Monday, 30 November 2009

the idiots abroad

so geo says he's just up north of me at the weekend. i'll maybe come up i say. and that's vague enough. fortunately i don't cycle the sixty or seventy miles it wouldn't have taken me but do have a loop round loch rannoch which is just sublime. the sun shines, schiehallion is coated with snow, the water is like glass. at one point a heron floats up and we cruise along together for a stretch. i wish i'd brought the kayak.

so, time to meet up. but i can't remember where. and there's no signal. i drive twenty miles back down the road until there is one. you drove past me twenty miles ago says geo. i can;t drive back up that road i say. i don't blame you he says.

you'd think after twenty five years or so we'd have got better at this. but no. top bike ride tho.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

so what did i do

in the interim?

two pictures, neither finished but happy with both.

7000 word short story, done and dusted. happy with it.

the poetry thing (see elvis)

much piano

looking at the moon

converted my long term mountain bike buddy to the dark side that is road cycling

pined for winter racing.

try to get over the notion that Nach dem Spiel ist vor dem Spiel makes any sort of sensible sense

do a woodwork piece. dusty!

practice old english pronunciation

hit thumb with an axe

Saturday, 28 November 2009

three and seven are special

yes, yes i've been missing from blogworld this last couple of weeks and from world of computer generally. quite why this should be i cannot say - rain has trapped me inside for long enough. mainly i just can't be doing with it. lack of training for my new year's race could be something to do with it - i have no need to be out on the bike in bad weather so i'm just not. t is concerned by this tho having said that she's been sufficiently unwell this last couple of weeks she's in no position to throw stones (not that she could, even if she wanted to).

i'm placed in the position that i'm a bit rubbish when i've got a sick house mate. i can deal with day to day sick (a couple of days) or proper sick (hospital) but lingering lurgy is not me - it's like being at work but really not. so i disappeared for a bit to let her sleep it off some more. whihc kind of worked even she's post viral and miserable now. not constant girny miserable but that way where your body's not been working for a while and needs out and about. i watch and learn, finally go out on the bike and - it's rather lovely.

but still no blogulising, precious little emailing. computer land is just plain depressing. so, instead, much lunar nonsense at the weekend with friend geo. and some particularly bad film watching. i see something call push which looks lovely but seems to have no story whatsoever. we recover with the wrath of khan. hilarious. geo finds the whole not drinking thing a bit odd, despite the fact that i'm drinking with him, in fact just drinking, for only the second time this year. it feels pretty odd and to be honest i'm more concerned with getting a read at my book. still. i get mildly
drunk while he passes out on the floor. ah, the years it was me! as he sleeps it off i get up bright and early and lose myself in renaissance world and the battle of lepanto, which i've only just discovered. books, you have to love them.

back to the house where t is now capable of movement. i have a load of writing stuff to do plus paintings to paint. ostensibly. i start work on one which must, absolutely must, be for t's mum. except it's so not. i diverge away from the original plan and end up with a spectrum of blues that's going no further than my wall. t, who seems to have mastered the making and selling thing effortlessly, is both amused and unimpressed and also back to the drawing board when it comes to trying to get me to paint more/sell some.

anyway, i reach the end of the week feeling somewhat out of sorts for no good reason. but today an envelope flops through my door. a letter! for me! i can't remember the last time i got an actual letter. and yet here it is, from dear mmoneypenny who, for various reasons, is also absent from computer world. all manner of bits and pieces are there. which is great. communication from a foreign land is like communication from another world.

what's all this bilingualism on the envelope? de partout....jusqu'a vous - it's just got a romantic ring to it. and then it's full of paper. coloured papers, coloured inks, strange diagrams and a ticket stub that's resistant to any interrogation. one bit of paper she's used has various addresses from her home town on it - it's scrap paper she says but really, it's anything not, these names and numbers are mysterious cyphers, un-knowable.

while i love the world of blog and genuine affection for the people i've 'met' here as well as all the things i could never have done had it not existed what a different thing it is to get a letter, and not just a letter, a package, a sample set. some sort of tangibilty. so thank you mmoneypenny, you've made my day/week. three and seven are special and i hope you enjoyed them...!

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

dominic rivron is a bad man

so, off the back of dominic's generous making mp3s link in the last post i get to thinking about the capture of sound, about its notation and reproduction. and while it's true i haven't even dented the previously discussed sound project i do have a piano. yes, i do have a piano.

so off up the stairs to do some plinky plonky explorations. and what fun!

except for the bit where i'm aware that i have to be able to do this again. naturally i can't figure out how the computer connects up to the piano. and naturally it's too much hassle to get the microphone set up and even if i did my tone memory is something so far in the past i don't how reliable it would be, if it ever was.

so i'm left to write down the notes. of course intuitively i should know how they go together, but will i? and what about some sort of time signature. which means of course i need some sheet music rather than the blank page shorthand i'm using. sheet music! i haven't written anything on sheet music for thirty years!

so thank you dominic rivron for introducing yet another time vampire into the time constricted boundaries of my day! and y way of doing so, a big fat smile on my face!

Monday, 16 November 2009

singing and the like

the great potential of the net shows itself yet again with dominic's idea for a web singalong of purcell. it's a great idea and one day i really will need to try and get myself taught to use all that software magubbinry.

particularly because i was very much taken with the soundslides here (and the bike ride of course). i'd highly recommend, no really stop what you're doing and take the time, to have a browse of this guys soundslides. they are great and demonstrate (to me anyway) just how superfluous tv is these days

john clare

Secret Love

I hid my love when young till I
Couldn't bear the buzzing of a fly;
I hid my love to my despite
Till I could not bear to look at light:
I dare not gaze upon her face
But left her memory in each place;
Where eer I saw a wild flower lie
I kissed and bade my love good bye.

I met her in the greenest dells
Where dewdrops pearl the wood blue bells
The lost breeze kissed her bright blue eye,
The bee kissed and went singing by,
A sunbeam found a passage there,
A gold chain round her neck so fair;
As secret as the wild bee's song
She lay there all the summer long.

I hid my love in field and town
Till e'en the breeze would knock me down,
The bees seemed singing ballads oer,
The fly's bass turned a lion's roar;
And even silence found a tongue,
To haunt me all the summer long;
The riddle nature could not prove
Was nothing else but secret love.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

it's latin radio

it's a long winter in finland. or it must be something like that....

whatever, back in the day i used to like a listen to the news in latin. years went by, i lost the link and spoken latin seemed to disappear. but not today! thanks to finnish radio there is this


Tuesday, 10 November 2009

people ask me

what sort of cycling i like best. all of it but most of all something like the feeling of this, which was already starting to die out when i was young but the notion of which got me out on my bike and keeps me there.

Monday, 9 November 2009


i do two readings this weekend, one in perth and one in edinburgh. the perth one is shorter, an open mic type event and most of the people i know or have met before. we have a few laughs, there's less obvious drunken-ness than the last time and i don't have to do on the spot ad libs which is a relief!

sunday i go off to rob mckenzie's grv night where i'm first up before tessa ransford and rober alan jamieson. i don't do nerves, not since i had the realisation that i spend some forty odd hours of my week speaking to strangers on subjects a sight more tense than a poetry reading, but even so it's a quality line up and i don't want to let the side down. plus colin has made the trip up from dunbar and i'm giving some of the island poems an airing.

i have the timer on my phone, which is a help as time goes by quicker than i thought. i open with the island poems, do a couple of the science-y poems (which i've subbed last minute for the edinburgh poems as there's not that many edinburgh people there!), three work poems, the black bicycle just to give myself pause, a couple of 'issue' poems and a couple of domesticana poems to finish. which sounds a lot, mainly because it is, but it also meant i missed out on a bunch of other themes.

and it all seemed to go down okay. i did the leonids poem for t, seeing as its one of her favourites and i like reading it more and more, tho there's a sticky line in it still i'm not happy with. the work poems i'd been uncertain about, not just because i haven't read them in public but because of the subject matter which, it has to be said, i'd toned down, or so i'd thought. folk seemed into them tho possibly, as i'd hoped, because it was an area that was new to them. i think my favourite of the night was a list poem where i mull over scottish minerals.

i'd been looking forward to having a blether to colin on that score but he, like us, needed to be off and by that time i was ensconced in various conversations which included one about the exeter book and things old english ( sorry about that colin!), topics i don't often get a chance to get involved in. it turns out tessa had done a poem in connection with the exeter book also, which i'll stick up here at some point as it's rather lovely. it was grand to be able to talk about language just a shame we didn't have more time. esp for colin donati, whose scots version of jabberwocky was t's poem of the night but given, his, mine and tessa's discussion on old english and the like, something she never got to tell him.

a big thanks to rob for sticking me on and, assuming i can get the time off, we look forward to the discussed february date.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

william cowper

The Castaway

Obscurest night involv'd the sky,
Th' Atlantic billows roar'd,
When such a destin'd wretch as I,
Wash'd headlong from on board,
Of friends, of hope, of all bereft,
His floating home for ever left.

No braver chief could Albion boast
Than he with whom he went,
Nor ever ship left Albion's coast,
With warmer wishes sent.
He lov'd them both, but both in vain,
Nor him beheld, nor her again.

Not long beneath the whelming brine,
Expert to swim, he lay;
Nor soon he felt his strength decline,
Or courage die away;
But wag'd with death a lasting strife,
Supported by despair of life.

He shouted: nor his friends had fail'd
To check the vessel's course,
But so the furious blast prevail'd,
That, pitiless perforce,
They left their outcast mate behind,
And scudded still before the wind.

Some succour yet they could afford;
And, such as storms allow,
The cask, the coop, the floated cord,
Delay'd not to bestow.
But he (they knew) nor ship, nor shore,
Whate'er they gave, should visit more.

Nor, cruel as it seem'd, could he
Their haste himself condemn,
Aware that flight, in such a sea,
Alone could rescue them;
Yet bitter felt it still to die
Deserted, and his friends so nigh.

He long survives, who lives an hour
In ocean, self-upheld;
And so long he, with unspent pow'r,
His destiny repell'd;
And ever, as the minutes flew,
Entreated help, or cried--Adieu!

At length, his transient respite past,
His comrades, who before
Had heard his voice in ev'ry blast,
Could catch the sound no more.
For then, by toil subdued, he drank
The stifling wave, and then he sank.

No poet wept him: but the page
Of narrative sincere;
That tells his name, his worth, his age,
Is wet with Anson's tear.
And tears by bards or heroes shed
Alike immortalize the dead.

I therefore purpose not, or dream,
Descanting on his fate,
To give the melancholy theme
A more enduring date:
But misery still delights to trace
Its semblance in another's case.

No voice divine the storm allay'd,
No light propitious shone;
When, snatch'd from all effectual aid,
We perish'd, each alone:
But I beneath a rougher sea,
And whelm'd in deeper gulfs than he.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

else lasker-schuler

Ein alter Tibetteppich

Deine Seele, die die meine liebet,
Ist verwirkt mit ihr im Teppichtibet.

Strahl in Strahl, verliebte Farben,
Sterne, die sich himmellang umwarben.

Unsere Füße ruhen auf der Kostbarkeit,

Süßer Lamasohn auf Moschuspflanzenthron,
Wie lange küßt dein Mund den meinen wohl
Und Wang die Wange buntgeknüpfte Zeiten schon?

An old Tibetan rug

Your soul, which loveth mine,
Is woven with it into a rug-Tibet.

Strand by strand, enamoured colours,
Stars that courted each other across the length of heavens.

Our feet rest on the treasure

Sweet lama-son on your musk-plant-throne
How long has your mouth been kissing mine,
And cheek to cheek colorfully woven times?

trans unknown

thanls to roxana for raising else lasker-schuler on the poetic radar. but really more for maschentausendabertausendweit which must surely be my new favourite german word

ileana malancioiu

The Doctor on Duty

Go away quickly, she said to me, I'm afraid,
you see that Doctor X is on duty
he surely knows what to give me to help me to breathe,
he told me nobody dies while he's on the ward.

And indeed, that very young doctor
who was not as famous as his heart was good
came in the middle of the night and gave her
something that kept her breathing until the next day.

Afterwards she understood
that his shift was finished and we had started
that terrible day about which already
she had begun to say it would never be over.

The one who was on duty looked down
on us without interfering:
I never said that nobody dies
while I am on duty, I am not at fault.

trans eilean ni chuilleanain

My Sister Beyond

My sister beyond
keeps her head bent
near the horse shot dead
frail and bony
his saddle falls.

I can't stay longer
on that bony back ,
I fell
waving a dry branch
even before I crossed
the fatal boundary.

Let your soul stay
near me
like the saddle I mount
and then dismount in spring
when the grass
of the neglected garden greens.

Silently the horse collects
his scattered skeleton
leaving only his spirit
on the other shore
she mounts his saddle
in her velvet dress
he shows her how to hold her seat.

Night comes to the garden
full of strange horse-breathing
that struggles to continue
even when the sun shines.

I hear his hooves tramp
his nostrils snort
as they snorted in times past.
I find the trace
of his wet rolling
where the grass is greenest.

The grass springs back
the trace vanishes
my sister rides the horse
across the plain
and drinks the water of life.

Meekly I approach
the deserted fountain
a broken balance
this is the place
for the midnight struggle.

My sister is beyond
I see her leave
on her magic horse
that was shot one year ago.

trans joanne growney and radu doru cormin