Thursday, August 31, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
I look across the table and think
(fiery with love)
Ask me, go on, ask me
to do something impossible,
something freakishly useless,
something unimaginable and inimitable

Like making a finger break into blossom
or walking for half an hour in twenty minutes
or remembering tomorrow.

I will you to ask it.
But all you say is
Will you give me a cigarette?
And I smile and,
returning to the marvelous world
of possibility,
I give you one
with a hand that trembles
with a human trembling.

Norman MacCaig

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Scotland Small?
Scotland small? Our multiform, our infinite Scotland small?
Only as a patch of hillside may be a cliché corner
To a fool who cries ‘Nothing but heather!’ where in September another
Sitting there and resting and gazing round
Sees not only heather but blaeberries
With bright green leaves and leaves already turned scarlet
Hiding ripe blaeberries; and amongst the sage green leaves
Of the bog-myrtle the golden flowers of the tormentil shining;
And on the small bare places, where the Blackface sheep
Found grazing, milkworts blue as summer skies;
And down in neglected peat hags, not worked
Within living memory, sphagnum moss in pastel shades
Of yellow, green, and pink; sundew and butterwort
Waiting with wide-open sticky leaves for their tiny winged prey;
And nodding harebells vying in their colour
With the blue butterflies that poise themselves delicately upon them;
And stunted rowans with harsh dry leaves of glorious colour.
‘Nothing but heather’ – How marvellously descriptive! And incomplete!

Hugh MacDiarmid
girls talk
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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

An artist has got to be careful never really to arrive at a place where he thinks he's at somewhere. You always have to realize you're constantly in a state of becoming. As long as you can stay in that realm, you'll sort of be alright.

Bob Dylan

Monday, August 28, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
Meanwhile, Being celebrated its tumultuous festival in the measureless spaces that were its handiwork and in which it created distances congealed in icy emptiness. And he spoke of the gigantic setting of this festival, the universe, this mortal child of eternal Nothingness, filled with countless material bodies, meteors, moons, comets, nebulas, unnumbered millions of stars that swayed one another, were ordered by the effect of their gravitational fields into groups, clouds, galaxies, and super-systems of galaxies, each with enormous numbers of flaming suns, wheeling planets, masses of attenuated gas, and cold rubbish heaps of ice, stone, and cosmic dust...

This interdependent whirling and circling, this convolution of gases into heavenly bodies, this burning, flaming, freezing, exploding, pulverizing, this plunging and speeding, bred out of Nothingness and awaking Nothingness -- which would perhaps have preferred to remain asleep and was waiting to fall asleep again -- all this was Being, known also as Nature, and everywhere in everything it was one.

Thomas Mann, from 'Confessions of Felix Krull, Confidence Man', 1955
Conversation in the garden
my neighbour, Mrs B, approaches ...
Mrs B: Can I ask you a favour?
Me: Certainly. What?
Mrs B: I was wondering if you could help me trim my bush.
Me: Yes. Where is it?
Mrs B: Round the front. There's just one little bit I can't quite reach.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

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Friday, August 25, 2006

Mozart is the greatest composer of all. Beethoven 'created' his music, but the music of Mozart is of such purity and beauty that one feels he merely 'found' it, that it has always existed as part of the inner beauty of the universe waiting to be revealed.
Albert Einstein

Thursday, August 24, 2006

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Do we think of Aeschylus while we wait on the silence of Cassandra, or of Shakespeare while we listen to the wailing of Lear? Not so. The power of the masters is shown by their self-annihilation. It is commensurate with the degree in which they themselves appear not in their work. The harp of the minstrel is untruly touched, if his own glory is all that it records.

John Ruskin, from Modern Painters I (1843)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Thinking in what order I love colours, found the following:-

1. Pure light warm green.
2. Deep gold-colour.
3. Certain tints of grey.
4. Shadowy or steel blue.
5. Brown, with crimson tinge.
6. Scarlet.

Other colours (comparatively) only loveable according to the relations in which they are placed.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, from his notebook (1866)

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

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When I wished to sing of love it turned to sorrow. And when I wished to sing of sorrow it was transformed for me into love.
Franz Schubert

Monday, August 21, 2006

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If the king loves music, it is well with the land.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

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Art is the most beautiful deception of all. And although people try to incorporate the everyday events of life in it, we must hope that it will remain a deception lest it become a utilitarian thing, sad as a factory.
Claude Debussy

Saturday, August 19, 2006

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Apparently, rubbing Chopin's nose brings you luck.
The boy in the supermarket
I'm looking at the young guy who works in the mini-supermarket. He's 16 going on 35 and appears to have the entire weight of the world on his shoulders as he scans the endless shopping that passes before him. I have never seen him anywhere but in the shop. Does he have a girlfriend, a souped-up car, an alter-ego that goes out dancing and gets drunk on tequila slammers at the weekend? I doubt it somehow, and suspect he may spend his spare time playing computer games in his bedroom.

Today he's wearing a large pink, padded neck brace and can only look around by turning his upper body sideways. In contrast to most of the local Spanish youths who are slender and tanned from swimming and diving off the pier or playing volleyball on the sand, he's plump and out of condition. He has full lips, thick black hair, and the saddest eyes imaginable, their size increased to owl-like proportions by the thick lenses of his spectacles. A faint adolescent moustache adorns his upper lip, and, despite the air-conditioning, sweat trickles down his forehead as he performs his monotonous task. Looking at him as I queue up with my bottled water and bread I am vaguely reminded of a Velasquez portrait, but I'm not sure which one.

He rarely smiles, and speaks quietly, only in Spanish, although the majority of his customers are either German or British. Perhaps the effort to learn a few useful foreign phrases would place a final, insuperable burden on his already weary shoulders. When the total cost of the shopping is calculated he gives it in Spanish and gestures lazily towards the small screen beside the till where it is displayed. He always avoids eye-contact. Even a sympathetic enquiry about the neck-brace from a local shopper only draws a mumbled monosyllabic response from him. It's unclear how he hurt himself, and he appears to accept it as part of of his lot without complaint. I notice that the shop is entirely staffed by women, he being the only male among them, but he is obviously in a position of authority so I surmise that he may be the son of the owners.

But why so miserable, day in day out? A few days later I get a possible answer. His mother, who is evidently in charge of the business, is there (I guess she is his mother by the strong family resemblance) and today she is directing affairs like Napoleon marshalling his troops, bossing everyone around, arguing and gesticulating with a disgruntled customer about a packet of sausages, standing defiantly with hands set firmly on her hips surveying the queue at the till. The rest of the staff cower before her, but the boy appears totally unfazed by her domineering ways. When she speaks sharply to him about the till receipts which are littering the floor he merely shrugs his shoulders and retreats into himself like a tortoise confronted by a cat. Everything about him, his body language, his lugubrious expression, seems to say 'it's a dog's life, isn't it?'

Friday, August 18, 2006

music ...

I don't like country music, but I don't mean to denigrate those who do. And for the people who like country music, denigrate means 'put down'.
Bob Newhart

Parsifal - the kind of opera that starts at six o'clock and after it has been going three hours, you look at your watch and it says 6:20.
David Randolph

I am sure my music has a taste of codfish in it.
Edvard Grieg
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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Love is always simply itself, both as a subtle affirmation of life and as the highest passion; love is our sympathy with organic life, the touchingly lustful embrace of what is destined to decay... In God's good name, leave the meaning of love unresolved!

Thomas Mann, from 'The Magic Mountain'

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
Where there is much light, the shadow is deep.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
I've always been intrigued by beautiful people, and by that I don't mean the plastic, over-privileged Paris Hiltons of the world, but people who are naturally blessed with the sort of striking good looks, allied to a certain confidence and poise, that somehow distances them from the common herd. Thomas Mann's Felix Krull, Confessions of a Confidence Man' is a lighthearted fable about how far good looks and charm can take you in life, but for the most part these beautiful creatures remain an enigma to all but those within their own privileged circle. As a dedicated people-watcher I sometimes try to fathom what really lies beneath their smooth, untroubled surface, but generally without much success. Their existence seems, in a sense, to be largely dedicated to maintaining the aura of mystery which their beauty has created around them.

Mediterranean beaches are a good place to observe them at play, mingling at arms length with the heaving mass of humanity, now and then accidentally rubbing shoulders with the hoi polloi. I sometimes watched a group of three of them while on holiday. They were French, two men and a woman, and because both men seemed to have a close relationship with the woman I was reminded of Truffaut's film 'Jules et Jim'. The woman - probably in her early twenties - could best be described as one part Kate Moss and two parts Brigitte Bardot, and she was well aware of her impact on those around her. Men would walk into lamposts as they turned their heads to watch her pass; women would glance enviously - but discreetly - at her perfectly honed, tanned body, and slap their husbands about the head if their gaze settled for too long on this vision of loveliness clad in nothing but a piece of string.

One day she arrived at the beach with one of the men - a handsome guy, fit and well built, with an easy air and winning smile - possibly, I thought, a centre for a glamorous French rugby team like 'Racing Club de Paris'. As they reached the steps down to the beach the couple were stopped by a family of Germans - father, mother, and teenage son - who were walking on the promenade. The father immediately began talking earnestly and animatedly to Monsieur 'Racing-Club' while gesturing towards his girlfriend who stood a little to the side. At first Monsieur 'Racing-Club' looked bemused, perhaps there was a language problem, but then the son, a tall, gangly, blond-haired youth of about 16, stepped forward and held up a white t-shirt and a small German flag on a stick, while pointing in the direction of Brigitte, as I will call her.

The Frenchman finally understood and took Brigitte aside to consult with her. She seemed slightly perplexed, but the German mother approached and offered her some kind of encouragement, whereupon she nodded in agreement. She put the white shirt on over her bikini, took the German flag in her right hand, and allowed the youth to put his arm around her waist while the grinning father took a snapshot of the couple. The boy looked rather bashful as both parents thanked 'la plus belle fille sur la plage' for providing their son with this immortal memory of his holiday, but I suspect he was already secretly anticipating the moment when he would triumphantly reveal the photograph to envious friends back home.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
Politics and the fate of mankind are formed by men devoid of ideals and greatness. Those who have greatness within them do not enter politics.
Albert Camus

Sunday, August 13, 2006

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Saturday, August 12, 2006

12 great mp3s for a crowded beach
belle & sebastian - boy with the arab strap
flat on your back with the boy from the arab strap
chuck berry - you can't catch me
new jersey turnpike in the wee wee hours
deus - the ideal crash
stay by my side
kinks - waterloo sunset
as long as I gaze on waterloo sunset I am in paradise
velvet underground - sweet jane
Jane is in her vest, and me, I'm in a rock'n'roll band
ramones - blitzkrieg bop
they're generating steam-heat
bob dylan - i want you
the silver saxophones say I should refuse you
tim keegan - save me from happiness
au revoir my tristesse
van morrison - into the mystic
we were born before the wind
david bowie - heroes
and the guns shot above our heads
dick dale - pipeline
leonard cohen - closing time
and the women tear their blouses off

Friday, August 11, 2006

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Thursday, August 10, 2006

In life, people tend to wait for good things to come to them. And by waiting, they miss out. Usually, what you wish for doesn't fall in your lap; it falls somewhere nearby, and you have to recognise it, stand up, and put in the time and work it takes to get to it. This isn't because the universe is cruel. It's because the universe is smart.
Neil Strauss, from 'The Game'
Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
Beach Scene, Majorca
A family of four upper-middle class English holidaymakers are preparing to leave the beach. It's mid afternoon, the temperature is 34 degrees, and all four are pink from exposure to the sun on what is probably their first day there. Dad (name unknown) is medium height, overweight, and looks as if he may be a stockbroker or lawyer in real life. He is rummaging noisily around inside a small blue polystyrene tent, talking to himself. Mum (Maggie) is a small chunky woman with large breasts which wobble beneath her voluminous white t-shirt when she becomes agitated. She has a plummy accent, bobbed black hair, piercing blue eyes and bright pink cheeks and nose. She looks as if she is about to flip her lid at any minute as she tries to gather all their stuff together while her boys (Nicholas, aged about 10) and James (about 8) engage in a running battle around her.

Maggie (grabbing nearest child by the arm): Stop it NOW!
James (whiningly): But Nicholas STARTED it!
Maggie: I don't care who started it. Take this rubbish to the bin immediately.
James: But you can't put that in the rubbish!
Maggie: Just do as you're told!
James (sulks): I'm not taking it to the rubbish...
Maggie: Right! Right! I'll do it myself! (storms off)
Dad (from inside tent): Nicholas pass me my t-shirt.
Nicholas: It's not here...
Dad: Yes it is, pass it in Nick, now!
Nicholas: I can't see it ... it must be in the tent.
Dad: Look, I'm in the tent, and I'm telling you it's not here!
Nicholas: Well it's not here either ...
Dad (emerging, red in the face): OK, I'll get it myself! (finds t-shirt lying nearby on sand)
Maggie (back from the rubbish bin): James I told you to put your t-shirt on...
James: I can't, it's all horrible and wet and covered in sand...
Maggie: I can't believe you just said that. We're on a beach for heaven's sake!
James: Well I'm not putting it on.
Maggie: Yes you are. Do you want to burn? (wrestles with James and t-shirt)
Dad (dismantling tent): Would someone please help me flatten this tent...
Nicholas: You can't flatten it, there's a towel underneath.
Dad: I don't care about the towel, help me flatten the tent!
Nicholas: But it won't go flat with a towel...
Dad (interrupting): That is ENOUGH Nicholas!
James: Nicolas threw sand at me again.
Nicholas (holding half-empty bucket of sand): I did not!
Maggie: Put that down this minute Nicholas and help your father!
Dad (exasperated): Would someone help me flatten this tent?
James (tearfully): This t-shirt is hurting me.
Nicholas: Well you shouldn't have been throwing sand everywhere.
James: You started it...
Maggie (incensed): Look, I just want to make it clear to the two of you that this is absolutely the last family holiday we're going on. Next year I'm going to Ibiza with Brenda.
Dad (looks up): Oh no Maggie, let's not go down that road.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

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Alas, the flesh is weary, and I've read all the books.
Stéphane Mallarmé

Monday, August 07, 2006

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Saturday, August 05, 2006

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hello again ...