Sunday, March 30, 2008


… dreamed I was cycling through Kent very early on a warm misty cuckoo morning & passed through a village of huge stone buildings festooned with ornament & coats of arms that might have looked more appropriate in Whitehall or Santiago. Perhaps I was thinking of the venerable public school we deliver cheese to in Tonbridge. The air was filled with birdsong, no human was to be seen or heard, there were masses of laburnum & ivy & virginia creeper everywhere, & families of deer tiptoed daintily on the tops of walls & on every ledge to tear off & feast noisily upon their juicy boughs …

garlic on toast

i used to share a kitchen with a lovely feller named robert stredder who ate garlic as if it were fruit ... there was uproar one sunday morning when i bit into my toast and realized he'd just used my shiny new breadknife to chop his little mountain of garlic

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Monday, March 24, 2008

another flurry of snow coming down across the sugar loaf

Llanfihangel Tor y Mynydd

i've reached page 350 of moby dick

... and i'm enjoying it very much
melville is delightfully witty and he's such a lucid narrator
later: a moby dick web site via meta filter:

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Monday, March 10, 2008

blue veils and golden sands

... is an interesting radio play by martin wade about the interesting but short career of the inspirational sound engineer and truly english eccentric delia derbyshire ... you can catch a repeat of it for just the next three or four days on the radio 4 web site

Sunday, March 09, 2008

apropos de nuffinque

further symptoms of accelerated regression copied verbatim from the clinical notes ...

Breathless thoughts provoked by the excitement of an impending trip to Madrid and my dream of introducing a new dimension of transcendant spirituality in to the great game ... the magic sponge might become a relic ... the thrice-blessed universally-revered holy sponge, permanently floating in a silver bucket suspended over a holy well, to be carried in procession on match days by a team of hand-picked virgins ( or tv weather girls ? ) wearing translucent classical robes, chanting every step of the way from the bishop's chapel to the stadium, to the accompaniment of thumping drums and wailing flutes ... the water would, of course, be genuine certified holy water, not yer ordinary bottled stuff, and might be paid for by the donations of pious widows and spinsters of the parish ... in fact i see no reason why the sponge shouldn't be administered as a kind of unction by a priest, and/or by the mother superior of the nearest holy order, with the blessed hem of her robe rolled up and tucked into her formal suspender belt as she kneels to give succour to the distressed combatant, whilst singing nuns and choirboys encircle the injured player to protect his privacy and to soothe away his pain with a medieval psalm, or an uplifting medley from rogers and hammerstein’s sound of music ... we could even send on a military brass band to escort the bucket & lend further ceremonial dignity at this difficult moment ... and then, once the magic has taken effect, the star player could leap on to an ornate mobile pulpit, drawn to the centre of the pitch by a team of prancing white horses, grabbing the microphone to give up a suitable prayer of thanks for his deliverance, followed by a vote of gratitude to almost everyone present, and to the various sponsors, for their kindness and consideration ... except for the stone-faced blue-chinned piratically-cynical back four of the visiting team, of course ... i'm not sure if i want to raise the crowd to lord leighton's lofty ideal of elegant and fashionable piety ...

... or if we should give preferential sponge unction in the purely emotional sphere hinted at so eloquently in the hyper-spiritual imaginings of el greco

symptoms of accelerated regression ... wot i am reading this weekend

my mum loved the art of edward ardizzone, an illustrator who somehow understated his skills with a his loose penmanship, but never failed to fill his pictures with appropriately theatrical lighting and atmosphere, old-world romance, and vigourous body-language

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

what should i wear when we go to madrid ?

chilly pigeons

theology ... back to the confession box

some time ago i wondered if some of the ritual of the church might be introduced into the great game in order to lend it some relevance to the spirituality of the crowd ... i wrote last year that ...

an idea that might improve the sublime spectacle that is professional soccer ... given david beckham's poor disciplinary record in the spanish league this season, and his imminent move to play in america, the question would inevitably recur ... "should football introduce sin-bins ?" ... the answer is clearly "yes & no" ... instead of a boring old bench where a vexed player might sit for a few minutes, we need a coin-operated touch-line X-box confessional booth ... linked to giant screens ... with virtual priests for ordinary league matches ... virtual bishops for the european cup ... virtual archbishops for the world cup ... players may only return to the fray when they have been thoroughly absolved ... the element of suspense as the sidelined players grapple with their conscience will lift the game to new levels of stress

etc etc

it seems to me now that i'd forgotten the element of penance ... not being a church-goer myself ... and that after the errant player ( honest ref, i never meant to cripple him ) has come to terms with the true nature of his offence, and has given the crowd the pleasure of hearing him in urgent discussion with a virtual bishop, then further amusement might be derived from the fixing of an appropriate penance before he ( or she ) is permitted to return to the fray

a sliding scale of penances involving larger than average communion wafers and tankards of wine might be appropriate

one giant biscuit and one tankard of wine for a professional foul

two of each for foul and abusive language

three of each for repeated offences

four of each for excessive violence

etc etc

perhaps elements of the sung liturgy might be adapted for chanting from the terraces

and perhaps some theologians amongst you could spare the time to offer me some helpful advice

Tuesday, March 04, 2008



Whilst driving, I once told a car full of colleagues that it would be an easy matter to fill and publish a book with accounts of two or even three hundred things I’d said and done of which I was still deeply ashamed.

A voice from the back seat said, “I wouldn’t go there, Tris; that way lies madness.”


I was climbing to repair a ladder bolted to the inside of an industrial grain silo in Scotland when it became detached from the wall and tilted sharply away. Unable to adjust my grip on the sharp metal, I let go and dropped feet first from a height of about thirty feet, expecting to break both legs, if not worse.

The augur mechanism that emptied the silo from the bottom had been broken and there was still about twelve inches of grain laying in the inverted conical concrete base. My heels sank in to it and I found myself sitting upright in a cloud of brown dust, shocked but un-bruised, and laughing.


Lurid moments in a Lassie film, in an Egyptian Mummy film, and in a Tarzan film, gave me an early terror of quick-sands that kept me away from marshy places for many years. Aged sixteen and bored, I hitch-hiked to the south coast one wintry Easter and walked along the sands at West Wittering as darkness fell.

The tide was far out and the land had faded in to the evening mist and I followed the water's edge for some time before doubts set in, and eventually a tiny sign on a post loomed out of the mist ... i could only read it when my nose was almost touching it ... it warned me to beware of quicksands.


In Spain, I was enchanted by mountains, having grown up in the south of England where nothing rises above a thousand feet. I once tried to drive across the Sierra Nevada to the Alpujarras in late September but the old road had been blocked by early snow.

Instead, I tried to drive the old Ford Transit up the long ramp to the Astronomical Observatory, but halfway up the back wheels began to wander sideways in the slush. It became necessary to make a three point-turn on the narrow track and I became fearful of the edge which gives way to hundreds of feet of loose barren scree. My fearless companion stood in the snow in her summer dress yelling “Back a bit more !” but I was shouting hysterically, “I daren’t go back another inch !”


I miss sprinting from the bottoms to the tops of the various stone stairways in my childhood home town of Malmesbury, and running on the hard wet sand at Studland when the tide is out.


Flying north-west over Iceland in early March, so nearly on the snowy top of the world, I looked down on a conical volcano with a clouded top, and then beyond it towards the northern horizon where a pale full moon loomed in the mid-day sky.


After another journey to Spain, I put on a suit to visit my daughter on her birthday and travelled by train from Brighton to Bath. Outside the station, we failed to recognize one another, she so pale and gaunt, myself so brown and plump.

Monday, March 03, 2008