Saturday, 27 February 2010

Friday, 26 February 2010

london cyclists

it may seem from time to time that i may be some sort of lycra jockey who enjoys a bit of a race. while this may be true it is not the whole of the truth. sadly i am unavailable on the 10th but if i was i would most certainly be here

not quite so feasible in these hillier and wetter lands perhaps but surely there is a place for a more sedate - fourteen miles and a tea stop! - and fabric orientated style of riding. it makes me itch (sic!) for my pashley

at the very leasy check out the gallery for it is lovely!

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

niche cycling humour

it's been done on other subjects but this is admirably close to home

beer for literary types

if i drank beer i think i'd have to have a few bottles of this

while listening to the band of course....

and the olympics

continue. i look for mentalist canadian media to see them jumping up and down but the hand wringing and self recrimination is something the uk media seemed to have cornered the market in. some of them do appear to see sport as some sort of investment (take note uk olympic committee) in which money=results.

what i do come across, not that it or anything remotely like it has appeared in any of the olympic coverage i've seen, is mention of the cultural olympiad. i have a bit of an interest in this having been knocked back by our own committee whose final selection, i have to say, is a bit uninspiring and, in most cases, fails the brief.

the canadian version looks, at this stage, to be more interesting. not only do they claim a two year build up (again. london, take note) but they have stuff that seems to genuinely engage the public. i love the notion of vectorial elevation even if yes, there'll be light pollution and yes, it'll use electricity - they did something not dissimilar here a few years back but had to discontinue it as people kept complaining to the police that they were seeing ufos. perhaps the canadiana will do the same.... laurie anderson does a new show. i'd go just for that. at least there's a recognition that maybe, just maybe, not all of us like sport.

and to the sport. skating. great, in all its guises. when i become emperor there will be speed skating rinks everywhere, oh yes there will. missed almost all the men's half pipe bu there were no surprises anywhere. seeing torah bright win was good tho. i can't be doing with the snowboarders and their 'stoked' nonsense and the same stupid clothing choices that mar mtb downhill. step up usa. and canada. and a special mention for hannah teter. yes, you can do daft wee dances, come up with the snowboardy language but when you lost, your face was tripping you. that's okay, just don't pretend you're one big happy snowboard family.

snowboarding will be yesterday's news if the skicross is anything to go by, a proper sport for mentalists tho it appears if you do it on a boardercross course you win if you're big and heavy. good fun tho and, i'm told, the ski half pipe, whatever that'll end up getting called, is way more exciting than its monoplank equivalent.

i've really gotten into the biathlon, thanks eurosport. great crowds, massive cheers at the shooting. xcountry has been great also, nailbiting finishes and drama. sweden have been doing okay in this, which is good and while i was mildly interesting in the downhill and its variants my main question is just how anja paerson could walk after that crash.

not that the bbc were asking her. actually speaking to the competitors, let alone the spectators (unless they're the family of british medal prospects) is something they just don't do. they like it presenter led yes they do and how those presenters go on. there are exceptions, the double act of graham bell and ed leigh works but even tho they obviously know some number of the competitors they don't actually speak to any of them. there is no excuse for this. just about all of them speak english! the eurosport guys trump the bbc on this yet again as they can actually understand a range of commonly used european languages. use of radio mikes in the curling means you can actually pick up the competitors (when the commentators aren't speaking over the top of them!) but if any interpretation is required there's a looong silence. the bbc coverage is dismal. one wonders if the producers actually enjoy sport at all. certainly any of the excitement of a big multicultural event that people have trained for years for seems to have been drained away.

which brings me to another point, one that we debated long and hard at fragile's the other night. anyone who reads the right wing press should be under no illusion that europe (and WESTERN CIVILISATION its very SELF) is under assault from a tidal wave of immigrants. so where are they at? i put it to the boys under discussion that even in scotland there's a sufficiently large population of asians and africans, let alone eastern europeans (someone may point out germans but they don't count as they're just omnipresent) that we should be meeting some of them out on the hills or on the bike. in my life i've only seen two people on the hills who weren't obviously scottish or english (no welsh either but they're a special case). cycling's slightly better. at the races last year there was a turkish team and a team of indians. i could've danced a jig. i put it to the boys there's something odd happening in our sports if large segments of the population just aren't doing them. why should it be that cycling and hillwalking are so predominantly white middle class and male sports?

and so to the olympics. i wish i could find the quote that suggested that the bbc's white blonde female presenting team was because of the uk's position as 'a northern european country'! are the winter olympics, and winter sports, just for white people? you'd be forgiven for thinking so. compare with the summer events. people from everywhere. the winter version? not. in an ethnically diverse population this strikes me as odd. of course this is to except the chinese and the koreans (to a lesser extent the japanese) - is it then that winter sport is something to do with affluence?

and then there's the ice dancing. can anything top the russian pair? perhaps someone else will come out dressed as black and white minstrels. i heard one explanation which basically amounted to - ice dancers are too stupid to notice this is offensive to anyone. perhaps this is true given the tone of the programme which represented everyone from ireland to india. the russians were tho, the only ones in brown suits. unbelievable. equally unwatchable, which was a shame because they're from just up the road, was the brother and sister pairing of sinead and john kerr. dressing up your sister as daisy duke for the dance is just plain wrong!

all of which is a shame as it masks the skill on display. the canadians who won were undeniably good but we still had to watch blades of glory a film that now looks like some form of documentary genius. it even has a poetry joke.

we go walking

we go to glasgow to help geo buy himself a new bike. this entails much of the afternoon at braehead, an experience well beyond the call of duty, a fact i point out to geo in no uncertain terms. however friends are friends and the extra mile is something that needs to be done when it comes to buying a bike. back to fragile's house for a stack of indian food and, among other things, we get into their experiences doing some astrophotography recently. really, we say, but our camera can do many of those things....

but before we go anywhere near a star cluster i go out for a bit of a nature walk with t the following day, partly to show her round a wee bit of woods near where we are where i go cycling but really mostly to exorcise our braehead demons. and it is lovely. t loves the nature so it's always great to see her out in it and walking, slow and frustrating tho it may be at times, does give a different perspective. we see loads. the sun even shines. t wants to camp. maybe just a bit early for that!

we don;t walk too far but the following day t, who does almost no exercise (not by choice i should point out) feels fine and dandy. i, on the other hand, feel like i've been hit with a bus. it does not agree with me this walking malarkey!

nevertheless after some four years of living where we are now it finally occurs to me that the hill at the back of the house might be an ideal spot for stargazing. and it is! t has a bit of a moment as we get by what appears to be yet another local dogging spot but we're soon up the hill and it is glorious. our camera, which has annoyed us no end performs admirably. we can even see the earth moving!

such a great spot it is that t's already planning the cold weather gear and flasks of tea for our next outing. and of course on the way back of course we have to get a big long exposure of the cars...

Monday, 15 February 2010

in which i am indisposed

laid out in the dark with only jeeves and wooster for company. thus unable to do much computery. normal service in a few days....

Sunday, 14 February 2010

then those olympics

the first hurdle of which has to be the crushing inevitability of the bbc coverage. it's no surprise that any and all coverage by the bbc can only be viewed thru the lens of what sports anyone british is going to 'do well' in. that coupled with the regular activities of the middle classes. what to do then as snowsport uk is in freefall?

talk about it a lot then fall back on the standby of the sliding sports, sports that get no coverage and precious little support in the years intervening. the mocking tone usually adopted is tempered somewhat with the tragic death of the georgian luger but that's never going to hold the behemoth of the bbc back.

time then for the usual twaddle about 'the youngsters' being inspired by what they see. no irony when they follow this up with the usual stuff about 'eddie the eagle'. this despite the fact that eddie the eagle was just the sort of guy who was inspired and followed his dream to the olympics. and anyone who throws themself off the ski jump hill is deserving of respect in my book. pity the one place he can be assured of ridicule is his home country.

thank goodness then for eurosport who seem to recognise that there might actually be such a thing as an audience who actually like the sport beyond nationalistic concerns and whose commentators appear to be interested in as well having taken part in some of the sports.

what'll i be watching? i don't much like the sliding sports, with the exception of the skeleton, which is just too mental not to watch. i always say i won't get involved with biathlon and cross country but such is the suffering in these there's little doubt i'll be engaged again. top of the list will be skating, particularly short track, a discipline that didn't exist when i was young even had there been an ice rink to do it on. a pity as if there's one sport i'm absolutely made for it would be short track skating.

i caught the 1500m final this morning. drama. apollo ohno of course, a man created for the phrase 'difficult to like' but whose individual brilliance is impossible to deny. how would he cope against the three koreans, a nation who, in short track as in archery, i will always support. i won't give the game away but it was nail biting and random in that way that only short track can be. well played for local boy jean olivier but really, he had no chance against a field like that.

finally, whie i was selling the bike yesterday i had the rugby men on the tv in the background. what was going on with scotland? true it was all very exciting, especially if you were welsh but what a performance by the scots to make such a concentrated effort to lose!

Saturday, 13 February 2010

and that's that

it's been nearly thirty years since my first moped and very few of those years saw any period where i didn't have a bike. i was never much into cars, they're great for what they are but compared to bikes they are as nothing. that said as the years went on, and particularly when i cam back from the islands, there was just too much traffic on the roads, too little time to just be going out on the bike and something of the sparkle went off it. even then years went by before i could make the jump to a bikeless existence.

and that day is today. where my bike's been sitting there's now an empty space and a similar feeling for me. i had to phone some of the people i started going out on bikes with and of whom i'm the last to still be doing it. they were sympathetic. i guess they know better than me that i don't do well with this sort of change. you'll be fine said w, and think, you've made it through all those years with nothing like a serious accident which is almost astonishingly true.

in a couple of days it'll be behind me. in the meantime i'm a bit emotional. i may sit for a while with the lights off...

margaret atwood

you fit into me

you fit into me
like a hook into an eye

a fish hook
an open eye

walt whitman

From Pent-up Aching Rivers

From pent-up aching rivers,
From that of myself without which I were nothing,
From what I am determin'd to make illustrious, even if I stand sole among men,
From my own voice resonant, singing the phallus,
Singing the song of procreation,
Singing the need of superb children and therein superb grown people,
Singing the muscular urge and the blending,
Singing the bedfellow's song, (O resistless yearning!
O for any and each the body correlative attracting!
O for you whoever you are your correlative body! O it, more than all else, you delighting!)
From the hungry gnaw that eats me night and day,
From native moments, from bashful pains, singing them,
Seeking something yet unfound though I have diligently sought it many a long year,
Singing the true song of the soul fitful at random,
Renascent with grossest Nature or among animals,
Of that, of them and what goes with them my poems informing,
Of the smell of apples and lemons, of the pairing of birds,
Of the wet of woods, of the lapping of waves,
Of the mad pushes of waves upon the land, I them chanting,
The overture lightly sounding, the strain anticipating,
The welcome nearness, the sight of the perfect body,
The swimmer swimming naked in the bath, or motionless on his back lying and floating,
The female form approaching, I pensive, love-flesh tremulous aching,
The divine list for myself or you or for any one making,
The face, the limbs, the index from head to foot, and what it arouses,
The mystic deliria, the madness amorous, the utter abandonment,
(Hark close and still what I now whisper to you,
I love you, O you entirely possess me,
O that you and I escape from the rest and go utterly off, free and lawless,
Two hawks in the air, two fishes swimming in the sea not more lawless than we;)
The furious storm through me careering, I passionately trembling.
The oath of the inseparableness of two together, of the woman that loves me and whom I love more than my life, that oath swearing,
(O I willingly stake all for you,
O let me be lost if it must be so!
O you and I! what is it to us what the rest do or think?
What is all else to us? only that we enjoy each other and exhaust each other if it must be so;)
From the master, the pilot I yield the vessel to,
The general commanding me, commanding all, from him permission taking,
From time the programme hastening, (I have loiter'd too long as it is,)
From sex, from the warp and from the woof,
From privacy, from frequent repinings alone,
From plenty of persons near and yet the right person not near,
From the soft sliding of hands over me and thrusting of fingers through my hair and beard,
From the long sustain'd kiss upon the mouth or bosom,
From the close pressure that makes me or any man drunk, fainting with excess,
From what the divine husband knows, from the work of fatherhood,
From exultation, victory and relief, from the bedfellow's embrace in the night,
From the act-poems of eyes, hands, hips and bosoms,
From the cling of the trembling arm,
From the bending curve and the clinch,
From side by side the pliant coverlet off-throwing,
From the one so unwilling to have me leave, and me just as unwilling to leave,
(Yet a moment O tender waiter, and I return,)
From the hour of shining stars and dropping dews,
From the night a moment I emerging flitting out,
Celebrate you act divine and you children prepared for,
And you stalwart loins.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

say hello to my new computer

which is green, like an apple

Friday, 5 February 2010

taha muhammad ali

from Twigs

Neither music,
fame, nor wealth,
not even poetry itself
could provide consolation
fro life's brevity,
or the fact that King Lear
is a mere eighty pages long and comes to an end,
and for the thought that one might suffer greatly
on account of a rebellious child


My love for you
is what's magnificent,
but I, you, and the others,
most likely,
are ordinary people.


And so
it has taken me
all of sixty years
to understand
that water is the finest drink,
and the bread the most delicious food,
and that art is worthless
unless it plants
a measure of splendour in people's hearts

trans by peter cole, yahya hijazi and gabriel levin

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

desert island books

it's a great shame that the best known homer of our generation will be the jolly yellow fat bloke. which is as well and good but when i was wee and growing up on an island that had just had the luxury of two, count 'em, two television channels (not that i was allowed to watch much of them) my head was absorbed, and stayed that way, with the older version.

what a joy then to get not one but two articles in the guardian on the iliad and the promise of longer to come. if anything it showed just how atrophied my homer knowledge has become, thus setting me a very pleasurable reading task for later in the year (along with finishing reading all of william maxwell which i've eked out as long as possible)

so, desert island books. the works of homer (fagles translation) would be one i;d have without blinking. as would moby dick, of which more later. the rest i might have to think about (tho i feel ayn rand's the fountainhead would have to be in there as a guilty pleasure)

and yours?

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

but what to do afterwards

clearing up the magubbinry in the morning i was certain that an early leaving time wasn't on the cards and i wasn't wrong. i phoned t to get her up. what's your plan i asked. waking, she replied. how's about making a breakfast picnic i suggested along with looking out the window at the sunrise for any additional inspiration.

45 minutes later she was picking me up armed with coffee, rye bread surprises, even orange juice. top performance!

where we live there's a surprisingly large island in the centre of town. usually we walk across it on the railway bridge but i fancied a scout down the edge of it to see the goldeneyes around the harbour. and what an excursion. few enough people come down here at the best of time far less at eight in the morning so we had the place to ourselves. most of our initial attention was on the goosanders which, us being on the riverbank we had a grand view of. we followed them down to where the goldeneye were, startling a deer along the way, saw some cormorants, the usual complement of gulls. some mallards, flock of domestic geese and even a seal! on the way back we paused for a while (a long while, narrowly dodging a parking ticket) on the railway bridge watching the birds up the top of the pine trees - tits, chaffinches, gold finches, goldcrests.

and the picnic. we sat down the top of the island to the sound of the waterfall and the ind in the trees. no thought of work. it was great. i would thoroughly recommend the habit of out of hours picnickery, including of course for those not blighted with light pollution, the night picnic. a great way of letting the stress evaporate!