Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Go with the flow

Extraordinary section on this evening's Newsnight about new 'green' funerals, soon to take place in the USA and probably shortly to arrive here. Fairwell to the spade and the gas mark 10; the idea being that the body is dissolved in an alkaline solution, leaving the remaining bone matter to be crunched up and given to the bereaved. This will, we are told, greatly reduce carbon emissions and allow the retrieval of tooth fillings, which contain similarly harmful mercury. Basically, then, a process of liquidization, by way of which, anyone could be labelled a bit of a smoothie!
Whatever would Leslie Phillips say?http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sV0lKD3KPsc

Monday, 29 August 2011

A timely touch of mellow yellow

With a summer that never really got started, nearing its end and the nights drawing in (if we all get together, can't we find a way of holding them back?!) I thought I'd brighten the page, with a scene of English tranquility. One of my better efforts, I think.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Songs of inequality...for ever and ever?

When will the BBC ditch Songs of Praise? Aside from the questionable spectacle, foisted upon cancer patients and the tragically bereaved, as members of the congregation appear to rejoice in their own blessed condition, must all who own a television be forced to fund a weekly promo, for the ‘Christian’ church? Whatever ones view, the BBC remains partisan, despite our increasingly multicultural society, and those who lack similar representation could be forgiven for feeling, at best, excluded. It's an absence of accountability that may lead many to view the use of their money, in such a way, as blatant opportunism, for the preservation of a diminishing faith. A theoretical solution is to provide equivalent, weekly, programming, for devotees of Hinduism; Judaism; Sikhism; Buddhism and every other form of religion, within the UK; in addition to catering for atheists and those whose faith transcends churches. But a better and more workable course of action would, surely, be for the BBC to cease evangelising, at the public’s expense, and move toward a more objective type of programming; one which may, in fact, benefit us all. It’s arguable, anyway, that the programme is a creaking anachronism, which uses the fine music of Ralph Vaughan Williams, who is known to have liked neither theism, nor the BBC, to browbeat us. We should, perhaps, not be surprised, because Vaughan Williams was a preserver of folk tunes; to be performed in church and pretty much everywhere else. It’s unlikely, though, that he was a salesman, with his mind set on casting stones at reason and sending us the bill.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Watched by the wise guys?

Pleased to, recently, see the Long-eared Owls that nest near my home; not least because opportunities to watch this, largely nocturnal, species hunt, in daylight, are rare. Curiosity did, of course, get the better of me, so I made a few squeaky vole-like sounds, to observe the response, of one, as it passed, low, overhead. The result was, in fact, alarmingly effective, as its face descended toward my own; forcing me to cease my teasing and wave the bird away, with a folded tripod!
Certainly, it seems that, otherwise, contact would have been made and the incident appears to support a contentious theory; that owls are close to blind during daylight, relying, almost entirely, on their extraordinary hearing abilities. My impression, anyway, is that it wasn’t intended to be an assault upon a perceived predator, as occasionally happens when humans enter their breeding grounds; much more, an attempt to home in on the source of the rodent-like sound. Additionally, this ties in with an experience, earlier that same day; when a perching bird had tried to monitor my movements, by way of sound, although we’d been eye to eye with each other and at very close range. The apparently maniacal bobbing and twisting of the head (its face even being turned briefly upside down!) were clearly indicative of sound-location, although the degree of inability, to see, remains impossible to establish.
Whatever the truth of it though, it's a pleasure to have these, usually elusive, birds on my doorstep and should readers get the chance to watch owls in the wild, I’d say it’s a wise move. Just mind how you go!


Monday, 22 August 2011

Nice one Constable!

Interested, this evening, to see, for the first time, a rainbow, just after sunset. It wasn't something I’d imagined possible and the effect was quite mesmerising, as it rose; not as the familiar horizontal 'bridge', but vertically; like some giant imperial gate, disappearing into high, reddened, cloud. Despite the extraordinary appearance, though, I found myself measuring its arc, in my mind and comparing it, as I tend to, with the work of John Constable; probably Britain’s finest ever landscape painter. Few would question the magnificence of his Salisbury scene, but, for me, that shining rainbow just doesn’t seem to meet the horizon where it should. That said,  I reckon it's not a bad little effort and would do for my bedroom wall, as long as I can get hold of the original.


Thursday, 18 August 2011

The Sweet Treats and The Penny Drops

Eight years after returning from New Zealand's delightful south island, it has finally occurred to me that Fox's Glacier Mints; those great confectionery legends of the '70s (readers of a certain age will recall the animated polar bear, with his lively vulpine sidekick) were probably so named because of the wonder below. Unless, of course, it was the other way round; which would surely be the coolest geographical story ever!

                                     New Zealand's Fox Glacier (it's so minty!)

This monumental realisation follows understandings that injury time is not an additional five minutes, in which football players are permitted to kick one another and that the Sound of Music and Star Trek themes actually sound pretty much the same!
 I really should get out more.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Wind farms...a turn for the better?

Amid the ongoing installation of wind farms in the Irish Sea and the frequent public disapproval of placing them anywhere at all, I can only say that I rather like them.
 “Hold on!….keep it scenic!” you may cry and those who do will, of course, be making an important point. The English Lake District, after all, would be better left as it is and each reader will, no doubt, have his or her own favoured view. My reason, though, is that, save for the destructive excesses of hurricanes and tornadoes, I’ve always had a bit of a thing for weather. So, to drive through open countryside and see the wind’s power not just shaking the branches, but writ large in steel, can, in some unexpected way, thrill the senses. And there’s the other thing too; the business of mankind harnessing the elements for his own advancement, but this time leaving them in place; an inexhaustible supply of energy for future generations, until our Earth gets too near the sun. Somehow, I’d find it difficult not to feel inspired.
 Of course, I wouldn’t expect to convert anyone by heralding these towering monuments to progress (there I go again!). You’d probably rather gaze at oil paintings with the traditional windmills of Holland and that’s easy to understand, but for me (perhaps worryingly considering their size) thoughtfully placed wind farms will always rock.

Friday, 12 August 2011

I see DC...the 2004 tour

Whilst having a rifle (not in the military sense), I unearthed an account of my visit to Washington DC, in 2004. Of course, there have since been some changes...America now has a president who speaks a language familiar to mankind, the dome of London's St Paul's nearly outgleams the Capitol and representatives of the Tea Party have almost learned how to organise one. As for Connie...does she still tend her boards? I'd be interested to know.

 Anyway, for those wishing to read about one of America's best turned out cities, under a fortunate president, here's the link.... http://gordonbennettthesecularwanderings.blogspot.com/

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Time to start the ball rolling?

Continued debate, last night, about the rioting. How did it happen?...how can we stop it happening again?....and it seems, to me, we've been going round, in circles; so might, amid the complexity, this string of ideas offer a way forward?

Greater opportunities, for the under privileged mean less anger, on the streets... less anger means less expenditure, on policing... less expenditure, on policing, means more money, to provide greater opportunities, for the under privileged... greater opportunities mean less anger, on the streets….less anger, on the streets, means less expenditure, on policing….less expenditure, on policing, means more money, to provide greater opportunities, for the under privileged….greater opportunities mean less anger, on the streets; and so it perpetuates.

Of course, I may be wrong and nothing excuses the behaviour we’ve seen. It’s just that, sometimes, these matters don't seem so complicated.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

After the lather's gone

Much discussion, on Newsnight, about the riots; the consensus being that those involved are ‘vermin’, ‘thugs’ and ‘hooligans’. A damning conclusion, but it’s difficult to disagree. In the heat, of the moment, though, let’s not take our eye off the ball. Looking at it objectively, shouldn't we condemn those individuals involved, while acknowledging that the more divided the society, the more likely the disturbance? Accusing those who point this out of being apologists, for the mob, is unhelpful.
 As for the suggestion that water cannons be used; it’s not something I’d want to see. Foam would be much better….loads of the stuff… Earth Wind & Fire’s Greatest Hits over the tannoy…bus in a couple of Pan's People tribute acts and Bob’s your uncle. Sorted.
Divided we may be, but who doesn’t love a bit of foam?!

I won't post the link here, but Boogie Wonderland should do the trick.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Rotten language on Craggy Island

A thought for Father Ted fans, who will have heard his sidekick, Dougal McGuire, refer to Ted as "ya big bollocks" Though probably intended to show the hapless McGuire's scant understanding of the English language and anything else, for that matter, the expression may contain some historical significance.
It's a little-known fact that, during the Sex Pistols' 'Never mind the Bollocks' obscenity trial, the word 'bollocks' was deemed acceptable because it had been used, between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries, as a slang-term, for priests and its current usage arose because of the nonsense their sermons contained.
On that basis McGuire stands just one letter away from making sense!

Monday, 8 August 2011

His way?

Interested to hear, on yesterday’s Songs of Praise programme (due to my frequent channel hopping), someone giving thanks, to God, for inspiring the architect, of a cathedral, but can’t this apparent truth reasonably be questioned?
After all, didn't designers, in previous eras, frequently work to order? Religious authority held sway and so, in order to progress, they would have been duty bound to deliver, for the church. Any other approach might, I imagine, have spelt the end of their careers.
Of course, this too can be contested; much as we might argue that Sinatra’s vagabond shoes really longed to step around the heart of New York; that Chicago was, unquestionably, his kind of town; or that, having been travelling, he, without shadow of a doubt, found it so much nicer to come home!

....and since I've ventured into the age of swing, readers might enjoy Michele Monro's biography of her father, Matt, my review of which can be found here http://www.liberationfrequency.co.uk/life-music-of-matt-monroe-rev/

Friday, 5 August 2011

Mr Grimsdale!...I've had me picture taken!!

Despite rumours, some time ago, of a movie documenting the life of the late, great, Sir Norman Wisdom, it has not yet appeared. I mention this because his journey was extraordinary (it really was!) and not at all to show off this passable photo I took of him many years ago!...a generous legend, he will long be missed.

So much for the name game!

Following submissions from two thousand entrants, faced with the challenge of celebrating the 2012 Olympics, the judging panel has chosen the following district names..................….
East Wick (courtesy, I imagine, of someone’s DVD collection, though without the witches); Chobham Manor (?); Sweetwater (because it was once home to a sweet factory and there’s a splash of H2O); Marshgate Wharf (presumably there is, or once was, a marsh, together with a gate) and last, but not least, Pudding Mill (I won’t even guess).
Further to this can I suggest one more?...how about Borem in the East End ?
....nothing to inspire future generations, or even a touch of traditional English innuendo.
Of course, it would be fair to mention that I didn’t enter the competition. Even so, I'm entitled to point out a disappointing absence of Olympic gold.

Final thought...can I suggest this instead of the National Anthem, when the UK medals are presented?..http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-2kcPK79vY

Thursday, 4 August 2011

The one and only William Shakespeare?

Bill Bryson fans may have noticed mention, in his Shakespeare book, of a theory that the bard's works were, in fact, produced by a syndicate of writers, operating under a single name. Bryson rebuffed the idea, but, keen for a second opinion, I put it to leading Shakespearian actor Michael Bertenshaw and found his response interesting...

'It’s possible, I suppose. Painters in that period often worked as a kind of production line, with the nominal artist having specialized apprentices, who would draw flowers, or hands and those areas would be allocated out. Now you’ve set me wondering if, perhaps, the works of Noel Coward and J.M.Barrie were written by committee but, sadly they’re also dead and we won’t be able to ask them. Of course I could make a name for myself, in academic circles, by proposing this as a theory! I’m happy though to believe Shakespeare wrote them, with the exception of Henry VIII, which is widely thought to have been with John Fletcher.'

He was also keen to speak of his experiences as a performer... 

'I go out on stage, before the enthusiastic crowd and feel incredibly lucky. We’re spared the worst excesses of concept productions and the attention to the text is meticulous. It’s just a bunch of actors showing off, with varying degrees of confidence, in an amazing space, buoyed up by an amazing audience, as we tell stories written by an amazing genius or, of course, committee of hacks, if Bill Bryson is wrong!'

The full version of this interview, which concerns The Globe's first ever production of All's Well That Ends Well can be found here....http://thoughtbubbleinterviews.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

That's Magic!

Breaking news!...Rarely seen these days magician Paul Daniels has received a pizza in the eye from the legendary Sooty, who likes him, though, alas, not a lot. Sweep, on the other hand, made no attempt to prevent the assault, which may indicate a real aversion. Following his release from hospital, Mr Daniels should, however, thank the golden boy. Any publicity is good publicity, so they say, even when it's half baked!
Having said that, if he requires consolation, he might, perhaps, be looking to Soo.


Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Hollywood in the frame?

Interested to read that Lars Von Trier now regrets making his movie Dogville, because he believes it may have inspired mass murder in Norway. It’s not one I’ve seen, but his comments surely add weight to the long held concerns of many. Proving a link between gratuitous on-screen violence and general behaviour seems difficult, but devotees of science can argue that it was achieved some years ago, by psychologist Albert Bandura: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YclZBhn40hU. Viewers with an interest in his experiments may find the evidence persuasive, or, at least, feel the matter worthy of discussion.
Or perhaps there are those who enter this world as sadistic torturers and habitual slayers of the innocent, which seems, to my mind, the less credible proposition.

Monday, 1 August 2011

On the Olympic event horizon?

Should we write to those in the public eye? Well, certainly the legendary journalist Christopher Hitchens seems in no doubt about the matter. Indeed, while dealing with his condition, he expressed, to Jeremy Paxman, his regret that he had not done so more often and urged the public: ‘always do!’
Personally, it’s something I’ve done only rarely and usually in the belief that I could contribute a pertinent observation, or suggestion. One example is a brief letter sent to Danny Boyle, proposing that, whether on screen or in person, Professor Stephen Hawking should feature prominently in the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony. Aside from moving science up the agenda, my reasoning was (and still is) that his triumph over adversity and  extraordinary resilience are very much in keeping with the Olympic ideal, although I could, perhaps, have pushed the point further. Hawking’s appearance would, I suggest, also serve as a link with the Paralympics, effectively reminding us that an occasion sometimes perceived as being of secondary importance, is, in fact, very much an aspect of the ‘main event’.
Still, my guess is that Mr Boyle already has it covered, so should the great scientist make an appearance, I will, of course, seek no credit!...hmmm...then again........

Injury Time

‘Chezza’ and Ashley Cole….are they on, or are they off? The papers have been full of it now for weeks and I haven’t been so enthralled since Asda last applied minor design alterations to the labelling of their soup tins. Gordon Bennett! Beat me unconscious with a copy of Hello, someone and soon!