Tuesday, May 25, 2004


I have a - deserved - reputation among certain of my online acquaintances for being obsessed with Mahler's Second Symphony. At times like this I plead guilty and point in mitigation to Gilbert Kaplan - he's way more obsessed with it than I am, although I must say that the idea of conducting it one day - perhaps not.

Recently, I found my old VHS copy of La Double Vie de Véronique, and it started this whole obsession thing off again. I have a copy of the soundtrack, because of the staggeringly brilliant 'concerto' by 'van den Budenmayr' which costs Weronika - no, I won't spoil it, it's a fabulous film. Anyway, I dug out the CD, and played the concerto track on repeat all the way to ework and all the way home again. It's fixed in my head, and if I had a piano to hand, I'd be picking out the spare, haunting melody every time I walked past. And I thought to myself that I hadn't had an obsession like that for a long time.

But I was wrong. Earlier this year, I bought myself the Randy Newman Songbook, and I thought I'd play it a few times, and then simply have it in the library for occasional inspiration. Wrong. Towards the end is one of the great achievements of this brilliant songwriter, The Great Nations of Europe (pardon the link, it's badly spelt, and probably full of pop-ups) and, having heard it once, I couldn't allow anything else to sully my ear for some time afterward. That, too, went on repeat until I'd learnt it by heart, and until it became part of my mental landscape - reading John Wilford's The Mapmakers was an exercise in hilarity thanks to Randy Newman.

And then, before that, it was Bartók. Having experienced a dramatic version of the third Piano Concerto last summer, I had to own it, and having owned it, I allowed myself to become consumed by it. It takes a bit less time than my drive home to listen to, so I delay putting it on until I'm at the traffic lights at Hunton Bridge, then if I get held up on the way, I simply repeat the final movement, sitting in the car on my drive if necessary so as not to miss the astonishing finale.

Actually, that's another thing, now I come to think of it - I can't bear to leave a piece of music unfinished. If I have to get out of the car, or otherwise interrupt my listening before a natural break in the music, I get most uncomfortable. Which is a tad inconvenient if you listen to a lot of Mahler...

OK, I admit it, I'm an obsessive kind of guy.

Monday, May 24, 2004

The rusty cables... Posted by Hello

The famous cable hut Posted by Hello

Thanks to those nice people at Hello (no, not the magazine), the promised pictures: firstly, a big pile of rusty undersea cable alongside the channel down to Porthcurno beach - all that's left of the global network. Secondly, the famous cable hut - this is where it all came ashore. Thirdly, the rather magnificent scenery at the top of the cliffs. Minack Theatre is on the next headland, and the little white pyramid marks where some of the earliest wireless experiments took place. Posted by Hello

Thursday, May 13, 2004

OK, wrong...

I don't have two sets of comments. I'm a) confused, and b) going to stick with what I've got.

What happened?

I go off sick for a few days, and Blogger morphs into... kind of Blogger on steroids. Which is kind of dull for you, the general reader, since you can't see any of the changes, but this is very strange for me.

It appears that Blogger now offers comments, which is going to get confusing, since I had already organised my own. Will I be able to merge them? Do I want to?

I was going to post something, but now I'm just going to potter about in here instead.

EDIT: A little tinkering, and I may now have two sets of comments. This has been done deliberately to confuse you.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

*bounces onstage* I return!

Yes, well.

Something has been keeping the creative juices bottled up this past month or so;don't ask me what. Since I'd rather write nothing than post any old rubbish, this space has been left intentionally blank all this time. But in the last couple of days, I seem to have had an outpouring of determination to do something about the MC novel - I think I know how it should start now, given that the first version was never intended to be a full-length story.

Also, the Proms season is available for perusal, which means it's not winter any more, hurrah! No-one's told the weather yet, but never mind. (nat, if you're out there; it's a whole season of Czech music... *tempt, tempt*) More Prommery soon.

The only thing I've been meaning to blog for nearly a month was my zoom around Cornwall at Eastertime. Summary: cool grey day spent at Tate St Ives (every third shop in St Ives sells Cornish Pasties; yes I did, and very nice they were too), Cape Cornwall, Lands End (better than you'd think) and one other place; gloriously warm sunny day spent near Porthcurno traipsing the Coastal Path, clambering down into one or two coves and driving home via Launceston, which was as delightful as I remembered, but closed owing to it being Good Friday.

The one other place was a delightful surprise. On the way to Lands End, I saw a sign for 'Wartime Museum'. It was pointing down the road to Minack, where I had intended to go anyway, so I thought I'd give it a try. The road to Minack goes through Porthcurno, and if you follow the nice new blue signs, takes you to see 'The Victorian Internet'. I parked and wandered up, all the while dimly remembering something I'd seen on some television programme. Something about undersea telegraph cables. My dim rememberings turned out to be something extraordinary. Drilled directly into the granite cliff are two wartime tunnels, inside which is now the Telegraph Museum, detailing the history of cable (and later wireless) telegraphy. For it was here that the first ever undersea telegraph cable came ashore, and it was here until about 10 years ago that most of them still did. It's a fascinating place, evocative and informative at once. Post-museum, I took a stroll down to the beach, where the original cable hut is still in place. As you leave the environs of the museum, you pass a large pile of rusting cable. These are the last remnants of the mighty cables which ran all the way to New Zealand at one time. I have photos; perhaps my inspiration will stretch to posting a couple...