Saturday, December 24, 2005

In for a penny - in for a Pound

Why I should feel the urge to fill this blog up with a brief surge of mostly inconsequential noodlings at this particular time is something of a mystery. Most likely it is connected with the fact that it is Christmas Eve, I'm off work and have some time to waste.

Some of which I spent idly skimming through Blogger profiles. A lot of people keep this up for a few months and then it go - some don't even hold on that long. Most of what is written is of limited interest to anyone else, not much much than jottings in a private diary. In itself, that is interesting. It lays bare the enormity of similarities between people. Far greater these that one might think, and it serves to remind me yet again that however unique and individual I might judge myself, the reality is quite different.


Back into the light

Decided to make this blog a little more visible than before by sticking it back on my public profile. Sometimes you feel like sitting in the shade; other times a walk in the sun.

Finally some sense about wine

It does all of us who fret about middle-class manners a lot of good to read articles such as this. A bit of historical knowledge is an antidote to all sorts of nonsense, and wine snobbery is amongst the most nonsensical of current fads (only really outdone by city & suburban dwellers buying S.U.V.s).

The Grinning Years

I hate these grinning middle years,
Between the surliness of youth and crabbed old age,
I hate the way we have to force a smile,
While inwardly we rage.

I hate the way we smirk at strangers
In Sunday playgrounds, hunched against the weather,
I hate that grimace we exchange that says,
We're all in this together.

I hate the PTA and sponsored walks
The blithe assumption we give a flying fuck
I hate the constant need to show concern
At others' lousy luck.

I hate our shapeless jogging pants,
The careworn cardigans that make us look like wrecks,
I hate the way we dress as if to say,
Too old and tired for sex.

I hate our veering trolleys loaded
With dwarf corn, fresh spinach soup, profiteroles,
I hate the way we feed our puffy bodies while
We starve our hungry souls.

Oh god, I hate these grinning middle years

Not my poem, but my brother-in-law Lindsay Camp's. Reproduced without permission, and we'll fight that out later. I first read it while casting around in Lindsay's office a year and half ago and spotting it amongst an unpublished collection that was lying there.

I like this poem very much - I think it is very English middle-class; such sentiments would seem more alien here in this less self-reflective land where enthusiasm (however misplaced) tends to triumph over ennui. It makes me feel glad that I left the U.K.!

If you like it, why not send a donation to Amnesty International? If you can find a published copy and buy it, that will be where your money goes.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

And I Thought I Was In A Vacuum

Extraordinary. Did the usual narcissic Google self-search and came across this. And here I was under the impression that I was writing in a void. Even if this comment dates from over a year ago! Nice to be noticed though...

Well, it's true that I haven't read that many blogs - I don't have either the time or the compulsion. But I think I am more right than wrong on this one.

Back to quiescence.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

New blog every second

A new blog every second? 14.2 million worldwide. Well, that removes some of the disappointment about getting so few hits. There simply is not time to read them.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Back home

Back from Canada after a three week vacation, and with mixed feelings. I really liked Canada - somehow the culture there seemed slower and closer to my own view of life. It will take a while to sort this lot out.

Sunday, June 12, 2005


The new blog, Music, has coaxed more out of me in one short week than I have managed with this one in months. I shall return here from time to time, but my energies are going to be spent elsewhere. All in a name. Amazing.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Monday, May 30, 2005

No mood

I am in no mood to go to work tomorrow. It's a dull time at the moment, rote experiments and tedious work. Plus P___ is being a royal pain in the behind. Sullen, non-communicative - a good case of an untreated bipolar disorder. I'm ready for a vacation. Soon.

Thursday, May 19, 2005


Maybe things are not going so well for people in America these days. I am running into more and more people - strangers - who seem jumpy, angry and anxious. Nothing, I think, to do with 9/11 despite the use of that event for political gain by authoritarian elements. More a sense that the world is becoming more and more assertive and American power and influence are on the wane. It's difficult to come down from the top.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Farther along

Skipped right through April without a thought of this blog. Was only reminded when my friend Mary asked me what a blog was yesterday. It is a rather absurd concept.Why on earth should the personal ramblings of one out of billions of other people, a good chunk of whom are probably thinking and doing very similar things to me, be of any interest to anyone? It's basically no more than a vain conceit. But that alright.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Absolutely Free!

As I (re)-immerse myself in the culture and music of the 1960s, one artist stands out for his acute and spot-on analysis of the period. Frank Zappa is essential listening - as much as the Beatles, Dylan, Rolling Stones, Velvet Underground, or The Beach Boys - yet is probably far less heard than any of those artists. His essential trilogy, "Freak Out!", "Absolutely Free" and "We're Only In It For The Money" are breathtakingly inventive musically (as much as anyone at the time) and provide sharper and more cutting social commentary than anyone else delivered. Only Zappa skewered both the straights and hippies, culture and counter-culture. Simply astonishing.

Roused somewhat

Re-activated my increasingly dormant blogging activities thanks to an article on Rosie O'Donnell in today's NYT - as one mught expect, the site is swamped, and the vagaries of a clogged-up Internet led to a series of duplicate posts as I responded to her musings on depression. But there you have it, she's famous enough for the NYT to devote an article to her (thereby selling a few more newspapers - this is always the way).

Paradoxically (or perhaps not), my lull from blogging has been associated with a higher personal level of thinking than I have done for a long time. I can credit the course in the music of the Beatles that I am taking as the source of it all. To know The Beatles you have to know the 1960s and to know the 1960s you have have know the social history of world, particularly America and Europe, over the entire post-war period. That is a lot of stuff to accumulate. Complex too - so many glib mythologies and fantasies have built up today about the 'halcyon' days of the 1960s that are revealed on examination to have very little substance. People often think of the 60s as the decade of peace, love and free-thinking. In reality, it is a decade of fear, violence, and angry dogmatic jousting between culture and counter-culture. The Beatles of 'Sgt. Pepper' and "All You Need Is Love" have become icons, but there is precious little underneath. Most of all, the 60s is the decade of the Bomb.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Gripped by blogging?

Hardly, judging by the time between this and my last post. And it's not even as if I was thinking about blogging and just didn't do it - blogging was completely and absolutely out of my thoughts for most of that time. That's probably a very good thing.

I'm taking an evening course on the music of the Beatles this winter/spring. It's making me reconsider their music. Much of it I like but never really loved, and I paid little attention to the many innovations they introduced.