Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Au revoir

Back 12 May.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Poem of yesterday

It's not yet May and already 8 people I know have died this year. Here's a wonderful poem from a memorial service yesterday:

High Flight
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. Hovering 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.
John Gillespie Magee (1922-41)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Sergei Eisenstein

Thanks to your excellent suggestions, I have enjoyed watching both The Battleship Potemkin and Alexander Nevsky. Potemkin was made in 1926 and fun to watch because the script was in Russian (with the translation underneath) so I could delve into my memory for the alphabet and some of the words, having studied Russian in my penultimate year at school. Nevsky, made 12 years later, is a "talkie" with English subtitles, but, as Mr Eurodog advised, the score by Prokofiev is very good, as are the scenes on the open plains. Both films are striking for their patriotism and for their violence. The horrible episode on the Odessa steps is unforgettable and the Teuton Crusaders had a bad press, hurling Russian babies onto bonfires. Spasiba!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


David McVicar's production of Gounod's Faust at Covent Garden is spectacular. Wonderful scenery (for a change), splendid dance and ballet scenes and dazzling costumes. Of course, the best part of the feast is the music. Gounod provides a dazzling array of breathtaking arias, rousing military marches, solemn church music, demonic dance tunes, jolly songs and cabaret choruses. The cast was superb: Bryn Terfel Mephistopheles, Joseph Calleja Faust, Sonya Yoncheva Marguerite and Simon Keenlyside (what a wonderful voice!) Valentin. An unforgettable evening!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


A Byzantine expert was telling me about the spectacular mosaics at Torcello. Have you been there? It's now on my wish list...

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Happy Easter

This is 10 week old Darwin whom I'm giving to my sister for Easter. (Maybe I should get one of his brothers...)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

King Lear

I enjoyed Sam Mendes' grizzly production of King Lear at the National Theatre starring Simon Russell Beale. Shakespeare's insults are wonderful:

Kent: Fellow, I know thee.
Oswald: What dost thou know me for?
Kent: A knave, a rascal, an eater of broken meats; a base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited, hundred-pound, filthy, worsted-stocking knave; a lily-liver'd, action-taking knave; a whoreson, glass-gazing, super-serviceable, finical rogue; one-trunk-inheriting slave; one that wouldst be a bawd, in way of good service, and art nothing but the composition of a knave, beggar, coward, pander, and the son and heir of a mongrel bitch: one whom I will beat into clamorous whining, if thou deniest the least syllable of thy addition.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Are they related?

                                                                       Michael Higgins

Bunyip Bluegum

Friday, April 11, 2014

One liners of the day

All those who believe in psychokinesis, raise my hand.

I almost had a psychic girlfriend but she left me before we met.

Support bacteria - they're the only culture some people have.

When everything is coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.

Eagles may soar but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.

If at first you don't succeed, then skydiving definitely isn't for you.

Change is inevitable...except from vending machines.

A fool and his money are soon partying.

Plan to be spontaneous tomorrow.

Drugs may lead to nowhere but at least it's the scenic route.

Steven Wright

Wednesday, April 09, 2014


I'm delighted with these Chatto tulips which were planted in the autumn! They have so many petals that they look more like peonies than tulips.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014


Kraft ran a competition for its employees to think of a new name for the company's business outside the US. The winning entry was "Mondelez" on the basis that "monde" implies global and "delez" delicious. Two brands were exempt from that: Kraft ruled there would be no Mondelez Creme Eggs, nor Mondelez Philadelphia Cream Cheese.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Photo of the day

Friday, April 04, 2014

Bad joke of the day

A woman walked up to a little old man rocking in a chair on his porch.
"I couldn't help noticing how happy you look," she said. "What's your secret for a long happy life?"
"I smoke three packs of cigarettes a day," he said. "I also drink a case of whisky a week, eat fatty foods and never exercise."
"That's amazing!" said the woman. "How old are you?"

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Farage v Clegg

I watched the Nigel Farage versus Nick Clegg debate over membership of the EU on BBC2 last night (I missed their first one). Clegg had instigated these debates and I was expecting a clear message from him regarding the benefits that the UK derives from being part of an EU political entity. However, this message was not clear to me.
Clegg cited a House of Commons statistic that only 7% of UK laws come from the EU and then qualified his statement, saying he meant 7% of primary legislation and 14% of secondary legislation. (He did not define those terms.) He also implied it was a greater percentage of tertiary etc legislation. Farage claimed the real figure was over 50%. Is this figure so hard to quantify?
Clegg believes that in 10 years' time, Europe will be much the same as now. I thought that he should have been more positive or at least said three really good things about the EU now. He didn't answer the question about how our infrastructure would cope with significantly higher immigration from Europe.
Farage won the debate because he articulated his views clearly. Clegg made too many personal remarks, repeated himself and his intonation was grating. They both waved their hands too much.
My regret is that Spitting Image is no more. Remember the two Davids? I'd love to see a Cameron/Clegg spoof along those lines!

Wednesday, April 02, 2014


My friend who was at Selwyn College, Cambridge in the 1980s, founded a College Dining Society called The Bats. Selwyn had just celebrated its centenary but The Bats wanted to pretend that they were a Society with great traditions and so they held a "bicentenary" drinks party. To authenticate their claim, they bought a large leather book and proceeded to make up their history, writing it down in ink in the beautiful book, citing great Bats who'd fought in the Boer War and The Bats regiment which served its country so bravely in the First World War. My friend designed the Club tie: a bow tie with bats.
At a party in Scotland twenty-five years later, he spotted a chap in his twenties wearing the Bats tie.
"Ah, a fellow Bat!" he exclaimed, warmly shaking the man's hand.
"Yes indeed!" the man replied. "The Society has an amazing history: did you know they supplied a regiment to fight in the First World War?"
My friend did not shatter the young man's illusions.