Sunday, 26 February 2017

a time to murder and create

On Saturday 25th February I finished A Time To Murder And Create, the first crime novel I've read by Lawrence Block. I enjoyed it, and I'll certainly seek out more by him. Bethan had given it to me as a secondhand book present for our anniversary last year (we often give each other secondhand books as, or as part of, presents, particularly if we wouldn't have something physical to give on the day otherwise), and just picked pretty randomly as far as I can see (as they often are), other than being a crime novel. It was an American private detective one, quite old fashioned in style and structure (which I like), though being from the mid-70s it of course had the marvellous improvement upon older novels of being cruder. (To, of course, no benefit in general and to detriment as far as I was concerned. It seems to me that novels in the years post sexual/verbal/thematic liberation (esp 70s) often appear today to be overtly and grossly sexist, and in fact much more so than older fiction. It's interesting that's what we did with our liberation, or what our liberation revealed. This book - from the 70s - isn't a prime example of that, but it put me in mind of it.)

Saturday, 11 February 2017

trent's last case (1952 film)

On Friday evening we all watched Trent's Last Case - the 1952 version, starring Michael Wilding, Margaret Lockwood and Orson Welles. It was fine, though not as good as the original book by EC Bentley, which I read many years ago and was very good (it was, as I remember, written to make fun of detective fiction yet ended up becoming a classic of detective fiction). The film told the story pretty faithfully, I suspect, but just didn't have a lot of life and wit to it.

Friday, 10 February 2017

duke's hall - academy symphony orchestra do strauss

On Friday 20th January I went with Bethan's dad to a lunchtime concert at the Duke's Hall in the Royal Academy of Music. The Academy Symphony Orchestra did a programme of three different Strausses - Johann II, Josef and Richard (with a clap-along encore of the Radetzky March by Johann Sr). We enjoyed it.

the fly in the ointment

On Wednesday I finished reading The Fly In The Ointment by Alice Thomas Ellis. I enjoyed the writing, and the voice, but it wasn't my favourite of hers. I'd probably have appreciated it more if I'd read it closer to the other two in the trilogy telling the same story with different narrators, remembering the other views, building the fuller picture of the story. I'm realising I'm running out of her fiction to read; a couple that I have on my 'still to read' list I'm pretty sure I've read already, but a long time ago; and they're so short that it's not difficult to read them again. And I like very much her dry sense of humour.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

she moved through the fair, and the major

When I was looking out information on She Moved Through The Fair (before singing it at folk club - links below), I found out, among other things, that one of the earliest recordings of it (if not the earliest, commercial at least) is the one I've got by Father Sydney MacEwan - and that the piano on that is being played by the Major, Duncan Morison. Recorded in London on Wednesday 18th March, 1936, apparently.

Monday, 6 February 2017

twilight: breaking dawn - part 1

This evening Maisie and I watched Twilight: Breaking Dawn - Part 1, another of the cheap DVDs she got at Cex the other day. It's the fourth film of five, the first half of the fourth book. As with a lot of these 'two films out of one book', it was rather slow and uneventful, and not really a film in its own right. Probably my least favourite of them so far; they started relatively well, I thought. Definitely my turn to choose the next film or two.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

iain d campbell

The announcement of Iain D's death on the Free Church website is here.

Donnie Foot's obituary on the We Love Stornoway website is here.

Torcuil Crichton's blogpost remembering him is here.

On the day of the announcement of his death I wrote on Facebook:
I spoke to Iain two weeks ago when he was down in London preaching. He seemed as well as I did.
He was a couple of years ahead of me in secondary school. I look at him, I see me, in some ways.
It is sobering, and food for thought.
I am thinking very much of his family, extended family and friends. And of Iain. It's terrible news.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

the oxford song book

On Tuesday - folk club night - Ginny and I were talking about when we'd first heard folk songs.

The first I heard in the outside world was probably Steeleye Span's version of All Around My Hat (released in 1975, I see). In my home world, Gaelic songs were always around me from earliest times, and also Scottish and Irish folk - I certainly knew of The Corries in primary school (including the fact that we had a tape of theirs), and for some reason The Clancy Brothers with Tommy Makem stick in my mind - someone must have had their record.

In primary school, as well as learning gaelic songs for the Mod in choirs and action songs (little plays featuring two or three songs, all in Gaelic), for music we sang from one particular songbook which I remembered as being mainly folk songs from the British Isles and America, a small blue book, I thought, possibly called The Oxford Songbook.

My mother confirmed that it was indeed The Oxford Song Book, and pointed me to it here online. The first few pages of the PDF are blank, but it does start to appear, with the alphabetical table of contents coming in at p17, and my goodness, it is indeed quite a collection. My childhood comes swimming up before me.

polyphony down the pub

On Wednesday 18th January I went to Polyphony Down The Pub for the fourth time, but it seems I've never managed to blog any of my visits. I'm not sure where I first heard about it, but I think I heard about it right at the start. Like LGQ and Morris, it was started by someone who wanted something like this to exist, so started it, in this case Kevin O'Neill. An evening of singing polyphony, not as a regular choir and not rehearsing towards a performance, but just singing a number of pieces (which have been made available in advance) two or three times. It's a great thing. And like LGQ & Morris, led by a lovely conductor. Obviously the secret to finding a choir with a great conductor - one who believes you get the best out of people by encouragement, enjoyment and good humour - is finding a choir set up by the conductor because they wanted a choir like that to exist.

legally blonde 2

This evening we all watched Legally Blonde 2, another DVD which Maisie bought at Cex for 50p. I had enjoyed the first one, and Reese Witherspoon was back for this one, but it was nowhere near as good; not as charming or as witty, and a good deal more preposterous. Disappointing, but not surprisingly so.

Friday, 3 February 2017

the voyage of the space beagle

On Sunday 30th October I finished The Voyage of the Space Beagle by A E Van Vogt. It was okay. It may be most notable now for the fact that the film Alien is supposed to have drawn on it, sufficiently that I think money had to change hands, but I'd say that's a bit harsh: there are certainly elements and themes from two of the episodes in the book which you can also see in Alien, but I wouldn't have said they were sufficiently distinctive to have never appeared anywhere else or to be copyrightable.

gunning for god

On Monday 5th September I finished Gunning For God by John Lennox, an apologetics book which I appreciated a lot.

the crack-up

On Tuesday 9th August I finished The Crack-Up and other pieces and stories (a Penguin edition) by F Scott Fitzgerald. It didn't take me long; it's a thin volume of autobiographical pieces and some fiction presumably chosen for their autobiographical nature. It was interesting but nothing much more than that; perhaps at the time his being so revelatory was striking (though he's not that revelatory, given what is known about his life at the time, especially in relation to his drinking).

world war z

On Saturday 13th August I finished World War Z by Max Brooks, which I liked a lot - probably one of my favourite reads for quite a while.

the devil wears prada

We're all watching The Devil Wears Prada this evening. While we were settling down to watch it, Bethan said, 'I don't know if I've watched this before.' I said, 'Well, I've seen it. I can't imagine I watched it on my own.' Bethan said, 'I can.' Maisie said, 'I can.' They were, of course, quite right. It is perfectly imaginable. I'm enjoying it the second time, as I did the first time. Second Anne Hathaway film this week; she is good; Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci too, of course.

the four loves

On Tuesday I finished re-reading The Four Loves by C S Lewis on Tuesday. I'd been prompted just before Christmas to reread it, when I remembered and read again a Waterstones interview with Sarah Perry in which she talked about the theme of different kinds of love, in particular friendship love, in The Essex Serpent, and which I found very helpful. This was the article. I'm pretty sure I'd read at the time of her previous book, After Me Comes The Flood, that one of the themes of that was different kinds of love, which had also put me in mind of The Four Loves at the time.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

morris folk club - january

At the Morris Folk Club on Tuesday I sang The Loch Tay Boat Song (from The Corries' version) and She Moved Through The Fair (from Father Sydney MacEwan's version, with Duncan Morison on the piano, from 1936).

I hadn't planned to do The Loch Tay Boat Song, but it was a bit noisy through in the main pub, so the song I'd planned to do was too quiet. It quietened down later.

They both went fine, I think, though I was probably pushing a bit too loud on the former because I was worried about the volume, so it wasn't the best ever.

Full set list here.

'nonsense. she's always looked like that.'

One of my favourite lines about what love is like is near the end of the film of Nanny McPhee (written by Emma Thompson), when Evangeline (Kelly Macdonald) the scullery maid returns, having been transformed into a beautiful lady in the care of Great Aunt Adelaide to the amazement of everyone - or almost everyone.

'Are you sure that's Evangeline?', says someone, 'It doesn't look anything like her.'

'Nonsense,' says Mr Brown (Colin Firth). 'She's always looked like that.'

I am a big softy. And, of course, he marries her.

bride wars

Maisie and I watched Bride Wars on Monday evening while Bethan was out at choir; she'd bought the DVD at Cex on Saturday (for 50p). I wasn't looking forward to it - though I've liked Anne Hathaway in everything I've seen her in - but it was better than I'd expected; it was less nasty and more nuanced than I'd feared it would be.

Monday, 30 January 2017

contemplation

In October I tweeted, 'Loved ones move into dangerous lands when the restraint of understanding suicide's selfishness & impact is untied by "better off without".' This with a retweet of @TWLOHA's 'Your family is not better off without you. Your friends are not better off without you.', which linked to this article.

In December, in a sequence of tweets, I said:
- Have often wondered when thinking about suicide as a concept becomes 'contemplating' it, and how you recognise the dangerous shifting point.
- Is imagining a suicide note in the same way you might imagine a career-ending, send-to-all email 'contemplating' it?
- Is thinking about methods of suicide in the way you might imagine ways you might 'go on the run' if you had to 'contemplating' it?
- Would such thoughts be cathartic, or do they have to be expressed to be that? Or are they simply signs of an active imagination?

Earlier this month, I did a Twitter poll tweet, and got this result:
- Poll: Ever thought 'I could just step in front of this bus/train and it would all be over'?
56% Yes, doesn't everybody?
00% Yes, a very bad sign
44% No
9 votes

A couple of friends asked if I was okay. To one I said 'I'm ok thx! Often wonder (in so many ways!) to what extent I am normal, & it's nice to be reassured from time to time! :-)'. To the other I said, 'I need reassuring that for many it's A; hope for no one it's B; will appreciate the peaceful souls for whom it is C.'

Not a statistically significant poll, but reassured/glad/appreciative as detailed.

My internal disposition has never been sunny. Perhaps I do think about some things more than some others do. But I think, for me, talking about some things gives them a status or a reality that they don't deserve and they become 'a thing'. (Archetypal male, bottling things up, one might diagnose...)

And also the thought of talking about some things (for me, not in general) has always feel grossly 'me too, look at me' drama queeny, when I know people are properly troubled with such issues and I'm sure I am not in the same way.

I have - as above - often wondered what constitutes 'contemplating suicide', and the distinction between a healthy imagination and an unhealthy intention. Because I think it's something I've thought about a lot but never 'contemplated' in a clinical sense.

I'm not sure at what point one - or one's friends - should worry about it. But I don't think I've ever reached that point. And saying this out loud is probably no bad thing.