Friday, December 26, 2008

Thursday, December 25, 2008

many thanx to my excellent brother dave for this photograph showing ...

an unknown lady, billy wheadon, the reverend arthur beaghen, and michael ramsey, archbishop of canterbury, in the churchyard at malmesbury abbey

i suppose that it was mr beaghen who was responsible for the renovations that destroyed the interior of saint mary's church, where thomas hobbes' father once officiated, and possibly it was he that binned the parish records, too, yet he always seemed to be the personification of kindness and goodwill

mr wheadon had a little hairdressing business in the south-west corner of the cross hayes or saint dennis's lane and i was taken there once or twice for a brutally quick trim that brought tears to my infant eyes

on the wall of his dilapidated salon was hung a pre-war photograph of him cutting a friend's hair in the lions' cage of a visiting circus

it is more than fifty years since he cut my hair, yet in all those years, and amongst all the really wonderful people i've encountered, it would be hard to think of two with as much life and good humour as messrs wheadon and beaghen

seasonal stuffs

christmas dawning

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

doh !

it took me 45 years to twig that my infant school's father christmas must have been the reverend arthur beaghen

the funny thing is that whilst i don't even need to close my eyes to recollect his appearance, and nor do i need silence before hearing the echo of his voice, i cannot lay my hand on a photograph of him ... yet ...

and a couple of days later ...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Uh ?

I’m not hard of hearing, just very slow to respond in most cases … except for that memorable time when I heard someone drop a small coin on the pavement in Brighton one afternoon, across six lanes of traffic in the Steine.

So I was surprised, whilst walking along genteel-urban brick-semi Lavender Gardens by Clapham Common one recent Sunday morning this December, to hear the sudden squeak of soft shoes on polished wood, and the thwack of willow bat on leather ball, followed by a gymnasium-nal echo, the character of which somehow placed the sound’s origin in a large subterranean interior.

I retraced my steps and peered over the low wall of a particularly smart double-breasted private house, and looked down with some astonishment through a large thick plate glass sky light on to an indoor cricket pitch, with nets !

And that set me thinking back to two other very odd auditory experiences from long ago.

The job centre at Chippenham once sent me to work with some geologists who were searching for natural gas beneath the Cotswolds. In a windswept field near Long Newton, we stood at the halfway point of a double line of microphones that had been set in the ground on short steel spikes and were connected by miles of cable to an oscilloscope/tracer in a cabin on a trailer.

A few yards away, a deep hole had been bored in to the porous waterlogged bedrock, and a charge of dynamite had been sealed into it. When the charge was set off there was hardly any sound, but I found myself running away instinctively because the ground had already trembled beneath our feet seconds before a great geyser of muddy water and stones shot into the air beside us.

I realised later that I’d begun to run even before being conscious of the explosion … I can only suppose it was a reflex action being processed in the brain’s core or limbic system.

And another time, cycling along near Hove sea front on a dark windy night, ( no, really, it was ! ) just as I passed a large perforated manhole cover, the air around me seemed to swirl suddenly and a profoundly deep echoing sound issued from the drain that enveloped me somehow, and seemed for all the world to suggest I was being swallowed whole within the gullet of some vast satanic monster. Helplessly, I felt a wave of tingling panic rushing over my skin.

Seconds later, reason told me there was a very large storm drain that runs for miles very deep beneath the street, and that the rising and falling of the sea would first force, and then draw, tons of water and air through it in time to the rhythm of the waves.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

" i knew you were lying to me by the colours !"

there was a very good public lecture about synaesthesia by doctor jamie ward at croydon cafe scientifique this evening

i've been interested in the crossover of sensations ever since a couple of entirely predictable and deeply stimulating encounters with non-prescription psychoactive materials several decades ago

what interests me also, is the possibility that synaesthesia is not just stimulated externally through the senses, such as hearing and touch, but also internally through the workings of the mind in response to moods and meanings, hence the quote at the top

do you have an opinion ?

as you might expect, there's an excellent introduction to this subject in wikipedia

jealous ? you jolly well should be !

Monday, December 15, 2008

Jury of Peers Still Out In "Male House Dust" Divorce Damages Case

Summing up, Learned Counsel for the Defendant attempted to refute the appellant’s allegations as follows.

In the first instance, the allegation that nearly all house dust is of male origin is unsupportable in fact. Expert testimony shows that 99% of all household dust is simply too fluffy to have issued from even the hairiest male of the species, and that the fluff in question might not have been navel fluff at all, but fur balls coughed up by the defendant’s recently deceased old tom cat.

Secondly, the allegation that the defendant's pillow was always grimy was founded upon evidence which might easily have been falsified if the appellant had simply swapped pillows before the inspection by the adjudicating panel of retired fishwives. Likewise, the appellant herself had ample opportunity to have rubbed in handfuls of soot, ( which she might have purchased cheaply or even obtained freely, using her undoubted charms, from any passing itinerant chimbley sweep ), and that she could easily and malevolently have mixed the said soot with a teaspoonful of rancid margarine before maliciously rubbing it into the defendant’s pillowcase. And anyway, Man Does Not Create Grime, It Simply Follows Him Around.

Thirdly, the allegation that there was more dust beneath his side of the bed was laughable and far from convincing. The defendant maintains that he spends so many of his waking hours in the betting shops and in the bars of the public houses, in both this and the neighbouring boroughs, that there would have been insufficient time for the quantity of dust adduced by the forensic team to have accumulated. He asks the jury to consider the possibility that intruders might have emptied the vacuum cleaner whilst ransacking the property for sweets or cigarettes last Christmas Eve, and might then have swept it hurriedly underneath his side of the bed in order to conceal any trace of their movements before escaping through the french windows.

Due consideration of these doubts and uncertainties would surely, Counsel argued, lead the jury to reject the appellant’s claims for the return of her nest egg and Swiss bank deposit books.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

it wouldn't surprise me if these cats weren't conspiring to create christmas chaos ... i'd better hide the cask of amontillado down in the cellar

alberto manguel's "the library at night": contents page

the loved one came home from the library with alberto manguel's "the library at night" and tentatively enquired if it might interest me ... not realizing that i had relished and devoured his "history of reading" when it was published not so long ago ... i couldn't begin to explain my delight and gratitude ... just skimming the bibliography makes me weak at the knees !

Saturday, December 13, 2008