Tuesday, 28 April 2009

On the Thames

The Sarah Kathleen moored to a barge opposite the Palace of Westminster, late this afternoon.

Related, Colour on the Thames, a film of the river from 1935.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Malet Street

Lunchtime today.

Update: Mick’s photos of Malet Street in May.

Homage to the Everyday

In this spring song cycle I find myself double-tagged from Martin and Roland, which makes it an offer I can’t refuse.

Their game is this:
List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they’re not any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now, shaping your spring. Post these instructions in your blog along with your 7 songs. Then tag 7 other people to see what they’re listening to.
Bearing in mind that my right now is a long now, and I plan that my spring should continue for decades to come, here are seven songs:

New England by Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers. I’ve never been to New England, nor any other part of the Americas, but this makes me homesick for there, plus it makes me think of Ted.

I Chase The Devil aka Ironshirt as performed by Madness on The Dangermen Sessions. Original by Max Romeo. I could have picked Shame & Scandal from the same album. The other day I heard Peggy singing an approximation of that one while she was playing.

I’m Happy by the Ivor Cutler Trio, from Ludo. I also love Mary’s Drawer on the same album. We recently came across a children’s book by Ivor Cutler, Meal One, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury many years ago. I highly recommend it if you can find a copy.

The Train From Kansas City by The Shangri-Las. I first heard this song in a terrific noisy guitar version by The Shop Assistants.

Title Music from Merchant-Ivory’s film Bombay Talkie, included on the soundtrack to The Darjeeling Limited. I’ve long intended to write something about Wes Anderson’s film as a third installment in the stalled Narcissus at the Movies series of posts. One day, perhaps.

Rock ’n’ Roll Won’t Save You Now by my friend John Dog, to be found here, and in a different version on a rare CD he gave me.

Hyldest til Hverdagen by Dan Turèll, from Pas På Pengene. Spoken rather than sung, but I’ll hear no argument. My father has promised me a copy of the new documentary about Denmark’s late lamented Beat poet, crime novelist, and snappy dresser. Here’s my translation:

Homage to the Everyday (Hyldest til Hverdagen)
by Dan Turèll

I’m fond of the everyday
most of all I’m fond of the everyday
The slow awakening to the familiar view
that all the same is never quite so familiar
the family’s at once both intimate and after sleep’s distance unfamiliar faces

morning kisses
the smack of the post landing in the hall
the smell of coffee
the ritual wandering to the shop around the corner
after milk, cigarettes, newspapers -
I’m fond of the everyday even through all its irritations
the bus that clatters outside in the street
the telephone that incessantly disturbs the loveliest blankest standing-still nothing in my aquarium
the birds that chirp from their cage
the old neighbour who looks in
the kid who has to be fetched from nursery just as one is getting going
the constant shopping list in the jacket pocket
with its steady demand for meat, potatoes, coffee and crackers
the quick little one at the local
when we all meet with the shopping bags and wipe the sweat from our brows -
I’m fond of the everyday
the daily agenda
also the biological
the unavoidable procedures of bath and toilet
the obligatory shaver
the letters that must be written
the rent demand
balancing the chequebook
the washing up
the recognition of having run out of nappies or tape -
I’m fond of the everyday
not in contrast to festivity and colour, high times and hullaballoo
have that as well
with all of its leftover cinders
so much unsaid and approximated
floating and hanging in the air afterwards
like some species of psychic hangover
only everyday’s morning coffee can cure -
fine enough with parties! There’s all the room for euphoria! Let the thousand pearls bubble!
but what happiness it is afterwards to lay yourself down
in rest’s and everyday’s bed
with the familiar
all the same not quite so familiar
same view.

I’m fond of the everyday
I’m wild about it
stop the clock I’m so fond of the everyday
I’m so stinking fond of the everyday . . .

The above is based on the Danish CD booklet. Other published versions are less sparing with the punctuation.

Seven songs is not enough of course. Nothing there from The Temptations, nothing from Arthur Brown, or from The Jack Nitzsche Story, or from the London Is The Place For Me series, or from Raymond Scott, or Pop Duo Bauer, nor their friend Bud Benderbe, none of which stay quiet for long in this house.

Next time . . .

And then I’m supposed to tag seven other saps, I mean worthy and enthusiastic bloggers. How about Oscar Grillo, Unemployed Dad, Sietske in Beirut, Uncle Eddie, Paul Duane (is that blog dead and do you have another?), Steve Simpson, but only of course if the mood apprehends them, if they crave excitement, if they lack sense, if they actually want to.

(Update: Paul has posted a great list here.)

Wait, that was only six. Well if you’re not in the list consider yourself number seven. And if you have no blog feel free to use the comments facility here.

A last link, I particularly appreciated Poumista’s contribution to this game, which included interesting information and links on Leonard Cohen’s version of The Partisan amongst other songs.

At top, acrylic sketch, Hampstead Heath yesterday around noon.

Homage to the Everyday copyright © The Estate of Dan Turèll.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Eastern Approaches

Above, Walden Books on Harmood Street, Camden, London, yesterday afternoon. This was a quick acrylic sketch, reworked a bit after I got home.

Below, a book I picked up there a couple of months ago, Eastern Approaches by Fitzroy Maclean. I’d never heard of him before reading this.

The book describes his time as a British diplomat in the USSR in 1937 and ’38, when he was in his mid-20s, and goes on to tell of his experiences with the SAS in the Second World War in North Africa, Persia and Yugoslavia.

While in the Soviet Union he spent his periods of leave on unofficial travel to Azerbaijan, Georgia, Uzbekistan, and on to Afghanistan by rail, road and foot, often with an escort of disgruntled NKVD men under orders to keep up with him. This section of the book also includes his vivid eyewitness description of one of Stalin’s show trials.

The middle part is made up of desert adventures behind enemy lines in North Africa, having escaped the diplomatic service by unusual means. He had previously tried to resign in order to join up, but was refused permission to leave. Reading the Foreign Office Regulations, he spied a way out: entering politics would disqualify him from the diplomatic service. He announced his intentions to the FO, resigned, joined up, ran for parliament, and then spent the rest of the war fighting overseas.

The final part of the book is about the last years of the Second World War in Yugoslavia, where he was Churchill’s ambassador to Tito’s Partisans. He gives some gruesome details of the extreme brutality of the war there, and of the divisions which were to re-emerge in the more recent Balkan wars. There is also explanation of the reasons for supporting Tito and the Communists over the Četnics, and of his own part in the decision.

I see Marko has written a much fuller account of this period, though as a casual reader I wonder how much more detail I’d have the stomach for.

Added - a curious consequence of Tito’s postwar break with Stalin here, via Oscar.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Religion, culture, community, and atheism

The New Centrist gets some practice with babies and bathwater in Report Back: Hope Not Fear. Dave Kasten seems to be exploring similar ground with The Ten Commandments and Backwards-Compatible Atheism.

Drawing for the Times Higher Education Supplement, sometime in the last century.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Georgia rumblings

Bloggers at Information Dissemination and Yankee Sailor are tracking noises from Russia and Georgia and speculating on near-future actions:

Not much on the BBC News site,  April 20th, Russia ‘may cancel NATO meeting’. For coverage of anti-government protests in Georgia, have a look at This is Tblisi Calling.

I hope noise is all it is.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Torture and terror

Norman Geras has two related posts that say most of what needs to be said:

For myself, what I find strange about much of the animosity towards the phrase ‘War on Terror’ is that the words could be so useful in defining the moral and legal parameters of the current fight. To be against terror should mean to be against torture, against the illegal use of violence, illegal force, illegal detention.

It must be possible for states, and individuals, to use effective legal force to defend themselves and their allies. And it must be possible to detain enemy fighters in war until they are no longer a threat. But for a War on Terror to be all the name implies, it has to be a fight for the interlinked principles of universal human rights, rule of law, and democracy. All of the wrong decisions by the previous US administration on treatment of prisoners, from torture to confusion on legal status, were defeats in the War on Terror.

Added - ED Kain puts it well: stating the obvious.

Flying home

While I was on holiday, the Sadie paintings arrived home safely from the exhibition in Finland. The above homecoming picture is now on my wall, resting before the next adventure. Below, a detail view. Click on it for an even closer look.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Submerged again

Earlier here. Oh to see this in a ViewMaster version! (More ViewMaster images here.)

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Holiday postcards, unopened mail . . .

A Journey Round My Skull writes ‘wish you were here’ with photochromosomes.

While I was away, Terry Glavin read George Galloway’s mail, a story also covered at Harry’s Place.

Also from Terry Glavin, the killings of Sitara Achakzai and Karine Blais, remembering Safia Amajan and Malalai Kakar.

But as for this easter singsong, I prefer his fellow Soak’s footnote.

When Bob from Brockley came home from a few days away there wasn’t just unopened mail in the hallway, the neighbors had moved in as well. Also worth some time, his earlier post on protesting and policing.

Noga links to a Z-word post on Jeremy Bowen, the BBC, and bias on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, of which more from Harry’s place in one, two, and three posts, and some dissent from Oliver Kamm.

I’ve read the talk with Thomas Ricks but am still working my way back through Michael J Totten’s posts from the last week.

And Flesh has been typing furiously, but I must sleep sometime!

As for Abu Muqawama, I was already struggling to keep up before the holiday - what hope now?

Perhaps I’d better let the rest of the world carry on spinning without me awhile, and stay focused on more personal concerns. Starting with Uncle Eddie’s advice on how cartoonists should dress.

Mallorca pictures

Lighthouse on Cap Gros, looking across the mouth of Port de Sóller towards Torre Picada, intermittent rain, 8th April, lunchtime. 

Hills southeast of Port de Sóller, overcast morning, 9th April.

Evening light on mountaintops near Biniaraíx, 10th April. No rain!

Sunset seen looking over Fornalutx and Sóller towards Teix peak, 10th April.

On Saturday 11th the weather was too nice to sit around painting. We walked from Fornalutx to Sóller, via a hill path and Biniaraíx. Sunday I struggled to paint olive trees with an orange grove in the distance - bah!

As for monday . . .

The rain and I wrestled over this painting, and the rain won. I developed a taste for it, so from now on I’ll paint in the shower. Mountains east of Fornalutx in a downpour, noon on 13th April. 

All of the above are acrylic on paper.

A baby olive tree in the sun, late morning on the 14th of April. Pen drawing, then acrylic colour. I did no more painting for the rest of the holiday, just occasional sketched notes as we walked in warm sunshine.

Bo did a couple of lovely watercolours on the trip, above the lighthouse on Cap Gros, 8 April, and below a painting of the same little lemon tree as my drawing above, 14th April.

Above is a drawing of the lighthouse by Peggy, and below a tree in the rain at the same location.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Easter holidays

We’re off tomorrow. A good thing, as a weary sadness crept upon me today. We’ll miss the seder with the in-laws, but I’ve had enough gruesome talk from Peggy of all she’s heard at school about the crucifixion, and I’ll happily do without the killing of the first born on top. She’s only just turned five!

Peggy earlier today: “Papa, why did God let Jesus die on the cross?”
Me: “I don’t know, it’s just a story.”
Her big brother Bo, eight years old now: “You know Peggy, not everyone believes it, and one who doesn’t is that fellow there!”

The image is from a baby book published by Sandvik in 2007.

Elsewhere: Getting away from people, R. Crumb’s forest sketches at Uncle Eddie’s Theory Corner.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Come together

Here’s our friend in the North on the desirability of integrated education in Northern Ireland.

Thursday, 2 April 2009


Bush House this afternoon. I didn’t attempt to render the inscription with my broom-sized brush.

Playing with matches 7

On again.

Previously: 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Quakers for War

John Rees speaking at the Stop The War Coalition meeting on Monday of this week, at Friends Meeting House, London:
We do not require that people who join our demonstrations or are supporters of the Stop The War Coalition are supporters of the resistance in the Middle East, and nobody I’ve ever talked to in the Middle East in the resistance has ever thought this was a good idea for the very simple reason that if you want a hundred thousand, or a hundred and fifty thousand people on the streets of Britain, what you want is everybody who for whatever reason is opposed to the war. If they’re Quakers or pacifists like the people who  run this hall, you want them on that demonstration. If there are people who have very severe criticisms and would not support the resistance, you want them on that demonstration and that’s been our policy from the beginning.

But it has also been our policy that the resistance is a legitimate part of the movement. They are part of the movement in the Middle East, they are a central part of the movement in the Middle East and it’s not surprising really that if you’re under military occupation that one of the forms of resistance is a military resistance.
And he went on to compare the ‘resistance’ in the Middle East to the French Resistance in World War Two.

Leave aside for a moment that the French Resistance did not deliberately target random civilians, leave aside if you can that the French Resistance fought to restore democracy rather than overthrow it, leave aside that the French Resistance fought a genocidal dictatorship, rather than supporting one, leave these small details for a moment, and focus on this single point:

The policy of the Stop The War Coalition is that a military resistance is a legitimate part of the movement, that these military forces AT WAR are a central part of the movement. This is NOT a peace movement.

From the Quaker Peace Testimony of 1661:
All bloody principles and practices, we, as to our own particulars, do utterly deny, with all outward wars and strife and fightings with outward weapons, for any end or under any pretence whatsoever. And this is our testimony to the whole world.
Full text here.

In supporting the Stop The War Coalition, the Quakers of Friends House have broken with the ideals of their founder George Fox.

Update: some debate at the quaker.org.uk forum.

Also, at Bartholomew’s Notes: Friends House and Islamic Extremists.