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Sunday, 26 April 2020

REPOST from 2012: Painting of the Month, Alex Snellgrove

Persian Girl by Alex Snellgrove
On my recent visit to Australia (from November 2012)I was lucky enough to meet up with esoteric fellow-Blogger Stephen Simmonds. He and his wife Rosalie took Leah and I to a gallery in Clovelly, a suburb of Sydney near Bondi Beach, where their friend, local artist Alex Snellgrove, was showing her latest work.
As you can see she has a wonderful way of painting water. The series of paintings, of which the above is one, displays her great ability to convey the luminosity and movement of water. The effect of light and the translucence it gives the water is delightful. We met the charming artist and bought some cards with prints of her work; I would have liked to have purchased a painting too but they were (justifiably) out of my price range!
Coogee Beach, Sydney by Alex Snellgrove
I'm listening to Dion's version of Leonard Cohen's much-recorded Sisters of Mercy. There are many excellent versions of this wonderful song but Dion's is surprisingly good. Hear it here!

Thursday, 16 April 2020

Ruth's Birthday

Leah and I walked a mile-and-a-half through the deserted streets to the home of Ruth, our oldest daughter, and we held up a banner while singing Happy Birthday. It's nice to get out now and then!
As we were leaving an ice-cream van pulled up outside. They had placed their order and paid online. The Italian ice-ream guys made up the orders right there and left it on their doorstep - no contact! Very enterprising I think.
I'm listening to Jackson Browne singing his own song Linda Paloma live on The Letterman Show. He is a top-class live performer. The song is in a Californian-Mexican style. Listen here.
The original studio recording features a harp and it's here!

Sunday, 12 April 2020

John Prine 1946-2020

I was saddened to learn that Covid-19 had claimed the life of John Prine, one of my favourite singer-songwriters.  By all accounts he was a decent family man. His songs are often very humorous and can be full of hard-hitting social commentary. When he first appeared on the scene he was dismissed as just another Bob Dylan clone but he persevered and showed his true worth. Here are some links to a few of my favourite songs and a cover by Bette Midler:
Sam Stone - a very moving song from early in his career. Listen here.
Speed of the Sound of Loneliness - lovely lyrics, catchy tune. Listen here.
In Spite of Ourselves - with Iris DeMent, very funny. Listen here.
Hello in There- such a sad song. Listen here.
And finally an emotional cover of Hello in There by Bette Midler. Listen here.
Joan Baez has also covered the song but, for me, it doesn't work so well at the high tempo she has used.

Thursday, 2 April 2020

Re-post from 2010: The Naming of Parts by Henry Reed

I am currently re-posting some of my favourite posts from the last ten years.

This is one of my all-time favourite poems. It was written in 1942 during the War and it has various ways of being interpreted. I feel that there are two voices speaking. The first one is an army instructor, rather drily and somewhat sarcastically putting some new conscripts through their paces in learning about a particular weapon and the second voice is that of a young recruit (which I have italicised).
The recruit’s mind is wandering as he notices all the signs of spring-time around him. His mind is doing what a young man’s mind will do in spring-time and everything he is thinking has a secondary sexual connotation. The more you read it the more of these hints will be picked up. (‘Cocking bolt’, ‘we can rapidly slide it backwards and forwards’, ‘assaulting and fumbling’ and so on).
Henry Reed has not used punctuation to distinguish the two voices and make our job easier but it is clear what he intends. Rather clever don’t you think?

Today we have naming of parts. Yesterday,
We had daily cleaning. And tomorrow morning,
We shall have what to do after firing. But today,
Today we have naming of parts. Japonica
Glistens like coral in all of the neighbouring gardens,
     And today we have naming of parts.

This is the lower sling swivel. And this
Is the upper sling swivel, whose use you will see,
When you are given your slings. And this is the piling swivel,
Which in your case you have not got. The branches
Hold in the gardens their silent, eloquent gestures,
   Which in our case we have not got.

This is the safety-catch, which is always released
With an easy flick of the thumb. And please do not let me See anyone using his finger. You can do it quite easy
If you have any strength in your thumb. The blossoms
Are fragile and motionless, never letting anyone see
   Any of them using their finger.

And this you can see is the bolt. The purpose of this
Is to open the breech, as you see. We can slide it
Rapidly backwards and forwards: we call this
Easing the spring. And rapidly backwards and forwards
The early bees are assaulting and fumbling the flowers:
   They call it easing the Spring.

They call it easing the Spring: it is perfectly easy
If you have any strength in your thumb: like the bolt,
And the breech, and the cocking-piece, and the point of balance, Which in our case we have not got; and the almond-blossom
Silent in all of the gardens and the bees going backwards
and forwards,

   For today we have naming of parts.