Archive for July 2010
Jamaica’s Yohan Blake, only 19 years old, ran 19.78 to come second to Tyson Gay’s power win and meeting record in the 200m at Monaco tonight. Gay’s knees seemed to be bothering him afterwards, but teenager Blake looked completely untroubled by the pace of the run and having to come in from lane 8. He looks like a bit of a showman to boot. Jamaican sprint fans must be happy as Larry with Usain Bolt, Asafa Powell and Yohan Blake to support. Blake is Bolt’s training partner.
The men’s 100m and 200m sprints are my favourite events in athletics, I do enjoy watching new runners come through.
Awards, shortlists and end-of-year-best-of-lists aren’t for people who care about music. They’re to tell £50 bloke what to buy to soundtrack his next dinner party or long car journey with the kids to Scotland/Devon, and to shift CDs in supermarkets.
The virtual Sistine Chapel does what it says on the tin – you can move and zoom around the entire space, including the floor and the ceiling, and the graphics are amazing (at least 100 times better than the ropey photo from Wikipedia below). You may feel a little dizzy, and the choral soundtrack may not to be your taste, but I’d advise at least having a quick play with it.
Great post here from my friend Sara Crowley’s A Salted blog that throws an interesting light on the fallibility of childhood memories and the “truth” behind autobiographies. Sara was friends with Louise Wener, novelist and former Sleeper frontwoman, when they were children and Wener’s autobiography, containing details of their shared suburban childhood, has recently been published. Twitter has allowed the pair to correspond about their different memories of friendship and how easily people are forgotten.
I know my brain has selectively edited and changed parts of my memory and my sister regularly accuses me of making up most of what I talk about regarding our childhood. Unfortunately for her, I do have the upper hand somewhat, as she remembers practically nothing before the age of about 12 and only bits since, memory just isn’t that important to her, whereas some of my memories are very strong indeed. I also share that characteristic with our mum, who often backs me up, much to sister’s consternation. “I never! You never! You’re lying!”
Some of my memories I know are mixed up with photographs, dreams and re-tellings of significant events – not just mine, but reminiscing sessions with others and famous family stories and the splinters from long-held grudges and so on. The “definitive” version, even when agreed upon, is not always the most truthful. No real objective bystanders exist in normal life, and the lives of those of us who are less significant aren’t documented in the way that the adult lives of famous people might be. No newspaper reports, witness statements, documentary footage and sheaves of letters to confirm what Becky said to Sophie when they were nine years old.
Perhaps that’s part of the reason why the best bits of autobiographies and biographies are often the sections about the person’s life before they were famous. Not just because those are the bits we know least about, or because we can relate to their dreams and schemes before they made it, but also because those hazy, dreamy, half-reconstructed memories are something we can all understand and lose ourselves in, untainted by boring old facts and references.
Look, we all despise the Daily Mail, apart from apparently most of our mums who like to buy it on Saturday for the puzzles and the cheap TV paper. Or that’s the excuses they give. If you have low blood pressure, the quickest way to raise it is to read both the columns and the comments on their website.
However, its mid-market tabloid rival the Express has mostly merely been laughed at in recent years for shoehorning Diana, Kween of our Hearts, onto every front page. “Diana Mondays” increased circulation drastically, apparently. They’ve been quietly spewing their own brand of bile, mostly left alone by hand-wringers in favour of berating the vile Jan Moir and co. Until now. The Daily Express‘ right wing rhetoric may not be as high profile as the Mail‘s, but its contents are even worse and the covers have now gone interstellar.
The out of context judge’s quote used on its homophobic cover about gay asylum seekers:
And now, horrifyingly, today’s cover about “ethnics”, which is beyond even Private Eye parody:
Read Daniel Trilling’s comments about it here, spot on as usual.
It’s nothing new, they’ve been interspersing the Diana conspiracy theories with insane right-wing chaff for years. I remember doing paper rounds and thinking less of people who bought the rag, because the Mail‘s stuff was on the whole clever and insidious and even if they did claim everything gave you cancer from the internet to asylum seekers, at least some of the people who bought it could claim ignorance, whereas the Express was always out and out BNP-style claptrap.
Yeah I know, the Netherlands lost one of the dullest World Cups in years amid a lot of dirty play (and no, Spain weren’t paragons of virtue and cleanliness either). I feel sad, stop rubbing it in. And for goodness’ sake, send the Spanish team to a barber’s.
The real winner of the World Cup was Paul the Octopus, whose predictions amazed everyone. Sadly, he’s now retiring. The goose that laid the golden accumulator bets can have his mussels without having to get them out of boxes with flags on top. Now, what are the odds on him fronting a Eurovision single next year? Dustin the Turkey Mark II.
It’s no secret that I want the Netherlands to win tonight. I’ve got my Sneijder t-shirt on and however good the Spanish look and however much I love Cesc, I still want Oranje to triumph.
Van Bommel’s tactics for not getting booked are the best thing I’ve heard about this World Cup since that video I posted that indicated the England squad have a sushi snack of an afternoon. Sounds like he’d get on alright around here, where bus chat is necessary for survival. I’m sure Howard Webb will appreciate the banter.
“Once, after I’d been booked in a game, I asked the ref where he bought his groceries and I told him where he could get them cheaper. He let me off another foul and then five games later asked me about another shop. You just need to chat with these guys. It doesn’t help if you stress them out.”
Brilliant and frightening in equal measure, the Guardian today publishes an anonymous piece by a civil servant that gets right to the heart of the confusion and anxiety around the cuts being made by the coalition government:
Regular dispatches from this correspondent are promised in future. I, for one, will be reading avidly.
For example, Andrew Lansley’s plans to give GPs control of over 8o% of frontline services indicate he hasn’t met a lot of the “family” doctors I have encountered in recent years. Struggling with workloads, budgets, increased patient knowledge and interest in their conditions, government targets and (all too often in my experience) language issues, with all the help in the world (which they won’t get if jobs are cut, as is likely), it is not likely to work out well. I myself have struggled to get the appropriate treatment without my own research, suggesting possible diagnoses and asking outright to be referred to specialists. I have been asked to tell a GP on several occasions what brand of Pill I am taking and how many I usually am prescribed, because the doctor had problems using the computer. Another time, a locum prescribed me one drug over another he preferred because he couldn’t find the one he wanted after several attempts at typing in the beginning of its generic name, but could remember the brand name of his second choice and therefore could enter it into the system. I have had to take in a typed list of symptoms before now because the language barrier has meant only one word in three seems to be listened to and concerns dismissed on the basis of mental health diagnoses on my records from years ago, only to be picked up on by consultants later. Mistakes have frequently been made, and I am intelligent, reasonably articulate and capable of working out what is going on for myself a lot of the time. I am lucky that I can read between the lines based on the incomplete explanations I am given, my symptoms and the medicines prescribed, thanks to confidence, a bit of knowledge and the internet.
The current issues with the system privilege white, straight, middle class, educated and able-bodied people as it is. I can only see the problems getting worse. Thousands of NHS jobs are purportedly about to be cut, and the NHS is supposedly one of the areas the coalition are protecting over and above other frontline services.
One of my favourite record labels, Wichita, have produced a delightfully non-naff free iPhone app with exclusives and stuff. Marvellous. They’ve also just rush-released the digital version of what I think will be one of my albums of the year, Sky Larkin’s new LP Kaleide. I will be pre-ordering the collectors’ edition of the physical record next week (i.e. when I have a small amount of cash available). Immediate digital download.
You can hear the album now on their website (linked above) to boot. It sounds amazing. Like the first one, only more so. Sky Larkin are one of my favourite bands, which is not an accolade I bandy around lightly. I don’t write about music much on here as I fear the deluge of emails from terrible bands (most bands are terrible) or friends wanting me to write about their projects. Sky Larkin are worth poking my head above the parapet for, I’ve loved them from the earliest demos and they know it. Anjelica Huston is my current top track…
I’m still behind in terms of things I want to post, but that’s real life and OU studies for you. I recently spent a few days in London seeing family, but also made time to see some art (and shops, to be fair). That’s what I’m going to write about now, before it is all forgotten.
The other half was charmed and absorbed by the Magnificent Maps exhibition at the British Library, which I did enjoy but could have got through in 40 mins tops instead of the two hours we took. He has an obsession with maps, see, so whereas I go that’s pretty/interesting/ooh, what’s that bit? and move on, his study of each was a bit more in-depth. Not enough seating and being under-dressed for the chilly environment (it was boiling outside, so I was in a tiny frock) left me a bit fed up of the themed exhibits before the end. Even Stephen Walter’s much-discussed hand-drawn map of London, The Island, disappointed in the flesh. It didn’t seem as intricate or funny as I had hoped. I just kept thinking “if I had a wet weekend, I could do this”.
My favourite bit of the whole exhibition? The propaganda posters and political cartoons involving maps, some excellent graphic design and a good deal more interesting to me personally than yet another Dutch map for merchants from the 1500s. I also enjoyed some of the miniatures, atlases and globes more than the bulk of the exhibition. Perhaps a bit more interspersing of this sort of material with the giant maps of the past might have kept me engaged for longer. Also the repetitive and loud audio coming from the interactive “zoom in on maps” screen/gadget that was in each room was nothing short of irritating. One for the real enthusiasts. Or for those not accompanied by enthusiasts, who can freely hurry past the duller bits. Bring warm layers, and don’t wear a short skirt without tights.
I rather enjoyed the Wolfgang Tillmans exhibition at the Serpentine, though less so the wandering dribblers offering their loud opinions on his art as we travelled through the rooms. Silver Installation VII was particularly beautiful, as were some of the smaller, more intimate photographs – plus I always appreciate a good picture of balls, and I wasn’t disappointed. I think it makes a real difference that the artist hung the exhibition himself, and that the pictures clearly all belong together rather than in isolation, despite the drastic variety and semi-chaos. It felt like an invited trip around someone’s flat in some ways, showing us around his thoughts through his very intriguing eye, and that made me warm to the pictures even more. In places it is a little hipsterish, possibly too laid back and the images too obvious, but that is only human. Wonderfully wonky.
Finally, my favourite. We didn’t have long in the Tate Modern on this occasion, but it has been some time since I last visited. The Gerhard Richter room, featuring his group of six paintings named after the composer John Cage, was a joy. It made me think of water, dreams, music, sound, light. Rivers and memories. All kinds of things. It enriched my soul. Both the method of their creation and the paintings themselves really spoke to me. Photographs don’t really do the experience justice, please go and see them for yourself.