Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

British reserve

Wednesday, June 11th, 2003

I never thought anything would make me nostalgic for London buses. But this story from Frizzy Logic did. It’s a dialogue between a young woman who thinks she has aids, and a young man who thinks her problem is contagious embarrassment.

When he come to your house

Wednesday, May 28th, 2003

It’s been a horrid month for death already, and last night Caroline came in with an old copy of the Independent carrying a death notice I’d entirely missed when it appeared on the 17th. Eve Keatley was Bob Runcie’s press secretary for years: a very sharp, funny, and indomitable woman, married to a Canadian journalist called Patrick. But it was worse than her. It was their daughter, Vicky, aged only thirty. The notice just said she had died suddenly while visiting friends in Toronto. I suppose I’ll find more if Eve replies to the letter I must write this morning.

Then today’s Telegraph carried an obit for Luciano Berio, which tied up a huge number of threads. I knew of him, in a rather barbarian way, because Phil Lesh had studied composition with him in the early Sixties. But Berio turns out to have been married in ways that were interesting even by the standards of Italian musicians.

There’s a line in Your Gold Teeth which has puzzled me for years: “Even Cathy Berberian knows there’s one roulade she can’t sing”. Who was this person? Had I heard right? Was it Cathy Barbarian? Cathy Bavarian? It turns out she was a singer, and Berio’s first wife and muse.

He left her for a psychology student named Susan Oyama, and, unless I’m crazy, this is the Susan Oyama whose works on ontogeny and development reproach me from the bedside bookcase every morning, and who is now profesor of psychology at CUNY.

The third wife was an Israeli musicologist named Talia Pecker. No doubt some reader of this will know her more obscure connections.

For some reason, the thought of this life running like a ribbon to thread together so many disparate interests of mine gave me great pleasure.

might as well giggle

Saturday, March 15th, 2003

After she posted some Paxman/Portillo slash, I asked TNH why no one wrote this kind of thing about American politicians. So she went off to find some. Mostly, she failed, but hers was a truly honourable failure, as this report shows

“I’d like to know what possessed someone to write slash about A.J.P. Taylor with Hugh Trevor-Roper, A.J.P. Taylor with Kenneth Clark, and an S/M scene involving Wittgenstein and Popper. Not to mention the one taking place in an alternate universe in which Bush, Blair, Chirac and Saddam are all new girls at a boarding school.”

A modest proposal

Tuesday, February 25th, 2003

Ben Hammersley cuts through an enormous amount of the crap that has been written even by sensible people like John Naughton about how blogging democratises journalism: Want to be a journalist? Write something good.

Making Britain great

Thursday, January 30th, 2003
The Daily Telegraph carried an obituary of Col. Michael Singleton, the sort of pedagogue you just don’t get from modern teacher training colleges:
Long walks, cold dormitories and regular hymn-singing were also an integral part of the education, along with cricket nets and Latin prose.

Despite a brisk code of discipline, Singleton took a laissez-faire approach out of the classroom. Every November 5 the smallest boy in the school was sent down a tunnel to light the very core of the bonfire. None, so far as anyone can recall, was ever lost. ….

When war with Hitler was inevitable, Michael Singleton organised a company of the Hereford Light Infantry. He was later seconded to the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry and landed in France just after D-Day. Fighting across Belgium and Holland, he was wounded three times and was awarded the MC for his leadership and courage.

Medical attention bored him. More than once he had a batman dress his wounds and discharged himself from hospital to return to his men. Singleton had a low esteem for the higher ranks, and was a stranger to snobbery.

What central heating there existed was not always effective, or even switched on. Boys were permitted to capture owls and keep them in the fives court, provided they caught enough sparrows to feed them. One boy recalls being given the task of rearing a lamb to which he developed some emotional attachment. The animal, called Lottie, disappeared shortly before the school’s Christmas feast, and the boy realised what had happened only when he was the first to be summoned for second helpings.
Two thoughts: if we are going to make a new place for ourselves as American mercenaries, this is the kind of education our officers and men will need. And even if we’re not, it’s probably better than quite a lot that’s on offer in the inner cities now.
Ask yourself, dear gentle Guardian reader, whether you would rather have your son brought up there, or at the Hackney school you have moved house to get away from.

So the mike was live!

Wednesday, June 12th, 2002

this is an experiment in using Movable type. I hope that it will turn into something both fun and useful. For the moment there’s not much else to record of the day, except that I got to thinking how long a gene might be (measured in