Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Saturday, September 10, 2011

today : I show no interest

The other day I was watching breakfast TV. For some reason or other they were having a debate about whether Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare. People were lined up on each side of the argument.

I switched over.

It reminded me that I just don't care about whether Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare. It's one of those things that will forever remain controversial amongst people who like to obsess about these things. It's an industry for some scholars and busybodies. A new book or a film will come out and it will all be dragged up again.

Don't get me wrong. It doesn't mean that I don't care about Shakespeare the writer. The more I read the plays and poetry the more I am smitten with the beauty, scale and richness of it. People who dismiss Shakespeare - the plays - are idiots.

But whether a single man called 'Shakespeare' actually wrote them. Don't care.

Soon after, the show had a feature about Madonna's film about Wallis Simpson. Everyone is obsessed with Wallis Simpson and the abdication. But it is yet another thing that interests me not one jot. For a start I have no interest in the lives of the royals, and the abdication was also decades before I was born.

Which made me think about some of the other things I don't care a fig for, but seemingly take up much of other peoples' time and effort. Richard III - evil or not? I don't care. The identity of Jack The Ripper? Well, his name was Jack, so that one's cleared up enough for me and beyond that I just can't be bothered wasting the energy. Was Robin Hood a real person, and if he was, was it in Nottinghamshire or South Yorkshire? Don't care if he existed or not, don't care where he may or may not have lived and roamed if he did.

John Martyn? Nasty evil wife beater or beautiful troubador? Sinatra. How involved in the Mafia was he really? Wa Marilyn murdered by the Kennedy's?

The list of things other people are apparently interested in, nay, fascinated and obsessed by, but leaves me totally cold, is endless.
It must just be me. Not got the interested in pointless speculation gene.

Friday, September 09, 2011

today : september # 3

today : September # 2

Whenever September rolls around, I am reminded that it is my least favourite month. In recent years, operations meant that I spent 2 of the last four Septembers in painful recovery, which is still fresh in my memory. But long before that Septembers were harbingers of misery.

When I was a teacher it, of course, meant going back to work. Some other teachers seemed to happy to be back in school. I imagine they maybe had broods of children and, as the adult at home for the previous six weeks, had spent the entire time trying to entertain their offspring. Maybe, for them, returning to work would herald at least some of the day being in their own control, some return to normal adulthood.

But for the childless me it spelt the end of freedom. The summer holidays were the time when I could cut loose from all routines and responsibilities. Sometimes I went on holiday for the whole time. Other years I would write solidly, or record and mix an album, or just do what I wanted for as long as I wanted. For example, I always like sitting down when the Olympics or whatever is on and consuming it all night and day knowing that other Olympics watchers were rationed to highlights brief moments.

But September was when the watch went back on my wrist and the collars and ties moved to the front of the wardrobe. Time to start being grown up.

Not that returning to school is totally without joy. There is something comforting in routine and work. I personally find something deeply satisfying in falling asleep in front of the TV on a Friday evening, overdosed on take-away additives and a glass of cold beer, but properly tired from hard work rather than sleepy from staying up the previous night playing GTA3. And teaching always throws up new challenges, new pupils and new colleagues - all generally positive. There's nothing like finding some gems amongst the new intake of pupils - either ones you know you can help get on and enjoy teaching or ones who are crazy and/or strange to the point of sheer entertainment. Same with new staff. Sometimes the churn of new colleagues can throw up interesting and positive dynamics. A new friend even.

But as the years went by looming Septembers started to outshine the potential positives of a new academic year. Eventually, for me, that first six-week half-term started the downward spiral towards the Xmas half-term, which is the nadir of any school year. The first couple of weeks in September are filled with energy and various kinds of newness. The next four filled with dread and pessimism at the knowledge that the clocks will go back and the six weeks from Bonfire night through to Christmas will be some kind of dark troop towards hell.

Let me explain. The minute the October half-term ends the entire nation is on a run-up to Christmas. Children are almost entirely distracted by the hyped promise of whatever gifts they are to receive. But everyone is also drained by the darkness of the winter mornings and evenings and those days where it never really gets properly light. Motivation is at its lowest. Tiredness makes everyone grouchy and hard to live with and there are more windy, rainy and cold days than not. It's not a massive change - but 1% less motivation and 1% less cooperative behaviour can tip the balance significantly.

Anyway, that's all in my past and not the real reason why I hate September. The real reason is that as soon as September comes around the so-called 'silly season' ends. I turn on the TV and find that I am bombarded with crap. Not only do the political correspondants all return from their hols but so do the politicians. After a blessed few weeks where we have had a nice break, everything returns to its appalling norm. That is: an endless parade of politicians, their fat awful corrupt lying smug holiday-tanned faces, spouting their endless specious bullshit. All their speeches and policy initiatives and hobby-horse ideology. All their psychotic egotistical preening and their arrogant self-serving miasma, poisoning the airwaves and the air with their pointless noise.

It reminds you that modern-day politics is not about running the country - after all, whilst they were away inflicting their odious selves on the people of California, Tuscany, Devon and the Dordoigne, the country more or less kept running. It is about egotistical shallow bastards promoting themselves and the hollow certainty of their own cretinous opinions and shoring up the wealth of themselves and their friends. It's no less tribal and objectionable than in Afghanistan or Libya.

today : September # 1

September 1, 1939
by W. H. Auden

I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death
Offends the September night.

Accurate scholarship can
Unearth the whole offence
From Luther until now
That has driven a culture mad,
Find what occurred at Linz,
What huge imago made
A psychopathic god:
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.

Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
About Democracy,
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic grave;
Analysed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again.

Into this neutral air
Where blind skyscrapers use
Their full height to proclaim
The strength of Collective Man,
Each language pours its vain
Competitive excuse:
But who can live for long
In an euphoric dream;
Out of the mirror they stare,
Imperialism's face
And the international wrong.

Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.

The windiest militant trash
Important Persons shout
Is not so crude as our wish:
What mad Nijinsky wrote
About Diaghilev
Is true of the normal heart;
For the error bred in the bone
Of each woman and each man
Craves what it cannot have,
Not universal love
But to be loved alone.

From the conservative dark
Into the ethical life
The dense commuters come,
Repeating their morning vow;
"I will be true to the wife,
I'll concentrate more on my work,"
And helpless governors wake
To resume their compulsory game:
Who can release them now,
Who can reach the deaf,
Who can speak for the dumb?

All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.

Defenceless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

today : some groovy tunes

Jazzsteppa - dubstep with jazz: genius

SBTRKT - Pharoahs. Superb electro groove. genius

Soul Creations Funky Jive pt1 (I actually prefer Pt 2 as it has more jazzy soloing but I couldn't find a youtube for it). Check out the wah wah funky guitar: genius.

I noticed this tune Atlas by Battles cropped up on an advert recently. When Battles hit a groove -like on this or Tij, they are genius.

Twilight 22 Electric Kingdom. Old School 1983 genius.

Fujiya and Miyagi should be more successful than they are. Their music is interesting and textured. This video for Ankle Injuries (could be my theme tune) is genius.