Saturday, January 31, 2004

Come to the edge
Come to the edge, he said.
They said: we are afraid.
Come to the edge, he said.
They came.
He pushed them and they flew.
Guillaume Apollinaire

Friday, January 30, 2004

Thursday, January 29, 2004

tom verlaine

1880 or So
O rose in my heart, can't you see
I don't belong to misery
Though she speaks fine with subtle art
Such misery clothes the rose in my heart.

Now what I see in the long twilight
Star falls down on a hill so white.

A face that glows in a golden hue
No-one in this world knows what they do
I take my oath and I make my vow
For the tender things are upon me now.

In the fragrance sweet of the evening air
I could leave this world quite without a care.

O rose in my heart, the vision dims
The time is brief, now the shadows swim,
I'll buy for you a real fine hat
Cause that's for you and that's where it's at.

Now what I see in the long twilight
Star falls down on a hill so white.

Rose in my heart, rose in my heart.

Tom Verlaine

I fell in love with this song when I heard the line: 'I'll buy for you a real fine hat'. For some reason it reminded me of those great old Westerns like My Darling Clementine. I later discovered that Tom Verlaine got his inspiration from some sentimental verses published in the personal columns of late 19th century newspapers. Which is just as good really.
What a bizarre life Samuel Pepys lived:
'I went to Mr. Crew’s and thence to the Theatre, where I saw again “The Lost Lady,” which do now please me better than before; and here I sitting behind in a dark place, a lady spit backward upon me by a mistake, not seeing me, but after seeing her to be a very pretty lady, I was not troubled at it at all.'

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

czech sprite
A beggar has been arrested after dressing up as a water fairy and demanding money from youngsters skating on a Czech lake. Police arrested the 47-year-old, who was dressed in green and covered in green ribbons, after parents complained that he was claiming to be a water sprite and demanding money to guarantee the ice did not break.

check mate
The Russian Orthodox Church has rejected a request from a militant young churchgoer to brand chess as the work of the devil. Archbishop Wikenti from Yekaterinburg said: 'Chess is a quiet, intelligent game that encourages people to think. It's not a sin.' Personally, I think it depends on whether you're playing black or white.
it's cold here today

copyright alan edwards

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

I have been lost [for too long] in the wonderful world of photo-blogging and photographers ...

David Fokos - hovering on the line between mannerism and minimalism.

Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison - someone said these images reminded them of Tom Waits.

Monday, January 26, 2004

from Sonnet to Orpheus
This is the non-existent animal.
Not knowing that, they loved it, loved its ways,
its neck, its posture, loved its quiet gaze
down to the light within it, loved it all.

True, it was not. But, because loved, a pure
beast came to be. A space was kept, conceded.
And in that space, left blank for it, secure,
it gently raised its head and hardly needed

to be. They fed it on no kind of corn,
but always only with the right to be.
And on the beast such power this could confer,

its brow put forth new growth. A single horn.
White, it sought out a virgin's company -
and was inside the mirror and in her.

Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Michael Hamburger
today's lomo

copyright alan edwards

Sunday, January 25, 2004

But pleasures are like poppies spread:
You seize the flow'r, its bloom is shed;
Or like the snow falls in the river,
A moment white then melts for ever ...
Robert Burns

Saturday, January 24, 2004

from The Idiot Chapter 6
"Listen to me, Aglaya," said the prince, "I do believe you are nervous lest I shall make a fool of myself tomorrow at your party?"

"Nervous about you?" Aglaya blushed. "Why should I be nervous about you? What would it matter to me if you were to make ever such a fool of yourself? How can you say such a thing? What do you mean by 'making a fool of yourself'? What a vulgar expression! I suppose you intend to talk in that sort of way tomorrow evening? Look up a few more such expressions in your dictionary; do, you'll make a grand effect! I'm sorry that you seem to be able to come into a room as gracefully as you do; where did you learn the art? Do you think you can drink a cup of tea decently, when you know everybody is looking at you, on purpose to see how you do it?"

"Yes, I think I can."

"Can you? I'm sorry for it then, for I should have had a good laugh at you otherwise. Do break SOMETHING at least, in the drawing-room! Upset the Chinese vase, won't you? It's a valuable one; DO break it. Mamma values it, and she'll go out of her mind--it was a present. She'll cry before everyone, you'll see! Wave your hand about, you know, as you always do, and just smash it. Sit down near it on purpose."

from The Idiot Chapter 7
At the beginning of the evening, when the prince first came into the room, he had sat down as far as possible from the Chinese vase which Aglaya had spoken of the day before.

Will it be believed that, after Aglaya's alarming words, an ineradicable conviction had taken possession of his mind that, however he might try to avoid this vase next day, he must certainly break it? But so it was.

During the evening other impressions began to awaken in his mind, as we have seen, and he forgot his presentiment. But when Pavlicheff was mentioned and the general introduced him to Ivan Petrovitch, he had changed his place, and went over nearer to the table; when, it so happened, he took the chair nearest to the beautiful vase, which stood on a pedestal behind him, just about on a level with his elbow.

As he spoke his last words he had risen suddenly from his seat with a wave of his arm, and there was a general cry of horror.

The huge vase swayed backwards and forwards; it seemed to be uncertain whether or no to topple over on to the head of one of the old men, but eventually determined to go the other way, and came crashing over towards the German poet, who darted out of the way in terror.

The crash, the cry, the sight of the fragments of valuable china covering the carpet, the alarm of the company--what all this meant to the poor prince it would be difficult to convey to the mind of the reader, or for him to imagine.
Fyodor Dostoevsky

Friday, January 23, 2004

today's lomo

copyright alan edwards
Blogga Nostra and the Infopimps

This is absolutely true. By coincidence, having posted the above link this morning I received an email from the people who kindly supply me with this blog, which contains this worrying passage:

"Hooray For Bloggywood - Fox Television has been setting up blogs with a bunch of their shows. If you're a fan of The O.C., 24, Cracking Up, Tru Calling, or Arrested Development and you just can't wait until the next episode to get your dose, try checking out the blog. The cast of Cracking Up has been phoning in audio posts from behind the scenes with Audioblogger and it is funny stuff."

Run, run for the hills!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
we'd like to take you home with us
A Beatles fan who bought a life-size waxwork of Ringo Starr for £650 on eBay left the top half on the M25. Alex Dyke, from the Isle of Wight, hired a car and travelled to Kettering to collect it, but had to split it in two, putting the lower half on the back seat and the upper half in the boot. After fixing a puncture he drove away without the upper half. 'He was going to have pride of place in my living room,' said Alex, adding that Ringo was wearing 'a pink suit with gold braid, just like on the cover of Sergeant Pepper's. Now all I've got is the legs and pink trousers.'

footnote: I can't help feeling that for comic effect he should have had the upper half of the dummy propped up in the passenger seat for the journey home. Of course, that way he would only have left the legs and pink trousers at the side of the motorway.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

girl with a pearl earring

Girl with a Pearl Earring
In my student days I had a poster of this painting on my wall. It really is a beautiful image, ranking alongside the 'View of Delft', the 'Woman in Blue', and 'the Little Street' as one of Vermeer's great masterpieces. Last night I saw the film about it, based on the book by Tracy Chevalier. What a crushing disappointment. Colin 'Mr D'Arcy' Firth as Vermeer is totally miscast, the script is vacuous, and the direction is so fussy and 'clever' that it looks more like a sterile exercise in 'how to make a European art film' than anything else. Scarlett Johansson as Griet acts well, but her character is almost as two-dimensional as Firth's. There is the basis of a good film here - the photography is stunning at times, particularly when Griet poses for the painting (the likeness is really uncanny) - but this is a missed opportunity and I've no idea why it has had so much praise heaped upon it. Somehow the film manages to trivialise Vermeer the man without adding anything much to our understanding of his art, and anyone looking for an insight into the enigmatic Master of Delft would be better advised to go back to studying the paintings themselves. Compared to, say, Tarkovsky's study of the Russain icon painter Andrei Rublov, 'Girl with a Pearl Earring' is a trifle.

This is how Tarkovsky described his plans for filming 'Andrei Rublov':
' ... we are interested in the style of the epoch only to a limited degree: the costumes, the scenery, the language. Historical details should not distract the viewer's attention just in order to convince him that film's action is really taking place in the 15th century. Neutral interior decoration, neutral (although proper!) costumes, landscapes, modern language — all this will help us to talk only about what's most important.'

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

nico - copyright gerard malanga

I once met the legendary Nico, very briefly. I was hoping to interview her for the first issue of a magazine a friend of mine was planning to launch the following month. We went to speak to her backstage after one of her solo performances in a small nightclub. She was sitting on a rickety chair, with dyed black hair, dressed entirely in black against a black stage curtain, smoking a cigarette. No longer the ravishing beauty of the Velvet Underground/Dolce Vita days, she was still a formidable looking woman. You felt her presence, and no mistake. She looked us up and down slowly without saying a word, waiting for us to speak first. The publisher said that we'd like to arrange an interview, and that we'd already taken some film of her concert that night. In fact I had taken a few still photographs but she thought we meant 'film' as in 'movie film'. She stared icily at us for a moment, then drawled in her heavy Germanic accent, 'What a f***ing cheek'. This left the publisher floundering for words, so I stepped in and managed to placate her by explaining that we were only talking about a couple of snaps, and her mood improved. 'What's the magazine called?', she asked. In fact it didn't have a name at that time, or not a definite one, so I plucked out one of the names that had been bandied about in a meeting and said 'Mercury'. 'Nice name', she said, before adding that was leaving early the next day and couldn't fit in an interview but to contact her if she was back in town again. Nico did play again in the same nightclub not long afterwards, and she was superb - performing her Drama of Exile album with a full band - but the magazine had failed to materialise, and (regrettably) I didn't go backstage and ask for the promised interview.

I’ll Be Your Mirror
I’ll be your mirror
Reflect what you are, in case you don’t know
I’ll be the wind, the rain and the sunset
The light on your door to show that you’re home

When you think the night has seen your mind
That inside you’re twisted and unkind
Let me stand to show that you are blind
Please put down your hands
’cause I see you

I find it hard to believe you don’t know
The beauty that you are
But if you don’t, let me be your eyes
A hand in your darkness, so you won’t be afraid

When you think the night has seen your mind
That inside you’re twisted and unkind
Let me stand to show that you are blind
Please put down your hands
’cause I see you.

Lou Reed
Love Song
How shall I hold on to my soul, so that
it does not touch yours? How shall I gently
lift it up over you on to other things?
I would so very much like to tuck it away
among long lost objects in the dark,
in some quiet, unknown place, somewhere
which remains motionless when your depths resound.
And yet everything which touches us, you and me,
takes us together like a single bow,
drawing out from two strings but one voice.
On which instrument are we strung?
And which violinist holds us in his hand?
O sweetest of songs.

Rainer Maria Rilke
'When a friend speaks to me, whatever he says is interesting.'
Jean Renoir

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

On the Road by Jos Steegstra

Many years ago during the Edinburgh Festival I met a Dutch poet, Jos Steegstra. He asked me to work on some translations of his poems with him and we made three or four before he returned to Holland. I later visited him there but we subsequently lost touch with each other. Jos died in 2002 and his widow, Magda, very kindly sent me a handsome little book of his poems which contained one of the translations we made. Here it is, as a small reminder of the delightful man I had the great good fortune to know.

I miss you miles away

As long as I am en route
I draw nearer to you
as if I already know my destination:
any stop is superfluous.

Road sign
"Ne roule pas trop vite,
je t'aime",
a sign from you
and I know I have to be
on the road for hours.

I do not come nearer to you
but circle round your centre
I hope the signs will indicate
that I'm in the right lane.

Weather report
It has cleared up:
the same ways, the same landscapes,
the same places where we stood.
You are no longer visible on my horizon.

I follow the lines on the map
and stop at all the picturesque spots
to keep an eye on what remains
of our past together:
neither castle nor church
has suffered under us.

The end of the road
I miss you miles away;
the distance between us
defines the course
of our separate destinations:
everyone remains
in isolation.

Jos Steegstra

Monday, January 19, 2004

today's lomo

copyright alan edwards
A Devon couple have lost a court case in which they claimed their dog had been partially paralysed jumping for a Safeway leaflet hanging in their letterbox. Gordon Musselwhite claimed that while he and his wife were out shopping, Muffin and their other dachshund Belle were left in the hall. When they returned they found leaflets sticking out of the letterbox, and a Safeway leaflet with teeth marks on the floor. Mr Musselwhite, 62, branded junk mail the scourge of the 21st century. He said: 'If people want their pets not to be injured I would advise them to block up their letterboxes.'
red red wine
Interesting time in the pub last night. After watching the live band we headed down the road for a last pint. Five men - two Scotsmen, an Italian, a German and a Cypriot, - plus Ms X, who was tagging along with Stanley. X, who I had never met before, had had a few glasses of wine and was in outrageous form. At some point she decided to unbutton her blouse and show us her brand new La Sensa bra - a splendid, and suitably voluminous, black lacy affair - but before anyone could stop her she had removed it completely. Result: all six of us swiftly ejected onto the street. 'Don't you like my bosoms?', X had asked the bar manager, to which he replied: 'This is a pub, not a strip joint'. I haven't laughed as much in ages, especially at X asking Stanley, under the withering gaze of the manager, if he could help her get her tits back into the bra.

Saturday, January 17, 2004

HG Wells by Mystery Bob
they came, and they brought their own red grass ...

Friday, January 16, 2004

The Leonard Cohen Files
everything you wanted to know about the original ladies' man

Frankie Lane was singing Jezebel
I pinned an Iron Cross to my lapel
I walked up to the tallest and the blondest girl
I said, look, you don't know me now but very soon you will
So won't you let me see
I said, won't you let me see
I said, won't you let me see
Your naked body?

Thursday, January 15, 2004

ecce lomo
It seems you can now 'Lomoize' your photographs, although I can't help feeling it would be simpler to buy a real Lomo camera. Anyway, here's a nice Lomo site I stumbled upon earlier today. And here's a random lomograph of my own:

copyright alan edwards
i'll believe it when i dream it
A device that allows people to select their dreams is being developed in Japan.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

copyright alan edwards

from Hallaig by Sorley MacLean

Between The Leac and Fearns
The road is plush with moss
And the girls in a noiseless procession
Going to Clachan as always

And coming back from Clachan
And Suisnish, their land of the living,
Still lightsome and unheartbroken,
Their stories only beginning.

From Fearns Burn to the raised beach
Showing clear in the shrouded hills
There are only girls congregating,
Endlessly walking along

Back through the gloaming to Hallaig
Through the vivid speechless air,
Pouring down the steep slopes,
Their laughter misting my ear

And their beauty a glaze on my heart.
Then as the kyles go dim
And the sun sets behind Dun Cana
Love's loaded gun will take aim.

It will bring down the lightheaded deer
As he sniffs the grass round the wallsteads
And his eye will freeze: while I live,
His blood won't be traced in the woods.

translated from the Gaelic by Seamus Heaney

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

'Words are all we have.'
Samuel Beckett
run that past me again
Lingerie shops in Poland are fast running out of red underwear as schoolgirls snap up red bras and knickers in the hope of scoring top grades in their A-levels.

German police have arrested a man who tried to get a refund after allegedly replacing the working parts of computers with potatoes. Shop staff called detectives after the man complained that a machine he'd bought only hours before did not work. When they opened it they found it stuffed full of potatoes and gave him a new machine free of charge. However, they became suspicious when he returned a short time later with another computer filled with potatoes.

Police officers in a town in central India are being offered 35p extra a month to grow a moustache, as 'an effective tool of non verbal communication'. Research showed that a moustache added to a man's overall look of authority. However, the shape of the moustache will be monitored 'to prevent it taking on a mean or vulgar twist.'

today's photograph - Portobello beach

copyright alan edwards

Monday, January 12, 2004

nobody's perfect
A farmer in China paid £1300 to marry a woman who refused to sleep with him after the wedding, complaining she felt unwell. Six days later she ran away but the farmer tracked her down in a neighbouring town. He then discovered his bride was a man when her false breasts fell off as they grappled together.

Phil Sprung, a multimillionaire Canadian businessman, is suing the government for the return of his pets. Officials seized Tarzan the macaque monkey and other exotic pets during a 2001 raid at his ranch. His lawyer says Tarzan used to play poker with Mr Sprung and others at the ranch.

silence please
The BBC is to broadcast a live performance of an orchestra playing John Cage's 1953 work 4'33", which consists of four-and-a-half minutes of silence and has never been performed by an orchestra or broadcast on UK radio before. TV viewers will be able to watch the performance on BBC 4 later.

Marcel Duchamp - whose ideas had a profound influence on John Cage - considered silence to be 'the best work one can make. One cannot sign it and all the world profits.'
today's photograph
Routin Lynn waterfall, Northumberland, almost dry after last summer's drought.

copyright alan edwards

from 'The Well at the World's End'
'Even so they did, and broke bread above the sea, and looked to their horses, and then went hand in hand about the goodly green bents betwixt the sea and the rough of the mountain; and it was the fairest and softest of summer evenings; and the deer of that place, both little and great, had no fear of man, but the hart and hind came to Ursula's hand; and the thrushes perched upon her shoulder, and the hares gambolled together close to the feet of the twain; so that it seemed to them that they had come into the very Garden of God; and they forgat all the many miles of the waste and the mountain that lay before them, and they had no thought for the strife of foemen and the thwarting of kindred, that belike awaited them in their own land, but they thought of the love and happiness of the hour that was passing. So sweetly they wore through the last minutes of the day, and when it was as dark as it would be in that fair season, they lay down by the green knoll at the ending of the land, and were lulled to sleep by the bubbling of the Well at the World's End.'
William Morris

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Saturday, January 10, 2004

spaghetti £750
An eagle-eyed shopper bought a limited edition can of Heinz spaghetti for 35p before selling it for £710. Heinz celebrated the 75th anniversary of its spaghetti by changing its famous '57 varieties' slogan to '75 varieties' on just 75 cans. Chris Picardo, 29, put his can on eBay where it was bought by Keith Black for his collection of Heinz memorabilia. 'It was well worth the money', he said.

turkey sandwich £150
Muslims in Malaysia are calling for Mariah Carey to be banned from performing in the country because she's 'vulgar'. Last October a radio station in Atlanta auctioned a half-eaten turkey sandwich belonging to Carey. The winning bidder paid over £150 and also received a plastic knife used by one of her handlers in order to inspect it.

Friday, January 09, 2004

copyright alan edwards

for qB a small piece of the Highlands

Thursday, January 08, 2004

'Don't wait for the right opportunity: create it.'
George Bernard Shaw
Three Polish poachers are facing prison sentences for forcing a giant pike to drink champagne. Two of them were spotted holding the freshly caught fish while the third tried to pour the contents of the bottle down its throat.

norse patio
Archaeologists in Fife mistook a 1940's sunken patio for a 9th century Viking village. Douglas Spiers says his team concluded the slabs found in the garden of a Buckhaven home had been hauled by Norse settlers from a nearby beach. Even the discovery of a WW2 gas mask on the plot failed to deter them from their theory that this was the first evidence of Viking homes on mainland Scotland.

no off switch
Timothy Dumouchel from Wisconsin is suing a cable company for making his wife fat and his children 'lazy channel surfers'. He asked the company to disconnect the service four years ago but they never did, although they stopped billing him. 'The reason I smoke and drink every day and my wife is overweight is because we watched the TV every day for the last four years', he said.

Police in Troy, Michigan, believe teenagers are hacking into the wireless frequency of a US Burger King drive-through speaker. They told one customer who had just placed an order: 'You don't need a couple of Whoppers. You are too fat. Pull ahead.'

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

While in Monte Carlo in 1924, Marcel Duchamp devised a way of underwriting his new interest in gambling by selling bonds with a face value of five hundred francs each. He promised buyers a 20% dividend from his eventual winnings at the roulette table. The bonds featured a photograph - by Man Ray - of Duchamp with his head covered in shaving cream and his hair shaped into horns like Pan, the son of the gambling god, Hermes. He only sold a couple of the bonds.

see also Johnny on the Spot
Bob Monkhouse died recently. I always liked this quip by him: 'They laughed when I said I wanted to be a comedian. Well they're not laughing now.'

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

A snowy morning

A snowy morning--
by myself,
chewing on dried salmon.

Matsuo Basho
translated by Robert Hass
Authorities in Chatbir zoo, in India's Punjab state, are offering brandy to bears to keep them warm in winter. To begin with, a Himalayan black bear was given brandy. 'He enjoyed it immensely,' a zoo official said.

Monday, January 05, 2004

Last night went to see Bedford Falls in the Barony Bar with Paolo and Alberta. Bert was playing electric guitar and doing most of the singing. Spine-tingling versions of 'No Regrets' and 'Willin''. The spirit of Lowell George lives on in Bert, and he also sang 'Dixie Chicken' and 'Sailing Shoes' tonight. The regular crowd that gathers here love them ... they played three encores. Fantastic music, and it's free!
"Wisdom says, 'I am nothing'. Love says, 'I am everything'. Between the two my life flows."
Sri Nisargadatta - I AM THAT

[courtesy Arthur Mullard, no ... sorry ... David Williams]
How I hate reading read stuff by ugly people!!!
Booksellers are planning to reduce the number of books they release "to concentrate on 'big name' authors or 'good-looking' first-time novelists who are more marketable".
today's tip
It's important to watch what you eat. Otherwise, how are you going to get it into your mouth? Matt Diamond

Sunday, January 04, 2004

'They were wild like the USA
A mystery band in a New York way
Rock and roll, but not like the rest
And to me, America at it's best
How in the world were they making that sound?
Velvet Underground.'
Jonathan Richman

Friday, January 02, 2004

The inevitable question
Tell anyone that you are a photographer and they inevitably say: 'Really? What sort of photographs do you take?' This is a tricky question for me, because I photograph anything at all. However, when the question is posed by an attractive woman I usually say 'female nudes'.

'Tiger' Copyright Alan Edwards 1997
A New York book collector
was trapped naked for two days in his flat under an avalanche of hardbacks and magazines. Patrick Moore, 42, yelled for hour after hour before neighbours finally responded to his screams. Landlord Bernie Jones said he heard Mr Moore's shouts but "didn't pay any attention because he's always talking to himself".

Thursday, January 01, 2004

'Brighter stars will rise on some voyager of the future - some great Ulysses of the realms of thought - than shine on us. The dreams of magic may one day be the waking realities of science. But a dark shadow lies athwart the far end of this fair prospect. For however vast the increase of knowledge and of power which the future may have in store for man, he can scarcely hope to stay the sweep of those great forces which seem to be making silently but relentlessly for the destruction of all this starry universe in which our earth swims as a speck or mote. In the ages to come man may be able to predict, perhaps even to control, the wayward courses of the winds and clouds, but hardly will his puny hands have strength to speed afresh our slackening planet in its orbit or rekindle the dying fire of the sun. Yet the philosopher who trembles at the idea of such distant catastrophes may console himself by reflecting that these gloomy apprehensions, like the earth and the sun themselves, are only parts of that unsubstantial world which thought has conjured up out of the void, and that the phantoms which the subtle enchantress has evoked to-day she may ban to-morrow. They too, like so much that to common eyes seems solid, may melt into air, into thin air.'
Sir James George Frazer, from 'The Golden Bough', 1922