Friday, 24 March 2017

the smiths

Thinking of every Smiths song I like, there isn't one I wouldn't prefer with Morrissey's vocals taken off.

Monday, 20 March 2017

what would an atheist do?

I've started reading Rumours Of Another World, by Philip Yancey. Here's an interesting early paragraph:

'No society in history has attempted to live without a belief in the sacred, not until the modern West. Such a leap has consequences that we are only beginning to recognize. We now live in a state of confusion about the big questions that have always engaged the human race, questions of meaning, purpose, and morality. A sceptical friend of mine used to ask himself the question, "What would an atheist do?" in deliberate mockery of the What Would Jesus Do (WWJD) slogan. He finally stopped asking because he found no reliable answers.'

Saturday, 11 March 2017

the comforters

On Tuesday I finished The Comforters by Muriel Spark. It was her first novel, which I'd never heard of before seeing the list of her novels on Wikipedia a while ago, in relation to doing a page for Not To Disturb, which I'd never heard of before seeing and buying it. In fact, given what a notable novelist she is, there were a surprising number of novels I'd never heard of, below the big hitters.

I enjoyed it rather more than I'd expected, for a first novel I'd never heard of from a big name, after not being impressed by Memento Mori, which is one of the big hitters. I liked the quirkiness of it, especially the idea of the character who felt she was in a novel, in itself not unheard of psychiatrically, and her relationship with the novelist she could hear typing; that wasn't fully resolved or explained, but that annoyed me less than similar effects in Memento Mori and Not To Disturb. It was plot-packed, some of it I think deliberately daft because of the 'in a novel' theme. (I guess the title is a reference to Job's comforters, but if it is I don't get it much.) So, certainly my favourite of hers I've read apart from The Prime. (Her novels are not very long, which also makes me happier to give others a go after ones I've not been so keen on.

Friday, 10 March 2017

greenbelt - reflections

In broad summary, I'd say going to Greenbelt last year, my first actual camping festival, was a pleasant surprise in terms of the practicalities (as covered in the previous post, and not least due to having Susannah there to help make it a good experience for us), was rather disappointing and unremarkable on the whole as a music festival (as also covered in the previous post), and was depressing as a Christian festival.

greenbelt - music and events

We were at Greenbelt, Friday 26th August - Monday 29th August last year. This is what I did.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

grinding down

Seven tweets:
It grinds you down that not only do more+more people think you and your church are misogynistic homophobes, but more+more Christians do too.

look, they're Christians like you and they don't believe that; clearly your reasons are misogynistic/homophobic, not theology.

& ultimately those perceptions of what is acceptable within church traditions move out of general use and into legislation.

But it's the personal sense of it that is the hardest, of course, rather than all the large-scale levels beyond you.

as the box within which you and your fellows are gets smaller and more painful, your boxy little heart gets crushed too.

and the gulf of understanding between your heart and those around you gets larger, as the shared starting points get smaller.

[everyone competes to play world's smallest violin for the self-pitying misogynist homophobe; oh poor you]

Sunday, 5 March 2017

sing

On Saturday afternoon (4th March), Maisie and I saw Sing at the Genesis Cinema. It was quite good, and we enjoyed it. It wasn't groundbreaking, but told a familiar story well, with good music and good humour.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

twilight: breaking dawn - part ii

On Monday 27th February Maisie and I watched the last of the Twilight films, Breaking Dawn Part II. It was fine, and not as dull as Part I. Having seen all the films now, Maisie has just started reading the books. I'd guess that she won't be that bothered about watching those films again, unlike, say, the Harry Potter films. I certainly wouldn't bother watching them again.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

morris folk club - february

At the Morris Folk Club on Tuesday I sang four times, unusually.

I sang Three Craws to start with, mainly to teach it (or at least expose it) to the choir: it's one of the songs in the choir's current bird-themed set, and was one of my suggestions. I reminded them that when Fiona and I had led a choir rehearsal she summed up our teaching style quite accurately as, 'We've sung it to you twice - how come you don't know it yet?' But it's a pretty simple song, and it went fine (I wrote a key word from each of the crow verses on my hand so I didn't forget them while I was teaching it).

Then I sang Nathan Jones, which is short, and went fine.

In the second half, Tanja, Ginny and I sang The Parting Glass (in the Voice Squad's three-part version, as we'd done with others in a small group in the choir's drink-themed concert), and I think that went rather well, if I do say so myself.

Finally I sang Making Time, which is the song of Tim's which I'd picked up and meddled with the words to (it was a lovely tune, but he had felt the words were somewhat unfinished and was happy for me to have a go at). It's the fourth time I've sung it in public, also unusually for me - at Morris, then at Sharp's, then at Tooting. People have responded well to it; it's a good song. I sang it particularly last night because it was Tim's last time at folk club before leaving for Devon.

Full set list here.

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.