its a dogs life

Posted in journal on August 30th, 2009 by george

pancho stairtop vigil

Our dog, Pancho, has been staying with friends for 3 weeks, while all of us have been off galavanting in other countries. Last night I picked him up and brought him home. He was clearly very happy with our friends, and today seems a little disconsolate. He is home alone with me. The children dont get home for another 2 days.

So what is going on in his doggy brain? His recent hosts probably lavished far more care and attention on him than he is used to with us. My teenage darlings are very affectionate when he has their attention,, but that is tough to maintain. Like most of their peers, they have a great deal of things on their minds to digest and resolve, and the unconditional love of a dog is only one of them. As for me, well I’m just a grumpy old git. Read more »

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no news is the best news

Posted in journal on August 28th, 2009 by george

bench_2

Apart from radio headlines, I largely avoid the media news outlets these days. Firstly, and selfishly, I generally have something better to do. Most TV is so disappointing that I rarely turn that on. I was once addicted to newspapers, reading a morning and an evening one, until I realised I was spending up to 4 hours each day doing so. Now, with an ever growing list of books I plan to enjoy, I very rarely look at a newspaper. Occasionally on a plane or train journey I’ll buy one, and usually regret it.

I don’t feel I’m missing anything. Important news, be it global or personal, filters through no matter what. For years, family and friends have insisted they have to ‘know what is going on’, to ‘keep in touch’.  I contend that the more attention I pay to media news, the more I am reminded that I have no idea what is going on, and there is no one willing or able to enlighten me. At best we are given hints, diversions and wild guesses. Sometimes we are served up barefaced lies. And it is hard to totally discount the paranoid theory that our attention is drawn to stories the powers that be deem suitable, and away from those they prefer we know nothing about.

I want to try and remain aware, alert and sensitive to the world around me. If I am successful in my immediate vicinity then that is ‘in touch’ enough for me.

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au revoir

Posted in journal on August 27th, 2009 by george

ralph in the hall

The time has come to pack up and go back to Inglyterry. Its a sad day. Still there are exciting times ahead, and I have had a marvelous, restful few days. I’m a lucky dog!

So its time for one more Camembert sandwich, a short nap, a shower, and off the airport. I never quite get used to the speed of air travel. My flight departs at 20.50 and I’ll be home in bed around midnight. Even with the hours time difference, thats under 4 hours. In a car it takes 4 times as long and costs 5 times as much!

I’m flagging here….blood sugar level dangerously low…..must crawl to the kitchen immediately and build sandwich….wish me luck…..au revoir…

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tripe and onions – hold the tripe

Posted in journal, opinion on August 26th, 2009 by george

I was at the butchers counter in the supermarket here in Southern France this morning. I was buying some minced beef, which they mince for you to order. Butchers, and the meat they serve, seem far superior here to those back in the UK. 

While waiting to be served, my eyes were drawn to trays of tripe on show. I wish now I had taken a photo. It appears to be the most unlikely, unsavoury food. I tried it once, in France years ago, and the memory of it still makes me gag.

Why would anyone be interested in eating stomach lining? In a country where all kinds of delicious cheeses, ham, sausage, fresh meat,  fish and vegetables are available, it doesnt make much sense. But then, this is the place reknowned for eating snails and frogs legs!

Perhaps it harks back to more tight belted times when no part of a slaughtered animal went to waste. Also on display were pigs trotters, and oxtail. My brother and I remember being served both as children. In Denmark, where after the war, the country depended heavily on its pork and bacon exports, a whole generation was raised on eating all kinds of unsavoury parts of the pig, the parts that could not easily be sold.

I am happy to eat, or at least try, most foods put in front of me. I draw the line at tripe. Its a great word, but so is ‘cadaver’. I dont want to eat either.

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music business – business = more music!

Posted in journal, opinion on August 25th, 2009 by george

 

I was thinking this morning about the music business, and its place in the history of music. For many years, when asked by friends and colleagues, ‘How’s the music business?’,  I would reply something along the lines of, ‘The music is fine, but as for the business, they pay as little attention to me as I do to them.’ This is a trite response but one rooted in fact. Having lurked on the fringes throughout my long and murky ‘career’, I have a fairly low opinion of the music business, surely prejudiced by my exclusion from their well heeled ranks. Read more »

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doing nothing with furniture

Posted in journal on August 24th, 2009 by george

 doing nothing with furniture

 I have always liked Mondays. Much like September’s back-to-school fever, there is some excitement at the beginning of a new week. If I’ve been fortunate, I have had a restful Sunday and am suitably refreshed. I generally get a lot done.

Now I am on holiday, this Monday is doubly enjoyable. At home an endless list of tasks await my attention. But I am a long way from home. So I am powerless to begin any of them. This is my 3rd day of a short visit to the South of France, and I am still adjusting to the notion that in fact the less I do right now, the better.

This morning I drank coffee and talked with my brother for most of the morning. What we spoke of hardly matters. We were able to free associate through a number of topics, and continue indefinitely, unhindered by any pressing need to do anything else. What a luxury.

I am not used to this vacation lark. But it sure grows on you!

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Sunday

Posted in opinion on August 23rd, 2009 by george

SundayWhat has happened to Sundays? As a child I always went to church with my mother and brother. No one worked, and the stores were all closed. We would have a big lunch, walk the dog, maybe visit cousins or friends, and we would do all of these things  in each others company. Like millions of others, we were perpetuating thousands of years of tradition. Sunday was a day of rest, dedicated to God and family.

These days, I quite often work on a Sunday, it is a big shopping day as a growing number of stores are open, and less and less people go to church. Read more »

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compassion and mercy

Posted in opinion on August 22nd, 2009 by george

This morning, on a BBC website, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/8212153.stm, I watched the Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill explain his decision to release Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi. It is a very clear, unbiased explanation on behalf of the Scottish people, in which the words ‘compassion’ and ‘mercy’ stand out.

I also had a  look at a video clip in which for 35 seconds, President Obama http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8213076.stm mumbled a short list of muddled sound bites suggesting Megrahi’s release was a ‘mistake’. He did this presumably to mollify the various factions and opinions within the nation he represents.

I am a great admirer of Mr Obama, and considering the impossible expectations of the whole world that he is currently shouldering, he deserves our support. Nonetheless it is very disappointing to see him apparently giving in to the pressure he must surely be under to relay the knee jerk reactions of many Americans. Read more »

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scene in a train

Posted in journal on August 20th, 2009 by george

Sitting in a train, heading north. Mountains, lakes, trees, small houses, rocks all roll by. Far from the city, the minutiae of nature perform a symphony of joy. Single blades of grass rise from a still pond. Next to lilies, lie flat leaves. Birds float, barely rippling the water. Musicians sprawl in their train seats, oblivious to it all. They have barely slept and are trying to make up for it now. Across the aisle, a man in a leather jacket slouched over almost double, snores quietly. Across from him, 2 young girls giggle uncontrollably. He snores on. The girls have I-pods and phones to play with. They have finished their candy snacks and drinks. They fidget and toss their hair. Would they prefer to be racing through the woods, chasing each other?

Boredom seems like a desire to be in a different place, doing something else. But maybe its an inability to do nothing comfortably. Until we can simply be, cut loose from desires and fears, we are doomed to a deep dissatisfaction, and cravings that cannot be sated.

One of the musicians is woken by the giggling. He reaches across and touches one of the girls lightly, then moves his hand to indicate they might try to keep the noise down. Their mother stares intently at him. How great it would be, were she to throw her drink in his face. Instead the girls stifle their giggles. Shortly after, they set off on a walk together, to give their residue of laughter a chance to escape.

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heres to good sound technicians

Posted in journal on August 19th, 2009 by george

played the Stavangar blues club last night…great evening…excellent sound, thanks to fine system and exceptional soundman….a strange fact of the music world that we inhabit is that so many of the small venues & clubs have awful sound technicians….it’s a perfect example of how those with little or no knowledge will stubbornly and authoritatively insist on doing things their way, all with supreme confidence, and usually with disastrous results….they constantly twiddle knobs, searching for who knows what, so the performers have nothing consistent to work with….each time they approach a microphone, it sounds different, and signal levels go up and down like a roller-coaster…..

conversely,  those with some real experience and know-how are open to all opinions, and will quietly make it work somehow, expecting no credit…

our friend last night was of the latter variety….and we are humbly grateful…..

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