Friday, May 30, 2008

Je suis dans le hotel room avec le gratis Wifi

We are now wending our way back to blighty, so another stop in Paris this time in the 12th arrondissement, rather than almost slap bang next to Gard du Nord. The hotel has free WiFi so I'm taking advantage by trying to upload a couple of photos from Barcelona. So far on this holiday we have travelled by train, boat, metro, bus, funicular railway, cable car and plane. Tomorrow we will probably add taxi to that to get home from the station.

So far not much luck with the photos this is not the fastest wifi in the world.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

¡Hola from Barcelona!

Very quickly as I´m on the internets in the hotel lobby. It may well
be free but I don´t want to abuse the privilege. First full day in

The metro system is lovely, clean, fast and the purple line has
stations painted the most fantastic soft greyish blue-purple I want a
wall or 4 in that colour eventually.

The Sagrada Familia is quite breathtaking in a bobbins gloriously and
happily over the top way.

We have bagged our first funicular railway of the trip need to get at
least one other and a cable car.

We´ve both caught the sun when it isn´t raining.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

I Apologise

For the recent lack of posts, this has mostly been because I have not been well over the last few days so I haven't felt like posting anything. Simon is taking very good care of me, trying to cater for my every need, especially thoses needs that include ice cream so I am being well looked after.

Friday, May 9, 2008

I Can Haz A Reading List

From Notes From Evil Bender (which has to be a one of the best blog names I've seen in a while), Welcome to the “106 Books of Pretension,” meme which is really “the top 106 books most often marked as ‘unread’ by LibraryThing’s users.” I wouldn't rate a lot of these books as being pretentious some of them are very good and not at all up themselves a few are probable shite - Altas Shrugged comes to mind for one. Anyway copying Evil Bender's style, books I’ve read are in italics and books I began but didn't finished are crossed out:

* Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
* Anna Karenina
* Crime and Punishment
* Catch-22
* One Hundred Years of Solitude
* Wuthering Heights
* The Silmarillion
* Life of Pi : a novel
* The Name of the Rose
* Don Quixote I got it out of the school libary it was probably a bit too dense for me as a 13 yo
* Moby Dick
* Ulysses
* Madame Bovary found it dull
* The Odyssey
* Pride and Prejudice
* Jane Eyre
* The Tale of Two Cities
* The Brothers Karamazov
* Guns, Germs, and Steel: the fates of human societies
* War and Peace
* Vanity Fair
* The Time Traveler’s Wife
* The Iliad
* Emma
* The Blind Assassin I had to pack it away when I moved here.
* The Kite Runner
* Mrs. Dalloway
* Great Expectations
* American Gods
* A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
* Atlas Shrugged
* Reading Lolita in Tehran : a memoir in books
* Memoirs of a Geisha
* Middlesex
* Quicksilver
* Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West
* The Canterbury tales
* The Historian : a novel
* A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
* Love in the Time of Cholera
* Brave New world
* The Fountainhead
* Foucault’s Pendulum
* Middlemarch
* Frankenstein
* The Count of Monte Cristo
* Dracula
* A Clockwork Orange
*Anansi Boys not sure why I haven't finished this, I've rather enjoyed what I've read so far
* The Once and Future King
* The Grapes of Wrath
* The Poisonwood Bible : a novel
* 1984
* Angels & Demons
* The Inferno
* The Satanic Verses
* Sense and Sensibility
* The Picture of Dorian Gray
* Mansfield Park
* One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
* To the Lighthouse
* Tess of the D’Urbervilles
* Oliver Twist
* Gulliver’s Travels
* Les Misérables
* The Corrections
* The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
* The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
* Dune
* The Prince
* The Sound and the Fury
* Angela’s Ashes : a memoir
* The God of Small Things
* A People’s History of the United States : 1492-present
* Cryptonomicon
* Neverwhere
* A Confederacy of Dunces
* A Short History of Nearly Everything
* Dubliners
* The Unbearable Lightness of Being
* Beloved
* Slaughterhouse-five
* The Scarlet Letter
* Eats, Shoots & Leaves
* The Mists of Avalon
* Oryx and Crake : a novel
* Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed
* Cloud Atlas
* The Confusion
* Lolita
* Persuasion
* Northanger Abbey
*The Catcher in the Rye to my shame
* On the Road
* The Hunchback of Notre Dame
* Freakonomics : a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything
*Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : an inquiry into values thought it was rubbish
* The Aeneid
* Watership Down
* Gravity’s Rainbow
* The Hobbit
* In Cold Blood : a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences
* White Teeth
* Treasure Island
* David Copperfield
* The Three Musketeers

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Dr D-

The second Sontaren episode has to be possible the worst ever episode of Dr Who since they restarted the series, poorly plotted, totally unrelated to reality, unfeeling, scientifically garbage and full of dull elements. I know that is a science fiction series and you have to suspend disbelief but they seem to be asking us to suspend all thinking as well. The writer, Helen Raynor created a script that read more like the offering of poor amatuer fan fiction writer than a professional, with Martha as the Mary Sue. BBC Wales should be ashamed of itself for allowing this guff to go into production without serious reworking.
  • Dull - Why are we seeing Donna's family? As much as it is nice to see Bernard Cribbins on the small screen, the family time does not seem to move the plot along at all, I don't care about them they are not interesting.
  • Unfeeling - Millions of people must have died in their cars when the ATMOS system started pumping out poisonous gas yet no one seemed to give a damn about all those deaths, with a global disaster like that there would be far reaching consequences yet no one seemed to care
  • Bad Science - Burning the poisonous gas, igniting the atmosphere like that could have severely depleted the oxygen in the atmosphere it would not have left people marvelling at the blue skies about they would have been suffocating because of the lack of oxygen as almost all the oxygen in the atmosphere would have been consumed in the fireball which also seemed to be moving as hypersonic speeds across the planet. It is beyond stupid to have this as the getting out of jail free manoeuvre and shameful hasn't anyone at the BBC been on fire training recently.
  • Reality - Martha is in UNIT, it's not clear whether she's taken the Queen's shilling and now in the military or a civilian member of the organisation. She's a doctor, a very junior one at that, who seems to have had no specialist military training so why is she allowed to push aside trained people from their computer screens? The British Armed forces do not swan around in their best uniforms when at work unless something special is going to happen like collecting a medal or a court marshal. The Army prefer to wear their greens whenever possible and that includes the officers, they don't salute if they are not wearing a hat/beret, they don't tend to wear hat/berets indoors unless they are going to get a bollocking off their commanding officer.
Finally this is meant for children, children deserve better than this sloppy, lazy writing, the cast seem to be valiently trying but sorry it was awful.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Remembering Tristram

Tristram Cary 1925 - 2008


Tristram Cary the composer and pioneer of electronic music was married to my Aunt Jane. I first met him in the late 80s when they came over from Australia to visit. He introduced us to Australian wine (which was just up and coming in Harrogate at the time) and what to appreciate in it. I got to know him a bit better when we stayed with him and my Aunt in Adelaide over Christmas of 92. I was still a student at the time and I had work to do on an astronomy essay, Tristram volunteered to vouch for me at the University Library as I needed some more information. After I had done my digging for references amongst the bookshelves he showed me around the University Campus and the nearby radio studios where he occasionally broadcast. I remember that we also visited the staff bar for a reviving drink before lunch there we talked about beer and sculpture. Tristram was a kind and convivial host, he took as a personal affront if our glasses were not charged with a drink of our liking.

His favourite pub in London was the French House on Dean Street, they have a rather nice restaurant upstairs. Whenever he and Jane were over they tried to have at least one meal with family there, these occasions were always a bit boozy, entertaining and gossipy.

In 2004 Tristram's work was the subject of a retrospective called Integrated Circuits on the Brighton Festival Fringe. There was an evening performance, both taped and live, of his electronic works from his early work including some done at the Radiophonic Workshop to more recent compositions, finishing with a live performance of Trios which was fascinating to watch. The next day we saw a double bill of films that he composed for; The Ladykillers and Quatermass and the Pit, The Ladykillers is still a wonderful film and Tristram's music is a huge part of that, he rescored the Boccherini quartet as a quintet for the five criminal masterminds. Quatermass and the Pit is a classic Hammer Horror you think you are going to laugh at the cheapo special effects but end up being engrossed and scared, if you are me. Tristram happily answered questions after the showing and then we went to the pub.

If you are British and had a telly during the 70s you almost have certainly heard his music many times as he composed the score to a cartoon version of a Christmas Carol. It seemed to be on every year when I was a child, I loved it, it was only 28 minutes long but managed to keep all the essential parts of the story, I would love to get a copy but it doesn't seem to have been released on CD. It is strange to find out that you know let alone related to worked on something that you adored as a child, strange but very thrilling.

My mobile ring tone is Tristram's version of the Dr Who theme tune. I asked him once how come he had ended up scoring the Daleks but not the theme tune to Dr Who? He told me that it was because that was how he and Ron Grainer had been commissioned for the series, Grainer got the first series, "An Unearthly Child", so got to adapt Delia Derbyshire's theme and he had got the "Daleks", it could have easily have been the other way round and he would have worked on the opening and closing music. I've got a CD of Tristram's music, signed natch, it would be great to hear it with the pictures; the music is sparse and scary far better than what we've got at the moment on Dr Who - lush, cloying, far too forward in the mix and as obvious as a mallet.

The last time I saw him was at his surprise 80th birthday party thrown for him by one of his cousins, it was a lovely day, the sun shone, Tristram was in fine fettle, family and friends came. There was cake . It was a great day.

Some more information on Tristram.
, The Times