You and Me

We live life one day at a time. However we live each day it is just part of the patchwork of activity people live. Today I can think of nothing better than celebrating humankind as it is recorded in the 2021 film Life In A Day.

Watch the film found at https://lifeinaday.youtube/

Just so you can celebrate being your fabulous self.

Darwin Knew.

Co Twitter@FLOTUS

I had heard of it, but never experienced the madness of Valentines Day until 1976. The children of Carstairs Primary School, Scotland, introduced me to the experience that year. In all the years since I have never felt the need to join in this annual celebration to love. Lest I seem more old fogey than I am, I am happy to acknowledge love is the cement, (there may be better words than cement, but cement seems to fit well to me. Aged cement is very difficult to break) I continue, love is the cement that binds humanity as one people on Earth. Peace is the natural companion of love.



I have just been reading, Letters of Note, on Substack. The last entry includes this extract from a letter written by Charles Darwin. Born 12/02/1809.

Among the extracts was this

“What an utter desert is life without love.”

Charles Darwin | Letter to Joseph Hooker, 27 Nov 1863


It appears Darwin had the same grasp of love as all lovers celebrating Valentines Day tomorrow.

Love can be as local as your loved one, or as wide as your love for everyone. Love, love, Love.


https://news.lettersofnote.com/p/i-loathe-i-abhor-the-sea-and-all

Be Yourself

photo. Rattle Poetry Ekphrastic Challenge : Claire Ibarra Photography


Overhead a Rorschach test of brambles

Cast shadows across my pool.

There, fat goldfish beckoned the sky fall

and secret them in the amniotic fluid.

Birds, soaring over the pond,

returned to spear an exhausted fish,

floating belly up, as the in-waiting

swimming thing gasped its last palliative breath.

A fish net soon crisscrossed the pool

and stymied — natural selection.

Testily a bird rebelled. Wildly plucking at the screen

until, flying light, away it flew as

the horizon flagged the sun to rest.

The painter’s brush of lattice web

instructs viewers to remember

Fraser’s words, “Life is not meant to be easy.”

or, being yourself requires tactical grit.

Characters Imagined

ref: Gladstoneobserver.com.au
In five hundred languages
Ancestors
Dancing dreamtime song-lines
Taught wisdom
Millenniums before folk in
Powdered wigs
Sent men across seven seas
To plunder, rape, and murder
For a King
Claiming fauna, flora, soil
Enslaving all as labour.

1967
Marked its end?

Yesterday
In the lived experience
Of wary warriors
Characters imagined
In television studios
Knowing hatred is learnt
In burnt cork antics

Look in the mirror
And see your act
Is not the colour of
entertainment
And no excuse
Of ignorance
Will soothe the wounds
Caused to people
Of ancient grace
Ill from your cold lessons of bigotry

It was in the news months ago. Something about Netflix. I cannot fix it because my words are insufficient but we can.

Spinners

Ref. The Hollywood Reporter

He sat squarely on the piano stool. The boy reached out and opened Aunt Clara’s piano and spontaneously played. The lad played it so well his father bought him a baby grand piano at age 10 and reluctantly agreed he could at last take music lessons. At 13, young Louis played at his own Bar Mitzvah. By the time his influence entered my world he was a noted maestro and a chain smoking conductor his friends called Lenny.

By 1960 his modern opera, a rework of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet had reached the Princess Theatre Melbourne. The music by Leonard Bernstein with a libretto by Stephen Sondheim tells of a gang war between Puerto Ricans and the Whites ( or the Jets and Sharks). At that stage Bernstein was thirty-two. Sixty years ago the 33 year old reached new critical acclaim when this musical was released as film by the same name. A few years latter the film reached Melbourne and Jennie and I went to see it. I was so enthralled by it we bought a 12 inch LP ( Long Play) recording of the cast performance.

Our Pye, three-in-one player: (TV, Radio, and Turn-Table), was never put to use before it was stolen from our home. However, the record stayed and was a regular hit with us. The tracks; “I Feel Pretty”, “Tonight”, “America”, and “Somewhere”, have entered the canon of America’s greatest works. Fortunately, Stephen Sondheim lives on, Lenny died from the after effects of an addiction to tobacco, and his friend, American composer, Arron Copeland has also died. Clearly the world is poorer without their talent.

When we bought the West Side Story record, the best recorded music was found on 12 inch L P’s. We bought several. Most came from a group trading as The World Record Club and they were recordings of classical music. The records ran for 60 minutes, but the user could only hear the last 30 minutes by stopping the player and turning the recording to hear the reverse side. Fortunately, a 12 inch vinyl record was a big improvement on previous records. The extra time recorded on each disc was achieved by reducing the speed of the turntable to 33 revolutions per minute and adding width to it.

With the 33 rpm turntable also offered the listener other speed choices. A 45 rpm disc was the record used at the time by pop song promoters. The record had two sides and two songs. It was common for the promoter to advertise one of the two songs on each record. The A side was supposed to be better than the B side. Frequently they got it wrong, in the ears of the listeners, and the more popular song was on the reverse.

.

The first recording I ever bought was of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. It was written in 1880 to commemorate the Battle of Borodino where Tsar Alexander 1’s forces routed Napoleon in 1812. As my student allowance money was scarce my copy was a 45 vinyl disc. The overture only lasts about 16 minutes. To my annoyance half way through the performance the record had to be flipped over to hear the remainder. It was certainly a performance Tchaikovsky had not written, even though it was performed with actual canons.

The gramophone of the 1960’s replaced the model my uncle Paul had graduated to just a few years before. He had a passion for the popular music recorded before WW11. Performer’s names included favourites such as: Chick Corea, Al Bowlly, Fats Waller, Count Basie, Ross Colombo, and the catalogue ran on with the names of band leaders such as Chick Webb, Artie Shaw and the Dorsey brothers. The records were 78 rpm. Each side ran for about 3 minutes. I have retained one I have altered to a clock face. It is a Decca recording, of Bing Crosby singing, On the Sunny Side Of The Street.

Paul was fanatical about his collection. Each record had a matching file card. The card mentioned the name of the song: where and when it was recorded, who the musicians were. (The cards may have had other information I have no idea. But he did). For thirty years he ran an old time music program on, not one, but two community radio stations. He based each program on the notes he had made at the time of purchase.

When he started to collect these tunes they were sold in a brown paper sleeves. When he played a recording he would wipe any dust that might have fallen on it. Originally the first tunes he played was on a gramophone he had to wind up. The record was placed on a felt disc and the pickup was lowered onto the disc from the outside edge. The pick up was a steel needle. To protect his collection he would use a new needle for every recording he played.

The shellac recordings were brittle and easily damaged. The sound was reproduced by a needle running in the groove made when the sound was recorded. The trouble with such a system is the damage caused by the friction made playing the music.

Paul’s was not the first wind up machine. That role goes to the phonograph. Our neighbours, the Coverdale’s, had an original model. It played music recorded on cylinders. The recording method was similar in that used to make 78s. In that a grove was cut into the cylinder using a mechanism that converted the sound waves into energy that did the inscribing. The pickup followed the scratch to reproduce the singers voice.

Over the course of my life. We have used tape recorders, compact discs, and down loaded LPs to digital programs so they can be reproduced from the computer. I was ever so impressed when Ben and Nina introduced me to the first iPlayer. I found it hard to believe such a tiny recorder could hold so much music and be reproduced so easily.

Years ago I downloaded my entire record collection to my mobile phone, and I have listened to it amplified by wifi and Bluetooth. I have even used Spotify but I have found the range of classical music limited so when in doubt or in need of a switch-up I turn to an app on my phone and I can get worldwide coverage of classical music programs any time of day.

Aficionados, like to explain the 3mp copy excludes much of the pure sound a vinyl recording gives. They may be right but to my creaky old ears it sounds ok and it plays without the need to jump up and turn a record on the turntable. It is even better than the “clunk” you got when one record dropped onto the other when records were stacked one upon the other on a multi-player.

Any A, B or Z musician would be proud to be enjoyed so easily today. Bernstein, Beethoven, Brahms, or Borodin — music is great. That you can listen to any-type of music anywhere from the phone in your pocket is something the boys and girls of West Side Story could never have imagined

A Pyramid Scheme

John Hopkins University 25/01/2021

One

Year on

This sober anniversary

Marks the first reported

Transfer of the mysterious disease,

Coronavirus. This unwelcome case was first reported

Here. Few paid any real attention initially.

“Don’t know about you”, said the Prime Minister.

“I am off to watch my Sharkies play football”

“I think you misunderstand the point of what we’re doing …”

Devoted Australian family man, James Kwan, died in Perth, February 28 2020.

The retired travel agent was a passenger on the ship, Diamond Princess

Quarantine Isolation policies, couldn’t stop Ruby Princess folk spreading the virus nation-wide

Intermittent border closures lead to crazy disruptions to daily lives for everyone

This crazy pattern has continued for 365 days. Of sorts, corralled, we mourn all dead.


My thoughts go to all the first responders (and those who act as the last responders) and to all caught in the Covid 19 pandemic.

To us all: wear a mask, wash your hands, practise social distancing, and help everyone stay safe.

Sanctus Seraphin

Image Author

How mellifluously did the fiddle play?
Bought in Horsham a century ago
From W Sack, Watchmaker of Firebrace Street,
Horsham, Importer of fine instruments.
Was R Blake, the buyer, a musical prodigy?
Or was the play to amuse oneself by
the fireside, on chilly winter nights?
The musicians choice, “Sanctus Seraphin”
A violin with a name famous for
All the attributes that soloists are
Continually hankering after.
I know it is cruel to mute all notes
Of such beautiful wooden craftsmanship
Yet musical shortcoming dooms it lie
In a black wooden box on soft green baize
Silent as the maple in a snow field.

This copy of a violin from the famous Italian maker of the sixteenth century has been silent since I bought it. (Our children have taken it out of its case and abused its sound, from time to time.) But mostly I admire the majesty of its unknown history, and the luthier’s skill.

Where wild animals roam.

Photo . Author

Wild animals roamed here in past millenniums. It is possible to find dinosaur footprints in the sandstone on the seashore not so many miles from here. These patterns have nothing to do with that, except in my imagination.


We are enjoying a few days by the sea. For over 65 years, we have been visiting this sleepy winter hamlet of about 1,000. Now, it is summer the residents hide away from the marauding 25,000 visitors holidaying here.


Some people come here to bask in the sun, (not that there is much of that just now). Many read. Some wait for that time of day they can get together and show off their best preened self.


For thousands of years indigenous people roamed the hills around here. The sea saw to it they never went hungry. There is little evidence of the natural riches now, but there are middens, (waste tips) of consumed seashells — if you know where to look.


The coastal road is an iconic day out for visitors. Many, are not used to driving on twisting country roads, and some (more than ever should) end up here. Thankfully, the government maintains this hospital for the sick and those accidentally injured. A decade ago I served on the hospital board for two terms — when this building was commissioned — replacing the former place.



Even in cooler weather, like it is today, a stroll on the beach is health giving.

Forward Into A New Year

Photo Author

Fish know life goes forward


eight hungry pond fish circle restlessly 
rushing the surface water
to intimidate
nourishment shaken
onto whirlpool’s eddy
formed in the steady mock stream playing
from the aerator we hear burbling life
into freshened aqua
reflecting gloomy twilight
and moody clouds float by overhead
folded into dark blankets threatening heavy air
daylight hour
dawning New Year’s Day
carefree
fish know life goes forward

Friends, please allow me to call you friends? I wish you good health, peace, and that your love is met in the dawning year. May 2021 be so good we can all put 2020 out of reach.

Under Milkwood

Dl.uk

Ever keen to invoke a love for language in my grandchildren, three of the four were with me in the car when I switched on the radio. We did this despite my very best practise to condemn such a distraction in a car driven by a learner. 

Let me clarify what we were doing, so you have a better idea of how my distracting behaviour killed my hubris. Charlie was keen to take us for a drive so he could show how prepared he is for his licence test. (Last time I wrote about his driving, 120 Hours At The Wheel 22/03/2020, he had just started to drive) On the pretext I wanted to check on our distant bee hive I gave Charlie the keys as he had said he would love to drive somewhere. With the permission of the Law and their parents, Sam and G sat in the rear seat, and I sat in the front beside Charlie as I was the supervising licensed driver.

We drove in muted silence for about forty minutes. Charlie drove carefully, yet confidently. On this part of the trip we still had several kilometres to travel, and he was driving very well so I broke the rule I had set and turned up the car sound system. All along the road I thought it was off. Instead, we drove, sound muted on our journey. Looking about the display screen, I saw bluetooth was playing Under Milkwood. That was when my vanity got in the way of common sense.

I was so thrilled to see the name scrolling across the silent screen as this piece, written for the BBC, and read by Richard Burton, is one of my favourite examples of spoken word. It is neither a play, nor a poem, yet it is such a splendid piece of writing telling, as it does, of life in the day little imaginary Welch village of Llareggub

Dylan wrote of the characters one might meet in the township – with a name best read backwards — if you want to get a better grasp of his humour. It introduces us to characters such as Captain Cat, Willy Nilly, Mrs Pugh — (Oh, there are so many lovely people, read it, or listen to it yourself.)

If I may, I will return to what was happening in the car as Charlie drove us home. Unaware the reading had been running for some time, I tried to explain why I liked Thomas. I spoke to the kids of the musical nature of the work. (I didn’t tell them I first heard it soon after Alan Woods invested a sizeable portion of his wages and bought a radiogram, and the LP recording, when he had no home in which to store it, and long before he became my brother-in-law. It so happened for security he had it installed in the Vicarage parlour on proviso he could at least listen to it sometimes until he had a place of his own.)

At the point Georgia, Sam and Charlie first heard the words of this dark, comedic writing the village children were in the school playground singing, rhyming verse to a skipping game. Instead of the intent I expected of the moment, they lost all control when they heard the children’s voices singing. For a few minutes after this we heard only their laughter – as they laughed at my expense.

If they ever take time to read my silly stuff, I hope this story reminds them of Christmas Eve 2020. And they take the time to find Under Milkwood I do love, and they listen to it for their own enjoyment.