rhythmaning: (whisky)
This is the second part of a letter I wrote nearly twenty years ago...

The second story I have to tell is simpler; it begins where the first ended, in my office. I was leaning against a doorway, talking to a computer guy, talking spreadsheets maybe, and memory, and as he walked away, I pushed against the doorway. In a second, I was on the floor in agony, and a fire-extinguisher was on my ankle. Rolling on the carpet. I stood on my other leg, and hopped - and I thought I was all right I was fine, me I'm all smiles.

I was sitting at my desk a few minutes later when I realized my foot felt damp; my sock was red and blood filled my shoe. Oh my - the pictures swing and fall. I phone the first aid girl, a secretary who sits with a friend, and ask to come over. She does it by the book - I don't see - and calls me a cab to take me to the hospital. (The grapevine moves quickly; when I get in on the following Monday, suddenly everyone knows my face, and asks if I am ok.)

I still don't think I am hurt; I hop down four flights of stairs, because I get irritated waiting for the lift (on the eighth floor, of course); I hop into the taxi. I walk into the hospital, down on Dean Ryle Street; I know it well: my grandmother - a sickly woman - was there a lot. I talk to the nurse on the casualty desk, and she gives me a form or two to fill in (always a dilemma: I call myself Mr). I sit on an uncomfortable seat, my leg stretched out in front or tucked under as I feel easier.
...lots more words... )

Twenty Four

May. 3rd, 2009 01:19 pm
rhythmaning: (violin)
I wrote this back in 1991, as a letter to a friend; I recently came across it and enjoyed reading it again, so I thought I’d post it here, too. I recently moved back into the area, and I have been making the same journey. The sights are the same, twenty years on, though the buses have changed…

The everyday thing - this happens everyday - every working day, anyhow, and a few times at weekends too. Going to work - a simple process, but fascinating: watching the world go by. It interests me, this process - partly because I see motion and movement as crucial to my character - one reason perhaps I will never truly settle (until, perhaps, I find someone with whom I want to settle?) - and I define myself in part by movement, by walking, and by watching things change as I move. (They move too, of course, in their own speed, in their way; sometime watching me change as I pass by.)

There are two ways to get to work, and each of those has two alternative routes. I prefer the bus, but when if I am busy at work, I will take the tube; it gets me there about half an hour earlier, and is more hurried, more intense, so I think I may arrive at my desk slightly more flustered, but more ready to do battle with the phones and computers.

DSC_0008 cut

The bus: the bus down to the office leaves from South End Green, five minutes away. I walk passed nurses coming off their night shift, looking tired, almost hostile, as if the world has just been too painful for the last twelve hours that the one thing they can't bear to see are the trees in the sunshine. I walk passed the smell of freshly baked bread - always tempted to go in and buy a donut - and across the zebra crossing; I cross the road arrogantly, daring the cars not to stop - though they always do - and I barely look at them.

Cut for length; lots of words but no more pictures... )
rhythmaning: (sunset)
Whilst I was wandering around Rosslyn Chapel taking photographs of Colin Steele and Dave Milligan, I mentioned to the custodian of the chapel that I often tp take pictures in the chapel – last time, I followed the rules and kept outside. He said that I should feel free to take any pictures I wanted; I took him at his word.

(Someone later told me that the reason photography is banned from the chapel is not, as I suggested, because they want to sell more Cds, books and postcards, but rather because they are being sued by a tourist who was startled by someone taking flash pictures and tripped.)

Rosslyn Chapel is full of amazing and somewhat mysterious carvings; rumour has it that it was built by the Knights Templar and is full of masonic secrets (hence it features in “The Da Vinci Code”); it is certainly full of masonic imagery. Some of the carvings allegedly refer to journey's made by monks to America before Columbus got there; others tell the tale one of the chapel's patrons,Sir Henry St Clair, 7th Baron of Rosslyn, as he took Robert the Bruce's heart on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem 9after Robert's death; obviously...).

Some of the most famous stories involve the intricately carved Apprentice Pillar - carved in the Master Mason's absence by an apprentice, the mason was so incenced that he killed the apprentice; other carvings show the mason falling from the tower in punishment.

Here are some of the photographs I took in this remarkable, fascinating, medieval building.

DSC_0192 DSC_0169 DSC_0284

More pictures behind the cut... )

rhythmaning: (Default)
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine asked me to take some pictures at a jazz concert – Colin Steele and Dave Milligan in duet at Rosslyn Chapel.

This was special for several reasons – I love the setting, I love the musicians and frankly I had been looking forward to the gig for months. I was asked to take pictures at the last minute: photography wasn't normally allowed in the chapel, but the people who look after Rosslyn wanted to have a record of the concert and it was too late for the organisers to contact their usual (professional!) photographer – I had asked if it were possible to take pictures so they knew I was keen and going to the gig. Win/win, as they say.

DSC_0242 bw

More words and pictures behind the cut... )


Apr. 18th, 2009 05:05 pm
rhythmaning: (cat)
I saw this on [livejournal.com profile] andrewducker's journal. And I thought it was brilliant.

(Originally posted by [livejournal.com profile] e_apraksina).
rhythmaning: (Armed Forces)
I read this interesting post on the demonstration I observed yesterday in memory of Ian Tomlinson.

When I was there - and I was there completely by accident - it was very quiet and subdued. I am glad I left before the quiet was broken, although I feel bad that I didn't stay for longer.


Apr. 11th, 2009 06:08 pm
rhythmaning: (sunset)
Back in February, when we had a week of hard frosts and then several days of snow, I repeatedly visited the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art - to see the patterns the weather had made of Landform, the large earthworks by Charles Jencks in front of the gallery. I love that sculpture - it is a wonderful shape.

I also walked through the Dean graveyard to get there.


DSC_0035 DSC_0002 DSC_0036

DSC_0022 DSC_0018

DSC_0040 DSC_0043 DSC_0046

rhythmaning: (violin)
  1. I am on a bus through a quiet, deserted City – empty on a dreich Saturday lunchtime. The bus comes to a halt in Cornhill [edit: not Cornmarket as I originally said, which is in Oxford...], and doesn’t move for a while. A crowd appears on the opposite pavement – a huge gaggle of press photographers, surrounded by police, struggling, pushing and shoving, to get a picture. They seem to be pointing their cameras at the pavement, stretching their hands high above their heads as they hold their cameras. The people on the bus move to the window, trying to work out what is going on. They photographers move down a few yards, and the ruck starts again. A woman moves forward from the crowd around the photographers and pushes through; she lays the bunch of white tulips she is carrying on the ground, seeming to disappear below the mass of cameramen.

    As the photographers move, it becomes clear they are – unwittingly – at the head of a march. The crowd has people carrying placards: “Remember Ian Tomlinson” – the newspaper vendor who died of a heart attack during the G20 demonstrations, allegedly after he was beaten by police officers.

    I ring the bell and get off the bus, walk across the street and join the crowd. There are many, many policemen – probably as many police on the street and in the many vans as there are protesters, although there seem to be more photographers than either. I can’t help but wonder about the new law making it illegal to take photographs of policemen: it is impossible to photograph the crowd without including the police in it. Do the press have a dispensation? The crowd seems a strange mix: there is a large banner proclaiming “Anti War Coalition”. There is no chanting – it is strangely quiet, and very dignified.

    After a while I walk on, enjoying the empty streets – the police are holding all the traffic. A security guard and another worker are discussing the price of their building, just sold for £140 million; I wonder if that is a lot or a little.

  2. Two young girls – teenagers – come up to me near St Paul’s and ask the way to Barking. One of them has smeared mascara and tear-damp eyes, the other heavy mascara I think, and remember that the tube is messed up with engineering work (Transport for London being an oxymoron, it seems) – the District line is out. I direct them to Liverpool Street and tell them to pick up a Hammersmith and City line train. They look at me sceptically, so I explain I don’t know about buses.

    “No”, the cried-out girl says, “we’re walking.” I point east, and suggest they ask one of the many policemen watching the photographers watching the pavement.

    It is a long walk to Barking.

  3. Later as I am walking to Waterloo, a young lad wearing a hoodie, thick stubble and a broad Irish accent heading in the other direction asks me the way to Westminster tube station. He is going the wrong way – completely the wrong way. I tell him to head north and then walk beside the river until he gets to Westminster Bridge.

    He goes off in the right direction, but I doubt whether he will make it.
rhythmaning: (violin)
I have written before how written before how I "starred" in a short movie set in 1960s London. (Irritatingly the film credits spelt my name wrong - and they couldn't afford to correct it! So IMDB gets it wrong, too... I played Johnny!)

I was a little surprised to hear the film being discussed on Radio4.

I didn't get a name check - though they did describe it as a charming story...

Earth Hour

Mar. 28th, 2009 10:55 pm
rhythmaning: (sunset)
So I took part in Earth Hour this evening. I switched off my electric lights at 8.30pm; I feel I cheated a little – I lit a couple of candles and I had my hifi on. And I sat and listened to music – for the first half hour I listened to the radio – the second half of Jazz Record Requests (which featured a really beautiful version of Jerome Kern’s “All The Things You Are”, by Lee Konitz and Gerry Mulligan) – and then I listened to Charlie Haden and Pat Metheny’s record, Beyond The Missouri Sky.

It was lovely listening to this record by candlelight: it is gentle, contemplative music.

It was fascinating, because listen to the music is all I could do. Normally, I would do something else whilst listening to music – read a book, play on the internet, whatever. Using the computer or watching tv felt it would be cheating more than lighting candles; and I couldn’t read in the half-light.

So I sat, and listened to the music. I was very aware of the shadows as the candle-flame moved. I tried meditating, though that is something I have done little of, and thinking of nothing doesn’t come naturally. So I sat and listened and watched the shadows.

It did make me think how much we rely on energy: I was reminded of the few times I have been places without power, and of the power-strikes in 1970s Britain. I have been in places without energy a few times in my life – the Sinai coast; the Borneo forest (a couple of times); in India; camping in Scotland. It is the sky I remember – although tonight the Edinburgh streetlights remained on, and although I saw a sliver of a crescent moon, the sky was mostly clouded and no more visible than usual for Edinburgh.

It was interesting; something I might try more often: think of the world in a different way.


Mar. 28th, 2009 04:43 pm
rhythmaning: (violin)
It is a long time since I have done a meme. So I have done this one. It has the usual USA-centric questions, natch. (via [livejournal.com profile] nicnac.)
Read more... )

Earth Hour

Mar. 28th, 2009 03:09 pm
rhythmaning: (sunset)
I am taking part in Earth Hour tonight - switching the lights off for an hour from 8.30pm local time, wherever you are in the world.

I don't normally do things like this - I like to make conscious considered decisions, and this means that I often object to the herd-like behaviour the internet, and social media in particular, sometimes lead to. It is too easy to join a group, sign a petition, stick an image on your blog and think that that is enough. (Sometimes, of course, it is all you can do.)

But I think climate change is really important; I think it is more important than the economy, more important than conflicts around the world (and I think those are pretty bloody important, too!).

So I shall be switching off my lights at 8.30pm tonight.

I'm not sure, though, what else I shall do - specifically, in that hour. The campaign is just about lights, not about electricity, but frankly the idea of, say, watching tv seems plain wrong. But I can't imagine that I shall switch off all my electric items: I will probably be listening to music, or maybe using the internet (the Earth Hour website suggests live blogging the hour, though I'm not sure I get that...), all of which uses electricity.

(It has been suggested that I meditate or masturbate for an hour; but I'm not sure I could do either of those activities for an hour. Maybe a little of both...)
rhythmaning: (whisky)
Following my post about libraries, [livejournal.com profile] frankie_ecap told me her library joke...

A man walks into a library, walks up to the desk and says in a very loud voice to the librarian, "Two pounds of lean mince, please!"

The librarian looks at him askance over the top of her glasses and hisses back, "This is a library, sir!"

The man looks around him and sees all the books. In a hushed whisper he says, "Awfully sorry... Two pounds of lean mince, please..."

(OK, it is a verbal joke that perhaps doesn't translate to the written word... But it makes me laugh!)
rhythmaning: (violin)
There was a fairly depressing article in today's The Observer about libraries and the erosion of both their collections and their place in British society.

I like libraries, although i must admit I haven't been in a library for perhaps five years. Libraries have played an important part in my life, since I was first taken to the library at primary school: a crocodile of small children meandering down the street – the street where I lived, indeed – to a the children's library housed next to the building renowned for being Keats' house. My mother took me there as well and, later, I would go by myself on my way home from secondary school.
Read more... )
rhythmaning: (sunset)
Walking home yesterday evening was a lovely sunset; I noticed it first reflected in a new development:


and this is what was reflected:



Mar. 15th, 2009 07:41 pm
rhythmaning: (sunset)
Last week, I was walking to a meeting in Edinburgh at about 6pm and I noticed the Moon rising over the Old Town. I had my pocket camera with, and I took a long detour trying to find good pictures.

Pictures in poor light aren't easy with my little camera (as opposed to my SLR), and these took a bit a work...




rhythmaning: (Armed Forces)
Yesterday I wrote about the impact that Philip Pullman made at the Convention on Modern Liberty. You can now see a video of his speech.

They seem to be uploading videos of the different sessions; I'll post when they link to videos of speeches to which I have referred.
rhythmaning: (Armed Forces)
When I posted about CoML, I had wanted to include an excerpt from David Davis' closing speech, but it wasn't available on the CoML website.

They have now put it up. You can read the whole speech if you wish.

I am posting the excerpt here rather than editing my previous post so it doesn't get lost.
In fact I would like to respond to Jack Straw, not with an answer but with a question. Tell me, Jack, when does it become a police state? When the Government knows everything? When the Government knows - this is a long list I am afraid - everything about every citizen anywhere in the country? Where they know every text, our every e mail, our every web access, our every phone call? When they can track every citizen through their car, to wherever they are in the country? When the police are able to enter your computer and search it without you even knowing about it? When virtually any state organisation can put you under surveillance without supervision or control, even including Local Government. When the police can arrest you for heckling the foreign secretary? You should deserve a medal quite frankly! Or for wearing a bollocks to Blair T shirt or reading out the names at the cenotaph. The police can now arrest you for photographing a London Bobby, which will lead to a lot of very surprised Japanese tourists, at some point.

So is that a police state, Jack? Or does it become a police state when MPs are arrested simply for doing their job of holding the government to account and, yes, occasionally embarrassing them. Or, very much more seriously, is it a police state when the governments collude or condone in torture as an act of policy? Is that a police state, Jack? Are we there yet? And if the answer is no, now let’s turn it round and say to him, okay how many photographers do we arrest before it becomes a police state? How many innocent people on a DNA database before it becomes a police state: a million, as now, or 2 million? How many days do you lock people up without charge before it becomes a police state? 42? 90? And before you answer, Jack, remember that 90 days detention without charge was the first number picked by South Africa under apartheid and it becomes 180 and then indefinite. I am glad to say that state fell and was replaced by a better one.

I don’t know the answer to those questions. But I do know this: every erosion of our freedom diminishes us as a people, as a nation, as a civilisation. I also know this - this is clear: that when we do know it is a police state it will be too late.
rhythmaning: (Armed Forces)
I have been trying to write about the Convention On Modern Liberty, which I went to a couple of weeks ago in London. I started off trying to write about each session, but I got bogged down – it was a very full programme – so I am going to try a different tack, and just write down my thoughts of the whole event.

Alix Mortimer did a pretty remarkable job of live blogging much of the convention, so I shall simply give my overall impressions. (By the way, Alix has also written an excellent post on why she hopes never to go to such a convention again.)

I went to this event because I have become increasingly concerned by the way the UK government has been chiselling away at the freedoms we used to take for granted. I wanted to learn more, particularly what one can do to halt the erosion. I was only partially successful. It was a very interesting day – there were some fascinating speakers, and many excellent speeches – but there was something numbingly depressing about it, too – the long list of rights and freedoms which this and previous governments have legislated away; and the way forward was far from clear.

I am not sure what I can do. Except talking about it, showing others what is going on. Which is why I am writing this.
Read more... )


rhythmaning: (Default)

May 2009



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