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Wednesday, 31 August 2011

David 'Honeyboy' Edwards, Bluesman, dies at 96

Michael Gray's blog reprints Andy Cohen's piece on the last of the great Mississippi Delta bluesmen.

Update from Jason at TheDeltaBlues

MOJO Magazine 2 September

How Long Blues?

When I Lay My Burden Down

Plays and talks.

Sweet Home Chicago




Britain's Housing: A More Continental Model?

Bagehot makes some good points about the changing UK property-market and the trend towards renting rather than ownership, and the shift towards "silver-haired landlords".

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Ben Waters Band at Maumbury Rings, Bank Holiday Monday, 29 August

Just down the road apiece

Pinetop's Boogie Woogie (1928)

Following in the great boogie-woogie tradition:

Ben Waters boogies at Maumbury Rings, with his ten-year old son Tom playing a mean sax.







(Below) The day before, 28 August, at Dorchester Love Parade Community Live Music Event:

Monday, 29 August 2011

Travel notes of a French blogger in Greece

These travel notes  (in French), by Jean Quatremer, make interesting reading, on perennial topics such as the black economy and the continuing widespread tax evasion in Greece.

Parva Que Sou, A Portuguese Song for Europe's Younger Generation

Parva Que Sou, by Deolinda, vocal Ana Bacalhau.

This Portuguese song seems to sum up the feelings of  the new generation.


Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Politicians and their holidays

BBC Today programme. Listen in

West Bay, Early Amateur Film, Dope Under Thorncombe

Thanks to Maddie Grigg for her latest posting, and for bringing to our attention (and linking to) this fascinating 1938 amateur movie, set in West Bay, Dorset, on her popular blog "The World From My Window".

Watch "Dope under Thorncombe" by Frank Trevett.

The Passing of a Poet - Jerry Leiber

New York Times

Jerry Leiber is up there in the twentieth century's poets' and songwriters' Pantheon, alongside Eliot, Auden, Betjeman, Larkin, Adrian Mitchell and Bob Dylan. He was 78 years old.

His wit, his creative use of language and idiom made him much more than a brilliant rock 'n' roll lyric writer.

Listen again, with a critic's ear, to the words of such songs as Yakety Yak, Charlie Brown, Poison Ivy, Love Potion Number 9, Spanish Harlem, Hound Dog, Trouble, Santa Claus is Back in Town and Jailhouse Rock.

Indispensable songs!

Song List.

BBC

Monday, 22 August 2011

The Value of the Bicycle and Cycling Industry

This is a report that everyone should read in Greece.

In Corfu they recently destroyed most of the expensive bicycle lanes they had installed only a year earlier.

Some people really know how to make good use of money!

John Psaropoulos (The New Athenian) on other challenges facing Greek Banks

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Keeping Up Traditions, Dorset Style; Linden Lea


It's easy enough to mock, but I have to say how much fun it was to watch Morris Dancers performing at West Bay, and Dorchester's Town Crier (a very professional Alistair Chisholm in period costume) talking about Maumbury Rings, and reading extracts from Thomas Hardy's "The Mayor of Casterbridge" and William Barnes' poem "Linden Lea".


The kids loved it, the adults too. Both events provided excellent entertainment. All for very good causes.














Saturday, 20 August 2011

The War of Generations & the State We're In

Bagehot highlights a contentious issue, the increasing tensions between the generations.

Barnaby Phillips rounds up some more contentious views on the state of England in his Al Jazeera blog.
See also the first (very angry) comment by a Polish commentator (Hermanek) responding to a deeply prejudiced and uninformed comment about immigration (comments below Barnaby's piece).

Friday, 19 August 2011

News from Kabul (the Siege of a Cultural Centre)

The Siege of the British Council, Kabul

BBC report (1) and BBC (2)

Telegraph

The British Council Afghanistan, official website

What the British Council does in Afghanistan

When culture stays alive (Paul Smith)

From BBC update:

British Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt said: "My thoughts are with those killed and injured and their families and friends, including locals working to protect the British Council building".


Sky News

The Telegraph

Mail Online

In due course (I have no doubt) there will be discussions about cultural relations and 'soft power' (already mentioned by Sky News'  Foreign Editor, Tim Marshall) in the context of the theories of Joseph Nye Jr, Nicholas J. Cull and James Pamment, author of "The Limits of the New Public Diplomacy", Doctoral Thesis, Stockholm University, Sweden, 2011.

Soft power is a very regrettable term. Soft target, unfortunately, is not so inaccurate.

Tim Marshall has used both terms in news bulletins today.

British Council statement

Martin Davidson, Chief Executive (Huffington Post)

Some of my own thoughts, from "Representing Britain in Times of Hostilities" in "Literatures of War" (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008)

"The global situation in 2007 was very different, with Tony Blair talking of the need to use 'soft power' alongside the 'hard ower' of military intervention in certain foreign countries. We never considered cultural relations work in Eastern Europe as a form of 'soft power'. It was based on principles of reciprocity, exchange, civilised dialogue and 'mutuality'. At times of active hostilities and the resort to 'hard power', it is unlikely to prove possible or effective to attempt to use 'soft power' (however defined( unless in the form of propaganda."

Thursday, 18 August 2011

For those who love islands, but live in the city

Christine Anu is singing about the Torres Straits Islands, but it could be about Corfu, Bermuda or any other island.

Imagine living in Athens, Sydney or London and dreaming of your island home.

My Island Home (acoustic version, with printed lyrics)

My Island Home (original Christine Anu hit)

My Island Home (Sydney Olympics, 2000, Closing Ceremony)

Let's hope London pulls off a ceremony as impressive as this in 2012.

Great CD below! Check out "San E Wireless"

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

What the teachers say

Politicians blame"Schools Without Discipline"!

Emma Jones on the riots (The Guardian).

Read Ian Whitwham's "At the Chalkface" for further insights into the experiences of a London State School teacher.

Perhaps we should all re-examine the theories of Basil Bernstein, the sociologist who worked on issues of language, class and communication. I spent a year at the London University Institute of Education when Professor Bernstein was most active in this area of research, and if some young people's language codes seemed "restricted" then (in contrast to the middle class "elaborated" codes of teachers and politicians), how much wider the gap appears to have become in the course of the last 10-20 years.

One might almost talk of a total breakdown in communication.

I don't think Professor Bernstein dealt with the issue of Jamaican or Caribbean speech patterns, and their influence on the speech codes of young Londoners from many cultural and ethnic backgrounds. What would he have made of these controversial comments on street slang by 'hip-hop' intellectual Lindsay Johns?

In Bernstein's hey-day, the predominant influence, certainly on British rock music, if not in school or on the streets, was African-American vernacular speech.                          

When I was at the Institute of Education in London, one of the other outstanding lecturers was Professor Harold Rosen. I was at University with his son Michael Rosen, the poet and former Children's Laureate.


They both knew how to get through to the kids.

Peter Randall-Page

Peter Randall-Page

Shell Sculpture in Stone 'Cupboard', cliff path near Chaldon Herring
'New Milestone's project with the assistance of Common Ground




NB Sadly, some of these impressive, windswept installations have been damaged, either by vandals or by cattle. One hopes they will soon be restored.



Stourhead, Catalogue of Paintings

A useful National Trust catalogue of paintings at Stourhead, including Francis Nicholson's Stonehenge.

I'm not sure if there's a similar illustrated catalogue online for the huge collection at Kingston Lacy, but here's a partial list of artists, like Lely, whose work is on display there.

Bagehot on the Riots

The Economist columnist is back in England.

Update

Eurobond Mutiny?

The BBC reports

The Telegraph reports

Eurointelligence seems, as usual, to be rather better informed. Apparently the real strategy (citing FT Deutschland) is for Chancellor Merkel to 'calm the market and to prepare the political ground' before softening her opposition to Eurobonds.

See also

BBC Update 16 August

Monday, 15 August 2011

A Book I Want To Read (on Romania)

"The Last Hundred Days", a novel about Romania in the 1980s (on the Booker Prize long list). The author is Patrick McGuinness.

Guardian review

A book to compare with my own (as yet) unpublished book about Prague and Czechoslovakia in the 1980s, and the years before the Velvet Revolution?

King Alfred's Tower, Somerset



Some interesting information about King Alfred's Tower in Somerset, not far from Bruton.

One of my favourite places to visit and walk when I lived in Somerset, although the tower was not open in those days, for reasons which will be apparent by going to the link (an American plane hit the tower in 1944).

Mind you, the tower wasn't open today either. I drove 40 miles in order to climb to the top to see the view, only to find that it had been closed two hours before the advertised time...

King Alfred's Anglo-Saxon version of Boethius.



West Saxon Nap

From Alfred’s Tower to Golden Cap
I’ll tie our silken hammock;
And there I’ll lie
With you my love,
My head upon your lap.


Golden Cap and Maiden Castle, Dorset


I can't think of two more inspiring spots than Golden Cap (above) and Maiden Castle (below).



Sunday, 14 August 2011

East Coker in the news again



The Sunday Times has as one of its rather hysterical- but still distressing- front page headlines today (14 August 2011):

"T S Eliot's East Coker to be concrete Waste Land"

The main article (p. 5) reports that East Coker could be "swamped by an eco-town".

The Guardian wrote about the same issue on 20 March 2011

See also my earlier posting:

21.3.2011

Hear Eliot read "East Coker" (YouTube)

or try this alternative YouTube version

Second part

Some books which are still available:

East Coker

T.S. Eliot reads his Four Quartets: Burnt Norton, East Coker, The Dry Salvages & Little Gidding

Will the residents of the village, and their supporters, manage to persuade the government to apply for a UNESCO World Heritage listing for East Coker?

Saturday, 13 August 2011

T-Bone Walker paved the way

The urban blues don't get much better than the music of T-Bone Walker (1910-1975), pioneer of the electric guitar.

He remains the master.






                                 Travellin' Blues

                                 T-Bone Shuffle

                                 In UK, 1966

                                Goin' to Chicago

Thursday, 11 August 2011

In Memory of Magic Sam

One of the greatest Chicago blues and boogie guitarists and singers, Magic Sam died in 1969, at the age of 32. Listen to some true West Side soul:

I wanna boogie

Magic Sam's Boogie

All Your Love

Interview and two songs

Sweet Home Chicago

21 Days in Jail

From 'Cool Britannia' to 'Sick Society'

"There are pockets of our society that are not just broken, but frankly sick". David Cameron, 10 August, 2011.




I looked up the phrase "Sick Society" to see when it first started being used.

I came across a very disturbing song of that name, by a group called Skrewdriver

The sooner that phrase (and its inevitable associations with that song, and others by this group) is put out of circulation, the better.

Boris Johnson's unwitting or unguarded comment on the BBC that society has become like a broken washing machine leaking oil was surely not helpful.

Three years ago he described David Cameron's claim that Britain is a broken society as "piffle".

A diagnosis? Here's a review from The Guardian of Oliver James'  (pre-recession, 2007) book on one of the viruses affecting sick societies, Affluenza

Today (11 August) in Parliament the Prime Minister referred to his earlier comment about the sick society, and said that the sickest part of all was the EDL.

The Telegraph (10 August).

News from Eltham.

The Sun (Monica Konczyk)

More coverage (YouTube)

The "Me First" Culture

"A Major Criminal Disease" ("a major criminal disease that has infected streets and estates across our country").

My inner-city teacher friend from London (Fielding of the Guardian) was rightly furious about this provocative article by Damian Thompson.

Tony Blair, on the dangers of "trashing" our own reputation abroad.

and the BBC 

It will soon be time for another newIMAGES campaign


Let's hope we have some happier new images to project.
**********************************************************************************


"It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society". 
Jiddu Krishamurti.


Perhaps now is the time to read or re-read "The Plague" by Albert Camus.


The last word is with Bob Dylan: Everything is Broken.





Rodney Legg Obituaries

There can be few people living  in Dorset who do not own one or more books about the county written by the late Rodney Legg.

The Telegraph

The Guardian

Wincanton Window

Dorset Echo

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Llewelyn Powys, Memorial Stone





LLEWELYN POWYS, 13 AUGUST 1884-2 DECEMBER 1939. THE LIVING, THE LIVING, HE SHALL PRAISE THEE.

Epitaph-inscription carved by Elizabeth Muntz on block of Portland stone, in memory of Llewelyn Powys.

I prefer his work to that of his brothers, largely on account of his DORSET ESSAYS and SOMERSET ESSAYS.

The cows have less sense of discrimination.







See also various titles published by the Sundial Press


Monday, 8 August 2011

Weymouth, Historic Beach Huts, Arson

It's not just North London that is in the news for acts of arson.

Weymouth too.

From the Proms (Khatia Buniatishvili)

Not many hours ago I was fortunate to catch a BBC radio programme of the Georgian pianist Khatia Buniatishvili playing Liszt (YouTube version), live from the Proms. Even on my old car radio her interpretations sounded wonderful.

Listen now (available for 7 days).

or try to catch the repeat:

Listen live on BBC Radio 3 and in HD Sound on the website. Listen online for 7 days after broadcast. Repeated on Radio 3 2pm 13 August 2011.


YouTube interview


Earlier BBC interview

Khatia's website

Hardy v. Hooker, "I Look into my Glass"/"I Looked into my Mirror" (Tempus Fugit 2); Thomas Hardy; John Lee Hooker




A short blues from the "Ebb" film soundtrack, I Looked into my Mirror
With thanks to Ian and John Lee!

Compare with Thomas Hardy:

I LOOK INTO MY GLASS


I LOOK into my glass, 
And view my wasting skin, 
And say, "Would God it came to pass 
My heart had shrunk as thin!" 

For then, I, undistrest 
By hearts grown cold to me, 
Could lonely wait my endless rest 
With equanimity. 

But Time, to make me grieve, 
Part steals, lets part abide; 
And shakes this fragile frame at eve 
With throbbings of noontide.


Andrew Motion recites the poem







Bob Dylan's Record Collection

This is a useful posting about some of Bob's sources

and about the better-known sources of the Rolling Stones' first LP

Convenient posting as you can listen to all the sources,

A Wet August, Thomas Hardy

AWet August

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Tempus Fugit Riddle



You are the sundial of my life.
Why darken my face
With your shadow?

(1961/1962)


For a happier permutation of words and a similar-sounding first line, try Stevie Wonder

Max Gate, The National Trust and Hardy's House

What are the National Trust's plans for Max Gate?



Some alarming news in The Telegraph on Saturday August 6 ("Sorry tale, Trust accused of neglecting Hardy's home"), and in this letter too. Today I made a visit to Max Gate and to Hardy's Cottage at Higher Bockhampton. National Trust volunteers at both venues were unable to enlighten me further. They had not read the article; they had not been briefed.

It seemed not very long ago that the house had a bright future


NT volunteers' response, Dorset Echo, 13 August 2011:


What on earth would Thomas Hardy have to say? "Get on your bike!"


Update, 14 August, 2011. Richard Brooks, writing in The Sunday Times Culture section, asks "Why doesn't the National Trust turn Hardy's home into a decent 'shrine' to the great writer?" "The Trust has shilly-shallied for far too long". He comments that "Julian Fellowes...rightly believes that the trust should work hard to bring back the author's old study, currently reconstructed at the Dorset County Museum..." "Trouble is, the trust's heart is not really in Max Gate- a Victorian middle-class villa".

I'm alarmed about developments at another National Trust property in Dorset too, at Burton Bradstock beach.

It seems that all the fields leading to this wonderful stretch of Chesil beach have become a giant car park, largely to serve the clients and customers of the ever-expanding (and undeniably popular) "Beach Cafe" - or seafood taverna (?), which is leased from the National Trust.

I much preferred the atmosphere and sense of respect for the natural environment in the old days, when the cafe was not much more than a simple wooden shack, and the car park was a fraction of its present size- surely more in keeping with the Mission of The National Trust and  the UNESCO World Heritage Site status of the Jurassic Coast as an area of outstanding unspoilt natural beauty?

From the Beach Cafe's website:


Preparing for the Olympics

Plans for the Hive in 2011 and beyond include upgrading the kitchen facilities, making some of the older awnings a more permanent and sunnier structure, providing new toilet and shower facilities and investigating other local opportunities for business expansion


I won't comment on the other West Dorset landmark (Admiral Hardy's Monument) which is cared for by the National Trust. It's still closed for its long refurbishment. I sometimes wonder if it will ever open again.

"Monument to Vice-Admiral Hardy, Flag-Captain of HMS Victory at Trafalger. Note: Closed this year". 

Saturday, 6 August 2011

The UK Economy, one perspective.

This financial article about the UK economy seems to make a lot of sense, and is at least understandable.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

More Fires in Corfu

Read here

We await news from residents of the area.

Chamber Music Holidays- Thirtieth Anniversary Newsletter

It was a pleasure to welcome Vivienne Pittendrigh to Zagori a month ago. We share a special interest in Corfu, Australia and the Czech Republic.
Here is an extract from her latest Chamber Music Holidays Newsletter:


Corfu is still alive with music with two wonderful festivals last month.  Highlights for me were the amazing performance of Dido and Aeneas with the famous Baroque conductor Stanley Ritchie in historic St George’s Church, the Arriaga Quartet from Brussels in the romantic Achilleon Palace and the legendary Vienna Chamber Orchestra in the excellent Ionian Academy. Zbynek Padourek violist of the Martinu Quartet, formerly Kocian Quartet, and his family were among the visitors this month. We had a very interesting talk about working together again in 2012.
Corfu dates to be finalised for either late June or late September. 
Information about the coaching and concerts will be on the website in late October. As always we shall spend a day in nearby Albania to visit the amazing archaeological site Butrint. I am looking into a additional option of three days in north west Greece just opposite Corfu to visit the mind boggling Meteora then to the Zagori region with the largest gorge in the world and enchanting villages with traditional white stone houses and cobbled streets, an absolutely amazing place.         

Vivienne Pittendrigh.








WHO never had it so good?


Yesterday I met up with an old friend and colleague who had celebrated his seventieth birthday earlier this year. You wouldn’t think so, as he is still an active yachtsman/sailor, walker and hash harrier.

He made me pause to think when he said that no generation in human history has ever had it so good as his generation (ok, we’re talking about Britain, and a fairly fortunate section of British society, at that).

-The generation in question didn’t have to fight in a world war.

-It didn’t have to do National Service.

-University Entrance was a lot easier and a degree course was a much less costly proposition than it is now. For many students, tuition was free.

- Secondary Education became more accessible after the 1944 Education Act (free Grammar School education etc).

-The National Health System ensured that medical attention and health care were free of charge at the point of delivery.

-It was relatively easy to find an interesting job and career.

-Britain held a lot of prestige in the world.

-Occupational and Public Sector Pension systems were more generous and secure

-Houses were affordable and greatly increased in value.

If this is all true (in general) why do most people fail to count their blessings or their lucky stars?
One could think of a lot of other reasons for making such a claim about the generation that never had it so good, but not for feeling self-satisfied.
It was also the generation that enjoyed the liberating influence of rock 'n' roll (and rhythm 'n' blues) music. Now there's a good reason for feeling a sense of good fortune and gratitude!



Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Fulani Flautist: Another West African Experience

Fulani Flautist
(Nomad versus World Bank Agricultural Development Project,
Gombe, Nigeria, September 1978)

At the edge of the forest reserve
We stopped to stretch our legs.
The road gangs had not reached this far.
The jungle cats had yet to come
To claw up trees and undergrowth.
No bulldozers, graders or scrapers,
No pipeline crews; only our Landrover
Had so far disturbed the peace.
   Out of the forest the faint sound of a flute;
A mirage of silver-white cows.
I watched the herd materialise;
The sound of the flute grew louder.
Long-horned cattle, groomed like stallions,
Sleek-skinned, clean and cared-for.
The Fulani flautist emerged from the trees:
Standing before us with a welcoming smile.
He stopped to play, acknowledged our interest,
And them ambled away with his herd.
   I would have followed the Fulani herdsman,
But I could hear less soothing sounds.
The big yellow cats were coming,
Rumbling through the forest reserve.
The ground was beginning to tremble.
And the fragile flute of the nomad
Would soon be crushed beneath caterpillar tracks;
And the cattle would soon have to graze
On whatever might be left
Between the asphalt and acres of maize.


Some Memories of Ghana (Fort Elmina and Cape Coast Castle)

)

LEL 

On an Entry in the Dictionary of National Biography

(Laetitia Elizabeth Landon, born Chelsea 1802, buried Cape Coast Castle, 1838):


Cultivated men summed up
The value of her short life’s worth:
“As a poetess…diffuse”.
Self-destruction the enduring verdict
(By prussic acid, but no post-mortem),
In spite of darker speculation
Of murder by her cultured husband,
Or by his jealous Gold Coast mistress.
Suicide? No more to tell?
Picket Cape Coast Castle,
Open up the case again:
Justice still for LEL!


Song: Fort Elmina Blues

They took me down to Fort Elmina,
The meanest place I’ve ever seen.

They took me down to Fort Elmina,
The meanest place I’ve ever seen.

They threw me in a dark old dungeon,
The walls were thick, (I) couldn’t see the sun.

The ocean’s roar can’t hide our cries,
As one more slave amongst us dies.

The floor is wet, the floor is foul,
A new-born babe begins to howl.

Cape Coast is worse, the rumours say,
But if I could change, I’d go today.

The ship came in, after three long months,
They packed us in, they chained us down.

I said farewell to Fort Elmina,
The prettiest sight I’ve ever seen.

I said farewell to Fort Elmina,
The prettiest sight I’ve ever seen.




A Letter from Nick Teye

I still recall with pleasure a letter I received from a Ghanaian film student, after I’d run a seminar on Script-Writing for Documentary Film Makers in Accra, Ghana, back in 1980, at the National Film and TV Institute. I had been involved in film making and TV production and training for ten years in Africa (mainly in Ethiopia and Kenya). 

“After the priceless seminar with you in Accra…I now view documentary films with a very critical mind…your approach to the subject was revolutionary and challenging, which third-world film makers need most”.

(Nick Teye, 25/9/1980)


I wonder what Nick's doing now. Could he be the Nick Narh Teye who directed the feature film "My Father's Wife"?


Monday, 1 August 2011

Michael Cacoyannis (2)

An interesting article  in the Cyprus Mail on Michael Cacoyannis by Poly Pantelides

At the end, she even quotes from my own interview (1978) with the great film director.

Electra, an excerpt