Saturday, 28 March 2009

The trees around Nunhead on Tour 9: Edinburgh

Anyway, this answers the question posed in the posting of the 1st February.

Last Summer (yes I'm stilling blogging about our Summer Hols) we also got to Edinburgh and the Fringe:

We spent much of the day just wandering around, strolling up and down in amongst the acts. It wasn't a fantasticaly warm day, but that was probably better.

There were pedal powered taxis all over.

This chap sat and played blues on his guitar while we had lunch.

This bunch of (highly talented) musicians were in the only show we saw: "Plucked" - the story of the musicians who went down with the Titanic. Very well done and very funny, with lots of quick changes and a touch of the surreal. We all enjoyed it immensely.

Let this be a hidden warning to all who learn music at a certain school not so far from Nunhead.
They will all know what I mean...

Views from the Camera Obscura:

And of Edinburgh Castle:

... and back to our lodgings...

Friday, 27 March 2009

A Great Silly Grin

I've been driving around South London today with a great silly grin on my face, doubtless to the annoyance of other road users.

The reason is not hard to find; as I dashed out of the house I grabbed the first CD to hand, which turned out to be by Jake Thackray. So as I drove along the Old Kent Road, Brockley and Nunhead Lane I've been listening to:

On Again On Again
Brother Gorilla (Le Gorrille)
Isobel Makes Love Upon National Monuments
Sister Josephine

... and so forth. Now I have to say that this isn't a wholly enjoyable listening experience. I grew used to Jake Thackray on the Braden show and similar TV programmes from the late 60s and 70s, where he would sing sitting on a stool accompanying himself on acoustic guitar. This CD has tiresomely lush orchestration courtesy of Geoff Love (and, presumably, his orchestra). So it feels a little overproduced and the rich backing is at odds with the astringent / funny lyrics.

Nevertheless, the words are what make the songs - hence my ear-to-ear grin.

Years ago, it must be around 1980, I was living on the Wirral, and a work colleague - Doug Gray - suggested we go out to see a folk singer one weekend, with a group of friends. Now I can't abide folk, I really can't. So I almost said no.
In the end I only came to be friendly, and not appear curmudgeonly - so I complained all the way there. When we arrived at the venue there was a huge picture of Jake Thackray outside - of whom Doug had never heard (not being very in to TV culture, as it were). So I almost, but didn't, miss out on what turned out to be a really enjoyable night.
Ever since, I've berated Doug whenever I've had the chance: "Jake Thackray is not, repeat not a folk singer" is how the rant goes usually. (And he isn't - he worked in a different, French tradition. Have a look at the Web link above for more details as well as some very silly men calling themselves the Fake Thackrays. Sigh).

Anyway, I bought this CD a few days after Jake's death was announced - towards the end of 2002, from HMV on Oxford St. I've just looked at the price tag on the box, where it clearly says "HMV. Folk CD, 10.99".

I feel another rant coming on.

However, perhaps the best way to decide this is to look at the man himself in performance:

I rest my case.
Not a folk singer.

Monday, 23 March 2009

I love the Spring, don't you? 'Course you do!

Round and about in Nunhead and East Dulwich at the weekend.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Upon Rewatching Kind Hearts and Coronets

The other day I was at home in the afternoon and caught "Kind Hearts and Coronets" on TV. Probably the first time I'd seen it in twenty or thirty years, and even then I missed the beginning. It was a strange, quite extreme experience. I have a half-memory of seeing the film many times when I was younger - say from the age of seven to fifteen - on TVs at home or at my Nan's. I found I not only remembered a great deal of the dialogue over that seeming gulf of time (which is perhaps not so surprising, given that it is highly arch and mannered, with carefully constructed well-turned phrases and balanced sentences), but that I also recalled almost every feature of set, costume, walk and gesture. I found, and still find a few days later, this a strange and and excessive experience. The cool, tempered, black-and-white film playing out at its own pace, unfurling its narrative, which I found I knew fully in advance. I felt somehow gripped by it, unable to look away.

I still can't fully explain this, except by reference to the lenght of time since I used to watch it a lot, and hence the degree to which it managed to catch me by surprise. Also, it has a very beguiling developing storyline, with few repeated or recuperated scenes. Indeed, those settings which do recur (eg those associated with Louis's office life) tend to blur together, and I don't recall them well at all. But the great single scenes (the murders, Sibella's attempt to blackmail Louis, the hangman's poetry reading for example) clearly stay in the mind for a considerable period.

Is this also related also to the mannered, Edwardian style? Hard to say. Other films I watched at the same time (eg "The Lavender Hill Mob", "633 Squadron", "Zulu" and "The Titfield Thunderbolt" come to mind) seem, when I think of them, to have left no similar effect. But now I think about it one other film from that period in my life has remained: "A Matter of Life and Death". I remember seeing that after some time, and again the scenes were instantly familiar to me, the infinite staircase, the frozen table tennis match and the American jury for example. Yet even that great film doesn't have quite the sense of being fully recalled, when I think about it, that "Kind Hearts..." does.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Saturday Morning Watchmen

Go to YouTube and search for this. It's a beautiful, brief imagining of how Watchmen would turn out as a Saturday morning kids' cartoon. I sat through it unbelieving and open-mouthed. Glorious.

Just try it.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Just what it says on the Tin

March 15th 2009. Not the first day of spring, but an enjoyably spring-like day, so I thought it high time to get meself out to see what the trees of Nunhead and around-abouts were up to.

Our frogpond is full of evidence that the frogs have been having friendly liaisons, there are strange hints of spring in the garden, and it's a smashing warm day. So here we go.

These feathery things and buds are from the garden:

Dunno what they are and I don't know if they look different in the spring.

Same goes for these catkinny things

This is a long-shot of the weping willow by the nursery at the Nun's Head end of Nunhead Green. A smashing tree, especially in sodium nightlight.
And even better from underneath.
On the South side of the Green, by Nunhead Lane, is a smashing London Pine:

But, after some heavy-handed topiary, this is what dominates the Green today. Huge, menacing, with blunt fingers grasping at the sky:

Threatening the Alms Houses:

On the way down towards Peckham Rye, I chanced on this smashing shot of life growing up from a council (I assume) back yard:
The north end of Peckham Rye. Shops pubs, busses:
And, when you look closer...
... strangely inaccurate signs...
... (and more than one) ...
Trust me, you don't want to walk the way they point; its all about one-way systems and disallowed right turns. More to our point, here is another super weeping willow, on the north of the Rye:
And a huge plane tree
Nunhead Green is shabby, not posh, but Peckham Rye is...?
Actually, Judith says the sign is wrong, and it should just say Peckham Rye - it isn't also called 'Common'. Anyway, here is what it looks like...

... but they don't treat their trees very well around here...
Finally, lets remind ourselves how we began, with a touch of spring, buds, and stuff.
.. and then some miscellany to end with... the 484 bus stop:
What will apparently, eventually, become a mightly avenue:
and the middle distance:

(...well, it was a nice day).