condolences
  6. Wet :: outside
  7. Strangle :: Boston
  8. .com :: startup
  9. Touched :: engaged
  10. Insipid :: tasteless

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Station in the snow

Station in the snow
Originally uploaded by rajmarshall
It looks as if I shouldn't have taken this picture in view of this story in the local press this week. Maybe they'll take away my rail pass?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Teaser Tuesday - 24 March

Teaser Tuesday

The rules are:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) 'teaser' sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your 'teaser' from .. that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you've given!
In Hell the boiling oil at least has smoke rising off it, but on nights with no moon and few lamps, there is little here to tell black water from black stone, and in the darkness sound moves differently, so that voices which start moving towards you end up surprising you at your back. Since many of the bridge parapets are higher than my nose and most windows start above my head, any journey after dark is like running through swerving tunnels, and there are moments where the water comes loud on all sides and my heartbeat interferes with my sense of direction.
Sarah Dunant's dark claustrophobic take on Venice In the Company of the Courtesan I'm hoping to have more fun with her Renaissance Italy than the Pope's Rhinoceros!
And as I'm still working my way through the 668 pages (just two over!) of Dostoyevsky's The Devils, here's another teaser:
You're an atheist because you're the spoilt son of a gentleman, the last son of a gentleman. You've lost the distinction between good and evil because you no longer know your own people, and you won't know it at all, neither you, nor the Verkhovenskys, father and son-nor I, for I, too, am a gentleman - I, the son of your serf and footman Pashka.

Hope to finish the Devils this week...

Monday, March 23, 2009


Set to music by Poulenc, Aragon meditates on the fall of France in 1940
Ô ma France ô ma délaissée
J'ai traversé les Ponts-de-Cé
Sung by Hugues Cuénod. Haunting music paired here with wonderful images.
I wasn't intending a tie in to the previous post, but here's more Cuénod and a mention of his civil partnership, entered into when he was 105.
Not many pieces in Cb...

I'm sorry

.. and want to apologise to all who are offended by this posting.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Mutterings - 22 March

This weeks Unconscious mutterings
  1. Studio :: flat
  2. Meetup :: mashup
  3. Ostrich :: eggs
  4. Jokes :: on me
  5. Estranged :: partner
  6. Random :: wibbling
  7. Slap :: happy
  8. Hotel room :: suitcase
  9. Inscribe :: plaque
  10. Polar :: bear (r, theta)

Twittering parents

Wonderful cartoon today from Foxtrot.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Early morning looking over Sparrow Park

..begins to feel warmer in the mornings. You can just see Arighi-Bianchi in the photo. The crane is converting the old Clewes building into a hotel. Both those are visible from the West coast main line.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Street View - again

I suppose, due to having lived in one of the cities featured, there are pictures of two previous residences. Here's the terrace in William St, Leeds:

We bought it, but it seems to have entered the buy to rent market - at least when the camera went past! The coal hole has a plant in front to disguise it, but it has been replaced from the rusty cover in our time!
(And here's a link to a picture of the cats enjoying the hole in the coal hole cover)

Happy Go Lucky

Wednesday was the last Silk Screen of the season with an AGM and a showing of Mike Leigh's Happy Go Lucky. I thought it was a joy to watch, though it's easy to see how the character of Poppy - the lead, could grate. One would be very tempted to physical violence after a short time in her presence. As the Guardian Review says 'relentless chirpiness'. Wonderfully funny, but I'm still reeling from the emotional punch in the final scene between her and the driving instructor. Go and see it!

A final comment from Redbox:
Poppy does not see the glass as half empty or half-full; instead, she's ecstatic about the fact there's a glass at all, and overjoyed that there's water in it.

The Silk screen is now planning next years programme and at £25 pounds for 12 films that's pretty good value!

Mum, look at me! - 2

Looking again at the picture this morning there are subtle differences, and I'm definitely visible!

The people walking past seem to have shifted slightly...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Mum, look at me!

Google street view has today added some UK cities. We were standing at this York bus stop in Clifford St last October when the google camera car came past three times:

I'm not sure whether we're there or not, maybe they came past other days too!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Downloaded and installed synapse this afternoon - new instant messenger client. Drool worthy graphics but currently only supports xmpp - however that's extensible so you can layer other protocols on top. Looks worth a try though an alpha release at the moment! - took me ages to find the site - even when I could remember the name of the application - hence this post!


I'm - unexpectedly - travelling on the Manchester to Leeds train tomorrow (and beyond) - maybe I should try wearing a white haired wig and see if I get feted.
I'm sure someone will understand this!

Teaser Tuesday - 17 March

Teaser Tuesday

The rules are:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) 'teaser' sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your 'teaser' from .. that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you've given!
There were, of course, many fine impulses and most commendable initiative in her nature; but everything in her seemed to be perpetually seeking its equilibrium and not finding it; everything was in chaos, in a state of agitation and restlessness. Perhaps the demands she made upon herself were too severe and she was unable to find in herself the necessary strength to satisfy them.
Phew! Dostoyevsky The Devils - following on from the reading the Rowan Williams about the author (and books) I felt I needed to refresh my memory - at least of this one (Here's my comment on a re-read of Crime and Punishment - over 2 years ago now!).

Monday, March 16, 2009

Careful where you put that sticker!

fail owned pwned pictures
see more pwn and owned pictures


Last night St Michael's choir sang the Fauré Requiem as part of choral(!) evensong. Plenty of space for meditation, payer, thought. Sometimes it's a work I find too saccharine - the waltzing into paradise at the end of the Agnus Dei but at its best moments there's simplicity and bare power. Beautifully sung particularly the young soloist in the Pie Jesu. We wondered to what extent the work was influenced by the horrors of the Franco-Prussian war but I see it's primary spur was the death of Fauré's parents. The work was interspersed with English liturgy, prayers, Bible reading and a talk.
A good congregation for a moment of quiet in Lent and particularly to enjoy the decidedly non-Lenten food and drink afterwards!

Hatred and Intimidation in the USA

From Mark Doty's blog:
Later, my legs feel liquid, my heart isn't ready to slow down. Thinking about how strange it is for a woman alone to come after two six-foot guys. Thinking how she wanted this to happen, somehow -- singling us out for her rage instead of the people in the car ahead of her, coming back to provoke us, then running into the restaurant to fetch the men. So that she could feel her power over them, or us?
But go and read the whole thing!

Dead Russian Composers

If I were a Dead Russian Composer, I would be Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.

Considered the leader of the 19th Century Composer group "The Mighty Handful," I am indeed the teacher among them. My orchestration skills are superbly colorful, and are explained in my book on the topic, but works like "Scheherezade" explain my mastery better.

Who would you be? Dead Russian Composer Personality Test

Inevitably it's the one with whom I have least sympathy (well probably as it doesn't tell you who the other possibilities were!)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Transfigured Night

A trip last night to hear the Northern Chamber Orchestra their soloists performing the Beethoven Serenade for flute, violin and viola Op 25 - I kept waiting for the bass notes to appear, I didn't think I knew it but the melodies were familiar so I guess I must have picked it up somewhere along the line.
Then Verklärte Nacht by Schönberg, in view of the title of the group doing the concerts I was expecting the chamber orchestra version, I hadn't noticed the 'soloists' qualification, it was an unexpected pleasure to hear the sextet original. I became familiar with this work at college in the Ramor Quartet version but I'd never heard it live. A wonderful performance which enthralled me - like last week's Ravel Quartet an sensuous experience - Schönberg at that point just two years before the Ravel was very much a traditionalist the Ravel sounding far more modern. Though some of the sextet effects must have shocked the original audiences (it was originally refused performance because of an 'unacceptable chord!).
Part 2 of the concert contained the Mendelssohn Capriccio (for quartet) and the Dvorak Sextet - the concert billing had the Schönberg and masterpieces by Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Dvorak but my view was Verklärte Nacht was the masterpiece - with the Dvorak running it close.
I see there's a You tube uploaded version (3 parts):

Unconscious Mutterings - 15 March

And for this week:
  1. Sunburn :: lotion
  2. Aquarium :: weed
  3. Otter :: tarka
  4. Awesome :: man!
  5. LOL :: usenet
  6. Accordion :: du ciel
  7. Hot Pocket :: rocket
  8. Grandstand :: saturday afternoons (Dr Who...)
  9. Shaved :: smooth
  10. Upgrade :: problems

Friday, March 13, 2009

Five Famous Russian Novels

(or some permutation of those words!)

From this amazon search.
Thanks to Plaible for this! Lots more examples if you look around - apparently some Australian has uploaded a garbled database.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Entre les Murs

A trip last night to the Cornerhouse to see Bégaudeau amd Cantet's 'Entre les Murs' a film about teaching in an inner city Parisian school. Cinema 3 was packed out at 5:45 with hardly a free seat - and they're been showing it for two weeks! A slow paced absorbing film immersing you in very real dilemmas.
As Peter Bradshaw's Guardian review says:
This story builds quietly, almost invisibly, through the film, and culminates in the disciplinary hearing in which Souleymane's non-French-speaking mother is present and in which the gloweringly silent and defiant pupil must translate her passionate and heartbreaking defence of him as a good boy. Like the rest of the film, this scene is natural and unforced and effortlessly persuasive, but it is the non-dramatic sequences that I somehow found the most gripping. François has a lesson in which he simply demonstrates at some length the imperfect subjunctive tense.
Strongly recommended! Don't think it could have been filmed without the previous example of Etre et Avoir which takes a junior school, this one is very much teenagers and, for me, throughout, the shadow of yesterday's events in a German school darkened the picture.
Apparently the Bégaudeau novel is even slower paced, making it not to difficult for non-native French speakers to get to grips with.
A dinner in (too much) haste on the way back to the station at Don Giovanni's - risotto - delicious as ever!

A big difference

From A Flock Divided, Paul Elie on Rowan Williams
Barack Obama invited Gene Robinson to give an invocation at the beginning of the inaugural festivities – but only after he’d invited Rick Warren, who regularly speaks out against homosexuality, to give the invocation at the main event. Was that a token gesture, or something more substantive?

That’s our new president’s “contradictoriness.” It’s been pointed out endlessly that Obama is willing to sit down and have a conversation with people on different sides of an issue—meeting with the conservative journalists as well as the more progressive ones, and so forth. To some extent that was the point of having both Rick Warren and Gene Robinson give invocations at the inaugural. This is a president who's saying we can't resolve all of the questions beforehand. He’s saying we need to bear with a little contradictoriness and go forward together, even though we don't all line up on the issues in the same way. I think that's been Williams's strategy too. And it's a big difference from what we've been used to both politically and religiously.

We much prefer to be told what to think!
I've just - today - finished Rowan's book on Dostoevsky! But I probably need to re-read some of the novels to really appreciate it on a re-reading after that, I haven't read most of them since the 1970's (apart from Crime and Punishment!)

Click, click, click

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures
It hardly needs music or choreography to summon up that film.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Teaser Tuesday - 10 March

Teaser Tuesday

The rules are:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) 'teaser' sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your 'teaser' from .. that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you've given!

And a swift turn from the previous two postings...
Exactly, Mack, so don't beat yourself up. Something may come to mind later

From Wm Paul Young's The Shack - our current book group book. People seem to have crawled all over this book seeking heresy, complaints about God as a black woman - to this Britisher - the Trinity as a Americans is far more suspect!!
Not sure about heaven as a grand family reunion either - which underlies much of it - but it is definitely worth a read!

Nature Watch (continued)

And while you have that image of a partially clothed man and a kangaroo wrestling in your mind, here's a tale from West Sussex about gay ducks in Arundel.

Kangaroos and Violence

Australian wrestles kangaroo from family home, hat tip to Andrew.
Ettlin, a chef originally from the Swiss city of Stans, wrestled the thrashing and bleeding 90 pound (40 kilogram) marsupial out the front door.
"I had just my Bonds undies on. I felt vulnerable," he said, referring to a popular Australian underwear brand.

A A Milne was never like this.

Bring out my bath chair

E Music asked me to fill out a survey last night. It asked for my date of birth and the earliest date specified was 1950!
.. Nearly falling off the end!

Monday, March 09, 2009


From a review of Sallinen's 'The King goes forth to France' in yesterday's Independent:
Battered by climate change, England is in hock, its economy unmoved by the Prime Minister's "very best fiscal stimulation". Icebergs are "breeding like rabbits" in the North Sea and fuel has run dry. On the shores of the frozen Channel, the King prepares for a war without point or justification, while the icons of national identity – telephone boxes and post boxes, currency and stamps, Marmite and victoria sponges, Tube maps and brown ale, policemen's helmets and Routemaster buses, cricket bats and (ouch!) newspapers – are assembled for a final closing-down sale.
Probably a carefully tailored summary - I just about remember listening to this from a broadcast in the 1980's(?). Unfortunately for me, this is being staged in London!

Looking down

Two examples of local Google Earth Imagery. Recently Macclesfield has had new images and this is our back garden.

I spent some time trying to identify the indicated object wondering if it had caught one of the household occupants but I think it must be the bird table! Meanwhile in the town centre -

this dates the image pretty well, you can see the green hoarding placed in front of ex-McDonalds while the bulders did their work!

Mutterings - 9 March

This week's Unconscious mutterings:
  1. Mourning :: Dancing
  2. Approval :: Tick
  3. Lotion :: Sun tan
  4. Perspire :: Walking
  5. Language :: Barrier
  6. Defection :: Berlin Wall
  7. Play :: Group
  8. Graphic :: ASCII, sex
  9. Spicy :: Sausage (ummm.. sex)
  10. In love :: devotion

Thought for the day

Institutional religion, by its very nature, always looks for a way to be authoritative. The process of transformation into enlightenment is itself authority. When we have been through such a process of transformation, we do not need to look outside of the experience for authority: the process itself becomes our authority.

Richard Rohr (a Roman Catholic...)
Hmm, maybe I should have stuck with the first sentence?

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Listening to each other

Off this evening to a Bollington Chamber Concert to hear the Barbirolli Quartet (used to be the Stillmans). They played Mozart (K589), Brahms Op51 No 1, Emily Hall's 'From Listening to Trees' and the Ravel.
I was mainly there for the Ravel, not sure why I enjoyed it so much more than the Mozart or Brahms, maybe the surface sensousness, but it was a magical, rapt performance, much appreciated.
The Emily Hall was written for this Quartet - I see they're performing it in Woking tomorrow, strong Reich and Nyman influences (in my opinion) I began to enjoy the work more once they got past the first movement where I could hear fingerprints of 'Different Trains' all over it, the other two movements were more of her own voice and the work is well worth a listen.
But the evening - for me - belonged to the Barbirolli's performance of the Ravel!
(An account of our visit to this series last year is here)
We recommend you take a cushion for this venue - for the seats!

Lent i

We'll see how this develops, an initial Terragen render

Friday, March 06, 2009

Anyone there?

Great amusement at this letter left in reception at work:

I've blurred out bits of the address, but probably not a lot of point.
Meanwhile The Register has a classic SPAM purporting to come from Fred Goodwin. It appears to be genuine (genuine spam that is!).

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Mutterings - a bit late

Unconscious mutterings has -
  1. Pain :: Bread
  2. Lego :: Denmark
  3. Trooper :: Super
  4. Flicker :: Gaslight, son of
  5. Character :: Part
  6. Determined :: Set on
  7. Wing :: and a prayer
  8. Control :: C
  9. Automatic :: Manual
  10. Yeah :: Yeah, Yeah

If anyone will have him!

Email from the AFA (American Family Association) clearly they're trying to get rid of their toxic liabilities.

D'hyacinthe et d'or

Gérard Souzay singing Duparc's L'Invitation au Voyage:

Thanks for rmcr for this link.
I remember - still - hearing Souzay leading a master class in this song on Radio 3 back inthe 70's - or maybe even the 60's - it was my first encounter with this work and the spell still entrances.
Mon enfant, ma soeur,
Songe à la douceur
D'aller là-bas vivre ensemble!
Aimer à loisir,
Aimer et mourir
Au pays qui te ressemble!

As Souzay said, always `his sister'!
(hmm where's the youtube video gone!?, try here if it remains invisible)

Monday, March 02, 2009

Been away

Bare in Sussex
Originally uploaded by rajmarshall

Been to Sussex for the weekend, I will catch up slowly! The fields were bare and dry as I walked across them to go to a Sunday morning service to hear the new Rector of St Mary's David Beal, it was a thought-provoking talk for the first Sunday in Lent. Also to the Squire and Horse (again!) for a delightful Sunday lunch and home.
Today's David Shenton cartoon is worth a look