Monday, 25 June 2012

old aerial photos of london

Old Aerial Photos Of London Released- Londonist, 25 June. This is the new English Heritage site they're from, Britain From Above.

row over theory of evolution

Richard Dawkins in furious row with EO Wilson over theory of evolution: Book review sparks war of words between grand old man of biology and Oxford's most high-profile Darwinist
- Guardian, 24 June

Saturday, 23 June 2012

oral tradition and king solomon

There’s a sense in which the programme this morning reminded me in its form of Solomon and his decision to slice the baby in two, in order to discover who was the real mother.  Although I don’t think we discovered who was the real mother.  Our slicing was between minimalists and maximalists.

The last three weeks have had the subtext (on In Our Time) of scholarship about scholarship.  When we discussed Marco Polo, part of the discussion was – could we believe much of what he said and, indeed, had he said it?  When we discussed the Trojan War, similar problems of the authenticity of the written and the archaeological evidence came through.  And again this morning, the records about Solomon were written three or four hundred years after his death, at a time of ideological emphasis in Israel when, as Martin Palmer pointed out, they were determined to have the great man that they thought Solomon had been.

The maximalists rely quite strongly on the Scriptures, however late they were written.  The minimalists tend to point out the paucity of archaeological evidence.  One thing that was missing entirely was a consideration of oral evidence, although I don’t know how one gets at this.

The fact seems to be that in many of the greatest of the old civilisations – the Celts would be a fine example – oral evidence was the main source of historical, mythological and cultural continuity within a society.  It is galling, to say the least, that we have no access to this.  What I would contend is that although the Scriptures in the Old Testament in which Solomon was mentioned were written three or four hundred years after his death, it is not impossible that a strong and carefully schooled oral tradition (such as we know the Celts to have been), could have taken through the main points of that story, even over that long time.  Formal oral traditions prided themselves on their accuracy.  In fact, one of the reasons they would not have things written down was because they thought the written word could be so easily twisted and turned, whereas the spoken word, spoken by people who had been disciplined to learn accurately, was far more reliable.
- from Melvyn Bragg's In Our Time newsletter  of 7 June on the King Solomon episode

Friday, 22 June 2012

galactic pot-healer

Just finished Galactic Pot-Healer by Philip K Dick. It was poor - badly written, garbled, disjointed, all over the place, easily the worst of his I've read. I wondered if it was written during some drug-addled period, say, when he was writing rubbish, but looking at the bibliography on Wikipedia it's in the middle of some which are considered to be among his classics (eg two years after Do Androids, two before Flow My Tears). Funny old world.

A quick google kicks up various reviews, all of which love it to a greater or lesser extent. Funnier old world.

Monday, 18 June 2012

on a mission with london's urban explorers

On a mission with London's urban explorers: The Shard, the Olympic Stadium, the defunct British Museum Tube station: nowhere is off-limits for urban explorers, who consider it their right to enjoy a city from whichever height or depth they wish. Richard Godwin is the first journalist to join them on a mission
- Evening Standard, 15 June

london's protected views

London's Protected Views - Telegraph photo feature

wayne rooney on his craft

Beautiful game. Beautiful mind.
- ESPN, 16 May. Interview with Wayne Rooney reveals his surprisingly cerebral, non-instinctive approach to his playing.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

the overside

The Overside's Myspace page. Andy Pearson's Myspace page and Bebo profile

'is it good for...?'

Emlyn Williams posted this on his Facebook page today:
'Roger McGough once ticked me off (no that's not the start of a poem) for making a disparaging comment about a fellow poet. He made clear that his watchword in all matters poetic is: "Is it good for poetry?"' Michael Rosen in yesterday's Guardian. I don't think it only applies to poetry.

Monday, 11 June 2012

the young princess has always kept the faith with her people

The young Princess has always kept the faith with her people: Our monarch has found pleasure in her sense of duty, and drawn strength from religion.
- Telegraph, 11 June

london reflected in puddles

London reflected in puddles and wet pavements: photos by Gavin Hammond- Telegraph, 11 June

Saturday, 9 June 2012

sebastian faulks on the bbc

Sebastian Faulks: The BBC binds the nation. Don't condemn it because of one bad day on the Diamond Jubilee. Without Radio 4, the United Kingdom would, I believe, have a collective nervous breakdown
- Independent, 8 June

Thursday, 7 June 2012

royal visit

This month's Rudhach has an item, with photos, on the Royal Visit to Lewis (and other of the Outer Isles and Skye) in 1956 of the Queen, Philip, Charles, Anne (and Margaret, though she's not in the pictures) - during the first of many Hebridean holidays. There's a photo of the family leaving Tiumpan in a car, top down, driven by Philip, and a photo of Elizabeth and Philip (surrounded by a large crowd) going into Isabella Graham's new white house with the old black house of Catherine Grant, which they've just visited, across the road in the background. You wonder what they thought of the way people lived at this end of their nation.

variable hours

Striking point in the In Our Time episode on the measurement of time, which I'm listening to just now. In the early centuries and civilisations of time measurement, there was a fixed number of hours between sunrise and sunset, which meant that since those times varied depending on the time of year, the length of time an hour lasted also varied through the year.


Clip from Joanna Lumley's Desert Island Discs, on the Christmas special, where she introduces her choice of Last Christmas with an emphatic pronunciation of 'Last Christmas I *gev* you my heart', then George sings the line and sure enough that's just how he pronounces it.

normans still on top in britain

Nearly a millennium after William and his Norman knights conquered Britain, it's remarkable how the historic shock of 1066 still reverberates. (As presenter Michael Wood points out, people with French names are still the richest Britons today, on average better educated and longer lived.)
- from Radio Times' preview tomorrow of The Great British Story: a People's History

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

thames holds a mirror to 60 years of change

Thames holds a mirror to 60 years of change: The Thames is at the heart of the Queen's diamond jubilee celebrations. And a trip down it by boat is the best way to see how much the nation has changed during her reign
- Observer, 27 May

video taken from flypast spitfire

This is fascinating: uploaded to Youtube by the Ministry of Defence, a 1m30s video – side view then back view - taken from a Spitfire on yesterday’s Diamond Jubilee flypast. Watching the other planes is as striking as the views of London.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

pragmatic monarchism

From a Facebook posting by David Robertson, which reflects my own pragmatic monarchism: 'Rod Liddle writing in The Sunday Times writes how he was opposed to the whole idea of the monarchy until the appointment of Baroness Ashton to the post of EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. "It was then I realised that if we ever got rid of the monarch, it would be someone like AShton who would replace her; someone who owes her job to political patronage, to 'having the correct views and knowing the right people'. I'd far rather stick with the Queen and 'Phil the Greek' - people who are immune to the demands of modernity. Better by far to have an institution we know to be undemocratic, than something we pretend is democracy but is really just a tyranny of obsessives".'

the mystery of edwin drood

Last Tuesday Mum and I went to the Arts Theatre to see the musical version of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, which we both enjoyed a lot. It's a transfer from another small London theatre (the Landor in Clapham), first produced, successfully, in 1985 in Broadway and very popular. I didn't like the songs much on the whole (and though there weren't many instruments they were still too loud to hear the words properly) but I'd still recommend it despite that, because you can still enjoy it even if that's the case, because it's the structure of it that's most entertaining. It's set up as a music hall entertainment, with the musical being put on by music hall entertainers. Before the start and during the interval the cast wandered about among the audience and we had a music hall singsong, with song sheets. A lot of audience interaction. The kind of thing that would have worked even better with a bigger audience, but was still fun - we had tickets in the back row of the small balcony but were bumped up to 'premium' seats centre stalls.

(I tweeted 'Mystery of Edwin Drood @DroodWestEnd at @ArtsTheatreLDN last night. Lots of fun. Would be more fun if more audience - go!' As I've noticed recently with theatre productions, lots of the cast were on Twitter, as well as the theatre and the production.)

The middle of the second half they reach the point where Dickens stopped, then the audience got to vote on three things from a range of possibilities - with the ground rule that Edwin had actually been murdered: who the mysterious detective was, in disguise from the first half; who the murderer was; and who would be united in love at the end (murderer vote actually totted up by cast members with audience show of hands in sections, others by applause). The choices seemed obvious to me, or at least one of two in the murderer one, but I bet they could be quite different from performance to performance. (I asked on Twitter if they kept a tally as it'd be interesting to see the stats at the end of the run, and they said they did.)

The performances were good, the cast good and having fun. Several looked familiar but looking at their details in the programme I don't think I'd seen any of them before (also, for the record, Edwin was played by Kara Lily Hayworth, as per slip in my programme, doing a run of the dates for some reason). One of the women got top billing, Wendi Peters, who's been in Coronation Street, she was good, mum knew her.

Some reviews (not many of the usuals). Camden New Journal. This Space Blank blog (with impressive 'show must go on' story of bleeding Edwin continuing singing). The production website. Time Out. MellowDayLondon blog. Remotegoat reviews one and two. CharlesDickensLondon blog. What's On Stage. BWW. UK Theatre Network. A Younger Theatre. The Stage. One Stop Arts.

euro 2012 preview

I liked the Euro 2012 preview in the 18 May Private Eye (the financial Euro symbol in the heading gives the clue it's financial rather than football):
Germany v Greece
Germany v France
Germany v Spain
Germany v Italy
Germany v Portugal
Germany v Republic of Ireland
Germany win on Financial Penalties
Tournament Slogan:
'They think it's uber alles, it is now!'

old london bridge section in guy's quad

Last week went to the Cuming Museum's temporary exhibition on Charles Dickens' Southwark childhood, which didn't take long to go round but was quite interesting and the leaflet for which came with a suggested walking tour route.

New interesting fact I picked up from the walk info is that if you go into the Guy's Hospital quadrangle (from St Thomas Street) through the gats and under the arches ahead, there is a 'London bridge niche' on your left. 'This section of the old medieval bridge dates from 1176 and was purchased by the hospital for 10 guineas and installed in 1861.'

'a convalescing child pianist'

The current When Saturday Comes describes Colin Murray (Fighting Talk, MOTD2), in the context of something relating to MOTD2, as 'having the physical presence of a convalescing child pianist'. I do like WSC (and Colin M, on Fighting Talk; never seen MOTD2).

Sunday, 3 June 2012

jubilee river pageant

Watched some of the Jubilee River Pageant today, from halfway up a street running down to the Thames near London Bridge. Like watching it through an open door at the distant end of a packed corridor in which someone had set the sprinklers off. Still, cherub thinks she saw Queenie, so it's all good.